Boulder is one of America’s most creative cities.
No, really. The Daily Beast named it that in 2012. And that’s just the beginning of Boulder’s artistic accolades.
The city has also been named one of the Top 25 Art Destinations (numerous times, by American Style magazine), one of the Top 10 Cities for Artists (by Business Week) and one of the 100 Best Art Towns in America (by John Villani).
As if you need further proof, the National Endowment of the Arts recently ranked Boulder the third in the country for working artists per capita.
Boulder is an important arts hub in Colorado.
Here are seven notable ways to experience art in Boulder, plus a peek at some of the famous artists who have called Boulder home.
1. The Colorado Music Festival
The world-famous Colorado Music Festival has brought quality music to Boulder for more than 30 years, drawing the attention of the National Endowment for the Arts; the endowment has recognized the festival for its high caliber of performance.
Renowned director Jean-Marie Zeitouni is at the heart of this six-week summer concert series in Chautauqua Auditorium.
2. The Boulder International Film Festival
MovieMaker Magazine named Boulder the third best place to live and work as a moviemaker. So it should come as no surprise that the city is home to one of MovieMaker’s top film festivals, too.
The four-day Boulder International Film Festival was named one of the 25 Coolest Film Festivals in the world. It draws more than 25,000 people, including celebrities. In the past, it’s attracted the likes of Alec Baldwin, James Franco, Chevy Chase, and Oliver Stone.
Local tips: Save money by picking up an early-bird pass.
3. The Dairy Arts Center
The Dairy Arts Center is a central point for tons of art in Boulder. This building, formerly a cow dairy, homes 11 different art organizations. It features multiple galleries, a movie theater, several stages, classrooms, a lobby with a bar, and more. Find everything from ballet classes to lectures to stand-up comedy here.
4. The Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art
The Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art is an important art destination in Colorado. It was one of the state’s very first contemporary art galleries, founded in the early ‘70s. BMOCA, as it’s called, attracts about 30,000 visitors annually.
5. Frequent Flyers Aerial Dance Studio
Frequent Flyers is huge in the aerial dance and circus world. It was Colorado’s first aerial dance school — the only aerial dance school in the nation certified by the Department of Higher Education’s Division of Occupational Schools.
Frequent Flyers also offered the first ever professional training program for aerial dance. Plus, it was the first aerial dance school to forge a relationship with a higher education institute (the University of Colorado), allowing students to get a degree in aerial dance.
Frequent Flyers is also the home of Colorado’s first international aerial dance festival.
The founder of this nonprofit, Nancy Smith, co-authored the first book ever published about aerial dance. She is one of the early American leaders in the art and has developed her own techniques.
6. Boulder Arts & Crafts Gallery
This art gallery on Pearl Street has been a great place to buy and see locally made arts and crafts since the early ‘70s. It has earned a name for itself as one of the oldest artist cooperatives in the nation.
7. Boulder Public Library
Boulder’s library is more than just a great place to get books in a beautiful location, right on Boulder Creek. It regularly hosts events (from speakers to live music) and was named a four-star public library by the respected Library Journal.
Famous artists from Boulder
Boulder’s artistic inspiration is evident in the number of famous artists who have called it home. Here are just a few of the many:
- Allen Ginsberg, beat poet and author, founded Naropa Institute’s Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics
- Glenn Miller, leader of the Glenn Miller Orchestra and the United States Army Air Force Band, lived in Boulder and attended the University of Colorado Boulder.
- Actress Jessica Biel, star of “Seventh Heaven,” grew up in Boulder.
- Creators of “South Park,” Trey Parker and Matt Stone, attended the University of Colorado.
- Musical groups 3OH!3, The Samples and Big Head Todd, and the Monsters have Boulder roots.
Other notable Boulder artists
Art Lande: A Grammy-nominated, internationally known pianist, composer, improviser, drummer and educator.
Michael J. Duran: Artistic director of the Boulder Dinner Theater with many Broadway credits; recipient of a Top of the Rocky honor for best director, the Henry Award and the Ovation Award for “Ragtime,” and many other awards.
Paula DuPré Pesmen: Producer of the Year 2010 by the Producer’s Guild of America. Associate producer/involved in many feature films, such as “Rent,” “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban,” “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets,” “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone,” “Mrs. Doubtfire,” “Home Alone 2: Lost in New York” and more. She was involved with the Academy Award-winning documentary “The Cove,” which won dozens of film festival awards.
Roger Reutimann: Highly sought-after sculptor whose work is owned by Elton John, Neil Patrick Harris, and Anderson Cooper.