Backyard Concerts: Art and Community

Jun 5, 2024

Think of this as a call to action: we need to be better about fostering and strengthening our communities. Easy to say, harder to do, we know. But in a day and age where it is becoming easier and easier to be and feel isolated, doing so becomes all the more necessary. 

One of the core concepts we try to achieve in our work, especially our residential projects, is the creation of spaces that ask to be gathered in. Our spaces are designed for hosting, gathering, and community. From the outdoor rooms in our COURTYARD HOUSES, SAUNA, and GALLATIN RIVER RESIDENCE, to the great rooms of our Bozeman Foothills and Yellowstone River residences: it’s all part of our effort to help others achieve this community building goal. 

So, if you’re like us, then you have a space to start building and strengthening community. Great. Now what? Well, now you need something to gather around. We have found that one of the best ways to achieve this dream is through art. More so than almost anything else, art, enjoyed together, builds community. A shared love of beauty and the arts has the potential to connect humans across all the lines and boundaries we make for ourselves. 

If this happens in a well-designed space, then we get a sort of feedback loop. The beautiful space enhances the art, and the art enhances the beautiful space. For example, think of a music hall or a theater. A concert’s music becomes better and more enjoyable because of the space. Granted, on some level, this is thanks to the acoustic design and engineering, but it can also be attributed in part to the beauty of the space itself. The beauty of the space creates an atmosphere in which the power of the art is amplified. Likewise, listening to a symphony in a thoughtfully designed venue elevates the beauty of the space as well. 

For a more physical example, think of any piece of visual art, like a photograph, painting, or sculpture. At least nine times out of ten, a beautiful painting looks better than a barren blank wall. And a beautiful painting looks better hanging in a beautiful space than it does on the ground of a storage room. The beauty of the space elevates the art and the beauty of the art elevated the space. In this symbiotic relationship between art and place, we find fertile ground to build community. Community happens in a space, around the art, which elevates and is elevated by that space. 

Once again, easier said than done. But we’ll put our money where our mouth is by giving an example of how we do this in our own lives. Last summer, we started the first of what we hope to be many backyard concerts for our friends and family. We invited a member of our community to play a set of classic guitar pieces in the backyard of our COURTYARD HOUSE (1). The porch of this space serves well as a stage. Our performer invited members of his community and we invited members of our various communities, from across the political and economic spectrum, into our outdoor space. Together, we enjoyed good food, conversation, and entertainment, all under the Montana summer sky. By the end of the night, everybody was asking when we were going to hold the next event. 

But your event doesn’t need to be this involved. We’ve hosted our fair share of simpler gatherings that are still centered on art, like backyard book clubs and film and documentary discussion groups. It can be as complicated as a private concert or as simple as a movie night. If you ask us, food is art too. Inviting a group over to cook a great meal together is a great way to build community. 

We are relational creatures. Don’t let your spaces enable seclusion and isolation. Rather, let them be tools to build your relationships. Do yourself a favor: invite some friends over, feed your bodies with some good food and your souls with some beautiful art, all from the comfort of your home.