Museum of Friends
The Museum of Friends (MoF’s) home is the historic “Roof and Dick” building in the heart of downtown Walsenburg. MoF is a Contemporary Art Museum incorporated in 2007 by artists Brendt Berger and Maria Cocchiarelli. The museum’s name stems from the fact that the initial 500-piece collection of paintings, photographs, and sculptures were gifts from friends to Brendt and Maria. Today, friends and new artists continue to donate their work, expanding the permanent collection to over 1,600 works of art.
COOL FACT: You can hear audio tapes by both brendt and maria that discuss a selection of the art in the permanent collection and their friendships with the artists
The museum is a well-known cultural amenity in process of a major capital rehabilitation plan scheduled for completion in 2025. Now includes an elevator to all three floors. MoF remains open during the construction work and offers changing art exhibits, a permanent collection, a locally sourced museum gift shop, and workshops and classes for children and adults running year-round. Tours of the permanent and changing exhibits are offered daily.
COOL FACT: a UNIQUE PART OF THE COLLECTION, HOUSED IN THE PACIFIC ROOMS Exhibit, INCLUDES ITEMS RELATED TO BRENDT BERGER’S native hawaiian ancestors, such as his great, great grandmother’s kapa moe (bed) and great, great, great gandfather’s poho kuni (medicine bowl), and OTHER artifacts COLLECTED FROM THE PACIFIC RIM.
The museum, considered the only counter-culture museum in the U.S., offers on-site and outreach educational programs, a reference library, an artist in residence apartment and program. The programs and exhibitions focus on social justice and the integration of community change by working with contemporary artists and their art.
ABOUT BRENDT BERGER AND MARIA COCCHIARELLI
The two have long and varied backgrounds as productive artists, art educators, and curators.
Brendt has a varied career of working with community in various parts of the US including Sun Spot in Maine and Organization of Independent Artists that placed contemporary art in Federal Buildings. He participated with the Libre community of artists outside of Gardner in Southern Colorado which led to the purchase of the former ALCO/Duckwalls building in Walsenburg aka the Historic Roof & Dick Building. He taught for many years from Mexico to New York and was a member of Berkeley’s Breakfast Group—a collection of well-known Bay Area artists many who are represented in MoF.
Maria was the education director for Mark di Suvero’s Socrates Sculpture Park in Long Island City. She taught art at Kean College in New Jersey, The Institute of Contemporary Art P.S. 1 (now the Museum of Modern Art) in Long Island City, and for the Kansas City Art Institute. Maria was the curator of education for the University of Wyoming in Laramie, and for the Kemper Museum in Kansas City and most recently for the Italian American Museum in New York. She is a public artist and muralist and was the first artist selected for the then newly designed 1% for the Arts School Construction Program that placed student art facilitated by artists in newly built schools (banners, and tile installations.) Her murals and public art are in Kansas City, Kansas, Science City at Union Station in Kansas City, Missouri and most recently a commissioned Colorado Department of Health Mural Public Health is a Puzzle at Miner’s Plaza in Walsenburg. Both Brendt and Maria’s art is in public and private collections throughout the United States.
Their current community project is a RedLine in Denver, “Arts in Society” funded grant project to create art planter boxes with 3-d and CAD design technology with unemployed Veterans to beautify the downtown. They are also working with Judge Leslie Gerbracht and retired Judge Claude Appel to adorn the new Huerfano County Courthouse with art including children’s art.