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Cortez to host program that combines jazz and creative arts

The programs of the ArtsForward Four Corners residency will feature the Cortez debut of Spirit Coalescent at the Sunflower Theatre. The multimedia performance blends jazz band D’DAT and the visual arts. (Courtesy photo)
Cortez Cultural Center awarded grant for two weeks of art workshops and jazz concerts

The Cortez Cultural Center has been awarded a $50,000 grant from the Association of Performing Arts Professionals to host a two-week artist-in-residency program that blends jazz with language and visual arts.

The programs of the ArtsForward Four Corners residency are a collaboration between jazz band D’DAT, painter Karen Ellsbury, photographer Patrick Hazen and art and cultural expert Gargi Shindé.

“We are super-fortunate to be able to take advantage of this one opportunity to host such an amazingly talented group of musicians and artists for two whole weeks,” said Rebecca Levy, executive director of the Cortez Cultural Center. “The goal is to promote the arts and reopening of venues that had to shut down for so long because of the pandemic.”

From April 20 to May 4 there will be a series of visual and language arts workshops, and several public performances throughout Cortez.

The resident artists will be mentoring local artists, writers and musicians on their process of creating a multidisciplinary ensemble performance program. Many of the events are free and open to the public.

“Ideally, we want all of the community to participate in the engagements during our two weeks in Cortez,” said Navajo jazz trumpeter Delbert Anderson of D’DAT, based in Farmington, in a news release.

The artist-in-residency will develop D’DAT’s experimental jazz production, “Spirit Coalescent,” which is set to tour nationally in 2023.

Spirit Coalescent is a multimedia jazz ensemble performance that brings audiences along on a visual and auditory journey of strength and resilience through landscape art and musical expression, according to a news release.

A full schedule will be posted on the Cortez Cultural Center website soon. Times are pending, but the preliminary schedule is:

  • April 22: Painting party with Karen Ellsbury at ZuGallery.
  • April 23: D’DAT concert at Sunflower Theater, with opening act Farmington High School Jazz Combo.
  • April 24-26: Creative arts workshops led by international arts and culture expert Gargi Shindé.
  • April 28: Delbert Anderson Trio will perform at Gustavo’s Mexican Restaurant.
  • April 29: Jazz Jams, location to be determined.
  • April 30: Cortez debut of the Spirit Coalescent program, a multimedia concert with D’DAT and artists.

As part of the artist in residency, band members Anderson, bassist Mike McCluhan, drummer Nicholas Lucero, and poet and hip hop artist James Pakootas will collaborate with Ellsbury and Hazen to create original multimedia artwork.

The program follows Pakoota’s own deeply personal story of loss and survival.

Pakoota’s original poems are set to music composed by the band. Each poem is inspired by the visual landscapes created by Ellsbury and Hazen. Those images serve as the backdrop that coalesces into a powerful program about recovery and healing, the news release states.

The APAP ArtsForward programs supported by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation awarded $2.1 million in grants to 47 partnerships and organizations.

The goal is to assist in the recovery and reopening of the live performing arts industry, which was shut down during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Levy said.

“The venues have been struggling, and the intent is to support bringing back art programming and performances. The workshops will bring people together to see the potential of creating multidisciplinary artwork,” Levy said.