by Nelson Holmes
LIBRE- By any measure conceivable, the celebration at Libre this last weekend was a triumphant success. The revelry began on Friday with an art exhibition and ended with poetry and relaxed conversation at the Waterfall Party on Sunday. Oh, and sandwiched in-between was a little concert that had people dancing until the wee hours of the morning. And, throughout it all, the feeling that informed this event (which drew hundreds of guests, if not more) was that of an epic family reunion. I felt somewhat awkward and intrusive at times as I watched intimacies rekindled and old friendships blossom anew. The thing that I found incredible was that the sense of the familial extended beyond the Libre residents and alumni to all those who shared a remembered time in this very special place.
The celebration began Friday with a gallery exhibition at Dean Fleming′s dome. Great conversation filled the air and the fruits of the Libroid artistic sense spoke through many media and genres. As much as the art, the view from Dean′s deck which takes in the full expanse of the Upper Huerfano, led the mood to happy reflection and nostalgia. In the midst of it all, the prime-mover and indefatigable ringmaster, Jim Fowler, could be seen addressing all those behind–the-scenes tasks that let the events unfold as if in a gentle breeze. Jim also found the time to play rhythm guitar and sing, read poetry and sell t-shirts! A particularly touching and humorous moment was the performance of a poem relating the collective experience of the children growing up in the commune by the "Daughters of Libre" led by Jim′s daughter Electra. The concert on Saturday highlighted some incredible local talent. Two folks who deserve special mention are Jan and John Pinner who not only engaged in some raucous rock & roll with the "Jim Fowler Experience" but, when on stage by themselves, produced some of the most beautiful melodies of the show. I wish I could say that I caught Planet O′s set and danced till the morning hours, but I′m old and I let my responsibilities interfere with a good time. It was fun to see folks, whom I′d never expect, dancing and carousing; this was a reunion and it took the whole community into its embrace.
So, what of the next forty years? The Libre community has sunken its roots deep and has become an organic part of this valley. The children and grandchildren of the original communards are bright, creative and successful; will they return to Libre and invest themselves of dreams similar to their elders? Maybe a new generation of rebels and artists will steer Libre towards different horizons and fresh vistas. I have a feeling that, whether as commune, artists′ colony, spiritual retreat or persistent memory, Libre will continue to resonate and echo through our small county and the greater culture. Here′s to another forty years!