One night, a dreamer lay in bed wondering what it would be like to have a place where creativity could run freely and paint the community with its bright and inspirational colors. And out of this one dream came a space just for that known as Casa Azul.
Casa Azul originated from a need within the Orange City community to have an outlet for local artists to showcase both their musical and fine art.
After graduating from NW last year, Aaron DeBoer found himself facing a job at Staples manufacturing t-shirts. Frustrated by the lack of jobs that would allow him to use his talents of music and art, he began to search for places where he could share his creativity.
“I wanted to create a space for myself,” DeBoer said. “We all have this want or need to create something, but we don’t necessarily have the outlet.”
In order for his dream to become a reality, DeBoer gathered together a team of talented artists who had community connections. The other four members of the team are Ashley Wright, Charlotte Richards, Phil Hilla and Brad Smith.
Casa Azul’s name came from the blue house in which DeBoer, Hilla and Smith currently reside in.
“It signifies that there’s a home for artwork,” DeBoer said. “It’s a warm name.”
Casa Azul’s mission statement reads, “To foster relationships between artists and their community.”
Their vision statement is, “To create opportunities for empowerment, inspiration and collaboration.”
Once the group had a space, a name and purpose, their first event was held July 25, 2014. It featured prominent community artists such as Steve Mahr, current owner of the Old Factory, and several NW alumni such as Megan Schuster and Shelby Vander Molen.
Casa Azul works to create community and collaboration through the sharing of artwork.
“Without having the community, we wouldn’t have the artwork,” DeBoer said. “Art is meant to be shared. It can be therapeutic for the artist, but art is not fully art until it is shared.”
Casa Azul members have big dreams. There’s a desire for Casa Azul to become a non-profit organization that will spread into different communities, branch out and support local artists in surrounding areas.
“I’ve also dreamt about inventing an app that would connect artists with their community,” DeBoer said. “We want it to become brighter and more vibrant than it already is. It can enrich the community by putting on these events.”
Since its inception, Casa Azul has hosted three events: The original opening celebration in July; Tuesday Toast, an event in early October focused on writing, toast and jam; and the Fall Celebration that was held last Friday.
From homemade beer-brewing to music to textured art, the night took place at the Old Factory and was full of good conversation, coffee and food.
Casa Azul’s next event is the Winter Celebration on Feb. 20 at 7:30 p.m. The location is to be announced.
Several smaller events will be sprinkled in prior to this February show, hopefully including one going on around finals week to help students chill out.
“Anyone can bring their artwork, whether they’re twelve years old or 99,” said DeBoer.
If you’re interested in more information or want to keep up to date on when events will be held, check out the group’s Facebook page, “Casa Azul Arts” or talk to one of the members.