Brett and Lauren Andrus: The Andruses are the power couple behind the Modbo and S.P.Q.R., as well as the ModboCo School of Art, where adults and kids can take classes in drawing and painting from some of the best artists in town, including Phil Lear, Erin Jones, Christian Medovich and Brett himself. Their connections and Brett's eye lead some of the best emerging talent to their alleyway galleries, and the works are often affordable. The Andruses are quite civic-minded as well, partnering with other downtown entities to revitalize locales and organize events.
Jon Khoury: The executive director of Cottonwood Center for the Arts, Khoury is boisterous, ambitious and successful. He's helped Cottonwood become a pillar of the downtown scene with the installation of a theater and a vigorous schedule of art shows, classes and special events that draw most any demographic to Cottonwood's doorstep. In less than five years, Khoury's transformed the place. What he'll do to the town at large in the next five is anyone's guess, but you know it's going to be good.
Andy Vick: Vick arrived in the Springs just over a year ago, but already the Cultural Office of the Pikes Peak Region executive director has made himself into a leader. Last October's inaugural Arts Month was a success due to his campaigning and clear expectations, to say nothing of his endless capacity for accepting feedback. Listen to the man speak sometime, if you haven't heard him already — you'll be impressed.
Gregory Howell: Pueblo's arts scene grows by leaps and bounds each year, and much of that has to do with Howell, the man behind Kadoya Gallery and the Shoe Factory Center for Creative Arts. The latter has seen great transformation in the past year, upgrading to a larger space and expanding programming. Howell believes deeply in Pueblo's potential, and works to fulfill it, whether hosting exhibits from the Steel City's local arts corps or collaborating on improvements to the downtown sector.
Daisy McConnell: The Galleries of Contemporary Art at UCCS represent a nexus of the artistic, hip and academic, thanks to McConnell, who has helmed GOCA 121 and 1420 for the past four years. Most shows are highly experimental, featuring unconventional materials, complex themes and multidisciplinary events. Though international artists like Eiko Otake display at GOCA, locals such as Sean O'Meallie and Marina Eckler are part of McConnell's rotation, too. What also makes GOCA great is its party-animal side; witness its regular Lunch Beat dance parties, which give you an hour to (safely) jam in the space and a sack lunch to go, and the playful ChitChat mixed-topic lectures.
Jessica Hunter-Larsen: Like McConnell, Hunter-Larsen is proof that women in the arts are as strong as ever here. Under her leadership, anything happening at Colorado College's I.D.E.A. Space and Coburn Gallery are must-sees. Hunter-Larsen's shows are rarely just artistic pursuits — they often have deep ties to topics that span the fields of science, history, current affairs or even hip-hop, as this past year has seen. (And then there was that gorgeous collection of Rembrandt prints.) Each exhibit also comes with artist talks, panel discussions and performances. It's about as close as you can get to a free CC education.