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In Living Color
New venues spring up

The infusion of color into the drab and colorless winter landscape signals the arrival of spring. It's a natural renaissance performed annually by nature.

The same spirit of rebirth is present at two new exhibits at two new local art venues: Seeds of Change, displayed in the Livery (a.k.a. "The Garage") at the Business of Art Center, and MasterWorks from the Camera Obscura Gallery, a grand-opening exhibit at the Phototroph Gallery and Studio.

Both buildings are historic relics of the region's earlier transportation era; they've been reclaimed, renovated, and given new life displaying art. Built in 1893 for the Manitou Livery and Transfer Company, The Livery at the BAC was used as a stable where visitors could hire horses and carriages when visiting Manitou Springs. Spencer Penrose later used the building to house his touring cars, which carried visitors to the top of Pikes Peak. More recently the city of Manitou Springs used the building for road equipment storage before selling it to the BAC.

The BAC's Biennial Garden Exhibit Seeds of Change invited artists to provide their interpretation of spring, attracting almost 700 pieces of art. According to the jurors, Carl Reed (sculptor and professor at Colorado College), Ruth Kolarik (art historian and professor at CC) and Rich Schell (owner of Gallery Rich Designs), "the subject matter of gardens can tend towards triteness ... We looked for artwork that was not just mechanical or of a purely technical observation but a piece that at some point becomes interpretive."

The result is a pleasantly dizzying array -- over 150 pieces -- of horticulture and wildlife. The show includes classical biological illustrations, traditional oil and watercolor pieces, abstract mixed media, sculpture, stained glass and furniture from some of the region's outstanding artists.

Sushe Felix displayed a number of magnificent pieces done in mixed media. In "Still Life Flowers," "Spring," "Still-life with Striped Bowl," and "Daisies," Felix achieves a stylistic representation of the essence of the subject by combining geometrical backgrounds and Japanese text.

Also represented is Jean Gumpper, one of the region's outstanding printmakers. Diverging from the vivacity of spring colors, Gumpper instead focuses on the static nature of death, using black and white in her three pieces titled "Fossil Flowers," which were created with intaglio on homemade paper.

The "Best of Show" award went to Pat Dagnon's "Coi Goldfish and Lilypads." Visually intense, Dagnon's piece features lost pastel lines to capture a fleeting view of a garden pond. The "Outstanding in Field" award went to Susan Hinton for her watercolor "Garden Jewels."

Fine arts photographer Elaine Bean has injected new life into the region's art community with the grand opening of the Phototroph Gallery and Studio. Located downtown along the railroad line in part of the Roby Mill Building, originally a shipping warehouse for the railroads, Bean has recently converted her section of the building into one of the only galleries in the region devoted exclusively to fine art photography. (If you ask Bean nicely, she'll show you a vestige of the building's past, a trolley car, oddly located in the building's basement.)

With her current exhibit, MasterWorks from the Camera Obscura Gallery, a collection of pieces from Hal D. Gould's gallery in Denver, she sets the tone of her gallery by representing a range of famous photographers, both past and present. Among the more recent pieces is "Tuna Fishing" by Sebastiao Salgado, which captures the plight of the fishermen in Tapani, Sicily (1991), and "Running White Deer" (1967) by Paul Camponigro, a stunning piece capturing the movement of white deer against a stationary Irish forest. Also represented is Imogen Cunningham, one of the few well-known female photographers. Her two pieces, "Magnolia Blossom" (1925) and "False Hellebore" (1926), demonstrate the power of the lens to capture fine detail.

click to enlarge Paul Camponigros Running White Deer at the new Phototroph Gallery and Studio
  • Paul Camponigros Running White Deer at the new Phototroph Gallery and Studio

-- Aaron Menza

05 Friday

Oh the shark has pretty teeth, dear
And he shows them pearly white
Just a jack knife has MacHeath, dear
And he keeps it out of sight

When the shark bites with his teeth, dear
Scarlet billows start to spread
Fancy gloves though wears MacHeath, dear
So there's not a trace of red

On the sidewalk, Sunday morning
Lies a body oozing life
Someone's sneaking round the corner
Is the someone Mack the knife?

From a tug boat by the river
A cement bag's dropping down
The cement's just for the weight, dear
Bet you Mack is back in town

Louie Miller disappeared, dear
After drawing out his cash
And MacHeath spends like a sailor
Did our boy do something rash?

Sukey Tawdry, Jenny Diver
Polly Peachum, Lucy Brown
Oh the line forms on the right, dear
Now that Mack is back in town

-- lyrics to "Mack the Knife," the opening song from Berthold Brecht's The Threepenny Opera, to be performed in Hoag Theatre at Pueblo Community College. Tickets are $3 to $6. For reservations, call 719/549-3387. The show opens tonight at 7:30 and runs Fridays and Saturdays through April 13.

Jesus scholar extraordinare Marcus Borg is said to have digested the whole Bible and is now able to verbally regurgitate it back into language that the Everyman can understand. Borg will be discussing "The Meanings of Faith" tonight in Colorado College's Shove Chapel. Admission is free and the lecture begins at 8 p.m. Call 389-6607.

The Brian Flynn Band is back in town tonight at Classics, 5943 Delmonico Drive. The Cabo Wabo/Sammy Hagar house band plays at 9 p.m. Call 260-7057.

click to enlarge The Brian Flynn Band is back in town -- Friday
  • The Brian Flynn Band is back in town -- Friday

06 Saturday

Don't knock the tartan -- plaid may make you look fat but it holds a special place in the heart for all Scots. Today is National Tartan Day, and Manitou Springs is getting into it by holding a Scottish Walk, essentially a parade chock full of kilts, pipes, Highland Terriers, drums, bands and more, at 10:30 a.m. on Manitou Avenue. At 2 p.m. St. Andrew's Episcopal Church, just west of the town clock, hosts the Kirkin' O' the Tartan, the clandestine blessing of the tartans that began 200 years ago when the Scottish clan system was outlawed. At 7 p.m. there will be a ceilidh, with traditional Irish music, dancing, food and, of course, drink at City Hall, 606 Manitou Ave. For details on all of the day's events, call 685-5089.

Silvery-tongued Erika Luckett is back in town performing with local superfolker Joe Uvegas at the T*E*S*S*A (formerly the Center for the Prevention of Domestic Violence) Benefit tonight at the Colorado Springs School, 21 Broadmoor Ave. Tickets are $15 and you need reservations to get in. Call 227-8648 or 329-1644. The show starts at 7 p.m.

07 Sunday

The Cheyenne Mountain Zoo is one of only five accredited zoos in the nation that are not supported by tax dollars, but by donations, grants, admission sales and the like. Tonight's fund-raiser guarantees each ticket holder a piece of the animal-inspired art donated by local artists and zoo staff (maybe even Lucky and Kimba, the artistic elephants?). Art on the Hoof begins at 6 p.m. in the Primate World exhibit. Tickets are $50. Call 633-9925.

Pastor Wintley A. Phipps has performed everywhere, from Presidential Prayer Breakfasts to Billy Graham Crusades to Diana Ross' wedding ceremony. The highly educated lecturer and vocalist performs jazz, gospel and traditional music this evening at First United Methodist Church, 420 N. Nevada Ave. Tickets are $10 to $20, and the concert begins at 5 p.m. Call 471-4361.

Four years' worth of touring together ... of course they've gone insane. Patti Smithsonian makes her own puppet friends and makes them talk, Jim Jackson has a split personality as a goofball clown, Birgitta DePree's dramatics have gone over the top and Stacy Dyson cannot stop spouting poetry with a cappella beats. These varied performers have all done their tours around Colorado with the Kennedy Center Imagination Celebration, and will now share the stage at the Pikes Peak Center (190 S. Cascade Ave.) as part of Colorado Connections. Also appearing are the Colorado Springs Children's Chorale, the Youth Symphony and Mariachi San Luis. Tickets are $6 and the family show begins at 2 p.m. Call 520-SHOW or visit imaginationcelebration.org for details

09 Tuesday

It's National Poetry Month, and locally the Pikes Peak Library District has decided to celebrate by hosting readings of original works by local poets. This evening, the Penrose Public Library, at 20 N. Cascade Ave., hosts the reading at 7 p.m. Admission is free; call 531-6333 Ext. 1204. There will be another reading on April 23; if you'd like to participate, call Jim Ciletti at 634-2367.

-- Kristen Sherwood

click to enlarge Bird Millman: A Musical opens next Thursday, April 11
  • Bird Millman: A Musical opens next Thursday, April 11

Bird Calling
New production celebrates the life of high-wire wonder

As spectacles go, there's nothing more romantic than the circus, and nothing campier than a musical. Put them both together in August Mergelman's production about Cañon City's own Bird Millman, purportedly the "greatest female wire artiste who ever lived," and you should have one camptacular show about one of our great forgotten local heroines.

Born in Cañon City in 1890, high-wire artist Bird Millman was raised in a circus family of modest fame. As is wont to happen in circus families, Bird's parents brought her into the business at a tender age, teaching her, as it were, "the ropes." As an adult, Bird Millman gained world renown for her work in Les Folies Bergre, the Ziegfield Follies, The Palace, and, most of all, the Ringling Bros. Barnum & Bailey Circus where she performed between 1910 and 1920 before her third marriage and eventual retirement from performance in 1924.

Sadly, Bird's husband was crushed by the market crash of 1929 and died shortly thereafter, leaving Bird with nothing. She was then forced to return to Cañon City and lived out her final years on a chicken ranch before dying from cancer in 1940.

In an attempt to celebrate her life, revive her memory, and put her onto Cañon City's historical map, producer August Mergelman wrote the book and lyrics for Bird Millman: A Musical. Music and additional lyrics were written by Sam Stokes, and the production is directed by Tom Ledbetter.

Though this initial run of five performances is short for a musical, Mergelman hopes to attract the attention of other potential producers.

Mergelman is also asking the public for any further information, historical documents, or leads to more information about Bird Millman's life.

-- Noel Black

Capsule

Bird Millman: A Musical

Fremont Civic Theater Company

Washington Elementary School, on the corner of 9th St. and College Avenue in Cañon City, Colorado

Thurs.-Sat., April 11-13, 7 p.m.
Sat.-Sun., April 13-14, 2 p.m.

Tickets: $6, and $5 for students, seniors and on opening night. Call 719/269-3108.

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