By Jeremy Hallock
By James Khubiar
By Observer Staff
By Kelly Dearmore
By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
After prolonged lull in Denton's DIY music and art scene, the Bolivar Arts Collective has emerged as the most visible entity in the town's homemade art- and music-show world.
For the past five months, the collective, spearheaded by Trey Wright, Jamie McGuiness, Tony Letts and Jordon Jenson, has been putting together monthly events showcasing both art and music, using volunteers, donations, ingenuity and, uh, bamboo.
"One day, we just built this fort out of bamboo and sheets for funsies," Jenson says. "We put pictures on them, thinking about how cool it would be if we set up three or four of these. That's how we got started."
The idea that this group had been kicking around finally came into motion during the week of the 35 Conferette — a time when the organizers knew there would be more traffic. They hung art on their makeshift backyard set-ups, cobbled together a makeshift stage, booked a few bands and invited a whole bunch of friends over for a music-meets-visual-arts display. They have since hosted four more of these events, one each month, with the most recent one at Simone Lounge being the first to take place at a non-house venue.
"The smaller spaces are no longer able to accommodate everything we're doing now," Wright says. "I think it went a lot smoother, and it certainly took the pressure off us to organize and set up the venue."
McGuiness, who is in charge of most of the booking of bands, would like to keep bookings at clubs and bars to a minimum.
"Since Simone isn't quite a normal venue, we were happy to do what we were able to do in terms of pricing," McGuiness says, speaking on the collective's ability to purchase kegs for the event and charge a cover. "The thing is, anybody can go to a bar or an art gallery and see art or hear a band play. The DIY aspect is the whole point."
A desire to keep the events as informal, casual and creative as possible is a foremost concern of all four organizers. But the popularity and success of the monthlies have meant that the scope has had to expand.
"We want to try and keep a balance of where we started, and also move forward to make this event bigger and include more of the community," Letts says.
The community Letts speaks of is mostly in Denton, although artwork and music from around Dallas, Fort Worth and even Florida have been displayed.
"We work predominantly with Denton artists, musicians and vendors themselves," McGuiness says. "We're just waiting to spread outside of Denton till we get a little bigger."