The building's exterior is warm as can be, cream-colored paint highlighted with flowers and butterflies. But inside 325 N. Tejon St., it's austere, drop cloths and paint cans dotting the small space.
This dichotomy hints at a couple of the building's previous incarnations: a tea house and a record store. On this January day, it's hard to imagine that in a matter of weeks, it will be something entirely different: an important platform for underground contemporary art.
But this indeed is the space from which Richard Arnot, founder of urban-arts festival Nocturnal Mockery, along with friends and business partners Jason Herzog and Mike Sebastian, aim to infuse downtown with cutting-edge work.
The new collaborative undertaking, growing larger by the day, is called Edifice Gallery, borrowing its name from Arnot's six-year-old Edifice Clothing line, which started it all. The gallery that opens Friday will not only hang local fine art, but sell clothing and books, and act as a home for Nuleaf Media, the Web and graphic design company Sebastian started a couple years ago. It will promote all kinds of art forms, the proprietors say, especially those that otherwise don't have a place locally to show.
"There's a lot of really creative people in the Springs that don't have a central area to meet up and collaborate and get their stuff out to the public," says Herzog. "They're all spread out, underground." More than just a gallery, the guys imagine Edifice as something of a beating artistic heart in the center of the city. A lot of the daily action will involve Nuleaf, which the artists see as a vehicle for exposing people to the underappreciated and energy-filled world of graphic design.
"We will actually be there every day, doing stuff on the computer, creating things, being creative," says Herzog, who also works with Nuleaf. "And people coming into the gallery will ... get a taste for what goes on behind the scenes with creative work."
Arnot, Herzog and Sebastian also envision Edifice as a social gathering spot for all artists into contemporary work. Helping artists interact and network is the impetus behind many of Edifice's planned functions, such as full-moon events (barbecues, movie screenings and the like to be held under a full moon in the gallery's "backyard"), gallery concerts and spoken-word nights.
Educating would-be artists to the professional world also represents a large part of the guys' program. NocMoc helps its artists price their works and present a comprehensive collection, and Edifice will do the same, eventually aiming to offer art classes.
"There's more to being an artist than just creating the artwork," says Herzog. Nice return
To inaugurate the new space, the gallery has selected works from the established NocMoc oeuvre. Edifice Collective is a group show featuring NocMoc alumni including Tylan Troyer, Marc Huebert and Halo (aka Mike Schwartz, another NocMoc organizer), as well as Edifice's three owners. After that, there will be a monthly schedule of new shows.
Meanwhile, their Web site (edificeclothing.com), a forum for downloaded images and creative writing, will be an extension of the gallery. They promise to update the site daily, encouraging writers to contribute and open the gallery to as many creative outlets as it can.
For as much as they open their doors to new talent and give the artists a place to show their work, Edifice's founders have high standards for their walls.
"We're not going to hang it unless it's really well done," says Sebastian. "Nocturnal Mockery shows will stay in existence, that's [our] open invite to everyone. But at the gallery, it's going to be really selective on what we choose and who we show."
The guys smile through words like "young," "original" and "fresh" when they talk about what's coming. Arnot, a 27-year-old graffiti artist and graphic designer, launched NocMoc six years ago in response to the void he recognized in the urban arts culture here.
"I've always thought Colorado Springs was a place that I like it here but it's just not creative enough, [not] satisfying enough for me," he says.
Via Edifice Clothing, which has gained a large following and has several artists contributing T-shirt designs, Arnot helped finance NocMoc shows. Just last year, Herzog, a 27-year-old artist, came aboard, contributing to both the artwork and the event's staging, which has become an all-too-brief highlight in the local arts calendar.
The idea of working as both artist and gallery manager spread to Sebastian, 26, who had become intrigued by the local arts scene thanks to Herzog's influence.
"He introduced me to NocMoc ... First Friday openings, things like that," Sebastian says. "I got my feet wet. [I had] a natural interest that I didn't really know or didn't really pursue. So once I started getting into it, more and more, I got hooked."
And now there's Edifice, a name that signifies the greater structure the trio is trying to build. Arnot was struck by the word while thumbing through a dictionary one day.
"I want to build something, and "edifice' is kind of like a structure or a
"To me," adds Herzog, "the word "edifice' is like the sum of a bunch of parts that make up a structure."
But creating this artistic community extends beyond Edifice's walls. Arnot, Sebastian and Herzog agree that promoting the overall arts scene is just as important as promoting their own gallery.
"While we want people to come through our doors [and] buy art from us," says Sebastian, "we also want them to experience the other shows that are in town and take in everything Colorado Springs has to offer."
The grand plan for the gallery is impressive and ambitious perhaps more than you'd expect from a little building still covered in pink flowers.
Edifice Gallery and Nuleaf Media, 325 N. Tejon St.
Show runs through Feb. 28; Opening reception Friday,
Feb. 1, 6-9 p.m.; free.
Call 634-5323 or visit
edificeclothing.com for more information.