Best Of 2013

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Best of Colorado Springs 2013: Daylife 

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Editor's note: An update on Oct. 25 fixed the spelling of the name of Blindside manager Logan Dickerson.

Place to See Emerging Artists
Gallery

The Modbo

17C E. Bijou St., 633-4240, themodbo.com

When Brett and Lauren Andrus aren't coordinating concerts, teaching classes at their new school, curating artwork at numerous restaurants or working on downtown improvements with local officials, they're hanging some of the best and most cutting-edge work around at their two galleries, The Modbo and S.P.Q.R. "We don't sleep very much," Lauren says with a laugh. She thinks the twin galleries work so well because curator Brett plans exhibits of both new and established artists. This past year, they've played host to Clive Nyles, Roy Linton, Holly Parker Dearborn and of course, members of the gallery's artist stable, the Modbo Collective. As for what else is on tap? Lauren says they're still growing the ModboCo School of Art at Ivywild (the new semester starts next month), making the alley where their galleries sit more welcoming, and "also, world domination." — EA

Artist

Liese Chavez

liesechavez.com

For centuries, people thought that the more artists suffered, the better the art. Not Liese Chavez. She's ecstatic about being an artist; and since she's won this category three years in a row, we have to think art lovers agree with her career choice. "I was a huge loser before I started painting," she says. After chronic injuries forced her out of her job managing a discount store, she devoted herself to learning how to put her visions of fantastical females on canvas. "I've seen, over the past few years of dedicated study, an improvement in my work. So I have hope that, in 10 years, I can do some really astonishing things." — RVP

Art Exhibition
Cultural Attraction/Museum

Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center

30 W. Dale St., 634-5583, csfineartscenter.org

This year, the FAC's standout show — at least according to Indy readers — was the FAC's groundbreaking Son of Pop by Floyd D. Tunson. The mammoth retrospective of the Manitou Springs artist's work garnered acclaim from both art critics and visitors. "It really has resonated far beyond this community," museum director Blake Milteer says. "That's what you want. You want an artist who has really sent ripples out into the world." The FAC also earns love for its theater and education offerings. "In each area, we did some truly amazing stuff," says president/CEO Sam Gappmayer. Bottom line, the staff works hard to carry on the vision the center's founders formulated in the 1930s: to be a resource for culture in all its variations. — RVP

IndyPick • Art Show You Can't Shake

Mother: Photographs by Carol S. Dass at the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center

Who would have thought that following around an 85-year-old woman would end up so gripping? Mary watching the rain from her garage. Mary eating a juicy peach. Mary grocery shopping. Mother worked because it was so subtle; nothing forced nor glamorous. Funny? Yes. Somehow so very familiar? Oh yes, I could feel the cotton of Mary's housecoats or the quilt on her bed. In only 27 images, Carol Dass shared a compelling narrative of her mother's life, complete with telling specifics and well-executed mystery. There's so much more about Mary — and my mother, for that matter — than I'll ever know. — EA

Performing Arts Group/Program

TheatreWorks

3955 Regent Circle, 255-3232, theatreworkscs.org

Since TheatreWorks sits on the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs campus, some people might think it primarily puts on student productions. Some people would be wrong; this is a professional, regional theatre company. "We hire from across the country, across the region and from right here in town," says executive director Drew Martorella. "It's a good combination of energy." Then they take that energy and put it in a black box theater, so the stage and audience can be arranged differently for each production. And those productions are plenty different themselves. For instance, while 2013 will go out with Death of a Salesman and It's a Wonderful Life (staged as a 1940s radio drama), 2014 will begin with The Weir, a modern Irish play. "We want our audience to have a unique adventure every time they come," says artistic director Murray Ross. — KK

Movie Theater

Kimball's Peak Three Theater

115 E. Pikes Peak Ave., 447-1945, kimballstwinpeak.com

Earlier this year, the venerable and virtually unbeatable Kimball's Peak Three made the transition from actual film to digital projection. Kimball Bayles, owner and namesake of the indie film house, wasn't too sad to see the old stuff go: "It's mostly a pain in the ass." Now? "This is all computerized," he says. "We don't even do anything." But don't worry — just because the film grain is gone doesn't mean the independent and art house films that made Kimball's an Indy favorite for the last two decades are. "If I ever run something too mainstream," Bayles says, "you should see the emails I get!" — JK

IndyPick • Art Center That's Much More

The Business of Art Center

513 and 515 Manitou Ave., Manitou Springs, 685-1861, thebac.org

The BAC (where, as a disclosure, I used to work and volunteer) is far from the Manitou Springs flood zone, but the Aug. 9 deluge completely rewrote its mission for a few weeks. The 25-year-old organization quickly turned its headquarters into the DAC — the Disaster Assistance Center — so residents and business owners could find help and volunteers could check in, grab tools and food, and head out. Executive director Natalie Johnson says it was a no-brainer for the BAC's leadership; that includes board president Kelly Cummings Snyder, who is married to Manitou's mayor, Marc Snyder. Says Johnson: "We just said, 'We'll open our doors and do whatever we need to do for the town.'" — RVP

Yoga Studio

cambio. Yoga

3326 Austin Bluffs Pkwy., #100, 291-1798, cambioyoga.com

At the end of nearly every class offered at this two-studio facility, instructors say, "Thank you for supporting cambio., we couldn't do it without you." And from all indications, they actually mean it. This studio was founded as, and remains, a donation-based endeavor where participants are asked to donate what they can afford per class. (Recommended donations are $7 to $12.) A variety of teachers offer a full class schedule that runs the gamut from hot yoga to power vinyasa to yin, allowing yogis (and wannabes) to find warm embrace in the cambio. community. — LE

Dance Studio

Ormao Dance Company

10 S. Spruce St., 471-9759, ormaodance.org

Ormao Dance Company founder Jan Johnson says she loves that "dance is a language that's universal, especially modern dance. It's a limitless movement vocabulary." Cross-collaborating with visual artists, musicians and theater professionals, Ormao seeks to extend that vocabulary to other art forms. Johnson even runs a curriculum-based program called Mathtastic: Dancing with Mathematics, wherein elementary-school-aged visual learners can see the concepts of shape, geometry, rhythm and patterns performed live by Ormao dancers. She describes Ormao's core performers as "really beautiful, powerful and passionate women" of all ages, from recent college graduates to moms who bring the richness of their life experience to the stage. In addition to performance, this repeat winner offers classes for all ages, from creative movement to hip-hop, jazz and ballet. — DM

Fitness Center

YMCA of the Pikes Peak Region

Multiple locations, ppymca.org

Practically everyone in the Pikes Peak region likes the YMCA, and it's easy to understand why. Little kids and big kids alike can find something that speaks to them. With locations all across the region, the YMCA offers classes and programs to help keep the mind and body happy and healthy. Adult basketball leagues, yoga sessions, Camp Shady Brook's outdoor education, a taekwondo curriculum, parent-child learning classes, a nutrition and healthy living program, and a community for adults 50 and older are just a few of the massive variety of options the YMCA has. If you can't find a golden nugget somewhere in there, get your mind out of the slag. — NK

Martial Arts

Tai Chi Association of Colorado Springs

219 W. Colorado Ave., #310, 375-8339, taichicoloradosprings.com

While some students at the Tai Chi Association of Colorado Springs are learning self-defense by using their opponent's strength against them, others are fighting more personal battles. The business' creative director, 48-year-old Julie Paler, says many of the students are 35 or older and are looking for healing through tai chi. The studio helps clients suffering from physical ailments from joint pain to Parkinson's disease find internal strength and relieve pain. Classes are offered to all ages, including kids and teens, but the martial arts method is perfect for adults and seniors since it does not require great muscle strength, Paler says. — WB

Category We Forgot

Nutrition/Weight Loss Center

A few years ago, you said we blew it by failing to include a Best Cupcakes category. Now you're asking for Nutrition/Weight Loss Center. Hey, live and learn ... — KW

Bike Shop

Old Town Bike Shop

426 S. Tejon St., 475-8589, oldtownbikeshop.com

Old Town has won this category for nine out of the last 10 years, a feat that owner John Crandall chalks up to relationships. "We bribe a lot of people," he says. "We start with [Independent publisher] John Weiss." All joking aside, Crandall says the secret to the shop's success since opening in 1976 has been treating his employees right: He estimates that they've been with him an average of 16 or 17 years, and because they don't work for commissions, they take all the time they need with customers. Crandall also makes sure they feel empowered to speak up if there's something that should be done to better serve a customer or the community. "Sometimes the employees will hold my feet to the fire if there's something going on that they think we should be a little more generous with, or look at a different way," he says. "That happened a while back when mechanics came to him wanting a specialized area to work on the hydraulic brakes, shocks and forks that were growing in popularity. Crandall says his was one of the first shops to cater to the need. — JAS

Place to Buy Motorcycles

Pikes Peak Harley-Davidson

5867 N. Nevada Ave., #150, 591-7594, pikespeakharleydavidson.com

This Harley-Davidson dealership houses an inventory of more than 200 bikes and about $500,000 in parts and accessories, but there's one thing flying off the shelves — freedom. "Everybody wants a little something different when it comes to the bike, but all of our customers are looking for the experience of owning a Harley-Davidson," general manager DJ Stringer says. Every make and model is available in multiple colors at the shop, which has a cave-like entrance to the gold mine-themed store. Endless options are available to customize the bikes and the experience, Stringer says. — WB

Place to Buy Scooters

Sportique Scooters

1834 E. Platte Ave., 442-0048, sportiquescooters.com

It's difficult to watch that scene in 1953's Roman Holiday, in which the elegant Audrey Hepburn and the affable Gregory Peck veer dangerously through the streets of Rome on a Vespa, and NOT wish that it was you instead. But the Pikes Peak region serves up views as beautiful as virtually any in the world, and Sportique Scooters specializes in satiating your inner Audrey or Gregory by "essentially having a bike for everyone," says marketing manager John Duvall. For nine years running Sportique has won the Indy's Best Of award and, with its large selection of new and used, vintage and modern scooters, it's easy to see why. — MB

Place to Buy Skateboards
Place to Buy Skis/Snowboards

Blindside

600 S. 21st St., #150, 636-1554, blindsidecolorado.net

For those of you who already ski or board (snow or skate), perennial Best Of winner Blindside has all your year-round needs covered, from top-line gear to daily and weekly rentals to tuning and repairs. But for those of you, like me, who've never hit any kind of slopes, Blindside offers up some pretty good advice also. For instance: Manager Logan Dickerson says it's easy to get frustrated at the beginning, especially with snowboarding, so "stay positive and just have fun with it." And obviously, he adds, that's worth keeping in mind for life in general. — KA

Local Sports Store/Outdoor Outfitter

Mountain Chalet

226 N. Tejon St., 633-0732, mtnchalet.com

Shopping at Mountain Chalet is like skiing at A-Basin in May, or swimming in the Caribbean in December: It hits the sweet spot by bringing together both ends of a glorious spectrum. Undefeated in this category, it couples the variety of a larger, conglomerate sporting merchandise store with all of the personalization and individuality of a locally owned business. Employees have scaled blustery 14ers and made homes in snow caves. They are just as excited about the outdoors as you are, and want to help you get the gear you need to launch you from your couch to K2 ... or, you know, Red Rock Canyon. Periodic clearance sales make the deal even sweeter. — NK

IndyPick • Way to Revisit P.E. Class

Pikes Peak Pickleball Club

freewebs.com/pikespeakpickleball

It's like tennis meets ping-pong meets badminton. And in the Springs, according local organizer Steve Boone, you'll find people playing pickleball at the Monument Valley Park tennis courts "every day that it's good weather. ... When it snows, we just brush off the courts." Boone adds that though it got its start as a seniors game (and for some of us Midwesterners, a middle-school P.E. sport), it's really for everyone. The Rocky Mountain State Games added pickleball to the roster this year, and the state's only sanctioned tournament happens here each September, hosted by the Pikes Peak Pickleball Club. All you need to join in is some tennis shoes and a paddle, and on Saturday mornings, you're welcome to partake in free lessons. — KA

Tourist Destination

Garden of the Gods

1805 N. 30th St., 634-6666, gardenofgods.com

Time for your annual refresher: You can drive through Garden of the Gods or walk, hike, bike, climb or ride a horse through it, but keep in mind that bikes yield to horses. The hiking trails range in length from .5 to 3 miles, and some paths are paved so they're stroller-friendly and disabled-accessible. Dogs are welcome on a leash. And the Visitor and Nature Center is not a tourist trap, although it does include a gift shop — there are educational displays, a café, and as is true of the National Natural Landmark itself, no admission fee. — KK

Pilates Studio

Motion Studies

4460 N. Chestnut St., 635-7844, motionstudies.com

In addition to being the owner of Motion Studies, Mary Ripper Baker is a professional dancer and teacher. As a dancer, she loves Pilates because "the exercises don't build bulk in the body. They are more designed to give you a strengthened and lengthened look." In terms of teaching, Motion Studies offers both private sessions on the "Reformer" equipment as well as semi-private classes and larger group classes, including group mat, Pilates ball, dance and yoga classes. If you have any injuries or limitations, a massage therapist and physical therapist are on staff, and the instructors can custom design a workout program for you. — DM

Affordable Family Fun

Cheyenne Mountain Zoo

4250 Cheyenne Mountain Zoo Road, 633-9925, cmzoo.org

Cheyenne Mountain is a world-class zoo that'll put you well on your way to world-class calves as you switchback along its hilly terrain for an afternoon. For less than 15 bucks a head in the off-season, you can see everything from the expected lions, tigers and bears to more unusual zoo offerings, like a walk-in wallaby habitat, naked mole rat display or the newly renovated, multimillion-dollar Encounter Africa exhibit, among the finest of any zoo anywhere. And the food! See the Indy's Aug. 28 Appetite for an explanation of why you may not want to pack crumbly crackers and browning bananas for your day up high. — JK

Annual Outdoor Fest

Colorado Balloon Classic

balloonclassic.com

Way to show the love, everybody! The Balloon Classic, although 37 years old and the largest air show in the state, wasn't feeling it from the city this year. When sprung this summer with a bill for greater police presence and more barricades around Memorial Park, the organization was left scrambling to pay. Luckily, the city coughed up the money, and this year's Labor Day event went on as planned. And thank goodness, as it's tradition around here: the early morning launches, the balloons a rainbow of colors and shapes, the night-time Glo ... and all of it, by the way, free. — EA

Bed & Breakfast

The Avenue Hotel B&B

711 Manitou Ave., Manitou Springs, 685-1277, avenuehotelbandb.com

The best B&Bs make you feel at home — except with perennially fresh sheets, perfect food and tasteful décor. The Avenue Hotel supplies all that, plus a stunning view of Manitou's quaint downtown. Owners Gwenn David and Randy Hodges are second-time winners after just five years, and David, who moved from Michigan to Colorado in 1974, enjoys acting as a Pikes Peak region ambassador. "People want to talk to their innkeeper and get to know the area. You're their best resource for where to go, how to get there." Mainly, she saw innkeeping as a way to share her cooking with others, and that's still her favorite part of the job. — RVP

Caterer

Picnic Basket

1701 S. Eighth St., 635-0200, pbcatering.com

Perennial Best Of-winning caterer Picnic Basket (the flagship company in a trio that includes Cravings and Buffalo Gals) has had an exciting year because, as co-owner Michelle Talarico says, it's finally been able to tackle the Colorado farm-to-table food that clients have been wanting. "Until recently we just couldn't get the amount of product to execute, say, a wedding," she says. Now, however, thanks to an increase in local farm resources, their chefs are rolling out new menus quarterly based on the season. Of course, she laughs when asked about the 24-year-old company's most popular item, because there's nothing new about it. "It seems so silly because we make tens of thousands of them [but] ... people are just insane for our almond-stuffed dates wrapped in bacon." — KA

Place for a Wedding

The Pinery

12375 Black Forest Road, 495-9499, thepinery.com

Planning a wedding can be a daunting task, full of decisions and details about food, flowers, music, wardrobe and locations for the ceremony and reception. But Lori Passaro, director of sales and wedding specialist at The Pinery, can help with all of that. "We're a one-stop shop," she says. The five-acre site in Black Forest survived last summer's wildfire unscathed, though it did have to be evacuated. "The weddings that were planned during that time had to be relocated to other venues, but we helped coordinate that, too," Passaro says. "Even though the couples missed being married in the forest, they were ecstatic we could save their events." If a similar situation arises in the future, there'll be at least one new location to consider: The Pinery's just-opened second all-inclusive wedding and events facility, in the former Fish Market building just to the west of downtown at 775 W. Bijou St. — KK

Local Hotel/Motel

The Broadmoor

1 Lake Ave., 634-7711, broadmoor.com

Following its 2011 sale to media man and Colorado resident Philip Anschutz, the Broadmoor launched a $60 million expansion and renovation program that's continuing into 2014 with additions such as Ristorante del Lago, an Italian concept that'll replace Charles Court. This past April, we were treated to the opening of the swank bowling bar, Play at the Broadmoor, as well as a sleek update of the Golden Bee, among other upgrades. All of which is to say it takes much effort to annually earn the most prestigious five stars and five diamonds awarded to hotels and eateries by Forbes and AAA, which sets the Broadmoor in an elite class of its own. In this category, it's truly no contest. — MS

Casino

Wildwood Casino

119 Carbonate St., Cripple Creek, 719/286-7810, playwildwood.com

Lady Luck is a fickle mistress. Just when you think she's got eyes for you — and only you — she takes her place beside your competition. After a seven-year run as Best Casino, Double Eagle has been ousted, and in its place the good folks of the Pikes Peak region have chosen Wildwood Casino. Wildwood buzzes with a bizarre, and often incredible, energy. Cocktail waitresses, dressed in black, are never more than an arm's length away; they're quick to call you "Sweetie," and they'll give you a "maybe next time" pat on the back as you watch a purple-haired woman with heavy jowls collect the winnings from the slot machine you'd been working all night. The casino boasts a multitude of games, both electronic and table. Row upon row of slots, a total of more than 500, and 21 tables cater to every type of gamer. When you're done attempting to count cards at the blackjack table, you can retire to Mavericks buffet or grab a stool at the Saddle Bar. — JH

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