In its first year, Mountain Fold Books has managed to host approximately 30 literary events that have featured writers from all over the world for readings of plays, poetry and fiction. An American Sign Language poetry gathering drew over 100 people.
One of the most admirable qualities of Mountain Fold Books, however, is its interest in hosting local fledgling artists, including Colorado Springs native Chan Bird, whose solo show Old World Future will debut there Sept. 4.
Bird, who prefers to be addressed by the gender-neutral pronoun "they," is a completely self-taught artist: "My father used to take me to art galleries when I was a kid ... and my grandmother and her mother also painted ... so I think there is a pretty strong line of artists in my family."
Yet it wasn't until about two years ago when the 26-year-old picked up the craft while going through a tough personal time. "I was going through a divorce at the time, and I found drawing and painting to be a great outlet to help me through that."
Bird's work dabbles in the fantastic, mythical and surreal. "I was going through a lot of different themes in my head, but they all revolved around things like witches and crystals. I think it's interesting how something old like crystals and the magical are still in our lives. It's almost like we're going backwards in the future."
Using mediums like watercolor and gouache, Bird makes art into a game of inches. "The largest one in that series is about 8-by-8, and the smallest one is 3-by-3. I find it kind of satisfying to put so much detail in such a small space."
Bird's show is one way to honor this little bookstore that could, which itself had some very humble beginnings. "It kind of all started when we used to do a reading series at our house in Manitou in our backyard for a few years," explains development director Noel Black. "We'd invite friends and even some big-name poets. Then this young man Jonathan Fey and his wife would come to our readings, and we all just kind of connected that way."
With help from a Pikes Peak Community Foundation Ingenuity Grant, Fey and Marina Eckler (Black's wife) founded Mountain Fold Books. "Marina and Jonathan both had similar ideas," Black says. "He was thinking of opening this small-press bookstore, and we all just began collaborating that way."
It echoes Bird's feelings about making and displaying art: "I think it would be cool if people could open up their mind to this kind of fun, imaginative world."