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BAC to the future 

20-year celebration welcomes Charles Rockey's works and the artist

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Though art and money sit at opposite ends of some ill-defined but widely understood spectrum, the Business of Art Center in Manitou Springs seems to have found a way to bridge the two. The formula hasn't been without its eraser marks, but upon celebrating its 20th anniversary, there's a lot to be proud of.

So the theme of its upcoming anniversary celebration is past, present and future, according to executive director Dr. Patty Arnold. Fittingly, a handful of the original artists who witnessed the opening of the art hub have created new projects.

One attraction: Prints of nine collaborative works by renowned Manitou artist Charles H. Rockey and master printmaker Geoffrey Lasko. Twenty-five years ago, Rockey etched nine plates depicting Manitou Springs vignettes; Lasko and another artist deepened and widened some lines, then made prints.

Some of these original prints will be at the BAC, along with new prints of the same etchings. (Lasko kept all nine plates over the last quarter-century.) Dozens of prints of each work, as well as 30 to 40 of Rockey's sketchbooks, will fill a booth the two artists are sharing at the celebration.

"This is the room not to sell things, necessarily, but just to enjoy the different pictures," Rockey says.

"The nice thing about handmade prints is each one is unique," adds Lasko, who has collaborated with other artists, too, in making etchings. "Even if I tried really hard to make one exactly like the one before ... it's impossible."

Lasko will print more of the etchings in coming weeks in the printing room at the BAC, where the printing process itself is on full display.

Another must-see: Local artist Harriet Lee has designed a mural made up of tiles for the BAC. Guests can purchase tiles and decorate them; when complete, all the tiles will be fused into a commemorative mural. The finished piece will be unveiled later this year.

Gathering together the names of all the artists, donors and supporters of the BAC to put on the anniversary poster was quite the task, says Arnold. The 1,000-plus names signify the community that has grown from the space.

Rockey says the BAC, despite having "business" in its title, goes beyond the financial aspects of art.

"I was here when we started the BAC, and the idea was to not just sell art ... you come to experience art," he says.

The BAC set out to provide affordable studio space and equipment, such as the press he and Lasko are using for the prints, yet it went one step further by showcasing the studios, too. This philosophy of sharing the art-making journey with everyone is why Rockey believes the BAC is unique. It inspires and intrigues people, he says.

"Everybody has [art] in them," Rockey says. "The BAC ... [tries] to get everybody to consider their own art."


20-year anniversary

kickoff celebration

Business of Art Center, 513-515 Manitou Ave.,

Manitou Springs

Friday, March 7, 8-10 p.m.

Tickets: $12; for information, call 685-1861 or visit thebac.org.

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