Jeff Lapin will be the first one to tell you he spent about 40 years as a magazine publisher living vicariously through the artists his magazines featured.
Then retirement came. Suddenly, he had the time and space to reconnect directly with art and reimagine himself as the artist he had been during his undergraduate years of college. That is, until reality struck.
“I just could not create anything worth keeping,” Lapin said of his early forays into painting landscapes. “I wanted to fulfill my need to create, but it took years of classes to arrive at a place where my work is beginning to match my vision.”
After moving to Colorado, Lapin searched out a portrait instructor after studying the genre in Chicago. He feels blessed to have found Slawa Radziszewska, who teaches painting at the Lakewood Cultural Center. Through classes and personal experimentation, his work is continuously evolving.
“Creating portraits takes more discipline and more focus,” he said. “It’s exactly what I needed.” While he has shown his work in local galleries, he now is selling work at JeffLapinGallery.com and through commissions.
Around the same time, Lapin noticed a posting on Nextdoor about the need for volunteers for the Adams County Cultural Council. This council, Lapin learned, oversees the distribution of art and culture funding collected by the SCFD to dozens of organizations across Adams County and the entire Denver Metro area.
As an extension of his return to his own creative process, Lapin decided to donate some of his time to advancing the arts in his own community. The volunteer position gave him a chance to apply both personal focus and his professional experience.
“I looked at this post and thought, I have a passion for the arts and I understand the business side, so maybe I could make a contribution here,” Lapin said. “What I’ve learned after two years is there is no shortage of talent in our community.”
On the cultural council, Lapin along with other volunteer council members, reviews grant proposals from arts, culture and science organizations looking to use SCFD dollars to help them serve their communities and make their art. Over the last 30 years, organizations across the metro area have received hundreds of millions of dollars in funding through this process, creating a broad and deep ecosystem of cultural organizations.
Lapin has a particular fondness for one organization funded by the Adams County Cultural Council that uses art to help at-risk teens.
“Art reaches people in very different ways. It reaches them in therapeutic ways,” he said. “That’s the power of art. Each of us makes it and receives it differently based on our need.”
Lapin is working today on a series of portraits of women from a variety of cultures. In his volunteer work on the county cultural council he just finished reviewing and making recommendations on 74 submissions for funding.
“I’d encourage more people to get involved in this way, however they might be connected to the arts,” he said. “It’s really been a very fulfilling volunteer opportunity.”