“Using a bold mix of humor, science, technology, music and more, the TEDxDU event will feature a combination of DU students, alumni and faculty, along with other innovators who are taking action to improve the world,” Robert Coombe, chancellor of the University of Denver, says. “We envision TEDxDU as a gigantic collaboration engine to share our commitment of improving the human condition.”

TED is an annual event where some of the world’s leading thinkers and doers are invited to share what they are most passionate about. “TED” stands for Technology, Entertainment, Design—three broad subject areas that are, collectively, shaping our future. And in fact, the event is broader still, showcasing ideas that matter in any discipline. Attendees have called it “the ultimate brain spa” and “a four-day journey into the future.” The diverse audience — CEOs, scientists, creatives, philanthropists—is almost as extraordinary as the speakers, who have included Bill Clinton, Bill Gates, Jane Goodall, Frank Gehry, Paul Simon, Sir Richard Branson, Philippe Starck and Bono.

TED was first held in Monterey, Calif., in 1984. In 2001, Chris Anderson’s Sapling Foundation acquired TED from its founder, Richard Saul Wurman. In recent years, TED has expanded to include an international conference, TEDGlobal; media initiatives, including TED Talks and TED.com; TEDx, a program to license TED to independent organizers around the world; and the TED Prize.

To date, there have been over 600 TEDx events, with over 700 more planned, in 88 countries. TED videos have been viewed 319 million times since the launch of TED.com.


Darci is a filmmaker, writer, producer and general cinematic rabble-rouser. She’s also about the sweetest person you’ll meet. Darci served as the festival director for the Beautiful Empty Short Film Conspiracy – God bless her for that. And she wrote/directed a handful of short films herself for the project. She also has a growing catalog of films she has written/directed. Dang girl, slow down! On second thought, don’t.


Lucia is a beautiful person who makes beautiful images. Stunning photography — check it out.  She is also the curator for the Beautiful Empty Photo Conspiracy project — original photography inspired by the words and music on Beautiful Empty, taken by photographers from across the country.

Lucia is our photographer-in-residence and staff photographer.  Hell yes.


We work with Love Hope Strength whenever we can.  They’re a cancer fighting charity that connects bone marrow donors with cancer patients who desperately need those donors.  They also provide support to the wider cancer community through their international assistance work.  And the best part is they raise awareness about their cause by working with musicians from all over the world.  Also, they have this penchant for climbing mountains.

Please consider supporting them with a donation, by volunteering or best of all — by registering with their bone marrow registry.  It’s quick, painless and it could possibly save a life!

Here’s a picture of us playing a Love Hope Strength event on the very TOP of Pikes Peak in Colorado:


We’re proud to say that Scott McCormic is our current Artist-in-Residence.

He has already designed several record covers for the band, including the cover for the national release of BEAUTIFUL EMPTY, the band’s new EP, SIDE3, as well as the cover for band’s first single “Wide Open World”.  He is currently working on a series of art pieces inspired by the band’s music.  Those art pieces will manifest in a variety of forms, ways and places… you’ll see.

Scott McCormick

Weltschmertz – physical reality will never match the creative vision of the mind.

I make art because I have to. If I were a numbers man, I’d have to be an accountant. If I were a businessman, I’d have to abandon all manners of ethical choice. But, I’m a creative man. So I have to view the world as a malleable entity. I think John and I are the same loving hands teetering on the brink of insanity: We easily can skew our vision to fit the words that want to come out of our mouths. We can twist the reality that surrounds us to make sense of our own perceptions. We inspire each other. We can surpass concepts of what we think people want to see or hear, and create together an art form that people genuinely have no choice but to be a part of. The true creative being lies in the confidence that art is bullshit. There is only us being us. And, there is art that resides dormant in everyone…John and I just let it out. And I’m proud of that.

Scott embodies a strange, wide and very deep set of talents.  He’s a writer, singer, musician, raconteur, graphic designer, photographer, and fellow whiskey swiller of the finest proportions.  He’s also a great friend.  You should hear the song he wrote about Christmas… it will break your craggy old heart.  I think I owe him $20.  ~ John C.


A.C. Lloyd is JC&BFoL’s Filmmaker in Residence, working on several music videos and other film projects in collaboration with the band, and inspired by the music.


I am originally from the colorful town of Las Vegas, Nevada where I grew up surrounded by the desert and towering casinos. I attended high school at the Las vegas Academy for the Performing and Visual Arts before continuing my artistic studies at the University of Nevada Las Vegas in painting and photography. I soon after turned my attention toward film to incorporate my love of visual imagery, writing and music.


Evan is an inventor, bass player, designer of instruments, and cracker of jokes. He also promotes and helps to book JCBFoL.  He’s also frickin’ hilarious.  Bueno Huevo.


John’s one of the coolest people I know. Oh, he’s also an incredible engineer. Oh, and he’ll break your heart with his pedal steel playing too. He engineered and mixed Beautiful Empty. We’re making other records with him too. You’ll see.


Meet Larry Ciancia.  He’s our manager.

A little background: he grew up in an unnamed Eastern Block country.  He worked for the “bad guys”, investigating revolutionaries and helping them “move on to better things”.  There wasn’t a lot of money in official party security, so he moved to where the action was: Iraq.

With grim determination, he rose rapidly through the ranks of the Republican Guard.  He was known as an “uncommonly talented interrogator” (yes, like Sayid from Lost).  An uncanny sense of timing led Larry to barely escape Bagdad ahead of oncoming Coalition Forces, carrying nothing but a suitcase filled with solid gold toilet handles, a ham radio, a ham sandwich and a wrinkled sandwich bag stuffed with 100 euro bills.  He landed in Los Angeles three days later and immediately found work as a “cleaner” for a local drug lord, pursuing his own “shock and awe campaign”.

After losing a small fortune and 6 months of freedom as the result of an FBI sting operation, Larry found that he had a natural affinity for the music business. He brings all of his experience and skills to the job.

He often quotes an Albanian proverb: “Ai që ndërton me djersë, mbron me gjak.”  (Loose translation: He who builds with sweat, defends with blood.)

Larry is a Virgo, enjoys Italian cooking, and water color painting.


Alicia is an incredible artist, gallery owner (Abecedarian Gallery in Denver, CO at 910 Santa Fe), fellow scheme hatcher and friend. She pulled together the most amazing collection of assemblage art The Common Box Project. Check it out at www.commonboxproject.blogspot.com. One more thing, you should talk to her sometime about what a “book” is. It’ll expand your brain.


What we did for this project: Two members of The Umbrella Brigade, David Dyster and Derek Johnson, collaborated to create a music video/short film for the Beautiful Empty Short Film Conspiracy. Derek, in all his writing ingenuity, created a beautiful story and David took that story to the place he knows best-behind the lens of a camera. Juan-Carlos Gomez, half comedian-half Columbian, has an amazing eye and donated portions of it towards the cinematagraphy.

The Umbrella Brigade is a collaboration of artists in Denver working together towards a greater goal: to inspire, to create, to change mindsets. In the words of one of our own: “The secret has been established. It will feed thousands. It will change perspectives. The limp will learn to walk, the hungry will eat, the blind will see. The deaf will hear.”


Kristine’s work is incredibly.  Expressive.


Nick and I have been doing creative projects together for years. He’s one of the most talented designers (graphic and web) I’ve ever worked with. He designed this website along with my last 3 CDs. Ringer.


David Quakenbush is an artist, photographer and guerilla filmmaker in the Denver underground film scene. He also works as a videographer/multimedia designer at Rocky Mountain College of Art + Design, where he creates content for web-based art + design classes.

He holds a BA in philosophy from Colorado State University and is graduate of Colorado Film School’s writing/directing program.



Rule 1) There will be as little rehearsing as possible. Probably, out in the alley right before the gig.
Rule 2) No prior music experience is required. You must only be capable of humming a tune.
Rule 3) You must be committed, fully, to the pursuit and development of a career in music as a kazooist.
Rule 4) Drinking is recommended at all PKO functions.
Rule 5) You can provide your own kazoo. They are available at local music stores.
Rule 6) Remember, there is no “I” in kazoo. This is about building kommunity and sharing love through the magic and mystery of kazoo. It’s called a kazoo, not a kaYou.
Rule 7) There is no Rule 7.



I met Greg through the insanity of the People’s Kazoo Orchestra. He quickly rose through the ranks of that ragtag group of rebel fighters to come Herr Conductor of the PKO. You will not meet a nicer guy. Go ahead, try.


Mare is a crazy talented actor, writer, producer, director, book reader, publicist, plot hatcher and friend. Next time you get a chance to experience something that in which she’s involved, take it. You can thank me later.


Eryc is a fantastic writer. Seriously good. He’s so good, I even forgive him for being a ‘music critic’. He’s also freakishly smart and genuinely hilarious. You should go drinking with him sometime. It’s good to have friends like this — they help you keep the pin in the grenade.


Lance loves music. Especially the live kind. He’s taper, an archivist, an indie music lover/supporter, a mountaineer/hiker, software guru, grower of beards and honest to a fault. I’m glad we’re friends. Also, I think I owe him money.


• A non-competitive short film festival inside of a CD release show and box art exhibit all inspired by the upcoming new record, named Beautiful Empty, from John Common & Blinding Flashes of Light to happen in Denver, CO
• Filmmakers from all backgrounds, skill levels, and artistic points of view are invited to make a short film inspired by a song from the new JC&BFoL record
• Filmmakers would pick a song from the new record (it will be made available to hear — confidentially) to use in their work
• The goals are simple: creative collaboration, cross-pollination (of music, film, visual art and written word communities) and throwing a beautiful, memorable, one-of-a-kind event.


As soon as I turned 18 I packed up and headed to Colorado not sure why or what I would do.   A year later I got a job on a movie (where I met my future wife) and I have been addicted to the arts ever since.   I have worked on over 100 different productions in nearly every department.  I work mostly as a Director, Producer, and/or 1st Assistant Director – but that does not prevent me from doing whatever it takes.  The productions I have worked range from Movies, Television, Theatre, Commercials, Documentaries, Still Photography, Web, Short Films, Educational Films, Political Campaigns, Public Service Announcements, Corporate Videos, Industrials, Non-Profit Productions and others ranging from no budget to millions of dollars.  I have produced and/or directed films that have been a part film festivals across the country.  I am a member of many great organizations such as the Colorado Theatre Guild (Board Member), Denver Film Society, Colorado Film Video Association, Colorado Film Commission, Denver Open Media and others.  I am very grateful to be a part of the artistic community in Colorado and feel that it and the people I work with have shaped who I am today.


Take 65 artists from across the country, 65 simple wooden boxes, and the nuts and bolts of a new record by an indie songwriter and then mix it all together in a beautiful collaboration called the Common Box Project. Here’s the basic idea:

1. John Common and Blinding Flashes of Light have a new record.
2. Alicia Bailey is an artist and gallery owner (Abecedarian Gallery) whose recent assemblage box art inspired them both with an idea…
3. A mixed media collaboration with artists of all types to create 65 unique pieces of assemblage box art that are inspired and/or informed by the new record.
4. A call is going out to artists from across the region (and country) to see who is interested in joining in this collaborative box art project.
5. 65 boxes have been crafted by artist/woodworker Nicolas Willert. Each box has been designed to hold a copy of the new CD (a secret place in the back of the box). 6. Each artist who is chosen to participate in the Common Box Project will be shipped a raw box and an artist kit containing materials related to the new John Common & Blinding Flashes of Light record intended to inspire/inform the artwork (audio, lyrics, images, stories, etc).
7. Each artist will then ship their completed assemblage box art piece to Abecedarian Gallery by late June. Each box will also hold a copy of the new record.
8. The Common Box Project listening party for the new record will be held Saturday, July 18, 7-10pm. Artists, fans, friends and press will all be invited.
9. Proceeds of each piece are split evenly between the gallery, the artist and the band.
10. Cool, huh???


Melissa Rick
Sough, in the Wood – This box has been sold

Sough, in the Wood, was inspired from the music as I heard it and from the idea of this collaborative project. I filled my empty box with materials from both these influences and began the process of elimination, which is often the way my work evolves. The elements and ideas are restricted and reduced to follow just a single thread, in order to simplify, make bare, single. As the box progressed it was clear I had settled into one song, In the Wood, and would finish there. It’s always a mix of what is coming in and what is already there.


Gabrilla Trujillo – Just a Picture of Elvis and the Holy Bible
Because John Common’s music focuses on human emotion, I wanted to do a box that described a strong emotion. I found that loneliness was a common theme in many of his songs, and wanted to show loneliness manifested in a shadow box. Dilapidated trailer parks and mobile homes scream loneliness, so a cut away model of a mobile home was created.


Annalee Schorr explores the ubiquitous and looks at the quirks in our visual world via photography, painting, and installation. The use of grids and patterning is a constant in Schorr’s varied works. She is interested in social aspects of our culture, and she pursues the realities that lie beneath the surfaces we present to the world.



i paint because it is another language for me:
to say what i am unable to verbalize
in my daily conversations.

i write because it helps me listen
closer to what i am seeing.

most days I still believe art can be a catalyst:
for beauty, for peace, for being still.

so i keep painting
to remind myself
to slow down
and let the days resurface.


1) Hang the box on the wall.  There will have to be a good 3 feet between it and other boxes due to the long spring which is to be placed up top of the steeple behind the top clock face. The white feathers are to be placed in the ends of the spring as if flying
2) Unpack loose sand and sprinkle into the base of the box corners
3) Place loose shells into communion cup, create a good base for the battery powered light to shine upward.  It should be recessed so one could not see it thru the sliding lid(Yellow door with glass handle). This is key so that the light can shine upwards to illuminate the tattered translucent shell glued to the top.
4) Slide the door on from the top.  There is a bit of a catch, so you have to wiggle it a bit.
5) Snag the dog chain and connect it to GI Joe’s hands as if they were gymnastic rings. Now hang the chain over the door knob.  Joe should be in crucifix position.  This is a little tricky, but can be accomplished to make it secure.  The black feathers are to be fed thru the Chain hoops and into pre-drilled holes on the anterior neck of Joe. Position the feathers as if in flight up and outta Hell!
6) Position the wooden plumbers ruler as the close up picture I provided shows.  The metal portion on the right hand side should extend down to be even with Joe’s toe tips which should be pointing.  Here is the crucial  measurement of Joe to see if he is worthy of being in Heaven.
7) Time to place the long spring up on top, perfectly balanced by spinning the spring left or right, as needed.( reposition white feathers as needed to get them horizontal, as if wind was beneath them.  The long spring represents Joe’s guardian angel.
8) I’d like to have a bit of sand placed on the floor, directly under the box.  This will happen naturally if you pack in the sand provided into the box to make a nice base for the cup to rest horizontally.



I am a collector. I collect things. Old things, found things, used things, odd things, creepy things, and unloved things. I collect pictures and ideas some which appeal to

my darker cynical side, and  use all of these collections in my work. When juxtaposing unlike objects and ideas along side like objects and ideas, I try to introduce them in such a way that they look like they may have been old friends for a long time.

I like to indulge my slightly darker side by creating creatures that could be or might have been, working towards an end which juxtaposes an idea against an image. Call it tinkering in the twilight zone.


I strive to capture the intimate and internal experience in my artwork. My figures each stand alone, even when part of a group. Each character emerges from the clay directly from my subconscious– characters of imagination, past experiences, family stories, motherhood, fairy tales, and dreams. They are soulful beings, reflective of deep inner experiences: joy, sadness, pride, or embarrassment. Whatever the feeling, it is part of the experience of being human.


Woodworking seems to run in his blood. He is self taught, but was lucky to be able to observe his grandfather and father work in the family shop. His grandfather worked on household projects and his father was a talented furniture maker. Randy has come a long way since those days as a young boy watching his father and grandfather.

Like any artist, Randy looks to things around him for inspiration. Inspiration strikes when he is looking into family history, hiking, or riding his bike. As he slowly pedals down the road on his bicycle he has time to think about preliminary designs and work out any technical details of current projects. Fresh air and beautiful surroundings can go a long way for encouragement! I’m sure his bike rides are also a great time to think about his next choice in materials. He tries to use materials that are found locally, whether it be the wood he finds from his local sources, regionally tanned leather, or spalted wood found on one of his hikes.


I am most concerned with capturing the essence of my very rich dream life. My paintings are primarily attempts to find order and understanding within the greater context of my waking life. I find the act of lucid dreaming to be a spiritual tool of immense power, and my art seeks to give voice to this action.

The painting technique I employ is a variation of the old master’s glazing technique; where many layers of glaze hold pigment (oil based in this case) between layers, creating a quality of light and depth that I find to be interesting.


Dolph Smith has never lived more than an hour’s drive from where he was born in Memphis, Tennessee. His home/studio of thirty years in midtown and the Memphis College of Art where he taught for thirty years were only ten minutes from where he was born. Until he moved with wife Jessie to a new home/studio 50 miles away in the countryside, he had not come very far in life.

At Memphis College of Art he taught Painting, Drawing in early years, and, in the late 70s, developed a Hand Papermaking and Book Arts program called “The Flying Vat.” Dolph retired in 1995 and was elected Professor Emeritus. In 2004 awarded Honorary Doctor of Fine Arts, Memphis College of Art. Dolph’s art works ranged over the years from watercolors and drawings into years of paperworks and sculpture and he’s now involved with creating one of a kind handmade books. He has over 1,200 works in collections nationally including Japan and China and has been featured in Surface Design Journal, Hand Papermaking, The Complete Printmaker and was profiled with nine other American bookmakers in The Penland Book of Handmade Books.

Dolph travels nationally to teach including: Penland School, Arrowmont, Haystack, Oregon School of Arts and Craft, Appalachian Center, and Forum in Australia. Often a juror and lecturer, he is now working from a studio called Tennarkippi Field on Hurricane Hill in Western Tennessee.

Quote: If we knew what we were going to make, it just wouldn’t be a creative act, would it?


“In Hiebert’s hands, paper becomes an alternately muscular and fragile material capable of enigma, mystery and beauty. She crafts small-scale works that suggest the influence of architecture and the landscape: radial patterns, hexagonal shapes, various undulating forms that resemble the waves of sand found in the endless desert.” — DK Row, The Oregonian



Like most artists, I have been making art since I was a child. Bless my parents for putting most of it on the refrigerator. At university, I took my first painting class. From the moment I laid oil paint into panel, I fell in love with the medium’s visual and material sensuality. Recently, I re-learned the childhood pleasure of artistic play and began drawing again, then making collages, then tiptoeing into prints, artist books. . .I cannot stop. Too, I’ve discovered the joys of collaborating, of blending and communicating and creating with a partner. I cannot stop that, either; it’s a thread that weaves too well into my solitary work.


My work is dependent upon the viewer’s physical interaction to complete it, by incorporating many of our senses rather than relying on only the visual level. I deconstruct old typewriters, mechanical objects and musical instruments – then cannibalize the parts to build working instruments that entice the viewer to “play” with the work, creating a multi-dimensional experience. Found objects become hand crafted tools and devices to allow the viewer to create a narrative from visual sources such as photos, audio recordings, levers and keys that were designed to make sounds when manipulated. Movements, actions or sounds are often included within the scenario of one piece. I commonly use familiar objects such as piano keys to invite interaction. The look and feel of the piece is often reminiscent of the past and the act of physical manipulation further enhances memory. My ideas are about history, but also rooted firmly in the present, requiring one to go backwards in order to move forward. My work is designed so that the participation of the viewer is essential to the wholeness of the piece. Touch and time itself is an integral part of the experience causing small surface changes in the materials and personalizing the work by what is usually forbidden in the art world  – touch. I consider the piece unfinished until the viewer interacts with it.


Lindsay is such a good photographer… a total natural.  Check out her stuff on our MEDIA page and on the link below her name.  She’s also a sweetheart.


Maryann Riker was born and raised in western New Jersey in 1956. She studied art and received an undergraduate degree from Moravian College, and graduate degrees from Montclair State University and Vermont College.

She has exhibited her work in galleries throughout the United States including New York and Philadelphia and her work is included in museum, corporate, and private collections including AT&T and the National Museum of Women in the Arts. Her work has been juried and curated into shows by art world notables Ivan Karp, Bernice Steinbaum, Miriam Shapiro, and Sidney Goodman.

Her most recent work is inspired by her explorations into her past reflecting her upbringing in post-war America and American suburbia.


Andrea made a super cool short film inspired by the song Same Scar.


I am the father of two and a recovering corporate citizen who is trying to make films.


Torrie Hansen began her production career at age 8 by recording and manipulating sounds on her parents old tape recorder. She founded a film club at her high school, became obsessed with music videos on MTV, and wrote/directed her own episode of “Tales From the Darkside”. She’s had several miserable attempts at having a “real” job, and finally decided to follow her bliss as a filmmaker. For the last decade Torrie has focused on short form documentary than intertwines beautiful images with stunning sounds. Her biggest passion is still the art form of music video.


Patrick Mann has been performing on stage and film in Denver since 2006.  He is a graduate of the University of Northern Colorado, where he frequently performed in main stage productions and summer stock shows with Little Theatre of the Rockies.  Denver acting credits include Henry in Great Gain (Perception Films), Tom in Skeletons (Paper Cat Films), and Tuc in Mother Hicks (Firehouse Theatre Company).  Patrick is also co producer for Paper Cat Films (www.papercatfilms.com), a Denver based film company.


When I create a new work, I begin spontaneously, and progress intuitively, becoming more detailed as a composition takes form.  My art explores the balance between many ideas: tension and harmony, spontaneity and control, empty space and active space, depth and surface.  I believe that complex emotions can often speak through simple forms.   Every new, personal, life change has added new dimensions of expression to the way I create.  With each work, I enjoy a kind of conversation.   A particular work is complete when it no longer demands anything from me… but the conversation doesn’t stop there… enjoy!


While reading John Common’s lyrics and listening to his music, I found myself wanting to know more about the people in his neighborhood. Where did they come from? Where were they going? With those questions in mind,

I selected excerpts from his lyrics that made me want to know more, lyrics that made me want to find out whose experience was intertwined in his melody. The excerpts were then imbedded in images. Each image is one quadrant of a larger photograph, creating a slide of text and image that doubles as a puzzle piece. Each of the photographs that I chose were images that I had taken of locations that roused a strong sense of place.

After creating the lyric slides, I decided that I wanted to answer some of these questions for the viewer of the collaborative box project. I thought about the relationships formed by this project – there is John Common, the musician, Alicia Bailey, the curator-gallerist, me, the creator of the box and you, the viewer of the box. I thought about how this project connected us and how we each have a story to tell. I asked John and Alicia to share four specific thoughts, facts or memories from different points in their lives while I also came up with four from my life. These story pieces were imbedded in one quadrant of a map. When put together, these slides reveal the home state of each contributor.


My box, ‘The Common Canadian Dissected, Eh?’ is a three-drawer creation based on mythology and misconceptions about people living in the Great North. Participating in an exhibition which is physically very far away led to the idea of an introductory kit of ‘everyday’ Canadian objects for others to view – an anthropological examination of tongue-in-cheek Canuck ‘common’ culture.


Kristine Hipps is a filmmaker, writer, director, and founding co-producer of Papercat Films in Denver, CO. She worked for five years as a creative director, performer, and writer at The Second City in Chicago, and has an extensive resume of film, stage, commercial and voicover work. Her original stage play “Land of the Babydolls” was produced in New York City in 2008 by the Zenbaby Theater company, and she wrote, directed, and co-produced “The Monument”, an indie horror film which took the award for first place feature at the Hauntcon Film Festival in 2006.


Leighton Peterson makes films.  Leighton Peterson makes music.  Leighton Peterson makes love.  ALL AT THE SAME TIME.

We love Leighton Peterson.


I’m a writer and traveler, and I do them both pretty well.  But i can’t make music and i can’t make films, so when i heard about the call for entries for The Beautiful Empty I called my film maker friend Dave (of the Umbrella Brigade) and put him on the job, and we ended up with the film you’ll see for ‘Can You Hear Me’.

I have the good luck and pleasure of knowing people like John and Dave and many others with incredible skill sets including the folks I work with at Love Hope Strength.  This international cancer foundation works toward the eradication of the disease by, as we say, “setting up one cancer center in every country that needs one, one concert at a time.”  Please visit lovehopestrength.org to learn more.