It's hard to believe that just a hundred years ago, Colorado Springs was a haven for artists, similar to Taos or Santa Fe. These days it's certainly not unusual to hear complaints about culture (or the lack thereof) in our humble town. But fortunately people are also starting to do something about it, and they're accomplishing their goals in unconventional and remarkable ways.
Lucas Montao and the team behind Nocturnal Mockery, an art show, are just a few of the many around town who believe in the power of young artists to make a difference.
"The Fine Arts Center used to be the center of town and the city's culture reflected that," Montao said. "As the city has spread and the population has grown, a lot of young people feel it's hard to get the message out that culture and diversity are an important part of this community."
Not one to merely complain, Montao decided to do something productive. Surrounded by creative people with few spaces to exhibit their work, he began investigating nontraditional venues for art exhibition. Then, during a trip to San Francisco last year, Montao heard about a sporadic series of underground art shows that had taken place inside vacant properties, earning their audiences solely by word of mouth.
Back from the Bay, Montao expected the concept would catch on among his friends, many of whom are artists and performers. The production team then expanded. Armed with an idea but without a space to stage the event, the planners went to the source of all inspiration: the coffee shop. After a tip from Isaac Cisneros, the friendly barrista at Soul Mechanics, the Nocturnal Mockery team discovered that the landlord of the now vacant Mole Records was interested in renting out the space.
Within weeks the project exploded from a proposed small gathering into a three-day exhibition featuring artists from Colorado Springs, Pueblo, Denver and Boulder.
"Our city sometimes feels really unsupportive of culture and diversity," Montao said, "but this show can hopefully show the community that there are people who are making art and, at the same time, give those people the opportunity to be creative."
And people there are, by the dozens -- the call for entries yielded over 50 submissions, of which at least 30 will be exhibited. Although many of the artists may not be household names, with this many pieces to choose from, anyone should be able to find something to his or her tastes. It's also likely to feature some of the most diverse artwork by some of the most diverse artists seen locally.
There is no specific genre or unifying theme for the show -- it's simply meant to exhibit the work of young artists in a fun, experimental way. Although Montao is quick to point out that this is not exclusively a hip-hop show, the work of several graffiti artists will be exhibited, including pieces by the Creatures Crew from Pueblo; DST, TSB and FTS from Colorado Springs; and Jive from Denver (don't worry -- the acronyms are harmless, though dizzying to a graffiti-culture novice). Murals, paintings, drawings and mixed media will also be included.
The opening night party on Friday at 5 p.m. promises food, entertainment and a raffle. DJs will spin everything from reggae to jazz, several young instrumentalists will perform, and The Wind Ascendant (a side project of members of the local hip-hop group Idiolectic Conception) will perform.
Some of the artists may sell their work, but the event itself is a labor of love. "We're paying for this out of our pocket," Montao said, "but I know it's going to be worth it."
Nocturnal Mockery: A collection of workz from collected individualz
318-C Colorado Ave. (formerly Mole Records)
Friday, July 16 (opening night reception at 5 p.m.), Saturday, July 17, noon to midnight, and Sunday, July 18, noon to 7 p.m.
Call 578-9621 for more.