Marie-Juliette Bird moved to the Boulder community at two years old, when her father began working as a professor at CU Boulder. Growing up, she was extremely involved in the arts, spending many of her days dancing at Ballet Arts Studio (which was located above the former Tom’s Tavern space - now SALT). She went on to pursue the arts at The Julliard School in New York City, and from there she explored many different creative paths. But ultimately, her heart led her back to Boulder. And in 2019, she decided to bring something brand new to her beloved community.
“A few years ago, I gathered a group of local women artists and we launched a pop-up on the East End,” said Marie. “As a fine jewelry designer myself, I was looking to create a collective space for fellow artisans to showcase their work downtown in a financially accessible way. The advantages of establishing a collective were numerous: we fostered creative collaborations, developed a community, shared resources and empowered local women artists.”
Marie decided her model for the pop-up was worth exploring, and during the COVID pandemic she worked behind the scenes to form a nonprofit. The New Local (TNL) was born, and they opened their doors in fall of 2022. “Thanks to the generosity of Tebo Properties, we were able to secure the historic Arnett-Montgomery House on the West End. I felt it was important to have a physical space downtown because of our emphasis on community. We are able to host workshops and events (including First Friday and Saturdays at TNL) that bring people together and enliven the West End.”
In addition to the gallery space, The New Local recently acquired a larger Annex a few blocks further west at 713 Pearl St. “The Annex is a really exciting development for TNL. This building (a former grocery store!) has gorgeous natural light, and we host one artist for six weeks at a time to take over this space and highlight their work. We also offer elevated classes geared towards adults and are currently working on establishing a clay club in the back of the Annex.”
The New Local hosts and sells the work of a rotating roster of female artisans in its main gallery, as well as provides studio art space for six local artists. “Each artist is given a six month contract with us, awarded as part of a public submission process that is evaluated by an independent jury,” said Marie. “The concept for my nonprofit is really a love letter to local women artists. I am so passionate about cultivating Boulder’s identity as a creative center. Our community has one of the highest concentrations of artists in the United States, and my goal is to continue to foster opportunities for these creators. We also build bridges between artists and the broader community, fostering exceptional art education for everyone. To this end, many of our classes are sliding scale or by donation and we partner with other, local nonprofits - Amistad, Mother House, Curate Boulder - to ensure inclusion and broad outreach.”
There are many ways to become involved with The New Local, from taking a class and shopping the gallery to volunteering and donating. “This project is a community effort, and we hope the community will help cultivate its success alongside us. Come take a class, visit the gallery, submit your work, become a sponsor or volunteer - all are exceptional ways to support our local artists. We especially encourage local businesses to become sponsors; in addition to supporting the arts in Boulder, your business' name will be listed on a plaque in the gallery. And be sure to follow us on social media (@thenewlocalboulder) for the latest look at workshops and other happenings!”
The arts create value in local communities, and Marie-Juliette Bird is proud to create intentionally-curated spaces for artisans in the Boulder area. “It’s important for women to have a space to work together and support one another. I’m honored to be able to provide that opportunity through The New Local and create something really positive for our downtown.”