Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Cottonwood gets good news to the tune of $15,000

Posted By on Wed, Dec 7, 2016 at 3:11 PM

The Soul of San Luis is one of three eclectic exhibits on display at Cottonwood through December
  • The Soul of San Luis is one of three eclectic exhibits on display at Cottonwood through December
Thanks to Colorado Creative Industries, a division of the Colorado Office of Economic Development, our very own Cottonwood Center for the Arts announced today that it has received a two-year, $15,000 grant. 

Among Cottonwood’s usual programming (such as its rotating art exhibits, classes and theater performances), the grant will also fund such special projects as the neighboring alleyway they’ve been improving with the help of Concrete Couch, which is meant to be an outdoor creative space for artists and performers.

Some money will also funnel into Cottonwood’s newest entity, Textiles West, which provides resources for textile and fiber artists.

Considering Cottonwood’s programming continues to go above and beyond, we’re all anxious to see what they’ll do with this opportunity. Check out this portion of the press release to see what Cottonwood has to say:

State grants are highly competitive, and signifies that Cottonwood provides high-quality programs, community service and administrative ability to the city and the state at large. Cottonwood serves over 25,000 visitors annually, and works tirelessly to give a voice to underserved populations. These include fully scholarshipped art classes, programming with TESSA, Finding Our Voices and Urban Peak, as well as exhibitions that partner with entities such as the United Court of the Pikes Peak Empire and the Colorado Springs Queer Collective.

2016 has proved to be a banner year for Cottonwood Center for the Arts. This grant will join the gifts and donations from the Bee Vradenburg Foundation, Richard Petritz Foundation, Griffis/Blessing, Inc., Google, and the kindness of individuals throughout the community.

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Ladyfingers Letterpress hosts all-local holiday sale

Posted By on Wed, Dec 7, 2016 at 2:44 PM

Local printmakers, card-makers and stationery-sellers Ladyfingers Letterpress are always worth a visit. Their unique (and often tongue-in-cheek) hand-printed and uniquely designed greeting cards became somewhat of an internet sensation after they printed a card based on the Netflix hit, Stranger Things.

But Friday, they’re giving us one more reason to drop by. Ladyfingers’ Sweet Holidaze Sale isn’t just a sale of their own locally made wares, but features some other artisanal goodies from local makers.

With The Universe Conspires’ jewelry, Flourish’s terrariums, Wandering Ink’s screen-printed apparel and what their flyer calls “other artisanal radness,” everything at this shindig is locally made. And all of it is a little off-the-beaten-path, a little indie and DIY, much like Ladyfingers’ whole aesthetic.

Our last three issues of the Independent have contained a shop local guide, encouraging you to keep your holiday dollars in our local economy. Well, it doesn’t get more local than this. Support your hometown business and artists, and pick up some one-of-a-kind gifts for the rest of the folks on your gift list. Trust us, this beats Amazon.


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Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Bee Vradenburg Foundation gifts $5,000 in surprise grants

Posted By on Wed, Nov 30, 2016 at 1:12 PM

Executive Director David Siegel - BEE VRADENBURG FOUNDATION
  • Bee Vradenburg Foundation
  • Executive Director David Siegel
It's always nice when hard work gets recognized. And last Wednesday, the Bee Vradenburg Foundation gave out five surprise $1,000 grants to local organizations who did cool things for the arts in Colorado Springs this year. Congratulations and thanks are in order — to the Bee Vradenburg Foundation and to the hardworking grant recipients: “First and foremost we wanted to select organizations doing incredible art, and groups that may be less well known than they ought to be," says David Siegel, Executive Director for the Bee Vradenburg Foundation. "We also tried to select a diverse group of art forms — everything from spoken word, to modern dance, to public art — to highlight the diversity of the arts community in the Pikes Peak region.”

If the Foundation's unprecedented act of kindness leaves you feeling charitable, both Ormao Dance Company and Springs Ensemble Theatre are a part of this year's Indy Give! campaign.

Read the full text of the press release below:
November 23, 2015 Colorado Springs, CO – Five Colorado Springs arts nonprofits received surprise $1,000 “thank you” grants this week from the Bee Vradenburg Foundation to celebrate a banner year for the arts in the Pikes Peak region. In an unprecedented move for the Foundation, the grants are unsolicited and designed to celebrate the often unsung arts organizations that enhance the community year round.

“We want to extend our sincere gratitude during this season of giving to the exceptional arts organizations that make the Pikes Peak region a great place to call home” said Foundation Board President, Phil Kendall. “We reap the benefits of these organizations daily – whether it’s a mosaic in a neighborhood park, or youth poetry slam after school – this is a very small way for us to say thanks.”

Recipients of the unsolicited $1,000 grants are:
• Colorado Springs Creative Collective championed a feasibility process to assess the validity of an Artspace Development to provide affordable live/work space for local artists.
• Concrete Couch unveiled several impressive “community built” public art installations including a mural at the Penrose Public Library and a giant pumpkin on the corner of Pueblo and Nevada Avenues.
• Hear Here continues to champion the local slam poetry scene and recently brought a team of local high school students to compete at the Brave New Voices festival in Washington DC.
• Ormao Dance Company premiered a groundbreaking “site-specific” dance work at the former Gazette newsroom and print shop earlier this year.
• Springs Ensemble Theatre is always on the cutting edge of live theatre and with productions like an all-female Titus Andronicus, 2016 was no exception.

“2016 was a banner year for art in the Pikes Peak region, largely thanks to innovative organizations like these” said Foundation Executive Director, David Siegel. “On any night of the week you can see live theatre, perform at a poetry slam, take in a dance performance, or enjoy public art. This remarkable access to art enriches our community and these grants are our way of saying thanks.”

Bee Vradenburg Foundation furthers the legacy of Bee Vradenburg by advancing the relevance, resilience and greatness of the arts in the Pikes Peak region. To date the Foundation has awarded more than $2.5 million to local artists and arts organizations with the knowledge that the arts are the soul of a thriving community.

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Monday, November 7, 2016

Mountain Fold Books announces closure

Posted By on Mon, Nov 7, 2016 at 4:31 PM

Marina Eckler announced the store's closure on Friday, Nov. 4. - MATTHEW SCHNIPER
  • Matthew Schniper
  • Marina Eckler announced the store's closure on Friday, Nov. 4.
After three years in business, Mountain Fold Books has closed, effective Friday, Nov. 4. Marina Eckler made the official announcement via Facebook, citing the Pikes Peak Community Foundation's recent discontinuation of its fiscal sponsorship program as a major reason for the bookstore's closure.

Founded by UCCS visual arts instructor Marina Eckler and English graduate Jonathan Fey, the store housed small-press books, zines, offbeat comics and other such print publications that are generally hard to come by. During its time, the store became a center for local arts and cultural events, including a zine fest. The store was also a participant in the Independent's Indy Give! campaign last year.
The Indy reached out to Eckler for comment, we'll update this posting if and when we hear back.

The store will be open one last time this Saturday, Nov. 12, from noon to 5 p.m., to sell its remaining stock, as well as furniture, dishes and everything else in the store. Any unsold books will be donated to the Pikes Peak Library District.

Read the full text of Mountain Fold's closure announcement below:

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Friday, November 4, 2016

The Cultural Office wants your Arts Month input

Posted By on Fri, Nov 4, 2016 at 1:40 PM

Well, October has sadly come to an end, which means we have a whole year to wait for another Arts Month. If you took advantage of the myriad arts and culture opportunities around town last month, then the Cultural Office of the Pikes Peak Region wants you to share your experience.

"The third year of Arts Month was a solid success," says Cultural Office Executive Director Andy Vick, "with significant growth over last year. Each October now, more people 'have one new cultural experience with family or friends,' so we're asking the whole community to tell us about their experiences through our first-ever Arts Month survey."

The survey, which takes only a few minutes to complete, is meant to provide the Cultural Office with new data to take into Arts Month next year. Deadline is noon Thursday, Nov. 10.

Bonus: By completing the survey you will be entered to win two weekend passes to the Rocky Mountain Women's Film Festival, Nov. 11-13. Pick up the November 9 issue of the Independent for more on the festival.

If you aren't quite ready to leave Arts Month behind, join the Cultural Office for "Coffee with COPPeR: Arts Month Wrapup" on Friday, Nov. 18, 8:30 a.m. RSVP to

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Thursday, October 13, 2016

Buntport Theater reveals a storage container concept for a new show

Posted By on Thu, Oct 13, 2016 at 1:59 PM

You can still catch Buntport's The Rembrandt Room at The MAT through this weekend - COURTESY MILLIBO ART THEATRE
  • Courtesy Millibo Art Theatre
  • You can still catch Buntport's The Rembrandt Room at The MAT through this weekend
Buntport Theater, a lauded Denver-based performing arts company, always does things a little differently. If you’ve attended any of the shows they’ve brought down to the Millibo Art Theatre — such as The Rembrandt Room, which runs at The MAT through this weekend — you’re well aware that their brand of theater is both off-the-beaten-path and accessible to all sorts of audiences.

In this instance, they’re up to something particularly intriguing. Buntport just rolled out a press release for a show they’re planning to stage in May, if only because they have already started the rather extensive process to create it.

Using up to $500, the company is going to purchase a storage unit at auction (like that TV show, Storage Wars) and use the contents of the storage unit as inspiration to create an original production from the ground up. To make it just a little harder on themselves, they’ve established some rules.

1. We can go up to three times to an auction. We can buy at any time, but we must buy on the third if we have not already.
2. We can spend up to $500 on a storage unit.
3. We will brainstorm the plot and design of the show based on what we find in the unit.
4. We have to use at least 75% of what is in the unit on the stage during the show. [NOTE: we are allowed to throw out anything that does not seem safe (i.e. covered in mold) before narrowing down to 75%]
5. We can alter the contents in any creative way that we choose.
6. We can supplement and alter with anything that we already own. Supplementation cannot exceed the amount of stuff we get from the unit.
7. We can spend an additional $200 on building materials or any necessary prop, set, or costume piece. We can also spend any money made off of selling items from the unit that we will not be using.

There's no telling right now what the play will be about, what it will look like or, really, anything else about it. All we know is it’s sure to be interesting.

If they don’t schedule a staging at the Millibo, we’ll make sure you know when and where to catch it.

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Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Dragon Theatre offers Arts Month incentives to theater fans

Posted By on Tue, Oct 11, 2016 at 1:17 PM

As you probably know from all the events going on around town, October is Arts Month. Written into the purpose of this arts explosion is a challenge: have one new cultural or artistic experience during the month of October.

For those of us who endeavor to do that every month, Dragon Theatre Productions and COPPeR are stepping it up a notch.

Dragon Theatre has officially challenged the public — that’s you — to see as many theater productions as you can possibly fit into these few weeks, and they’ve got goodies in mind for those who complete the challenge.

If you see four or more shows, you can enter to win a prize (which includes theater tickets and other “swag”), and if you see more than four you could become the “Community Theater Supporter Supreme,” a title which comes with its own crown and sash.
The Elephant Man runs Oct. 13-30 at Springs Ensemble Theatre
  • The Elephant Man runs Oct. 13-30 at Springs Ensemble Theatre

Any theatrical performance in the area counts toward this challenge, whether you’re into October’s traditional round of Rocky Horror Picture Shows or more small-scale performances like The Elephant Man at Springs Ensemble Theater or The Bold, The Young and the Murdered at Funky Little Theater Company.

You can print out an entry form and drop it off at the COPPeR office, 121 S. Tejon St., #111, anytime before Nov. 8. There’s still plenty of Arts Month left to go, and plenty of shows left to see.

If you need suggestions, check out our theater listings.

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Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Winners from Tuesday night's Pikes Peak Arts Council awards

Posted By on Wed, Oct 5, 2016 at 2:23 PM

Jon Khoury accepts his Arts Champion of the Year Award. - GRIFFIN SWARTZELL
  • Griffin Swartzell
  • Jon Khoury accepts his Arts Champion of the Year Award.
Tuesday night, the Pikes Peak Arts Council honored the wealth of artistic talent in the Springs at its 16th annual awards gala. PPAC gave out a total of 22 awards, lauding artists in film, theater, visual arts, dance, poetry and music, plus four lifetime achievement awards.

Jon Khoury, Executive Director for the Cottonwood Center for the Arts, was given the Arts Champion of the Year award. When presenting the award, COPPeR executive director Andy Vick remarked on Khoury’s massive involvement in local arts, his dedication, and his “palpable, infectious” love for the arts scene in the Springs. Khoury says that Springs artists are “as good as anywhere,” and that the message about our excellence is spreading. He says that when he first came here from New York, he was struck by the “open-heartedness” of our scene, as well as the degree of support our artists provide to each other.

Lynette Reagan, administrative assistant at the Millibo Art Theater, was not on-site to accept her Spirit of the Arts award (sponsored by Aventa Credit Union). Still, she was praised for her work at the MAT and for the Six Women Playwriting Festival, which she organizes.

Murray Ross was met with a standing ovation when he was called up to accept his Eve Tilley Lifetime Achievement Award. The artistic director for Theatreworks is in his 40th year as a part of the Springs' theatrical community. Most recently, he helped design a new Dusty Loo Bon Vivant Theater at the under-construction Ent Center for the Arts, based on London's Dorfman (formerly Cottesloe) Theatre.

Claire Swinford earns the title "rising star" every day in the Springs' arts scene. - GRIFFIN SWARTZELL
  • Griffin Swartzell
  • Claire Swinford earns the title "rising star" every day in the Springs' arts scene.
Lastly, but by no means least, Claire Swinford received the Rising Star Award. Swinford expressed her love for the Springs and its cultural scene, while outlining her journey from Indy intern to urban engagement manager for the Downtown Partnership and noted visual artist besides.

Beyond that, local Shaienne Knox took home the trophies for Excellent Experimental or Documentary Film and Young Filmmaker for her film Out of Our Heads. Poet laureate (and event emcee) Susan Peiffer accepted the trophies for Excellent Poetry Program and Outstanding Poetry or Spoken Word Performance for Hear Here and its slams at the Lon Chaney Theatre. And Brett Andrus won in the Outstanding Visual Artist category for his art, and in the Outstanding Exhibition category for the surREAList show at the Modbo, which he co-owns with Lauren Ciborowski.

Check out photos of the winners accepting their awards, followed by a full list of nominees and winners, below:
Krithika Prashant was moved by the city's love of her dancing and her culture. - GRIFFIN SWARTZELL
  • Griffin Swartzell
  • Krithika Prashant was moved by the city's love of her dancing and her culture.
Jacob Flesher accepts his Inspiring Cultural Dancer award. - GRIFFIN SWARTZELL
  • Griffin Swartzell
  • Jacob Flesher accepts his Inspiring Cultural Dancer award.
Though a little mic-shy, Shaienne Knox earned two awards with her film Out of Our Heads. - GRIFFIN SWARTZELL
  • Griffin Swartzell
  • Though a little mic-shy, Shaienne Knox earned two awards with her film Out of Our Heads.
Joy Armstrong accepted the Engaging Community Event Showcasing Music award for JAM FAC, thanking her collaborators. - GRIFFIN SWARTZELL
  • Griffin Swartzell
  • Joy Armstrong accepted the Engaging Community Event Showcasing Music award for JAM FAC, thanking her collaborators.
PPAC President accepts an award for her band, Eros and the Eschaton. - GRIFFIN SWARTZELL
  • Griffin Swartzell
  • PPAC President accepts an award for her band, Eros and the Eschaton.
Poet Mark Cooney, right, accepts his award from Jim Ciletti, center, of Hooked on Books - GRIFFIN SWARTZELL
  • Griffin Swartzell
  • Poet Mark Cooney, right, accepts his award from Jim Ciletti, center, of Hooked on Books
Eve Tilley introduces Murray Ross, winner of the Lifetime Achievement Award. - GRIFFIN SWARTZELL
  • Griffin Swartzell
  • Eve Tilley introduces Murray Ross, winner of the Lifetime Achievement Award.
Sammy Gleason brought the laughs in Buyer & Cellar, earning an award for humorous theater. - GRIFFIN SWARTZELL
  • Griffin Swartzell
  • Sammy Gleason brought the laughs in Buyer & Cellar, earning an award for humorous theater.
(L to R) Sarah S. Shaver, Emory John Collinson, Taylor Geiman and Rachel Baker accept Springs Ensemble Theatre's award. - GRIFFIN SWARTZELL
  • Griffin Swartzell
  • (L to R) Sarah S. Shaver, Emory John Collinson, Taylor Geiman and Rachel Baker accept Springs Ensemble Theatre's award.
Brett Andrus took home awards for his art and his gallery both. - GRIFFIN SWARTZELL
  • Griffin Swartzell
  • Brett Andrus took home awards for his art and his gallery both.
Arts Champion of the Year Award
Jon Khoury

Dancing from the Heart
Krithika Prashant (winner)
Brittane Hughes
Larry Keigwin

Inspiring Cultural Dancer
Jacob Flesher (winner)
Adriana Jones
AuraTejas Hemsell

Outstanding Collaborative Dance Performance
Shakti by Colorado Springs Dance Theatre (winner)
Bound by Ormao Dance Company
Press by Ormao Dance Company

Excellent Experimental or Documentary Film
Out of Our Heads by Shaienne Knox (winner)
Dom by Kalia Hunter
Spaceship Earth by David Gardner

Outstanding Comedy or Drama Film
Drop It by Tyler Hunt (winner)
Fifty Shades of Kilroy by Nathanael Letteer
Into the Night by Kai Dickson

Young Filmmaker Award
Shaienne Knox for Out of Our Heads (winner)
Kai Dickson for Into the Night
Kalia Hunter for Dom

Aventa Credit Union Spirit of the Arts Award
Lynette Reagan

Engaging Community Event Showcasing Music
JAM FAC (winner)

Extraordinary Solo Musician
Dear Rabbit (winner)
Colin McAllister
Curtis Boucher

Outstanding Musical Group Achievement
Eros and the Eschaton (winner)

Amazing Poem or Collection of Poems
Front Range, Nature's Irony by Mark Cooney (winner)
Every Step An Arrival by Tyler Hill
Language Lesson by Mallory Everhart

Excellent Poetry Program
Hear Here's Youth Program (winner)
Colorado College SpeakEasy

Outstanding Poetry or Spoken Word Performance
Hear Here Poetry Slam at Lon Chaney Theatre (winner)
The Story Project at Manitou Bindu
Queer Open Mic at Mountain Folds Books

Eve Tilley Lifetime Achievement Award
Murray Ross

Make ‘Em Laugh
Buyer & Cellar at Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center (winner)
9 to 5 at Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center
Tuna Christmas at the Millibo Art Theatre

Make ‘Em Shudder
Endgame by the Star Bar Players (winner)
Death and the Maiden by Theatre d’Art
Wait Until Dark at Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center

Make ‘Em Think
Lonesome Hollow by Springs Ensemble Theatre (winner)
Driving Miss Daisy at Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center
Putting it Together at Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center

Visual Arts
Excellent Gallery or Visual Art Experience
The Kreuser Gallery (winner)
Cottonwood Center for the Arts
First Friday Art Walk

Outstanding Visual Artist
Brett Andrus (winner)
Caitlin Goebel
Chuck Mardosz

Outstanding Exhibition
the surREAList show at The Modbo (winner)
Karen Khoury at The Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center
Same Day Different Tree by Mike Pach

Rising Star Award
Claire Swinford

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Monday, October 3, 2016

Preview: Ent Center for the Arts at UCCS

Posted By on Mon, Oct 3, 2016 at 5:31 PM

Viewed from the east, this will be the front of the Ent Center for the Arts when it opens in January, 2018. - GRIFFIN SWARTZELL
  • Griffin Swartzell
  • Viewed from the east, this will be the front of the Ent Center for the Arts when it opens in January, 2018.
UCCS will be moving its performing arts programs to a new, purpose-built building in order to encourage collaboration. Dubbed the Ent Center for the Arts, it's set to open in January of 2018. That's the story behind the Ent Center for the Arts, but that's a fraction of the cool things they've packed into this new building. I toured the active construction site last Thursday, Sept. 27, and what I saw promises to be a substantial resource for arts in the Springs.

When finished, the 92,000 square foot building will feature three theaters, a recital hall and a gallery, as well as rehearsal spaces for music and stage, a recording studio and more. 

On the outside, the building will be mostly glass and metal. Matt Vineyard, senior project manager at JE Dunn construction and leader of our tour, says the building will act as a display room for a state-of-the-art anti-reflective glass — a critical choice, considering the building's location on the east side of Nevada Avenue.

As for the theaters, the Dusty Loo Bon Vivant and Osborne theaters' names will be carried over. The new Dusty Loo is modeled on the Dorfman (formerly Cottesloe) Theatre in London. Once more, it's a true black box, but now, it features a trapdoor and space underneath. They've already built a mezzanine and catwalk — the former can be used for seating or theatrics, while the latter will provide crew with access to the new lighting rig, set up on a pair of rolling gantries for added versatility. All told, it's going to be pretty similar in size to the current Dusty Loo, seating as many as 250 to 300 people, depending on performance constraints. As for the Osborne, it's much bigger, seating up to 100 people.

And then there's the new, yet-unnamed theater, which will host all manner of performances, including live music, dance, theater and film. It seats 786 — smaller than the 2,000 seat Pikes Peak Center, but, by design, big enough for smaller touring events. The acoustic panels will be fully adjustable, so the space can sound great whether it's hosting a film festival, a string quartet or a rock band. It will also have an orchestra shell and a sprung floor system for dance performances.

The Chapman Foundation recital hall, which will seat 242, has been built to have some of the most stringent sound control in the state, according to Vineyard. He describes it as a box in a box, acoustically isolated from the entire rest of the building.

GOCA 1420 will be closing, but the Ent Center will feature a new one, dubbed the Marie Walsh Sharpe GOCA. It's going to be about the same size — 2,550 square feet and around 14 feet from floor to ceiling — but it will boast a museum-certified humidity control system, so it can host "anything we can borrow," according to GOCA director Daisy McGowan. When it opens, the first exhibit will be a new body of works from local artist Floyd Tunson, according to McGowan.

That said, the Center is designed to host art throughout. On the southwest corner, there will be a statuary garden, with an ever-changing lineup. Expect also sculptures suspended from the ceiling of the lobby, including a piece by LA-based Ball-Nogues Studio.

Check out the photos I took on the tour below:
The Center's lobby will have massive glass walls, designed to frame the view of Pikes Peak. - GRIFFIN SWARTZELL
  • Griffin Swartzell
  • The Center's lobby will have massive glass walls, designed to frame the view of Pikes Peak.
The yet-unnamed main theater will seat 786 people and feature an extended stage, orchstra shell and sprung floor system for dance performances. - GRIFFIN SWARTZELL
  • Griffin Swartzell
  • The yet-unnamed main theater will seat 786 people and feature an extended stage, orchstra shell and sprung floor system for dance performances.
The Center has multiple balconies; this one will overlook the statuary garden and underpass to University Village. - GRIFFIN SWARTZELL
  • Griffin Swartzell
  • The Center has multiple balconies; this one will overlook the statuary garden and underpass to University Village.

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Friday, September 30, 2016

Downtown goes digital for Arts Month

Posted By on Fri, Sep 30, 2016 at 2:24 PM

To celebrate Arts Month (October), the Downtown Partnership just launched an app to facilitate a self-guided tour of its Art on the Streets exhibit.

The tour, which you can reach through downloading Otocast (instructions below), uses GPS to point you in the direction of downtown’s art installations. There will be a recording you can play at each stop. Generally, the recording will be the voice of the artist, explaining their inspiration, but in some cases you can listen to a whole new element of the artwork.

For instance, Chico Santos’ installation, Colorado, now comes complete with sounds of a Brazilian rainforest, meant to help you “experience the tension evoked by the piece between nature and the human-built environment.”

Chico Santos / Colorado - ALISSA SMITH
  • Alissa Smith
  • Chico Santos / Colorado

The app is compatible with all smartphones, but here’s a tip: bring a pair of headphones or crank up your speaker. Some of these installations are next to busy streets and it can be a little tough to hear.

How to access the tour:

1. Download the free Otocast app to any smartphone. Find it on Google Play or iTunes.

2. Allow the GPS-based app to use your location and it will automatically place Art on the Streets tour at the top of the list.

3. Use the map and images to find Art on the Streets sculptures throughout Downtown. Click the play button at the bottom of the screen to listen to artists talk about their work.

Find more info on the Downtown Colorado Springs website.

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Friday, September 2, 2016

CC already making major personnel changes to FAC

Posted By on Fri, Sep 2, 2016 at 3:05 PM

FAC CEO David Dahlin and CC President Jill Tiefenthaler discuss the future of the Fine Arts Center. - MATTHEW SCHNIPER
  • Matthew Schniper
  • FAC CEO David Dahlin and CC President Jill Tiefenthaler discuss the future of the Fine Arts Center.
Well that was quick. Less than a week after taking over the Fine Arts Center, Colorado College has appointed three of its own to positions within the FAC.

Associate professor of art Rebecca Tucker has been named the museum's new director. Much of her academic background is in Renaissance art and art by the so-called Old Masters — that is, pre-1800s European artists. While her page on the CC website says nothing about specific experience with Southwestern art and artifacts, a defining component of the FAC's historic mission, it does say that her work "examines issues of trade, cultural transmission, and artistic exchange between Europe, India, and the New World." The press release also notes that CC plans to select a Southwest art Curator sometime in the coming months.

Jessica Hunter-Larsen, best known for her work curating for the IDEA space at CC, will now also be acting as Director of Academic Engagement for the FAC, a new position that will "work with the FAC curatorial team to develop innovative approaches to curating, and to build educational connections between the museum, the community and the campus," according to the press release. Hunter-Larsen will be working with Briget Heidmous, whose Assistant Curator title will carry over from CC to the FAC. However, the press release notes that Heidmous will manage the IDEA space through 2017, before moving to the FAC.

There's also some news regarding Joy Armstrong, who was originally slated to take over the Chief Curator/Executive Director position. She has been hired as Curator for Modern and Contemporary Art. Of note, she is now an employee of CC along with Michael Howell, FAC registrar; Jeremiah Houck, FAC preparator; and Lauren Tyson, FAC special projects/admin, according to the press release. They're the first of the FAC employees to have their employment transferred — starting on July 1, 2017, everyone working at the FAC will be employed by CC.

Read the full text of the press release below:

FACCC new staff.pdf FAC at CC new staff press release.
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Tuesday, August 30, 2016

UPDATE: CC, FAC offer clarification on Chief Curator change

Posted By on Tue, Aug 30, 2016 at 9:27 AM

This morning, CC's Vice President for Communications, Jane Turnis, asked us to clarify Tiefenthaler's comments, as noted below.

——ORIGINAL POST 4:10 P.M. MON., AUG 29, 2016——

In the ongoing Colorado College/Fine Arts Center takeover business, which was finalized last Thursday, there was one prominent piece of bad news that dampened the whole affair: the announcement that beloved curator Joy Armstrong would not be stepping into the role of Executive Director and Chief Curator. At the time, FAC CEO David Dahlin suggested that due to the academic mission that the FAC would take on as part of the takeover, the new curator would have to have a terminal degree. We were unable to confirm this with CC President Jill Tiefenthaler, as she was unavailable.
Joy Armstrong will not be taking over Blake Milteer's job — but not because she doesn't have a terminal degree. - COURTESY JOY ARMSTRONG
  • Courtesy Joy Armstrong
  • Joy Armstrong will not be taking over Blake Milteer's job — but not because she doesn't have a terminal degree.

However, we spoke to both last week, and Tiefenthaler dispelled the idea that the terminal degree was a sticking point. Rather, she clarified that the new hire would have to have experience navigating academic bureaucracy working in higher education in order to serve the FAC's added academic mission as well as its duty to the public.

“We’ve got to make sure we’ve got people who can do both of those on staff," she says. "While the Fine Arts Center has had a great museum staff, it hasn’t had an academic mission or an academic focus. We need people who can do both of those." To that end, Tiefenthaler says they'll be looking for directorial and curatorial staff that has had experience working with students and teachers. Dahlin adds that the takeover will include some substantial restructuring, which was also a point of consideration.

“The job that we had been talking about Joy taking really won’t exist in the future," he says. "It made sense for us to say ‘Whoa, whoa, whoa, we need to step back from this and look at what does this real future museum function look like and museum staffing look like.'" It's more likely that the Chief Curator and Executive Director roles will be split. Dahlin notes that most of Armstrong's expertise is as a curator. He adds that former Chief Curator Blake Milteer's holding both roles was not standard practice for museums, and indeed was a huge role to have just one person fill.

“We’re hoping to correct that and have more appropriate staffing with more appropriate expertise for the different functions that need to be there in the museum,” says Dahlin.
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Thursday, August 25, 2016

CC and FAC finalize alliance

Posted By on Thu, Aug 25, 2016 at 12:56 PM

FAC CEO David Dahlin and CC President Jill Tiefenthaler discuss the future of the Fine Arts Center. - MATTHEW SCHNIPER
  • Matthew Schniper
  • FAC CEO David Dahlin and CC President Jill Tiefenthaler discuss the future of the Fine Arts Center.

The Fine Arts Center and Colorado College have signed the papers, said the vows and walked down the proverbial aisle. The alliance that the FAC first announced in January has been finalized. Over the next four years, Colorado College will take over the historic institution in order to maintain its mission, protect its collection and keep it financially solvent.

Effective immediately, CC has taken over management of the FAC. At the start of the next fiscal year — July 1, 2017 — CC will take over all employees, contracts and donations. The FAC will then lease all of its physical assets — that's the buildings, the land under them and the collections within — to CC for three years. Come 2020, CC will fully own all of the FAC's assets.
While the FAC's mission to serve the community and the region will not change, CC President Jill Tiefenthaler says that the mission will have to expand to serve an academic purpose as well.

To fund the academic mission, as well as general operations costs, CC has allocated $20 million of its endowment to the FAC, more than doubling the institution's existing $13 million endowment. The plan is to build a $45 million endowment by 2020, partially through fundraising efforts. On top of this, CC has also committed to provide $500,000 in funding to finance repairs and upkeep in this first year of the alliance.

Before July 1, CC and the FAC will form three planning groups: one to address the future of the museum itself, one to address the future of the FAC's theater programs and facilities, and one to address the Bemis School of Art. That third group will have its work cut out for it; during the planning process, an evaluation confirmed that the Bemis School building is "beyond its useful life," according to an FAQ released by the FAC today. While CC and the FAC have committed to keeping the classes at Bemis going for at least the next two years and offering community education opportunities beyond that, the details of how and where are unknown.

All that said, this transition will not affect the announced 2016/17 programming season. Look for more info on this page and in the upcoming August 31 issue of the Indy. Until then, read the FAC's FAQ sheet and the full text of the press release below:
FAC-CC-Alliance-FAQs.pdf FAC-CC-Alliance FAQ
Colorado College President Jill Tiefenthaler and Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center President and CEO David Dahlin today announced an historic alliance between the two institutions that signals the re-envisioning and redefining of both organizations’ contributions to the arts in the region. The partnership supports the missions of both organizations while expanding innovative learning opportunities, arts programming and cultural resources for the greater Colorado Springs community. Today’s announcement marks the signing of legal documents by both organizations.

“The Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center is a cultural gem, and I’m excited about the immense possibilities this alliance presents for all involved,” Tiefenthaler said. “I look forward to rolling up our sleeves and working to create the most innovative, dynamic and vibrant organization possible. I plan to actively seek community input as together we envision the amazing future potential of the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center at Colorado College.”

“I’m thrilled to help create a strong and vibrant future for the Fine Arts Center that will enable it to thrive and build upon its legacy for another 100 years,” Dahlin said. “This is truly a win-win-win agreement benefiting the FAC, CC and the entire community.”

Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers praised the affiliation. “This partnership, which brings together two of our most prominent institutions in arts and higher education, is something we should all look to as an example of innovative, collaborative future-building,” he said. “We all benefit as a community from the expanded and dynamic possibilities this represents in our arts, culture and education sectors.”

For nearly 100 years, the two institutions have collaborated in a variety of important ways. This includes the FAC serving as the college’s de facto art department in the 1920s–1940s, co-hosting an annual Conference on Fine Arts in the 1930s, collaborating on shared programming and exhibitions throughout the decades, and the recent gift in 2015 of the FAC’s extensive art publication archives to the Tutt Library at Colorado College.

The goal of the alliance goes beyond merging two existing organizations: It seeks to create something new, ground-breaking and forward-looking, leaders of both institutions say. The partnership produces an operational structure that achieves key Colorado College and Fine Arts Center strategic objectives while helping to create long-term sustainability for the Fine Arts Center and solidifying a community goal of a sustainable, ongoing commitment to community fine arts programming. The result will be expanded community offerings and enriched student experiences. Tiefenthaler envisions a year of planning before implementing changes. “We want to hear from those who are committed to the Fine Arts Center as well as bring in new voices,” she said. A series of three listening sessions, open to the community, are planned:

• Sept. 8, 7:30 a.m. to 9 a.m., Fine Arts Center Music Room
• Sept. 14, 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m., CC’s Packard Performance Hall
• Sept. 26, 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., Fine Arts Center Music Room

Philanthropic leaders in the Colorado Springs community have pledged their support to this game-changing partnership. “Over the last couple of years, the Fine Arts Center has generated such great programming and great enthusiasm. Yet without public funding, there has been a long-term concern about its sustainability,” said longtime FAC supporter Margot Lane. “It has been imperative to find a bold, long-term, strategic solution. This union with Colorado College represents an innovative collaboration that I hope to see more of in our community. The Lane Foundation looks forward to committing significant financial resources to support this alliance.” Kathy Loo and Jim Raughton, local philanthropists and long-term patrons of the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center, have pledged an undisclosed amount to build the endowment to support the Fine Arts Center into the future. “We have a deep love for the Fine Arts Center, its past, its present and its future. We are excited about the sustainability that this alliance has created for our community’s signature arts institution and we are committed to see it succeed,” Loo said.

Alliances between institutions of higher education and nonprofit cultural institutions are an increasingly common model. Many liberal arts colleges and universities have alliances with museums, including Yale University, Harvard University, Williams College, Colby College, Smith College and Amherst College. Others have joined forces with professional theaters such as the American Repertory Theatre at Harvard University, the Syracuse Stage and Syracuse University, Brown University and the Trinity Repertory Theatre. The model is advantageous for both partners, as it allows for additional cultural programming and educational resources, new avenues of fundraising and greater community impact and outreach. Additionally, cultural institutions can cut costs as part of the affiliation with the college or university through shared services. “Noncommercial arts will require the prestige and refuge” of higher-ed institutions, the president of Bard College said when Bard acquired the Longy School of Music in 2011.

The president of the Academy of Natural Sciences, which became part of Drexel University in Philadelphia five years ago, said colleges and universities are ideally suited for such partnerships, noting that “they tend to think about collaboration generally and comprehensively.”

The agreement between Colorado College and the Fine Arts Center calls for a four-year transition period to allow for careful planning and integration. The Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center will retain its current name until July 1, 2017, when it will become known as the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center at Colorado College. By July 1, 2020, the Fine Arts Center entity will be fully transferred to the college along with existing donor restrictions on the assets including the building and the art collection. The college will dedicate more than $20 million of its endowment for the ongoing support of the Fine Arts Center. The Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center Foundation will continue as a separate supporting foundation managing the existing FAC $13 million endowment for the mission of the Fine Arts Center at Colorado College.

“As president of both El Pomar Foundation and the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center Foundation, I am pleased to see this alliance between the Fine Arts Center and Colorado College,” said Thayer Tutt. “Arts institutions around the country are finding that alliances with institutions of higher education create great programming synergies and long-term sustainability. This alliance will allow the Fine Arts Center to build upon its nearly 100-year legacy as the center of our arts community and to develop new initiatives that serve the academic mission of the college, all for the betterment of our region. The Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center Foundation looks forward to working with Colorado College in the years to come to strengthen the bond between the college and the Pikes Peak community.”

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Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Funky Little Theater Company reveals season lineup

Posted By on Tue, Aug 23, 2016 at 1:32 PM

On Saturday, Aug. 20, Funky Little Theater Company announced its third season. Though Men of Steel, which is currently on stage and will run through Aug. 27, is technically the first show of “Chapter Three,” the company managed to keep the second production of the season a secret until the announcement. It has been in rehearsals for about three weeks.

Trash, which is the title of the play and not an early review, is billed as “a funny, highly inappropriate, most likely offensive, not your mama’s comedy.” It will be directed by Jeremiah Miller, featuring performances by Ellen Regina, Sallie Walker, Chad Orr, Chelsie Rigor and Chris Medina.
The plot follows a former Hollywood starlet who now lives in a trailer with her family. A blogger tracks her down for an interview, but her kids assume that, since he’s from California, he’s a producer. They try to pitch a movie idea to him “and hilarity ensues,” according to stage manager Lucas Schoenemann.

Artistic Director Chris Medina says “Every rehearsal we just laugh and laugh and laugh, probably because of how inappropriate it is.”

Performances begin Sept. 9 and run Thursdays through Saturdays through Sept. 24. The playwright, Johnny Drago, will be visiting for closing weekend to do talk-backs.

Post-Trash, here’s what the company has coming up:
  • Oct. 15 and March 25, 24SEVEN/Afterdark: Pulling short plays from previous 24SEVEN events and creating a few new ones, cast members enjoy some adult beverages after their performance, then do it all over again to see if inebriation changes anything. Judging by previous events, it absolutely does. 
  • Oct. 28-Nov. 12, The Bold, The Young and The Murdered by Don Zolidis: Funky’s Halloween production follows a cast of warring soap opera stars as they attempt to produce one last episode to save their show. “Essentially shit’s on the line and they start dropping dead,” Medina says.
  • Dec. 2-17, The Nerd by Larry Shue: Rather than doing a classic Christmas show, Funky will present this comedy about “an architect stuck in a rut and facing a milestone birthday, whose life is suddenly, hilariously upended by the unexpected appearance of an old army buddy.”
  • Jan. 9 and July 15, 24SEVEN: Reprising the favorite one-day play festival in which seven playwrights, seven directors and 24 actors bring seven short plays to live within 24 hours.
  • Jan. 20-Feb. 4, [Record] [Transfer] [Erase] by Jeremiah Miller: This world premiere written by company member Jeremiah Miller is a retro-sci-fi drama. In a dystopian world, adults’ eyes are removed and replaced with recording devices so the government can view video (on true retro VHS tapes) of everything a person does. The main character has her own reasons for not wanting to undergo the procedure.
  • Feb. 9-Feb. 18 The Vagina Monologues: Funky’s annual take on Eve Ensler’s award-winning collection of monologues, featuring veteran and new female performers.
  • March 3-18, Spectrum: The second edition of Funky’s now-annual LGBTQ play festival, which received 269 submissions nationally last season and produced eight world premieres.
  • April 7-22, TBA: Though Funky original planned to stage Tennessee Williams’ classic Sweet Bird of Youth, the show has been cancelled and will be replaced. See here for updates. 
  • May 17-June 3, Extremities: Ending on an intense note, the closing show of Funky’s season is about an attempted rape, a woman turning the tables on her attacker and the moral gray area between punishing an attempted crime and the crime itself.
Auditions will be held in two rounds, one in fall and one in spring.

Fall auditions for The Nerd and [Record] [Transfer] [Erase] will be held Sept. 25, 2-4 p.m. and Sept. 26, 5-8 p.m.

Spring auditions for the rest of the season will likely be held Feb. 4-5. See future listings for details.
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Thursday, August 11, 2016

Fine Arts Center lands $10,000 CCI grant

Posted By on Thu, Aug 11, 2016 at 4:58 PM

Inside the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center - COURTESY FAC
  • Courtesy FAC
  • Inside the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center
Sometimes the biggest challenge with a major institution is keeping the lights on. But thanks to Colorado Creative Industries, that just got a little easier for the Fine Arts Center. Today, they announced via press release that they've received a $10,000 Colorado Creates grant.
"For us, it's a very important grant in that it does support general operations," says Laura Hines, FAC's Associate Director of Institutional Relations. "That is really, really hard to find anymore — unrestricted funds that support everything we do every single day."

"We get people who want to support specific programming and specific exhibitions," adds Amanda Weston, Media Relations and Outreach Manager for the museum. "But it's hard to find somebody who wants to keep the lights on."
Hines says that the FAC applied for the grant last Spring. They got word that they'd been selected in late May and have since received the money in full.

Read the full text of the press release below:
COLORADO SPRINGS (August 11, 2016) — The Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center (FAC) has received a matching grant of $10,000 from Colorado Creative Industries (CCI), a division of the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade. This grant was awarded through CCI’s Colorado Creates Program and supports general operating costs. State grants are awarded through a competitive process. This grant signifies that the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center provides a high‐level of quality in its programs, community service and administrative ability.
Supporting the critical infrastructure ensures that the FAC is able to support and maintain its organization as it pursues its mission. Arts and culture are fundamental to a healthy and flourishing community. Supporting the FAC’s general operations is an investment in the arts and culture of our community, allowing it to strengthen its collaborations and reach more people through its programming, exhibitions, productions and classes.
The FAC’s top priority is to focus on what it does best: provide extraordinary arts experiences to the whole community. The grant from CCI supports the FAC’s working capital needs in order to help meet its responsibility to the public with confidence.

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