Posted: Friday, July 31, 2009 12:00 am

In the midst of Pueblo's burgeoning art scene, one group of artists has forged a commitment to each other that they hope will promote the work of all local contemporary artists.

Named for Pueblo's geographic location, 38 Degrees Latitude is an online collaboration of 11 established artists: Justin Reddick, Randy Wix, Gabriel Wolff, Bonnie Waugh, The Poet Spiel, Aaron Williams, Sam Pisciotta, Sk Cothren, Paul Alhadef, Jen McCowen and Jessica Kolosso. Their work includes sculpture, painting, mixed media and photography.

Reddick and Wix began working last year on the concept - "a conceptual online community where artists like us could exist as one," said Reddick.

"We wanted to introduce a new edge to this town," he said. "I suppose we wanted to expand the contemporary art scene, not only for the sake of future group members, but we wanted to extend our hand and become a resource for local abstract artists in general." The group's members have had their individual work shown in numerous venues around the city. Unlike a similar group such as Visual Artists Pueblo, however, most don't have their own commercial studios. The Internet, they felt, was the best way to communicate their message. Spiel said he appreciates that 38 Degrees is "not burdened by the commercial need to sell art in order to constantly keep up with expenses on a space."

"There have never been as many young contemporary artists in Pueblo as there are now," said Wix. "We have been successful in other markets, so why not promote the work here as well? If the artists treat 38 Degrees work as an extension of their own career, we should continue to grow."

Members stressed that the group is not a competitive entity.

"Finding contemporary artists and art groups here in Pueblo is not that difficult, and by no means do we want to take any recognition away from them," said Wolff. "We simply think that it's a great time to steer the art in Pueblo in a relatively unseen direction."

Having that group bond also helps the artists step out of the solitude in which they usually operate and provides them with an audience that will honestly critique their work.

"Opportunities to be involved no a creative level with each other's work personally allows me as an artist to learn something new, try something different," said Waugh.

Added Pisciotta, "Dialogue with other artists is so important to the creative process, especially leading up to and following a project. The creative energy that 38 Degrees provides allows me to focus my direction; it gives my own work momentum."

Two group exhibits will open Aug. 7 at Wireworks Coffeehouse, 103 S. Union Ave., Suite 110, and The Loft, 119 Broadway Ave. A major exhibit is being planned for next year at the Sangre de Cristo Arts and Conference Center.

While promotion of their own work is certainly a benefit of the collaboration, the members also are committed to providing guidance for other young artists.

"The group is and will be actively involved with helping and guiding artists in and around the local scene," said Reddick. "The more venues we show in, the more opportunities hopefully new young artists might have."

Ultimately, 38 Degrees Latitude is about "making and enjoying doing more art . . . and more art . . . and more art," said Waugh.

"We love sharing (our work) with anyone who takes the time to stop and look," said Cothren. "Art is meant to be enjoyed on many levels. It gives up faith in the future of our existence - we will always reign over robots!"

For Reddick, it's a chance to take some already strong parts and create a powerful whole.

"That is the main attraction for me: We can and have rather successfully existed individually as artists," he said. "That can only help creatively when we get together . . . anything's possible.

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