Creativity has always been in the Ivywild School's DNA. Even bathroom breaks were illuminated by colorful, educational murals — the line "I am not a dinosaur" included. (See here for more on that.) But in Ivywild's new incarnation, there will also be paintings, sculpture and even an art school headed by the owners of downtown's Modbo and S.P.Q.R. galleries.
And the programming will share the campus' green and/or community-oriented sensibilities. Says independent curator Holly Parker Dearborn, who will oversee the exhibits: "So many aspects of the building are reused and simply doing things to enhance the beauty of what is already existing here."
Moving from the outside in, we'll start with the Ivywild Sculpture Garden, which will soon see large-scale pieces from Colorado artists Doyle Svenby and Bruce Campbell. As with all works at the school, they'll be for sale, although anchored on-site for a yet-to-be-determined period of time.
The pieces have come together with sponsorships (which people can get in on by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org) and salvaged materials. Svenby, of Colorado Springs, takes scrap to form pillars laced with rebar birds' nests and metal tree branches. Campbell, out of Longmont, paints faces and fantasy scenes on farm equipment and oil drums.
Indoors, Parker Dearborn has already arranged Ivywild's inaugural show, Revamp'd, which features "upcycled material artwork" (made from found, recycled or reused media) throughout public areas. Opening July 13, Revamp'd includes 2D and 3D pieces from artists like Mark Friday of Denver, Jimmy Descant of Salida and locals like Andy Tirado, whose monumental hanging wooden forearms will likely hover over the south staircase and Bristol's tap room.
Parker Dearborn's still working the details of art events, but for opening receptions, she's already decided to break from the First Friday movement. "This is such a destination spot and we have so much going on here," she says, "that it's really easy to combine an art opening with these other events that just allow people to linger here on campus."
One such event will be the August opening of Brett and Lauren Andrus' ModboCo School of Art, downstairs in the southeast corner of the building. It will offer classes for adults (which Brett already teaches at S.P.Q.R., one of which I took), teens and younger children, all day, six days a week.
Brett will continue to teach adult classes while other local artists will instruct courses for the younger set, to include at-risk youths, homeschoolers and kids with advanced skills. In addition, they also hope to host weekend seminars on topics like art history and art marketing.
With the help of the Pikes Peak Community Foundation as ModboCo's nonprofit umbrella, they hope to fill the void left by the 2011 folding of FutureSelf.
It's a huge undertaking, especially for something only officially thought up last summer — "It immediately terrified both Lauren and I," Brett says — but he's had this dream for years. He's inspired by his alma mater, the Savannah [Ga.] College of Art and Design, which opened in 1979 with just 71 students. By the mid-'80s, it had ballooned to 500, and now has 11,000 total at four campuses.
He notes that Colorado Springs is actually similar to that Georgia city in terms of population, military presence and politics. It was already a great place, he explains, but "when the school opened up, it just completely transformed Savannah."