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Fort Collins' Faces on the Rise

A showcase of the emerging talent and creative forces that are shaping our artistic scene

Fort Collins fosters a community of budding artists. The local talent and artistic expression contribute to the vibrance and community centric attitude that Fort Collins embodies. With a vast display of the arts, from performers to musicians to artists crafting with their hands, our artistic landscape has depth and character. In this article, we are shining a spotlight on the creators that make our community beautiful and showcasing their passions and contributions to Fort Collins’ artistic scene.

Kurt Stamm and Joe Somodi

Byron’s Brittle is a timeless candy tradition that started in the mountains of Wyoming in the 1950s and was passed down to Kurt Stamm and his husband, Joe Somodi, in the early 2000s. We are excited to finally share it with the broader public, selling on Etsy in ½ pound increments. Always using premium ingredients, the small brittle batches are handcrafted from our candy-making headquarters in Fort Collins, Colorado. Starting Byron’s Brittle was a natural extension of our artistic backgrounds. We used to be professional actors, and Kurt is still in the arts, just behind the scenes as a professional theatrical director and choreographer. We both love the exacting nature of candy making, knowing there is no room for error. We don’t cut corners when achieving the golden glow, enviable thickness, and satisfying buttery crunch. The brittle’s rich caramel color delights the eyes, and every bite is loaded with brown buttery goodness and a sweet, airy crunch. When you put our brittle next to other popular brands, we believe my father’s brittle shines brighter, higher, and nuttier.

Sarah Mays 

I’m a contemporary artist, creative educator, and writer working from my studio in Fort Collins. My paintings emphasize colorful, imperfect layers symbolic of the human experience. Creating art brings me peace and offers me a place to convey the beauty of life’s rich and layered complexity. My work gives considered attention to the organic process of creating. Over time, I develop rich, colorful layers full of history, revealing work that acknowledges imperfection's beauty. I strive to motivate other artists to embrace their voices and be proud of who they are. I am determined to use my work to help challenge and celebrate life's richness, complexity, and power— to excite other women to embrace their voices and experiences, and to find beauty in the imperfect moments that make us uniquely human. I believe the process of creating art brings mental peace and offers us a place to meditate on life’s immense beauty and difficult complexity. I hope to convey the beauty of that layered complexity in my work and empower artists of all backgrounds and abilities to embrace the creative process over the result.

Charlotte Campbell 

Hi, my name is Charlotte Campbell! I am a seamstress, performer, costume designer, and fiber artist. I grew up an avid watcher of 1950s Technicolor musicals and animated Disney films, and that ingrained my love of make-believe, song and dance, color, kitsch, and over-the-top glamour, which has informed my life pursuits ever since. Whether my work has me performing onstage, creating costumes for other performers to wear, sewing clothes, or decorating my living room, I try to make my life as sparkly and fun as possible. I chronicle most of my creative projects on my Instagram, @abelleofthebluegrass. My latest venture, Pillowfish, is a little online shop where I sell decorative hand-crafted throw pillows. My favorite pillow creatures to make are the eponymous fish, but I also dabble in crocodiles and birds, and am currently workshopping a pattern for a Highland cow. Each pillow is one-of-a-kind, soft, colorful, and certain to add some fun and whimsy to any space it adorns! 

Stephen Turner

My name is Stephen Charles Turner. I'm an actor and game designer. I currently perform at The Candlelight; you can see my upcoming work in Crazy For You and The Secret Garden. I started performing in high school. After college, I worked at several local theaters before finally making a move to New York City. While there, I booked multiple national tours which, while interesting, didn't make me happier than when I worked locally. After my last tour, I moved back home to return to the local actor lifestyle. I never did achieve "my big break," but my whole experience with all of these things inspired me to create a game that was about our lives as actors, which I called My Big Break. In the game, players essentially bounce around from living at mommy's, to going to New York City, to auditioning for different types of gigs, and meanwhile build up credits that ultimately give them a chance to achieve their "Big Break," which is the final goal of the game. It's a competitive game, which reflects how I viewed our industry at the time. 

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