Friday, December 14, 2018

Independence Center's Art of Accessibility program honored by Colorado Business Committee for the Arts

Posted By on Fri, Dec 14, 2018 at 5:16 PM

  • CayC Wolff

On Dec. 11, the Colorado Business Committee For the Arts, which encourages collaboration between businesses and arts organizations in order to elevate the arts throughout Colorado, announced its 2019 Business for the Arts Award honorees.

Among the six winners: The Independence Center, an Indy Give! nonprofit based right here in Colorado Springs. The Independence Center provides resources, services and community events to people living with disabilities in the Pikes Peak region, and advocates for their rights. Among their diverse programs, which include independent living services, health care resources and more, they offer an “Art of Accessibility” program.

Here’s what The Independence Center has to say about the program, in part:

Over the past two years, the Art of Accessibility initiative has invited and celebrated local people with disabilities as practitioners of art. By using the Independence Center itself as a pop-up gallery, the greater Colorado Springs community has been empowered to consider those questions of access and inclusion through the inviting and universal lens of art.

Though arts programming falls well outside its mission or range of experience, the Independence Center used this outreach tool more and more effectively with each successive iteration of the Art of Accessibility (AoA), which grew from a one-off exhibit into a semiannual festival of inclusive creative expression, from tactile paintings to adaptive fashion design to music and dance. At each juncture the arts served as a font of joy and a tool for advocacy, with intriguing results.

We wrote about one of AoA’s initiatives recently, a photo project meant to document barriers to accessibility throughout the community, as well as situations in which people with disabilities felt empowered and seen.

The CBCA honored The Independence Center for the entirety of the Art of Accessibility initiative, which will no doubt help the organization create their template “so other communities across Colorado can use their local arts scene as a driver for inclusion. “

Awards will be given to all honorees at a luncheon in March at the Denver Performing Arts Complex. See the full list of honorees on the CBCA website.
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Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Moxie adds art gallery, exhibits Springs artist Beth Eckel

Posted By on Wed, Dec 5, 2018 at 1:12 PM

  • Beth Eckel
Nearly a full year after its 2017 opening, local restaurant Moxie still has a lot going on — more, even, since they have officially established themselves as a staple of Springs vegan eating. Owned by Nissa and Mike Buth who also own Ola Juice Bar, Moxie has added a reliable plant-based dining option to the Eighth Street corridor, which — a bit south of Moxie — is also home to vegan eatery Burrowing Owl.

This week, Moxie will launch a new aspect of the business: the Moxie Art Gallery. Nissa Buth says this is the restaurant’s first big structural addition. “We’ve always had that [an art gallery] in mind, but it’s just been put on the back-burner so we can get restaurant operations where we want them,” Buth says.

She enlisted the help of her father, Dan Wecks, to establish the gallery space. He brings plenty of experience and expertise to the table, having worked with the Business of Arts Center (now the Manitou Arts Center), the Kennedy Center and Imagination Celebration.

Opening Dec. 6, the Moxie Art Gallery will feature its first artist: recent Colorado Springs transplant Beth Eckel. Hailing from Dallas, Texas, Eckel works in mixed media, creating unique realistic artwork on a canvas of book pages and sheet music.

Opening night will also feature a special Moxie menu, so you can enjoy some vegan fare with your art.

Buth says they plan to rotate artists monthly, and she encourages local artists to get in touch if they are interested in exhibiting on Moxie’s walls. Interested artists can get in touch through Moxie’s website.

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Monday, December 3, 2018

Peak Arts Prize hosts information session for interested artists and organizations

Posted By on Mon, Dec 3, 2018 at 8:54 AM

In early 2018, the Cultural Office of the Pikes Peak Region and the Pikes Peak Community Foundation launched a competitive grant initiative, the Peak Arts Prize, aimed at funding the pursuits of local artists and art organizations.

In three categories — large organizations, small organizations and individual artists — the program chose three finalists and opened voting to the public to choose winners. These winners were awarded prizes ranging from $2,500 to $7,500 to fund their pursuits.

Locals who want to get in on some of that sweet funding action might consider attending an information session on Dec. 4, 3:30-4:30 p.m. at the Tim Gill Center for Public Media. Last year’s winners will be on-hand to answer questions, including representatives from the Chamber Orchestra of the Springs (large organization), Colorado Street Art Company (small organization) and Jasmine Dillavou (individual artist).

While the Peak Arts Prize will not begin accepting applications until Jan. 10, this Q&A and info session should help artists begin to shape their ideas.

More information, including application requirements and last year’s winning video applications, can be found on the Peak Arts Prize website.

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Friday, September 28, 2018

Pikes Peak Litter Letter project draws attention to trash in local waterways

Posted By on Fri, Sep 28, 2018 at 1:46 PM

Concrete Couch has begun assembling the 3D letters to fill with litter. - ALISSA SMITH
  • Alissa Smith
  • Concrete Couch has begun assembling the 3D letters to fill with litter.
Unlikely pairings tend to spring up during Arts Month, an annual initiative by the Cultural Office of the Pikes Peak Region to fill the month of October with artistic experiences. During Arts Month, organizations of all kinds, even those that don’t tend to focus on art, contribute space for art events, lend their name and supporter base to arts organizations, or even partner with those organizations to make something unique. One such partnership: The Cultural Office itself and the Pikes Peak Outdoor Recreation Alliance.

Together, the two organizations have established the Pikes Peak Litter Letter Project, modeled after the national Litter Letter Project — with permission, a press release specifies. “[The] local Pikes Peak Litter Letter Project aims to inspire artistic creativity, inspire passion for the outdoors, and inspire environmental stewardship by creating a public art piece that focuses on the efforts to keep our public lands and waterways clean,” the release reads.

The creation of this public art piece included another local arts organization, Concrete Couch, which has assembled giant, 3D letters out of recycled metal. The letters spell the word “INSPIRE.” Volunteers cleaning up public lands and waterways during Creek Week (which runs Sept. 29-Oct. 6), will fill these letters with litter and display them throughout the month at the intersection of Highway 24 and 21st Street.

Watch the final letter come together at the dedication ceremony on Wednesday, Oct. 3, at 11:30 a.m. Colorado Springs mayor John Suthers and Colorado Tourism Office Director Cathy Ritter will be there to make it official.

Little litter is off-limits. - ALISSA SMITH
  • Alissa Smith
  • Little litter is off-limits.
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Thursday, September 20, 2018

Fine Arts Center town hall will address historic (and problematic) murals

Posted By on Thu, Sep 20, 2018 at 4:40 PM

  • Courtesy Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center at Colorado College

The Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center at Colorado College
contains a great deal of history — not just the items in its museum or the historical art pieces in its permanent collection, but also its own history as an institution. It celebrates its 100th anniversary next year.

But a lot has changed within the last century, and the FAC is not blind to the fact that aspects of its public art must be held up to modern scrutiny. Specifically, the FAC wants to address murals within the building that contain “problematic content,” according to Colorado College art professor Rebecca Tucker. This problematic content tends to relate to portrayals of race.

“They [the murals] are part of the historic fabric of our structure, and have been there since the 1930s,” she says, adding that “these are important pieces for us, part of our history, literally attached to our walls. They’re made by artists who are important in the region; they’re important to the FAC’s own history.”

However, the FAC understands that the historical significance of these murals is not the only important aspect of them, as modern interpretation has changed the way they’re viewed and received. While the FAC and Colorado College have had internal and campus conversations about how best to live with the murals, they have decided to open up the conversation to the community.

Their upcoming town hall, “Race, History and the Arts at the FAC and Beyond” is meant to give the public an opportunity to talk about these murals and what to do with them, in the context of a larger national conversation that has sprung up largely around Confederate statues and other such public art.

“I see this as an ongoing conversation about this really fundamental human question,” Tucker says. “How do we live with our past?”

While hiding the murals is an option, and the FAC currently uses curtains to keep them under wraps but accessible, it is not the only option. Tucker says they are open to community ideas, whether it means commissioning an artist to respond to the murals or approving a different, yet-unknown solution.

The town hall, co-hosted by the FAC and Colorado College’s Butler Center, will include four practitioners that Tucker hesitates to call panelists, who will provide different perspectives on the issue, but the conversation will largely be steered by community participants.

“We don’t have any easy solutions,” Tucker says. “I don’t think anybody right now has any easy solutions, but if there is a solution, it’s getting people together to talk about things that can be challenging.”

Attendees must RSVP for the town hall, which will be held at the Fine Arts Center’s restaurant TASTE on Sept. 24, 5 p.m. Light refreshments will be served.

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Wednesday, August 29, 2018

The Gallery Below's Art Parties are for all artists to come and play

Posted By on Wed, Aug 29, 2018 at 9:00 AM

Arty Party, Aug. 30, 7-10 p.m., The Gallery Below, 718B N. Weber St., $5, - JON BATAILLE
  • Jon Bataille
  • Arty Party, Aug. 30, 7-10 p.m., The Gallery Below, 718B N. Weber St., $5,
Got an ongoing art project that you can’t seem to find time or inspiration to finish? Looking to dip into different mediums but don’t know where to start? The Gallery Below isn’t just a place for artists to display their work — it’s also for artists of all skill levels and genres who come to play. These last-Thursday Arty Parties come with a built-in group of supportive artists, as well as materials to experiment with (though folks are obviously welcome to bring their own). Surrounded by the artwork on the walls (currently The Weird and Wonderful World of Joshua Coates), attendees can get inspired, listen to music and — for a little extra inspiration — partake in some adult beverages.
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Friday, August 17, 2018

Strut your nerdiness and cosplay at this open mic and haiku battle

Posted By on Fri, Aug 17, 2018 at 1:00 AM

This is Colorado Springs: Nerd Open Mic and Haiku Battle, Aug. 17, 6:30 p.m., KaPow Comics & Coffee, 4239 N. Nevada Ave., free,
  • This is Colorado Springs: Nerd Open Mic and Haiku Battle, Aug. 17, 6:30 p.m., KaPow Comics & Coffee, 4239 N. Nevada Ave., free,
How nerdy are you? We all may dress up as our favorite superheroes or Harry Potter characters from time to time, but it takes a next-level nerd to write poetry about their favorite pieces of pop culture. Luckily, plenty such poets call Colorado Springs home. Friday, locals will take the mic to perform their own geeky verse, and all are welcome to join in on the fun. The event will start with a workshop hosted by superstar Colorado poet Ashley Cornelius, followed by an open mic with Michael Ferguson (aka Skillzilla). At the end of the evening, stick around for a haiku battle hosted by Chris Beasley. That’s right, nothing nerdier than poetry geeks who can construct haiku out of thin air. To top it all off, there’ll be a costume contest, so get cosplaying!
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Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Local musicians to perform within LeAnna Tuff exhibit in Cottonwood Center for the Arts gallery space

Posted By on Tue, Aug 14, 2018 at 11:55 AM

"Passion Unleashed" from A Peek Behind the Curtain - LEANNA TUFF
  • LeAnna Tuff
  • "Passion Unleashed" from A Peek Behind the Curtain
In conjunction with Cottonwood Center for the Arts' current exhibit of paintings by LeAnna Tuff, A Peek Behind the Curtain, local musicians will perform two concerts of beloved tunes from opera and musicals on Aug. 18 and 19.

The artist’s husband Peter Tuff, executive director of the Colorado Springs Chorale, will join mezzo-soprano Jennifer DeDominici, soprano Kate Adam Johnson, tenor Todd Teske and pianist Daniel Brink in the center’s main gallery space.

Currently on display in that space, A Peek Behind the Curtain represents a departure from LeAnna Tuff’s usual photorealistic portraiture, and “celebrates the wonder of being transported to other times and places through a story, a song or dance, or a costume.”

Peter Tuff says: “I’m excited to perform with these wonderful artists in the gallery where LeAnna’s paintings capture so much of the emotion that we singers experience, and her exhibition of costumed performers will be the perfect backdrop for these concerts.”

Tickets to the performances will be $10 for students with ID, and $20 for the general public.

See below for more about each musician from the Tuffs' press release:

Kate Adam Johnson, soprano has an extensive repertoire of stage and concert works, and she has appeared with Opera Theatre of the Rockies as Nedda in Leoncavallo’s Pagliacci, the Countess in The Marriage of Figaro, the title role in Lehar’s The Merry Widow and more. Kate has appeared as a soloist with the Greeley Philharmonic, Chamber Orchestra of the Springs, Colorado Springs Symphony, MacLaren Quartet, Colorado Springs Chorale, Larimer Chorale, Soli Deo Gloria, Colorado College, First United Methodist Church, and Parish House Baroque. She has a Master of Music degree from the University of Northern Colorado and she currently serves as Catholic Music Director of the U.S. Air Force Academy Cadet Chapel. and her trumpet player husband have two sons.

Jennifer DeDominici, mezzo-soprano has been seen performing here in Colorado Springs as Mary Poppins, Maria in The Sound of Music, Carmen, Judy in 9 to 5, Sarah Brown in Guys and Dolls, Grace in Annie, Emperor Joseph II in Amadeus, Dorabella in Cosi fan tutte, Hansel, Rosina in Il barbiere di Siviglia, Angelina in La Cenerentola, and Mrs. Jones in Street Scene. She has worked with the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center at Colorado College, Opera Theatre of the Rockies, Colorado Springs Philharmonic, Chamber Orchestra of the Springs, and Theatreworks. She is the new principal voice instructor at Colorado College.

Todd Teske, tenor recently performed works by Monteverdi, Bach, and Handel with the Baroque Chamber Orchestra of Colorado, the Colorado Bach Ensemble, and with the Seicento Baroque Ensemble. Todd can be heard soloing in the Hollywood movie A Remarkable Life. With Conspirare, he recorded The Sacred Spirit of Russia (Harmonia Mundi), which garnered a 2014 Grammy for Best Choral Performance. He made his Kennedy Center solo debut in Hand¬el’s LÁllegro, Il Penseroso ed Il Moderato for the Mark Morris Dance Group. His European opera debut was at Giessen Stadttheater in Germany performing the title roles in Milhaud’s Le Pauvre Matelot and in the world premiere of Jean Francaix’s Le Diable Boiteux. Todd will soon appear in the world premiere of the opera Locust by Anne M. Guzzo.

Peter Tuff, baritone has been described as “an outstanding singer” (Salzburger Nachrichten) and “impressive…strong and commanding” (San Francisco Examiner). Peter has performed over 30 leading roles and dozens of supporting roles in opera, operetta, and musical theater in a career spanning thirty years on three continents. Colorado Springs audiences are familiar with Peter’s performances with Opera Theatre of the Rockies (The Mikado, Carmen, Pagliacci, La Cenerentola), and with the Colorado Springs Philharmonic (Carmina Burana, Beethoven’s 9th, Copland’s Old American Songs), and with Chamber Orchestra of the Springs (Beethoven’s 9th). He serves as executive director of the Colorado Springs Chorale.

Daniel Brink, pianist is well known as a teacher, vocal coach, collaborative artist, and adjudicator throughout the Front Range of Colorado. Dan is in his 20th season as Music Director and Principal Coach/Accompanist with Opera Theatre of the Rockies. He has been a member of the music faculty of Colorado College since 1987 and has taught on the faculty of the Colorado College Vocal Arts Festival since its inception. He is also Principal Accompanist for the Colorado Springs Chorale. He is a gifted arranger whose works have been performed extensively. Dan has degrees from University of Southern Colorado and a Master of Music from the University of Colorado at Boulder. 

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Friday, August 3, 2018

The Unsteady Hand hosts benefit concert for new Parkinson's art program

Posted By on Fri, Aug 3, 2018 at 3:25 PM

Parkinson's Disease is predicted to affect 1 million people in the U.S. by 2020. - CHINNAPONG / SHUTTERSTOCK.COM
  • Chinnapong /
  • Parkinson's Disease is predicted to affect 1 million people in the U.S. by 2020.

The Unsteady Hand, a new artist collective here in Colorado Springs, hopes to provide a space for people with Parkinson’s Disease and friends and family to explore artistic creation with guidance from local artists.

According to their website: “It is not uncommon for People with Parkinson’s (PWP) to become disengaged and isolated from their community. The explanations for separation can be physical, emotional or a combination of the two. We do everything we can to get through this mess called Parkinson’s as a community... a collective. The Unsteady Hand engages/re-engages fellow ‘Parkinsonians’ with the power of art and creativity.”

In advance of The Unsteady Hand’s first creative lab, the organization will host a benefit concert on Aug. 4.

Featuring Juannah, local pop-jazz-folk duo, the concert is free to attend, but organizers have asked for donations, 100 percent of which will fund upcoming programs.

According to the Parkinson’s foundation, the disease affects more than 10 million people worldwide, and can cause tremors, rigid limbs, and trouble walking or balancing, among other variable symptoms.

Hence, the title of the concert “Shake, Rattle, Be Whole,” which speaks to the truth of any disease, affliction or disability — it neither defines nor invalidates a person.

The concert will be held at Art 111, a downtown gallery currently exhibiting “Freedom,” featuring more than 20 artists interpreting the theme of freedom in diverse media.

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Friday, July 13, 2018

Money Museum receives donation from Sacagawea dollar coin designer

Posted By on Fri, Jul 13, 2018 at 8:56 AM

The Money Museum, the local, official museum of the American Numismatic Association, recently announced an exciting new donation to its collection.

Sculptor and Colorado College graduate Glenna Goodacre has given the museum a selection of items related to the Sacagawea dollar, for which she designed the obverse (the face side). The Sacagawea dollar was released in 2000 and produced until 2008.

Goodacre is a bronze sculptor of some renown, who has also contributed a large piece to the local Colorado Springs landscape. Her sculpture “Basket Dance” sits outside the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center at Colorado College today.

Among the items Goodacre has donated to the museum:
• One of three plaster-casts of the original Sacagawea design.
• A plaster cast of the final design.
• a test piece in bronze with a polished finish.
• Examples of the first coins struck by the U.S. Mint.
• “The Offering” – a small bronze statue showing Sacagawea looking up to the heavens while holding her dollar up and out in front of her.
• A plaster showing an alternate version of the Sacagawea design, requested by Secretary of the Treasury Robert E. Rubin, without Sacagawea’s baby Jean Baptiste on her back. Produced in 1998, it was much less popular than the design with the child.
• A terracotta rendition, used as a test piece to study the relief of the design.
• A large (7 ¾”) cast bronze of the final design.

Communications coordinator Amanda Miller says that there are no immediate plans to display these new items, but the museum is looking into future opportunities. In the meantime, the Money Museum's Trenches to Treaties: World War I in Remembrance is currently on display.

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Friday, July 6, 2018

Andy Vick appointed to Colorado Council on Creative Industries

Posted By on Fri, Jul 6, 2018 at 10:24 AM

  • Courtesy Andy Vick
On July 3, Andy Vick, the executive director of the Cultural Office of the Pikes Peak Region (COPPeR), was officially appointed by Gov. John Hickenlooper to the Colorado Council on Creative Industries, a state agency that supports creative businesses and nonprofits in Colorado, whether through grants, programming, advocacy or research.

Colorado Creative Industries is also in charge of designating creative districts in the state, such as Downtown Colorado Springs and Manitou Springs.

Vick, who has served as COPPeR’s executive director since 2014, is also vice president of the Colorado Springs Convention & Visitor’s Bureau Board of Directors, an ex-officio board member of the Colorado Springs Chamber and EDC, and is on the Executive Committee for the United States Urban Arts Federation.

He will join 10 other individuals on the Colorado Council on Creative Industries as the only member from the Colorado Springs area.

“I’m honored to be appointed,” Vick says in a press release, “and I look forward to representing the arts community from Colorado Springs and the Pikes Peak region at the State level.”

He will serve a three-year term.

See below for the executive order from Gov. Hickenlooper.

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Sunday, July 1, 2018

Haunted Mines merges with Hellscream Entertainment, reopens

Posted By on Sun, Jul 1, 2018 at 2:00 PM

A relocated, redesigned Haunted Mines will open for one night on Friday, July 13. - ELIZABETH IRVINE-MADRID
  • Elizabeth Irvine-Madrid
  • A relocated, redesigned Haunted Mines will open for one night on Friday, July 13.
Long-standing charity haunted house Haunted Mines closed after its 2016 season. The outdoor haunt structure at the Western Museum of Mining and Industry has since been demolished, and the future of the attraction has been up in the air. But fear fans need wonder no longer: the Haunted Mines brand has been bought and will open again this year under the newly expanded Haunted Mines and Hellscream Entertainment. Vince Stites, co-owner/CEO of the company, says he's been friends with Haunted Mines director Stacy Packer and executive director Angel Nuce for some time, and when the two concluded that selling the brand was the best option, they came to him first.

“We’ve been fortunate through the years with Hellscream Haunted House doing really well," he says, and he decided it would make a good addition. Since, he and his team have been working on installing the haunt into its new home at 3910 Palmer Park Blvd., in the former Sinister Haunted House, which Stites and company only ran for one year. It's a 28,000 square foot facility that Stites calls "one of the most amazing things we’ve ever done in 10 seasons of Hellscream." The haunt retains the mine and mining theme, taking guests into the fictional town of Colt Falls, Colorado, and its surrounding mines.

“We have a really cool prop we call a mine descender," Stites says. "People get on it, and it gives you the sensation that you’re going 300 feet underground.” In addition to bringing over thematic elements from the WMMI attraction, Stites says he's contracted with both performers and management from the old haunt team to staff it alongside his own Hellscream regulars.

“We wanted to make sure the previous Haunted Mines folks still have a haunted home to play, haunt and scare," he says.

That does not, however, include Nuce and Packer. Rather, Packer says they'll be running Haunted MINDS, a nonprofit organization through which they'll handle manage charitable donations, continuing the work they did through the Haunted Mines attraction.

Haunted Mines will have a grand opening event on Friday, July 13, running from 7 to 10 p.m. For more information on prices and amenities here or here. In the mean time, check out a slideshow of photos from the attraction below.
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Thursday, June 21, 2018

Suz Stovall breaks style with Finding Peace at G44 Gallery

Posted By on Thu, Jun 21, 2018 at 1:00 AM

Finding Peace, Opening reception, June 22, 5:30-8 p.m., on display through Aug. 4, G44 Gallery, - SUZ STOVALL
  • Suz Stovall
  • Finding Peace, Opening reception, June 22, 5:30-8 p.m., on display through Aug. 4, G44 Gallery,
G44 Gallery is one of those delightful contemporary galleries that consistently displays eclectic work from artists of all stripes. One such artist, Suz Stovall, expresses her artistic talent in a multitude of ways, having won awards for her ceramics before eventually returning to her first love, painting. A selection of Stovall’s paintings will be on display at G44 this month and next, but these aren’t typical of her style. As a departure from her usually vibrantly colorful work, Stovall has produced Finding Peace, a show mostly in monochrome with only occasional splashes of color. In her artist statement, Stovall says: “Painting is my passion, to trust the process. Finding peace is understanding the joy of discovery — beautiful little gifts. Being open to that. Finding peace in your art journey. And it is just that, a journey.”
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Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Pikes Peak Watercolor Society's Midsummer Night's Dream comes true downtown

Posted By on Wed, Jun 20, 2018 at 1:00 AM

A Midsummer Night’s Dream with the Pikes Peak Watercolor Society, June 20, 5:30-8 p.m., Colorado Springs Pioneers Museum lawn, - LAUREL BAHE
  • Laurel Bahe
  • A Midsummer Night’s Dream with the Pikes Peak Watercolor Society, June 20, 5:30-8 p.m., Colorado Springs Pioneers Museum lawn,

Pikes Peak Watercolor Society president Nancy Neale says the organization chose the title “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” as a nod to “what an evening of artists painting live downtown, plein air would feel like... truly a midsummer night’s dream in downtown Colorado Springs.” Plein air painting, a term for painting outdoors, allows artists to break their leashes, unconstrained by the four walls of a studio and its implied rules. Including such well-known names as Eric Fetsch, Mary Gorman and Rick Forsyth, 25 artists have been selected from the society’s 160 members to do plein air painting demonstrations, and more artists will be on hand to discuss the art of watercolor with onlookers. While you’re watching a piece of art come together, learning about the technique behind it, and enjoying the summer evening air, take advantage of the several food trucks they’ll have on-site and settle down on the Pioneers Museum lawn.

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Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Colorado Springs Conservatory produces a revised Jack: A Moral Musical Tale

Posted By on Tue, Jun 19, 2018 at 1:55 PM

  • Screencap from trailer; credit Colorado Springs Conservatory
In June of 2017, the Colorado Springs Conservatory, a local performance art school, debuted Jack: A Moral Musical Tale. Meant to convey an anti-bullying message, the musical followed a young bully into a dream sequence in which he met Jacks from different fairytales and folklore who taught him that nothing good comes from remorselessly bullying others. By invitation, we went to see the show, and came away with some issues in the way the musical portrayed minority characters (the very people most at-risk for bullying) and the way its messages fell flat, or even contradicted themselves.

At the time, Conservatory CEO Linda Weise said: “It would be amazing to have a piece that was created and shaped by feedback here in our community that could have national and international relevance.”

Now, the Conservatory has indeed used audience feedback to revamp the story and musical score, with help from Conservatory alumni Josh Franklin, a Broadway performer who typically makes his home in New York City. “I like to give back,” Franklin says, “so I come back and teach and direct and write. It’s good for them; it’s good for me. This show in particular has been so much work, but so much fun, and it’s just a beautiful story.”

Since joining the Conservatory creative team on this project in November, Franklin, who has also directed this production, says he made some significant changes to the script. For one, he gave Jack more understandable motivation, hoping to illustrate that issues with bullying largely start at home with the family.

He also altered the tone of many of Jack’s dream sequences. “It was a great concept and a fun story,” he says, “but a lot of the dream sequences seemed to be just other Jacks from the history of literature picking on Jack, and I wanted to examine less of a nightmare and more of a dream in which people teach him positive lessons.”

Among these characters, Franklin introduced “Jack of All Trades,” to show Jack a different kind of future than the one he’s building for himself by bullying others. Jack of All Trades is portrayed by Brian Sears, one of three Broadway performers who Franklin invited to take part in this production. The other two are Moya Angela and Abbie Mueller. All three are currently active on Broadway, and have performed with Franklin in the past.

The Conservatory has also invited four dancers from the Colorado Ballet Society, plus Thomas Wilson of the Chamber Orchestra of the Springs, to collaborate on the performance.

While Franklin has made many changes to the original script, he says it is still recognizable as Jack: “It’s a different angle. Definitely the same story, but a different way of telling it.”

The end of the show, which caused us particular concern in its original inception, has been “completely reconstructed,” according to Franklin. He says that the show has grown to encompass not just anti-bullying messages, but also messages of suicide prevention, and messages for adults who need to intervene when they encounter troubled children.

In spite of all this, Franklin insists that the show is mostly comedic, and the serious messages “sneak up on you,” which is a good sign for a family production. While we have yet to see the revised show, we find encouragement in Franklin’s enthusiasm for its changes.

In a press release, CEO Linda Weise said: “I am thrilled with what Josh [Franklin] has done to the original piece. His incredible songwriting abilities have really elevated the score and flow of the story… not to mention that I am simply humbled to work alongside him in bringing this story to life yet again, even better and with more great characters.”

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