Favorite

Best of 2009: Making Noise 

Place to See Emerging Artists

Cottonwood Center for the Arts (427 E. Colorado Ave., 520-1899, cottonwoodcenterforthearts.com)

If success is a numbers game, Cottonwood Center for the Arts knows what works. Now happily ensconced in its new building, Cottonwood offers nearly 80 studio spaces, currently leased by 92 artists. It boasts two main galleries for art shows, but each studio also acts as a mini-gallery in itself, open to visitors on the last Friday of every month. Executive director Peggy Vicaro projects that half of Cottonwood's artists are emerging, while the other half are more established. She points to the in-house marketing team and multitude of networking opportunities as two of the reasons why so many have come to Cottonwood as a source for professional growth, bringing the curious crowds with them. "I think because we have really created a presence for ourselves here in downtown and the word has spread that this is really a great place to be ... that there's a lot of positive energy," Vicaro says. "And people really are drawn to that." — EA

Cultural Attraction/Museum
Art Gallery

Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center (30 W. Dale St., 634-5583, csfineartscenter.org)

My best days at work happen when I interview FAC curators Blake Milteer and Tariana Navas-Nieves about upcoming art shows. Phone conversations are always informative and pleasant, but actually walking through storerooms and galleries is unfailingly fascinating; seeing the artwork "raw" makes me appreciate how much skill the curators apply in creating polished exhibits. Next year, the museum will present art from Colorado collectors under the theme of conflict and resolution, and in 2012, a 40-year retrospective on Floyd Tunson. The museum's high-caliber programming echoes through the halls of the SaGaJi Theatre, home of the Fine Arts Center Theatre Company, which plans musicals Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street and Gershwin: Crazy for You later this season. — EA

Artist

Scott McCollum

Though Scott McCollum does do custom woodwork and painting, in addition to studying fine art at Pikes Peak Community College, the 28-year-old native speculates that he scored this Best Artist win more for his bass playing in the Dark, a band mostly comprised of members of a previous effort known as Trick Life. After being named best band in a 2003 Rum Bay competition, McCollum and crew have sharpened their sound, as evidenced by the single "Rip Me Up" (viewable on YouTube) from their upcoming CD. Check 'em out at Union Station on Oct. 23 — and wave goodbye to McCollum, who says he's on his way to Pasadena, Calif., in December to transfer to another art program and to look for work in advertising. But he reassures that the tunes will continue, as he'll exchange tracks with members here. — MS

Alternative Art Show/Event

Flaunt: Evolution (flauntsprings.com)

Readers named Flaunt: Evolution the Best Alternative Art Show or Event before it even happened in September. But it wasn't purely speculation — it was also memory, carried all the way from the last Flaunt, in 2007. "I think it was a great history that made it really appealing to people," says Caitlin Green, curator of the Gallery of Contemporary Art at UCCS, which worked with TheatreWorks and FutureSelf to organize the event. All those warm feelings may have been helpful, since cold wind and wetness crashed the Sept. 12 party. "Everybody looked fabulous," Green says, "and they were more than happy to walk through the water to stay there." — EA

Artwork on the Street

Art on the Streets 2009 (Downtown, between St. Vrain Street and Moreno Avenue, Weber and Cimino streets • downtown80903.com)

For the third year in a row, Art on the Streets gets voted No. 1 place to enjoy art on the streets. Denise Schall, program coordinator for the Downtown Partnership, which organizes the show, realizes there isn't a lot of public art to compete against. But, she notes, Art on the Streets isn't complacent: The 11-year-old program features rigorous selection standards and attracts out-of-state artists and high-profile jurors. "To me," Schall says, "it really says, 'Here is a city that cares about art.'" And with a record-breaking 65 entries last year, including Alex Corno's "Airing" all the way from Milan, Italy, Art on the Streets has clearly earned its public art monopoly. — EA

Show of Excess Weight

Writer's Pick

The Baroque World of Fernando Botero at the FAC

Big love. That's what I've got for the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center for bringing us a show that was truly tons of fun back in May. Fernando Botero's striking portraits and sculptures looked fabulous inside the newly expanded gallery space, and onlookers were visibly excited. "It was my desire to create the exaltation of life through volume and sensuality," the Colombian legend told the Indy, when asked about his subjects of great girth. Mission accomplished, I say. "Smoking Woman," the van-sized, round beauty, made my heart race. Cheers to the FAC for its massively excellent programming. — MS

Laugh-Inducing Play

Writer's Pick

The Lying Kind at UCCS' TheatreWorks

The mistake I made was seating my parents and me on the top row of a riser inside UCCS' theater. My dad gets motion sickness fairly easily, and when we and everyone around us began laughing maniacally at the brilliantly absurd Anthony Neilson script, staged by a very talented cast, the riser began wobbling just enough to make my dad nauseous. The longer and deeper the laughter, the crappier he felt — but he was enjoying The Lying Kind too much to move. That's how funny it is. When TheatreWorks artistic director Murray Ross, after catching a version in England, told the Indy that it was the funniest show he'd ever seen, I had to check out his production. Thanks to Ross and Co. for a gem of black comedy amid all the Christmas Carols of December. — MS

Movie Theater

Kimball's Peak Three (115 E. Pikes Peak Ave., 447-1945, kimballstwinpeak.com)

Denizens of the Springs have known for years where the crème de la crème of independent films will find a welcoming home for as long as people express active interest in them (or until a newer, more enticing option becomes available). Kimball's departs from the theater norms in more ways than just content: The availability of liquor, espresso, draft beer and wines by the glass, for instance, helps to counteract whatever inconvenience results from the theater's acceptance of cash only in all transactions. New this year: Kimball's recently opened a third screen on the second floor, which houses a comparatively cozier audience. — AM

Higher Education

University of Colorado at Colorado Springs (1420 Austin Bluffs Pkwy., 800/990-8227, uccs.edu)

When the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs completes construction of its new events center in the next few months, spokesman Tom Hutton says, you might expect to see some larger speakers. "And I don't mean the kind that connect to your stereo," he quips. Hey, with all the infrastructural improvements UCCS has made over the past few years, you never know. In just the past 15 months, the school has added a 160,000-square-foot science and engineering building and a new recreation center, plus renovated old buildings. Such is the price of growth: Enrollment has increased by 27 percent this decade, to nearly 8,500 students, including hundreds of active military personnel and dozens of Olympic athletes. Notable fact: 61 percent of those who've graduated before them are employed in the greater Colorado Springs area. — KW

Colorado Springs' Claim to Fame

Pikes Peak (pikespeakcolorado.com)

Those poor other peaks never even stood a chance. What can we really say? Pikes Peak stands at higher than 14,000 feet, is an aesthetic beauty, and attracts mountaineers, hikers and even less outdoorsy types, thanks to the famous Cog Railway that runs to the top from Manitou Springs. At the summit, cheerful gift-shop workers offer oxygen, sweatshirts and warm donuts. Plus, if you go to dexknows.com and type in "Pikes Peak" under Colorado Springs' businesses, you'll discover more than 150 entries. It's almost like free advertising for an immovable land mass. See, too easy! — KAK

Out-of-Town Claim to Fame

Writer's Pick

Sir Chomps O'Lot's Birthday

The listings section has a surly, squirrelly beauty all its own. Chock-full of charity events, club meetings, yoga classes and other free-ish stuff, my Monday morning inbox never lacks color. Recently, we received an especially ... different ... event, a public invitation to the Colorado Gators Alligator Farm and Reptile Park for Sir Chomps O' Lot's 12th birthday. Chomps, allegedly the first alligator born in Colorado, celebrated his special day by offering free admission to the Mosca park and pictures with guests. Here's hoping he was treated to something special himself, maybe a red meat cake or a sunny rock he didn't have to share with the other gators. (The only downside to Sir Chomps O' Lot's party? It was sent in after deadline. Thursday at noon for the following Thursday and beyond, friends.) — EA

Person Likely to Leave Us

Mayor Lionel Rivera

You'd normally think of this winner as somebody with a major upside professionally, or some degree of celebrity status, that inevitably would take him or her away from Colorado Springs. But Mayor Rivera? He's already tried running for Congress, and that didn't work. Now the word is that, with his final term in office ending in 2011, he likely will run for county commissioner in 2010. But again, that doesn't translate into departing the Springs, and neither does his business as a financial adviser. Yet, he wins this category, joining the likes of Douglas Bruce ... wait a minute, perhaps that explains it. Maybe the voters just want whoever wins this category to go away.— RR

Place to Get Your Hippie On

Manitou Springs (manitousprings.org)

OK, perhaps we could be a little more specific on this one: Business to Get Your Hippie On might reward the Poppy Seed, say, or Independent Records. But if we keep this in general terms, this honor may go to Manitou Springs in perpetuity. On a typical day, you can go to places like the Royal Tavern and hear stories about how long-ago protester Angela Davis was a patron. But the town's true personality comes out for its special events each year, whether it's Carnivale (Mardi Gras), the Great Fruitcake Toss or the Emma Crawford Coffin Races. Those are the times when you see Manitou at its best, with all kinds of people partying like it's ... 1969. May those parties never end. — RR

Category We Forgot

Cupcakes

Nearly a decade after Sarah Jessica Parker bit into the pink-frosted Magnolia Bakery cupcake seen 'round the world, these bite-size sugar-bombs (Calories: 250, Fat: 8g, Carbs: 17g, Protein: Yeah, right) have been selling like, um, hotcakes. The Beverly Hills-spawned Sprinkles franchise currently has five U.S. bakeries and is threatening to open more than a dozen others. Who cares, you ask? Why, the Indy readers who swayed the results of our Category We Forgot question. Actually, it's not that we forgot. We just don't care. — BF

Day Care

Ruth Washburn Cooperative Nursery School (914 19th St., 636-3084, rwcns.org)

This nursery school, founded in 1961, is so popular that I had parents tell me, "Get on the waiting list while you're still pregnant." One of the reasons why is because Ruth Washburn Cooperative Nursery School — which caters to 21/2- to 5-year-olds — is a nonprofit run as a cooperative. That means all parents are closely involved with its success, whether helping in classrooms or on committees, leading fundraisers, or even assisting with maintenance. But parents are only part of the formula. The school also touts its caring and knowledgeable staff, its small class sizes, its inclusive and friendly atmosphere and its National Association for the Education of Young Children-accredited programs. — JT

Photographer

Teresa Lee Photography (548-8300, teresaleephotography.com)

Since launching her own photography company in 2001, Teresa Lee has developed an extraordinarily classy, high-end style that produces what clients recognize as the "best photographs ever taken" of themselves. The former child model and pageant contestant prides herself on creating beautifully staged photographs that appear spontaneous, whether she's at a wedding or a Sweet 16 party. "I want people to feel something when they look at my photographs," Lee says. The testimonials on her Web site suggest she's done that, and then some. — SC

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