Friday, March 29, 2019

FAC's 2019-2020 theater season is studded with big titles and regional premieres

Posted By on Fri, Mar 29, 2019 at 10:00 AM

The second-to-last mainstage show of the FAC's 2018-2019 season, Hands on a Hardbody, opened March 28 and runs through April 14. - COURTESY COLORADO SPRINGS FINE ARTS CENTER
  • Courtesy Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center
  • The second-to-last mainstage show of the FAC's 2018-2019 season, Hands on a Hardbody, opened March 28 and runs through April 14.

On March 29, the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center at Colorado College announced its 2019-2020 theater season, stuffed with big titles, regional premieres, and some special productions we’re looking forward to. Producing artistic director Scott RC Levy says: “There’s a deep well of variety. There’s a lot of different styles of storytelling, something I think everyone will appreciate, and maybe audience members can surprise themselves, and get tickets to something they don’t even know about, and find out it’s their favorite show of the year.”

In putting together the season, Levy noticed that almost every show explored the idea of "home" in its own way — either how one defines home for themselves, or how one creates a home in a place where they’re initially uncomfortable. He mentions Maria finding life and love with the von Trapp family in The Sound of Music, and “Christopher, the autistic teenager in The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time going on this journey to discover what happened to his home, and what happened to his mother, who he thinks is dead."

The season actually starts with these two incredible works: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, which won the 2015 Tony Award for best play, will open on Sept. 26. Levy says rights to this show were only recently released, so the FAC is “just jumping on that as soon as possible.”

Meanwhile, The Sound of Music, one of the most beloved musicals of all time, celebrates its 60th anniversary this year, and Levy expresses excitement at staging a show that was written six decades ago while continuing to prove its relevance and give audiences a new and unique experience within it. It will function as the FAC’s holiday show, opening Dec. 12.

While it might seem impossible to follow The Sound of Music, the rest of the mainstage season lives up to its beginnings. Beloved musical The Bridges of Madison County (opening Feb. 13, 2020) is followed by Silent Sky (opening April 2, 2020), which tells the story of Henrietta Leavitt, a female scientist in the early 1900s whose passion for her work went unappreciated in her patriarchal field. The season will end with In The Heights (opening May 28, 2020), Lin Manuel Miranda’s first Tony Award-winning musical.

And, hell, that’s just the mainstage shows. The Family & Studio Series has its own surprises in store. Levy says he has been wanting to stage one of them, Lonely Planet, for years, since he saw the original production off-Broadway. This play by Steven Dietz is about 25 years old, written during the height of the AIDS crisis. It captures themes of the time that remain relevant today, and should prove incredibly affective with the FAC’s stellar team behind it.

The rest of the season includes special productions of Carrie the Musical and more, so peruse the full lineup below, from a FAC press release:

2019-2020 Mainstage Theatre Season
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time Sept. 26-Oct. 20, 2019
The Sound of Music Dec. 12, 2019-Jan. 12, 2020
The Bridges of Madison County Feb. 13-March 1, 2020
Silent Sky April 2-19, 2020
In the Heights May 28-June 21, 2020

2019-2020 Family & Studio Series Theatre Season
Busytown: The Musical Sept. 14-Oct. 13, 2019
Tiny Beautiful Things Nov. 8-Dec. 1, 2019
The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane March 6-April 5, 2020
Lonely Planet June 26-July 19, 2020

2019-2020 Special Added Attractions
Carrie the Musical: A Staged Concert Oct. 25-27, 2019
Men on Boats April 24-May 3, 2020
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Monday, March 18, 2019

Peak Arts Prize announces 2019 winners

Posted By on Mon, Mar 18, 2019 at 4:16 PM

Thom Phelps' ambitious art exhibit idea, A Farewell to Bees won the public's support in the category of "Individual Artists." - THOM PHELPS
  • Thom Phelps
  • Thom Phelps' ambitious art exhibit idea, A Farewell to Bees won the public's support in the category of "Individual Artists."

After receiving more than 1,800 votes in its public voting period, the Peak Arts Prize has selected its 2019 winners, getting ready to dole out grants equaling $15,000 to support new projects in local art.

Peak Arts Prize, run by the Cultural Office of the Pikes Peak Region, with funds from the Pikes Peak Community Foundation’s Fund for the Arts, announced the winners of its second-annual contest on March 18. The three categories combined (large arts organization, small arts organization and individual artist) drew 33 applicants this year, and on March 1 the Peak Arts Prize judges selected three finalists for each category before opening up public voting.

In a press release, COPPeR deputy director Angela Seals says: “The community has chosen inspiring winners this year, whose projects will engage people in new ways with local art. Peak Arts Prize is all about community connection. We invite the public to watch for when the Prize winners’ projects unfold this year near you and attend, participate, and support the winners!”

See the winners and a short description of their projects below, from the press release:


Bliss Studio & Gallery will present welding and iron pour workshops to introduce new local audiences to ironworking and spark conversations about empathy. Participants will collectively create a public art sculpture, led by Jodie Bliss and her team, culminating at the second annual Bliss Studio Iron Pour in Monument, CO.


The Unsteady Hand will grow its artistic programs for people living with Parkinson’s Disease and their caregivers. Creativity Labs and an annual art show develop participants’ creative expression, fine motor skills, and community connections. They hope to reach many more Coloradans living with the disease.


Thom Phelps will sculpt a large dead bee out of steel to be the centerpiece of a local art exhibition engaging the public in discussion about bee extinction. The artist will raise public awareness about pollinator protection by provoking a collective, emotional response about the loss of bees.
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Friday, March 1, 2019

Peak Arts Prize individual artist finalists want to spark conversation and share stories

Posted By on Fri, Mar 1, 2019 at 1:00 AM

The Peak Arts Prize, a grant contest run by the Cultural Office of the Pikes Peak Region and the Pikes Peak Community Foundation's Fund for the Arts, kicked off public voting for its second year on March 1, open through March 15.

Anyone in the community may take a look at the videos on Peak Arts Prize's page, and vote on the project they most want to fund in three categories: large arts organizations, small arts organizations, and individual artists.

We at the Indy chatted with each of the finalists in the individual artist category to learn more about their projects, what they wanted to do with the funds, and what value they feel their work will bring back to the community that invests in it.

See our print issue on Wednesday, March 6, for a chat with Angela Seals of COPPeR about changes made in the prize's second year.

Kailani Dobson: Atlas.Promisi

  • Courtesy Kailani Dobson
Local dancer Kailani Dobson proves unique among the finalists in this year’s Peak Arts Prize, as she has been here before. Last year, she and her project partners Robert Stokes and Bailey Wilde made it into the finals for their ambitious photography project. This year, however, Dobson’s proposal proves more personal.

“I lost my grandma last year in November,” Dobson says. “And she was a really big part of, like, why I do art and why I dance. And I was stuck with these weird kind of feelings of what to do with the promises that we had left with each other.” She asked herself whether or not she still had to follow through with the promises she had made, or if any of those promises changed now that her grandma had passed away. “I got interested in what other people would say if I asked them to share a promise with me.”

Since then, Dobson has been collecting written promises by leaving submission boxes at the coffee shop where she works, and asking friends to collect promises from people they know. These promises can be simple, Dobson says, the “tiny contracts we make in a day” like telling someone you’ll call them when you get home. But Dobson has collected promises that delve deeper, too. One promise reads simply, “Me time,” while another says, “I promise to live through you and for you, dad.”

“And after I started collecting them, I realized that it was this weird kind of untapped vulnerability in the community,” Dobson says, “and that people wanted to share these things, but they didn't have a platform.” She has collected more than 100 promises already.
Her project, Atlas.Promisi, aims to combine these hand-written notes into a physical art installation which will provide an environment for Dobson’s culminating performance. She plans to choreograph a dance to a custom soundscape, all inspired by the promises she has received. But that’s far from the last of it. In conjunction with the project, Dobson will host workshops to help people tap into whatever their promises happen to bring up — memories, sadness, joy, guilt — any emotion that needs an outlet. She hosted her first workshop already at Ormao Dance Studio, and encouraged people to explore their promises through journaling and movement. 
  • Kailani Dobson

Should Dobson receive the Individual Artists grant from Peak Arts Prize, she hopes to spruce up her submission boxes and place them in more locations throughout town, and to make the workshops more accessible to the wider community by traveling them to different locations. Then, later, she will use some grant money to copy and bind these promises in a book so everyone who anonymously submitted their promise may take home a piece of the project. “They can also see the vulnerability of the entire community … all the other things people are struggling with,” she says.

Thom Phelps: A Farewell to Bees

  • Courtesy Thom Phelps

Thom Phelps may have gotten his start in cartooning, and may consider himself a cartoonist at heart, but over the course of his career his artwork has taken plentiful turns. For decades he worked in graphic design, and more recently he has become a prolific sculptor.

His sculptural works can be spotted throughout town, such as the “Giving Tree,” crafted in steel and stone, situated outside Giving Tree Montessori School, or “High Plains Desert Flower,” a sculpture purchased by the city of Colorado Springs in 2017 to occupy a flower planter near Acacia Park on Tejon Street.

Phelps’ most ambitious sculpture project to-date, though, will take on a different kind of design, moving away from his usual abstract works to focus on a poignant image that he hopes will spark conversation. “We love bees,” Phelps says. “I love bees … and they're usually such a sweet image. But then when you see one dead, you know, it kind of hits us viscerally.”
After seeing a great many articles about the slow extinction of Earth’s pollinators, then conducting his own research into the depth and breadth of the problem and its controversies, Phelps was struck by this image of the dead bee as a representation of climate change and our planet’s future. “The conversation needs to be made, and I think it should be a conversation about the image ... And I personally feel very strongly about it, but I wanted to come at it from a sense of 'well, let's look at this objectively.'”

He hopes to recruit other artists for a gallery show, to be titled A Farewell to Bees. Whether contributing artists and visiting community members believe bee extinction is a genuine problem or a natural process whose impact is up for dispute, Phelps simply wants people to talk about what the bee means to us.
  • Thom Phelps
Should Phelps win the Peak Arts Prize this year, he plans to put most of the money into the centerpiece of “A Farewell to Bees,” a massive steel sculpture of a dead bee, legs curled as it lies on its back. With any extra funds, he hopes to compensate other artists contributing to the gallery show, and perhaps offer a cash prize for an opening night “people’s choice” award.

He believes drawing attention to this in Colorado Springs, especially, can be valuable, because this city hosts so many different viewpoints.

“You've got the, you know, the right and the left, right here on … the environment and climate and GMO and all these different topics; this is a great place to have that kind of conversation.” He hopes being confronted with such visceral imagery may encourage people to “be more aware of the images that you are taking in, that are being put in front of your eyes — and not necessarily ‘be wary,’ but be aware.”

Adam Williams: Humanitou 2.0

Xanthe Alexis, photographed for Humanitou - ADAM WILLIAMS
  • Adam Williams
  • Xanthe Alexis, photographed for Humanitou
Three years ago around Christmas, photographer Adam Williams moved from St. Louis with his family to Manitou Springs. Both he and his wife worked from home, and they struggled to find ways to engage meaningfully with their new community. However, with a background in journalism, and with an entire town of creative, fascinating individuals surrounding him, Williams hatched an idea for a project to not only connect him to the community, but to allow him to share that community’s stories with the world.

In 2017, Williams launched Humanitou, a website where he has since collected almost 60 interviews with Manitou Springs locals, especially the town’s artists. But these interviews don’t just scratch the surface of what these people do for a living or how they make their art. Williams doesn’t document small-talk or chit-chat. “I want to get at the heart of how they see life, maybe where they — well, definitely where they've learned that from. That comes from life experiences.” He mentions a 65-year-old man he interviewed recently who lost both of his parents suddenly when he was only 15. “You know, these are things that really have influenced him, of course, through the rest of his life,” Williams says. “And I think when we talk about those things, that can be about resiliency, struggle, can be about love and marriage, or any kind of relationship that people are in.”
Williams has interviewed some of the area’s biggest names, from nationally recognized artist Floyd D. Tunson to prolific illustrator Charles Rockey to drummer and dancer Dallo Fall. But Williams wants to spread the wings of this project, and he wants Peak Arts Prize’s help to do it.

Dallo Fall, photographed for Humanitou - ADAM WILLIAMS
  • Adam Williams
  • Dallo Fall, photographed for Humanitou

“The 'humanness' aspect of [Humanitou] is about inclusivity and diversity in every way that we can think of that,” Williams says. “So I want that in age, and I want in race, and I want it in religion and I want it and sex and gender matters, and just every way that a person, you know, holds their story.” His goal is to expand into Colorado Springs and the Pikes Peak region at large, and to open up both the audience and the participants in order to better share the region’s stories.

Of his project’s importance, Williams speaks with passion for the people he has met, and those he hopes to meet as Humanitou breaks out into its next phase: “Humanitou is about those connections of humanness especially, and creativity. And I think especially in the current ongoing climate of negativity, division, fear, anger — it's probably fair to even say, hatred — then to have this project be about bringing us together, to learn about each other, to hear from voices we're not necessarily always connecting with, whether that's socially or professionally, I think it's important that there be a project that focuses on the common ground of our humanity.”
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