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CMU Art Gallery 437CO announces 2019 partners

Colorado Mesa University’s Downtown Grand Junction Art Gallery, 437CO, is pleased to announce partnerships with Tacoparty, Carlson Vineyards and Kannah Creek Brewing Company. The Grand Junction businesses will serve as the official eatery, winery and brewery of the university art gallery throughout the 2019-2020 season.

Tacoparty, Carlson Vineyards and Kannah Creek Brewing Company will support 437CO through underwriting using an approach that will also assist the ongoing efforts of Downtown Grand Junction to

437CO is CMU's art gallery

enhance its status as a formal Colorado creative district.

“Tacoparty and Carlson Vineyards already have a strong relationship and we share many customers,” said Tacoparty head chef and owner Josh Niernberg. “Joining efforts to support students and strengthen the local art scene aligns with our mission and my own career as a culinary artist. This partnership with 437CO is a natural fit for both companies.”

Under the agreement Tacoparty will provide food for the 437CO gallery’s exhibitions while Carlson Vineyards will serve an exclusive wine label for the showings. The label, High Desert Wine Lab, is exclusively vinted for Tacoparty, Bin707 and Carlson Vineyard’s Tasting Rooms.

Cailin Portra and her husband Garrett own and operate Carlson Vineyards. A family business, the couple have hosted and supported CMU events in the past.

“People are generally familiar with the connection between art and wine, and in that regard this partnership makes a lot of sense and is mutually beneficial to our label. Beyond that supporting CMU and students simply represents our belief in the importance of education,” said Portra.

In addition to supporting 437CO, Tacoparty is establishing an extension of the student art gallery in the restaurant. Students will collaborate with Tacoparty to design art that will be displayed in the dining area that will also inspire a taco menu item styled after CMU. The dining area student art display will reflect the theme of 437CO’s ongoing exhibits.

Meghan Bissonnette is a professor of art at CMU and Director of 437CO. She is excited about the partnerships and the idea that culinary art and student art can be combined to enhance the downtown area’s art community.

“The fact that we have partners combining student art, viticulture and culinary arts into one underwriting partnership is going to be a meaningful opportunity for students and a great way to strengthen Downtown Grand Junction,” said Bissonnette.

Kannah Creek Brewing Company was announced as the official brew of 437CO and the company sees community benefit in linking the Kannah Creek 12th Street restaurant location to 437CO through the new complementary shuttle service called The Dash.

“From our perspective, being the official brew of 437CO makes sense for our business and for the community. Customers can ride the Dash from our 12th Street location to downtown in just a few minutes while enjoying our artisan brews at both locations,” said Kannah Creek Brewing Company Marketing Coordinator Maddie Banfield.

Banfield says a partnership with 437CO creates linkage between the company’s Edgewater Brewery location that also has connective potential with the greater downtown area.

In July 2019 The Colorado Mesa University Foundation and Department of Art and Design announced the Downtown Gallery was offering 2019-2020 underwriting and partnership opportunities. The CEO of the CMU Foundation, Liz Meyer, was excited about the response from the business community.

“With support from the staff at Downtown Grand Junction communicating availability of underwriting, the three companies expressed interest immediately,” said Meyer. “It’s a testament to the forward thinking and collaborative minds of the people at Tacoparty, Carlson Vineyards and Kannah Creek Brewing Company.”

While the new partnership will provide benefit to the companies, gallery and downtown art development, CMU faculty expressed an important benefit for students.

 “Art is expression but also is business,” said Suzie Garner, MFA, head of the department of art and design. “These kinds of collaborations help show student artists how to be both creative and business-minded so that they can make a living doing what they love.”

In addition to traditional gallery underwriting, CMU is working with the DDA to integrate partnerships and cross-promotional opportunities that will increase downtown visitation, promote the Dash shuttle route and support the creative district initiative. 

“Seeing Tacoparty, Kannah Creek/Edgewater and Carlson

Downtown Grand Junction's Brandon Stam

come together with students makes my job so rewarding,” said Downtown Grand Junction Executive Director Brandon Stam. “These kinds of collaborations help us develop creative district assets and help sustain our formal designation.”

The gallery’s next exhibition is Jiyoun Lee-Lodge’s Roommates and Strangers on September 6. Lee-Lodge is a visiting artist from Salt Lake City. Students, faculty and the community will be on hand to inaugurate the first exhibition at 437CO under the new partnership agreement while enjoying food and beverages from Tacoparty, Carlson Vineyards and Kannah Creek Brewing Company.

For more information about 2019-2020 exhibitions contact the CMU Department of Art and Design at 970.248.1833 or visit 

Additional gallery underwriting opportunity is available and interested businesses or individuals should contact the CMU Foundation for more information. To learn more about the benefits of 437CO underwriting contact Liz Meyer at the CMU Foundation at 970.248.1410.


Written by David Ludlam