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I on the Arts 

In our ever lively, often contentious, intermittently interesting, and at least faintly dynamic arts scene, there's plenty to report.

Let's begin with Bill Holmes, director of the Colorado Springs Pioneers Museum since 1984, who announced his resignation last week. Cara DeGette's interview appears elsewhere in this issue (page 9), in which she explores the political context of his departure. Rather than focus on that, let's remember some of the great stuff that Bill did, despite limited resources.

When he arrived, the museum, which had moved into the old County Courthouse a few years before, was a distinctly amateurish institution, basically a higgledy-piggledy pile of artifacts/artwork/sentimental junk haphazardly strewn around a decaying, if magnificent, building. Working with patience, tenacity and determination, Bill managed to renovate the building, professionalize the curatorial staff, mount wonderful exhibitions, and re-create the park that surrounds the building. Looking back, it was quite an achievement, particularly with severely constrained financial resources.

Bill is leaving to take over a rapidly expanding museum in Mesa, Ariz., which is blessed with substantial funding, both public and private. He joins a long and distinguished list of Colorado Springs non-profit administrators who have gone on to bigger and better things; for example, our last two library directors, who now run world-class institutions in San Francisco and Boston.

Clearly, anyone with a demonstrated ability to deal with our peculiar culture is a hot commodity in the non-profit world.

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Don't know how we got along without any arts awards for so many years; at any rate, no fewer than two organizations have stepped up in the last couple of weeks to fill the need.

First out of the chute was Tom McElroy/Chaos, the proud creators of the Boxies. Boxies are meant to "honor" individuals and organizations for thinking/acting/being either in or out of the box. So if you're in, you're out, and vice versa. Readers will be glad to know that both the Gazette and the Indy were awarded "in" status, the 'G' for insipid arts coverage, the Indy for its skewed ad/editorial ratio. Bob & Kat Tudor were deemed "out of the box" for their wildly inventive downtown fountain, as was the unhappily departed Ziggy Wagrowski, whose Colorado Actors Theater productions will be missed.

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If you'd like reasonably serious, sober-minded awards that are intended to celebrate hard work, creativity, and successful outcomes in the arts, then you ought to go to the first annual Peak Area Performance and Artists awards (PAPAs) ceremony, coordinated by the Pikes Peak Arts Council. A panel of judges (media dumbos all, including the Indy's own Owen Perkins) selected 24 nominees in Theater, Visual Arts, Classical Music and Jazz Music, and the winners will be announced at a genteel wing-ding at the Colorado Springs School on June 16. So put on yer tux, or skimpy little J-lo see-through frock, and show up at 6:45 p.m. Thirty-five bucks; reservations required; call 475-2465.

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The fountain! Let's face it, it's pretty great. The other day, seated on the park bench, we observed:

Kids trying to run through and around its multiple jets without getting wet.

A stoner on a bike trying to slalom through the jets, ditto.

Two magnificent Great Danes (show dogs, according to their owners) trying to anticipate the jets, and get a drink without bending over.

The kind of good-humored crowd that's more typical of the Pearl Street Mall than of our sometimes sullen Acacia Park.

It's simple and lovable -- yet, there's a baffling subtext connected to Uncle Wilber, as he rises slowly from the swirling waters. If you don't know or are seeking confirmation on a hunch, ask the experts; I consulted Jacques Derida, the great deconstructionist philosopher.

"It's simple," he explained loftily. "In its usual configuration -- let us say its flaccid state -- the fountain is boldly, suggestively phallic, the unyielding male presence, surrounded by the yielding liquid of the female. But when Uncle Wilber rises, instead of the tumescent power of the male, we have this ridiculous little man tooting a horn while a dog runs around his head! The majesty of the male is seen to be an absurd illusion, while the fountain, whose flow increases as Wilber rises, represents the triumph of the female; nurturing, enveloping, life-giving."

Well, maybe, but the fountain is a lot of fun. And in that spirit, a group of mischievous folks are organizing a piece of performance art around the fountain. Let's call it "The Midsummer Night's Naked Cavort." All are welcome; watch this space for the e-mail contact. Like Burning Man, this is an event without spectators -- participants only! And given the unyieldingly male nature of the law enforcement community, participants ought to keep on their running shoes, and have a getaway car nearby.

Maybe after the arts awards on June 16, we could all strip off our formal wear, and cavort -- I'll ask the organizers.

-- John Hazlehurst

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The PAPA Awards Colorado Springs salutes its own

The Pikes Peak Arts Council and the Performing Arts for Youth Organization announced the nominees for the first annual Peak Area Performances and Artists Awards last week. Local artists and performances were considered in eight categories, and the following nominations were made by a panel of media arts critics:

Best Jazz Group
The Falconaires
Marv Smith Quartet
Springs Contemporary Jazz Big Band

Best Jazz Musician
Ray DeWitt, tenor saxophone and flute
Ryan Haines, trombone
Chris Lawson, trumpet

Best Theater Production
The Nest, Colorado Actor's Theatre
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, Star Bar Players
Twelfth Night, TheatreWorks

Best Theatrical Performance
Julian Bucknall, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, Star Bar Players
Ashley Crockett, Walking the Dead, Upstart Performing Ensemble
Jane Fromme, Angel Street, TheatreWorks

Best Visual Arts Exhibit
Artesia, Business of Art Center
Something New: Contemporary Regional Artists--Laurel Swab, Carol Dass, and Dawn Wilde, Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center
Together/Working, Gallery of Contemporary Art

Best Visual Artist
Lisa Chicoyne, Defining Self, Commonwheel and An Exquisite Corpse, Downtown Studio Gallery
Sean O'Meallie, Artesia, Business of Art Center
Rodney Wood, A Solo Exhibition, Fountain Valley School Art Barn

Best Classical Music Performance by a Large Ensemble
Salute to Spring, Colorado Springs Symphony
Immortal Fire (the Ensemble Sings the Words of the Poet), Colorado Vocal Arts Ensemble
Gianni Schicci and Pagliacci, Opera Theatre of the Rockies

Best Classical Performance by a Small Ensemble or Soloist
The Festival Artists Concert: July 10, 2000, The Colorado College Summer Music Festival
The Opening of the 2000-2001 Fine Arts Center Concert Series, The Da Vinci Quartet,
Piano, Percussion Extravaganza, Quattro Mani with guest artists John Kinzie and David Colson, percussionists

The Awards Ceremonies will be held at the Louisa Performing Arts Center at the Colorado Springs School, 21 Broadmoor Ave. on Saturday, June 16 from 6:45-10:00 p.m. Admission is $35, and includes a reception beforehand, live performances from Performing Arts for Youth Organization performers, and a post-ceremony party with music from the band Egamuffin. To receive an invitation, or for additional information, call Eve Tilley at 475-2465.

The panel of voters for the 1st Annual PAPA Awards was made up of the following: Mark Arnest, The Gazette; Al Buettner, ArtsPeak; Susan Edmondson, The Gazette; Erik Hyle, ArtsPeak; Lenny Mazel, KCME; Owen Perkins, The Colorado Springs Independent; Dave Rootes, The Colorado Springs Independent; David Sckolnik, ArtsSpeak and Springs Magazine; Bob Simon, KRCC; and Eve Tilley, The Pikes Peak Arts Council.

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