Media Contact: Paula Manini, Museum Director
Date: May 20, 2009
Filmmakers headed to Trinidad for Drop City event
Trinidad, Colo. — Remember Drop City? Many regional residents do, and they will be included in the feature-length Drop City documentary being completed this summer by New York City filmmakers Joan Grossman and Tom McCourt.
Grossman and McCourt will spend four days in Trinidad as part of their final filming trek from California to Denver to Albuquerque to interview former members of the famous commune. While in Trinidad, they have agreed to participate in a public event called Drop!
Drop! will take place on Sunday, June 21, 4 p.m.–7 p.m. at Aultman Hall–Lucky Monkey at 137 West Cedar Street. Admission is free. The filmmakers and Drop City co-founder Clark Richert will share rare film footage, photographs and memories of the social experiment that was Drop City. A reception with light refreshments and cash bar will follow the presentation.
For those unfamiliar with Drop City, it was one of the first rural communes in the United States, founded in 1965 on six acres across from El Moro School, north of Trinidad, by three University of Kansas art students. The name of the commune comes from the founders’ concept of Drop Art. Their vision was to create art in which they could reside, thus making art an integral part of everyday life.
Former county lawman Lou Girodo remembers that “Droppers” were a peaceful group and only a minor local curiosity “after the initial shock wore off” of having an artists’ commune nearby. Charlotte Kilpatrick remembers that one Dropper, a former singer in the New York City opera, joined her choir as a soloist when she taught at Trinidad State Junior College.
Drop! is being organized by HessArts and History Colorado. “History Colorado is interested in this project because it is the first film to document Drop City, an often overlooked and yet fascinating part of state history—history that has a global reach as part of the 1960s counterculture movement,” stated Paula Manini, director of History Colorado’s Trinidad History Museum. “Drop City is also highly relevant today because of its focus on sustainable living.”
Diane Hess, co-owner with Mark Hess of HessArts in Trinidad, met the filmmakers online in 2008 and has been researching the community. “Like all communes, Drop City was a social experiment; that part of the story is intriguing in itself. Unlike other sixties communes, Drop City was not only about communal living but about art, architecture, and sustainable living. Droppers learned from helpful neighbors how to keep animals for eggs and milk. They built energy-efficient structures with recycled materials. The Solar Dome at Drop City was the first modern-day solar-heated building in Colorado.”
Famed architect Buckminster Fuller presented Drop City with the Dymaxion Award for “poetically economic structural accomplishments.” Fuller was famous for his numerous inventions in the fields of engineering, architecture and design, especially his geodesic dome.
Drop City received extensive regional and national press, including a Time magazine article. Some say all this attention—and the constant stream of visitors to the commune that it generated—was Drop City’s undoing, although it lasted longer than most sixties communes.
Drop City has been the subject of numerous scholarly publications in the realms of art, architecture and popular culture. Locally, the Trinidad Brewing Company pays homage to the historic arts community with its Drop City beer, which will be sold at the June 21 event.
Along with the filmmakers, two Drop City members will be in Trinidad on June 21. Co-founder Clark Richert, known by his Dropper name Clard Svensen, and Ed Heinz, dubbed Ed the Fed. Dropper humor surfaced with other alternate names including Larry Lard and Peter Rabbit.
History Colorado, Quality Inn, Trinidad Arts and Cultural Advisory Commission, Trinidad Historical Society, HessArts, Bank of the West, Nancy Ellis, and John Tarabino have given generous support for Drop! Other contributors are UNiT Design Studio (Denver), Marc Diament Architecture (Denver), Restruction Corporation (Sedalia), and Zink and Associates, Inc. (Fort Collins), which have all worked on projects at the Trinidad History Museum.
For more information about the Trinidad museum and the summer programs, contact Museum Director Paula Manini at 719/846-7217 or visit the Colorado Historical Society website at www.coloradohistory.org.
History Colorado is the public programs, services, statewide museums and historic sites of the Colorado Historical Society. The Colorado Historical Society was established in 1879 and is headquartered at the Colorado History Museum in Denver. The Colorado Historical Society aspires to engage people in our State’s heritage through collecting, preserving, and discovering the past in order to educate and provide perspectives for the future. In addition to History Colorado, this educational institution contains the Office of Archaeology and Historic Preservation, the Stephen H. Hart Research Library, and administers the State Historical Fund—a preservation-based grants program funded by limited stakes gaming tax revenues. For more information visit www.coloradohistory.org or call (303) 866-3682.