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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Thursday, June 7, 2018

Art on the Streets installs a giant, scrap-metal mermaid right off the Colorado Avenue bridge

Posted By on Thu, Jun 7, 2018 at 3:48 PM

  • Courtesy Trace O'Connor and The Downtown Partnership
  • Trace O'Connor with "Iscariot"

Like a great beast rising from the depths of the ocean, "Iscariot" will soon rise to the top of the Traffic Management Center on Colorado Avenue, where she’ll stay for the duration of Art on the Streets’ 20th Anniversary exhibit. As of this writing, this giant octopus mermaid by Fort Collins artist Trace O’Connor is currently being welded together and lifted by crane (and manpower) onto the roof. 
According to Claire Swinford, urban engagement manager of the Downtown Partnership, O'Connor, his team and a group of volunteers will assemble "Iscariot" in two pieces, which will be lifted separately and then welded together. By 4 p.m. on June 7, "Iscariot" should be fully visible as folks travel westward on the Colorado Avenue bridge.

We stopped by the installation to watch the process for a while, and passively took photos in the shade as volunteers lifted immensely heavy metal tentacles. Check out their hard work below:

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Friday, June 1, 2018

Humming Line Gallery offers classroom space to east side art teachers

Posted By on Fri, Jun 1, 2018 at 8:59 AM

  • Courtesy Humming Line Gallery

Though options for creative engagement abound Downtown, it’s tougher to find classes (and classroom space) on the Northeast end of the city, where oftentimes corporate shopping centers overwhelm creative businesses.

Humming Line Gallery, 4851 Barnes Road, has nestled itself right off Austin Bluffs, providing a neat gallery space to an area in which many local artists live, even if they work and display their art closer to the city’s core or the west side. In addition to hosting the works of local artists (including the whimsical glass and wire creations of owner/founder Maxine Grossman), Humming Line has also been offering classes all year.

Grossman herself teaches crochet classes (with yarn and beads), as well as wire and beading jewelry classes— offering private and group sessions. One class option offers attendees the opportunity to decorate Grossman’s signature glass goddess forms.

And now Humming Line will open its doors to art teachers, as well as art students. The gallery has announced that it will offer its space for interested educators to host classes of their own.

Their space allows for up to 12 students, with limited storage available on-site if teachers should require it. It’s a solid location for artists in the Northeast to bring classes a little closer to home, rather than relying on the busy downtown corridor. And options aren’t limited to mess-less works. Humming Line’s Tom Grossman has taught airbrushing classes in the past, so all forms of art are welcome.

Those interested in renting the space can call the gallery, or email

Location Details Humming Line Gallery
4851 Barnes Road
Colorado Springs, CO
Art Gallery and Retail Store
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Monday, May 21, 2018

Downtown Partnership announces Art on the Streets participants

Posted By on Mon, May 21, 2018 at 6:08 PM

"I have been dreaming to be a tree" by Byeong Doo Moon of Gwangju-si, South Korea - MIKE PACH
  • Mike Pach
  • "I have been dreaming to be a tree" by Byeong Doo Moon of Gwangju-si, South Korea
This year marks the 20th anniversary of the Downtown Partnership of Colorado Springs' Art on the Streets exhibition, and 17 new works have been picked to go on display around the downtown corridor. They'll join three "encore" exhibits and a new purchase added to the city's permanent outdoor collection.

This year, the Downtown Partnership received a staggering 90 proposals from 72 artists. The 17 participating works were selected by Joy Armstrong of the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center at Colorado College and Rodney Wood of Trinidad's ArtoCade Art Car Festival. The new pieces will be on display by early June; check out a full list of selected artists below.

  • Jodie Bliss of Monument
  • Justin Deister of Louisville, CO
  • Jimmy Descant of Salida, CO
  • Steven Durow of Fruitland, MD
  • Neil Fenton & Nathaniel Baker of Colorado Springs (collaborative work)
  • Scott Froschauer of Sun Valley, CA
  • Sara Madandar, Christina Coleman & Jieun Beth Kim of New Orleans, LA (collaborative work)
  • Byeong Doo Moon of Gwangju-si, Republic of Korea
  • Trace O’Connor of Fort Collins, CO
  • Kyle Ocean of Fort Collins, CO
  • Nikki Pike of Denver
  • Kasia Polkowska & Kyle Cunniff of Alamosa, CO
  • Yoshitomo Saito of Denver

In addition, the Downtown Partnership has announced that "I have been dreaming to be a tree" by artist Byeong Doo Moon, part of the 2017-18 exhibition, has been purchased through the Judy Noyes Memorial Purchase Fund and will be donated to the city and remain on display for the foreseeable future. Three other exhibits from the 2017-18 exhibition — "Aspires" by Mitchell Dillman of Penrose, "Nothing Greater than / Less than Love" by Joshua Kennard of Colorado Springs, and "Double Bench III (Basics)" by Matthias Neumann of Brooklyn, NY — will remain on exhibition until further notice.
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Friday, May 11, 2018

Michael Garman releases new sculpture in time for his 80th birthday

Posted By on Fri, May 11, 2018 at 10:20 AM

For decades, the Michael Garman Museum and Gallery has been a fixture of the Old Colorado City community. Magic Town, the central focus of the gallery, is a “3,000 square-foot dollhouse,” according to the artist himself. It contains painted bronze sculptures illustrating urban life in a “gritty blend of Walt Disney and Norman Rockwell.” Intricate details from half-eaten food on plates to trash in the streets add color to Magic Town, but the figures make it come to life.

Garman doesn’t just create sculptures; he creates characters, and strives to make each one unique. In 2016, he added to his Western Collection two sculptures paying homage to Mexican revolutionaries. Now, two years later, he has finished production on a character he’s been working on for about 10 years.

Prairie Rose is the newest addition to the Western Collection. And while 10 years may seem like a long time to create one character, Garman says Prairie Rose was a special challenge. “The women in my life are by far the most complicated beings I have ever met,” Garman said in a press release. “A female sculpture is no less complex. Creating a woman is an art in and of itself.”

Though Prairie Rose is far from the only female sculpture he’s created, she is as unique as the rest of them, with a contemplative expression, a pair of dusty Daisy Duke shorts, and a casual stance that makes it seem as though she’s lookin' over a rolling prairie and thinkin’ about how the railroad’s gonna change things ‘round here, just you wait — though the shorts and tied-off belly shirt may make it difficult to do any farm work or rough riding.

This 19.5-inch sculpture will be officially released on Garman’s 80th birthday on May 15 at the Michael Garman Museum and Gallery, where attendees can enjoy Magic Town and Garman’s other impressively detailed works.

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Friday, April 27, 2018

Smokebrush Foundation for the Arts tells a brief fairytale on Pioneers Museum lawn

Posted By on Fri, Apr 27, 2018 at 4:45 PM

  • Alissa Smith

On April 27, Smokebrush Foundation for the Arts hosted The Well Between Two Words, "an experimental performance art piece about justice, desire, and the wishful immediate," created by Ella Goodine Richardson. Billed as lasting from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., the performance took place in and around a hut erected on the Pioneers Museum lawn, decorated with cylindrical pillows and draping curtains.

When I arrived at 11 a.m., a group of performers sat in the hut, applying each others' doll-like makeup while they spoke quietly to each other. As with most experimental art, it can be hard to tell what is part of the piece and what is not, so I watched from afar for a few moments and decided to return for the main performance at 4 p.m.

At four (on the dot, thanks to the Pioneers Museum's bells) a small group of folks gathered on the lawn to watch what was essentially a brief fairytale, told through magic, music and a Greek-like chorus of three elaborately dressed narrators. The magic, provided by performers Anthem and Aria, earned a few well deserved rounds of applause from the audience, with cards, coins and trays disappearing into thin air.

The story itself was opaque — I think I picked up something about a woman looking into a well and seeing another world — but story may not have been the entire point.

While the main performance lasted less than 10 minutes, it transported its small audience momentarily from the nearby bustle of Tejon Street, and offered a nice, peaceful respite in the middle of a busy downtown Friday afternoon.

See below for some photos.

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Thursday, April 19, 2018

Colorado Vocal Arts Ensemble celebrates 25 years of artistic collaboration

Posted By on Thu, Apr 19, 2018 at 1:00 AM

Immortal Fire: A 25th Anniversary Celebration, April 22, 3 p.m., Grace and St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, 631 N. Tejon St., - donations requested, - ANTHONY GRAHAM
  • Anthony Graham
  • Immortal Fire: A 25th Anniversary Celebration, April 22, 3 p.m., Grace and St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, 631 N. Tejon St., donations requested,
When Deborah Jenkins Teske founded the Colorado Vocal Arts Ensemble, our local chamber music a cappella group, a mentor told her: “Well anybody can start a choir. It’s keeping it going that’s hard.” Twenty-five years later, she says that warning advice has turned out to be incredibly true. But CVAE has only grown, even flourished, while remaining true to its mission, “which was to really focus on this smaller repertoire and still feel like we were growing or expanding or challenging ourselves,” Teske says, “without the pressure of needing to change or turn into something else. ... We are what we are. We’re rooted here.” CVAE now boasts 34 members, compared to its original 14, and a wide variety of personalities and professions that Teske believes enriches the choir as a whole. “We just have such an amazing mix of people,” she says. “We have rocket scientists, and professional singers, and teachers, and they all bring their world of experience in the door with them, and it’s part of what makes us great.”

And CVAE boasts an unusually large number of solo singers. While each of them functions beautifully in an ensemble, they also bring power to a performance when it’s needed, as well as what Teske calls a “range of color” in their voices.

The group has performed at the Green Box Arts Festival and Colorado College’s Summer Music Festival, and collaborated with Chamber Orchestra of the Springs and the Colorado Springs Children’s Chorale, among others. Next year, they’re looking forward to a collaborative performance with the Colorado Ballet Society. These collaborations not only keep CVAE involved and active in the greater community, but also help them develop their own sound, constantly challenging themselves.

The April 22 performance, in celebration of CVAE’s 25th anniversary, builds on that legacy of collaboration and personal challenge with a program of a few old favorites and some new-to-the-ensemble pieces. Teske calls the program’s main piece, Britten’s Hymn to St. Cecilia, “a 12-minute masterpiece,” an “amazing poem that is itself about artistic inspiration, and where it comes from.” In addition to that, the group will perform English and Latvian folk songs, lighthearted Italian and French Renaissance madrigals, and some heavier selections to balance out the show. They’ll be singing in six languages, covering six centuries and three continents.

Stick around after the show for a reception to congratulate the ensemble on 25 successful years, and many more to come.
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Art Aloud 2018 honors National Poetry Month in a variety of media

Posted By on Thu, Apr 19, 2018 at 1:00 AM

Art Aloud 2018, April 20, 4-8 p.m., through April 30, Academy Art & Frame Company, 7560 N. Academy Blvd., - MARI MOORE
  • Mari Moore
  • Art Aloud 2018, April 20, 4-8 p.m., through April 30, Academy Art & Frame Company, 7560 N. Academy Blvd.,
This 11th annual, multi-venue exhibition promises high-quality work in both visual art and the written word. In honor of National Poetry Month, Academy Art & Frame Company hosts a call for entries every year for artwork inspired by the written word and vice versa. That means poetry, fiction, or even quotes, exhibited alongside connected artwork in a variety of media. Co-hosting with Hooked on Books (12 E. Bijou St.) and Sand Creek Library (1821 S. Academy Blvd.), Academy Art & Frame has spread Art Aloud across the city to make it more widely accessible, and to draw interested attendees to some fresh destinations. Enjoy a reception at the original location April 20, with live readings, refreshments and the other awesome art on display at the shop.
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Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Rocky Mountain Women's Film Institute's Shorts Night returns with more award-winning stories

Posted By on Wed, Apr 18, 2018 at 1:00 PM

Shorts Night, April 21, 7:30 p.m., Stargazers, 10 S. Parkside Drive, - FRANK DION
  • Frank Dion
  • Shorts Night, April 21, 7:30 p.m., Stargazers, 10 S. Parkside Drive,
Short films aren’t just about catering to an audience’s short attention span (though admittedly that’s an unintended bonus). No, shorts set out to tell a condensed story, presenting a snapshot of a life or a unique narrative, and providing only exactly what the viewer needs to see. Some filmmakers do that incredibly well, and I’m not talking about the geniuses behind Vine (RiP). The Rocky Mountain Women’s Film Institute has, as it does every year, selected some of the best of the best in recent short films, collecting nine award-winning shorts of all genres to screen April 21 at Stargazers. Enjoy animation, documentary and narrative shorts that explore themes from mental health to pornography to racial tension — even one, In a Nutshell, that attempts to condense the world into five minutes, “from a seed to war, from meat to love, from indifference to apocalypse.” This event is known to sell out, so be sure to get on getting tickets. Fast.
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The Trojan Women is 2,500 year-old play that's still relevant today

Posted By on Wed, Apr 18, 2018 at 9:13 AM

The Trojan Women, April 19-21, 7:30 p.m., and April 21, 2 p.m., PPCC Centennial Theater, - SARAH SHAVER
  • Sarah Shaver
  • The Trojan Women, April 19-21, 7:30 p.m., and April 21, 2 p.m., PPCC Centennial Theater,
It’s always valuable to view history, and historical works of art, through a contemporary lens, to best digest the lessons humanity has or (often) hasn’t learned. The Trojan Women, a play written nearly 2,500 years ago by Euripides, still addresses relevant themes, and director Sarah Shaver has added “a modern twist” to call attention to what it has to say. With five female leads and an all-female chorus in this PPCC student production, the power of the story comes more fully to light, speaking to the dehumanization of women that has plagued society for thousands of years, as well as the often ignored collateral damage of war. The Trojan Women looks at the aftermath of war without any of the glory or nationalism, and from the point of view of the conquered. The premise: At the end of the Trojan War, with the men of Troy largely slaughtered by the invading Greeks, the survivors grieve together and await their fate. Many of these women will become slaves to the Greek army. Attendees at the April 21 matinée are invited to a talk-back with the director and the cast, which includes some combat veterans and active service members who can speak personally to its themes.
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Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Howard Cruse talks comics history and the diversity of underground comics

Posted By on Wed, Apr 11, 2018 at 9:54 AM

From Stuck Rubber Baby. - HOWARD CRUSE
  • Howard Cruse
  • From Stuck Rubber Baby.

Denver's independent comic and art expo, DiNK, celebrates its third annual event April 14-15. With a wide variety of exhibitors and speakers, DiNK's focus on diversity draws artists of all kinds to share their experiences, their works and their insight. One such artist, Howard Cruse (whom we profile in more depth in this week's Queer & There) has been drawing for almost 70 years, and has seen eras of comics come and go.

We spoke with Cruse, 73, about his extensive history in comics, and his perspective on the cultural shifts that have shaped the industry.
Indy: I’d love to know more about your history in your own words — how you started creating comics, and why.

Cruse: I’m just somebody who grew up drawing from the time I was 5. And I discovered comic books around that time. I would read the newspaper strips and I enjoyed making up stories. So comics was kind of a natural form for me to fall into. Sometime around when I was 8 or so ... my father told me that cartooning was something people actually did for a living, and that was a very attractive idea for me. I was growing up in a rural southern town, where most people were farmers, and all my classmates came from farm towns, and I would go visit them. I saw how hard farmers have to work, and I thought, “Gee, it would be nice to be able to draw pictures and make a living instead of plow fields.”

[After high school] I began to get things published — little things here and there in some magazines. In the early ‘70s, I discovered underground comic books, and that’s where I really felt like I fit in, because the idea there was to draw things from your heart, or uncensored, that were about things that were real to you, rather than escapism [or] fantasy. ...

Then, the gay magazine, The Advocate. ... I sort of pitched them the idea of doing a regular comic strip, for them, and so I wound up doing this comic strip called Wendel. This was about the title character and his circle of gay friends, and his parents, and it was a main activity of mine during the 1980s. And then in 1990 ... I wound up spending four years doing this graphic novel, Stuck Rubber Baby. It’s about growing up gay in the South during the Civil Rights era. It’s not strictly autobiography. It’s a novel, fiction, but it drew on my experiences growing up in Alabama, during that time. 
From Wendel. - HOWARD CRUSE
  • Howard Cruse
  • From Wendel.
It’s interesting to hear the flow through your career, because you’re describing decades. I’m curious how the culture as a whole has shifted over these decades, and how that has affected your work and your motivation.

When I was just starting out, it was a given that, if you were gay, that would be compartmentalized in the private side of your life because you couldn’t be openly gay and have a cartooning career. And I always assumed that that’s the way it would be, until the gay liberation movement happened in the late ‘60s and through the ‘70s. I became aware that it was important not to be hiding part of myself if I wanted to do stuff that really was truthful and came from the heart. And so I gradually began to use the gay side of myself in my work, but I also had a big desire not to be totally pigeonholed on that topic, so I’ve also done comics on a variety of other things.

But I’m very oriented toward comics that reflect the full range of the world, not just sex, but the values of the culture. So one of the main motivators for doing this graphic novel [Stuck Rubber Baby] was my distress over the backsliding that America did after the 1960s. It looked like we were really moving toward human rights and all sorts of liberation, aside from gay liberation, and then the ‘80s just turned into this materialistic period that revered wealth — basically kind of like it is now. And I was very anxious to sort of pay tribute to the genuine heroism and un-cynical approaches to life that were prominent during the 1960s.

And so that’s been a main motivator for me, is just being real. I’ve just never been very interested in superhero comics or fantasy comics. And that’s the reason I was so glad that the underground comics scene came along, and it was possible to not have to be part of the superhero machine.

It seems like what was once the underground comic scene — the diversity of both represented identities and stories— is now a facet of mainstream comics. Can you tell me about that shift?

A lot of the openness and freedom of comics, particularly the independent branch of comics, grew out of underground in that it was about cartoonists owning their own work, and not turning it over to some company, and being as free as possible. A big difference is that, during the birth of the underground comics, we started in the 1960s. Essentially, there was a community that was ready to be the audience, which was the counterculture, the hippie community. It was a movement for liberation on a whole lot of different fronts.

Whereas counterculture, as such, kind of dissipated at the end of the ‘70s, and cartoonists who wanted to draw in the same kind of free way — they were more on their own to find an audience. One thing that ended the underground comics era was the government went on the attack against head shops, which was a place where many underground comics were sold. Then as part of the crusade against drugs, the prosecutors targeted these head shops for anything they could get them on.

And underground comics — one reason they could be totally free and free of censorship was that they were not sold on newsstands. Newsstands had become self-policing [thanks to] the Comics Code Authority, which was an industry creation in response to the fact that comics came under attack in the 1950s as being bad for children. Essentially you had very stringent rules to get sold on newsstands. But because the underground comics were adults only, they were able to ignore the comics code authority, and have this kind of freedom. ...

I think the independent comics [culture], as I say, it doesn’t see itself quite as a movement in the same way that the counterculture saw itself as a movement. But the cartoonists who really followed their creative lights in independent comics, in their own way, that was its own kind of quieter movement. ...

When I was a kid, before the big superhero boom, you had every kind of topic in regular mainstream comics. Unlike undergrounds they were for kids, and you couldn’t have any sex or drugs or heavy politics, but you had cowboy comics and space comics and spinoffs of every popular TV show, and it was a wonderful variety of comics that was very inspiring. Whereas once all of a sudden the big Marvel boom happened during the ‘60s, it just essentially squeezed out all these other kinds. Because superheroes are where the money was. It’s like movies now. ... Most of the really fine movies that are made these days are made by independent filmmakers, not Hollywood, and that’s kind of a parallel to what happened in the world of comics.
Another thing that has obviously changed is the internet ... I’m curious your perspective on the incredibly wide accessibility that people, especially young gay people figuring out their identities, have to all these diverse storylines.

The internet is a very paradoxical animal. It’s kind of a golden age for creativity. Anyone, no matter how oddball their idea is or what their orientation is, or in what way they may not be considered mainstream themselves — they can find an audience. Anywhere in the world. And that’s a wonderful thing, and there’s some great creative stuff happening in all forms, including comics online.

But there’s a downside, which is the readership of content online has become accustomed to the feeling that everything should be free. ... I don’t envy young cartoonists trying to start out their careers now, because in the old days, in the world of print, it was not that hard to find places that would pay something, at least, even if it was the local alternative paper. And once you began to build a career, build an audience and learn your skills, you could get real professional rates for doing stuff for print.

I, myself, basically supported myself doing humorous illustrations for mainstream magazines like American Health and Bananas Magazine. There were a number of magazines that used me regularly, and I could do my underground comics without worrying about the fact that the page rate for drawing underground comics was very low. Not because the publishers were cheap, but simply because the audience for them was not widespread enough to make it feasible from a business standpoint to pay large rates. ...

It’s very hard, this phenomenon, with print having sort of been eclipsed by the internet, it’s a real dilemma for people who don’t want to just do comics or cartoons for fun, but want to be professionals. It’s very hard to be a professional these days, and I’m not sure what the answer is for that.
From Stuck Rubber Baby. - HOWARD CRUSE
  • Howard Cruse
  • From Stuck Rubber Baby.

Events like DiNK [Denver’s Independent Art and Comic Expo] for instance — were those kinds of conventions as valuable back in the day as they are today?

They’ve always been great for cartoonists to meet other cartoonists. Because cartooning is a very isolating profession. You tend to work by yourself in a little studio. ... Gatherings like that allow people to build up a circle of colleagues and friends — that’s always been true. I didn’t become interested in going to conventions until they began to be interested in things beyond superheroes. But in time, and during the ‘80s, more and more of the conventions were interested in independent comics, and in cartoonists with unusual interests and ambitions. That was a place where fans of comics would go and they would run into comics they might not see easily in their hometowns, and their awareness would be expanded of what you could do with a comic form. ...

Meeting readers is very enjoyable. It’s one of my favorite things about the internet. It’s very easy for people who read my stuff to make contact with me directly. Whereas when I was a kid if you were a fan of some author or something, the best you could do was send a letter care of their publisher, and it might or might not reach them.

And I’m sure that some comics people don’t want to be bothered with interacting with their readers, but I personally find it good for my morale to know that there are people out there who are interested in what I’m doing.

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Friday, April 6, 2018

Manitou Chooses Love encourages Ukrainian methods of conflict resolution with community-wide initiative

Posted By on Fri, Apr 6, 2018 at 3:58 PM

Barry and Janae Weinhold discuss their inspiration for Manitou Chooses Love at the April 5 kick-off event. - ALISSA SMITH
  • Alissa Smith
  • Barry and Janae Weinhold discuss their inspiration for Manitou Chooses Love at the April 5 kick-off event.
When Janae and Barry Weinhold first visited Ukraine in 1990, they were struck by the way Ukrainian people solve interpersonal issues. “They try to hold the web of connection,” Janae says, marveling that she has never seen Americans work so intentionally to maintain positive group dynamics.

As psychologists, the Weinholds have focused on conflict resolution since founding The Colorado Institute for Conflict Resolution and Creative Leadership (CICRCL) in 1987. They’ve long been intrigued by the idea of bringing Ukrainian methods of conflict resolution to America, and specifically to local communities.

Now, in partnership with Smokebrush Foundation for the Arts, they won’t only be bringing Ukrainian methods to Manitou, but 14 Ukrainian individuals, who will help to facilitate two weekends of gender reconciliation workshops and participate in cultural exchanges through dance, music, yoga and more.

This initiative, which will take place between May 9 and May 20, 2018, is called Manitou Chooses Love, and speaks to the desire of CICRCL and Smokebrush to encourage love and understanding, especially among genders, at a time when tensions between men and women are politically and socially charged.

The initiative was officially announced on April 5, at Smokebrush’s Red Crags Arts & Agriculture House. The Cosmic Flying Goats performed a few songs, and musician Shawn Gallaway, who will be co-facilitating Manitou Chooses Love’s workshops, recorded a video of his song paying homage to Manitou legend Charles Rockey. More Manitou-brand love and community performances are on the docket for May.

The Cosmic Flying Goats will perform at a community concert during the Manitou Chooses Love initiative. - ALISSA SMITH
  • Alissa Smith
  • The Cosmic Flying Goats will perform at a community concert during the Manitou Chooses Love initiative.

See below for a schedule of Manitou Chooses Love events:
· Wednesday, May 9, 7-9pm, Meet & Greet the Ukrainians at SunWater Spa. The public is welcome.

· Thursday, May 10, 1-5 pm, Show Manitou Businesses Some Love!
Chalk Art by the Arcade with Vince Coleman
Mineral Springs Tour, Watch for details
Love Ambassadors throughout town with chocolate kisses and more!
Love Art in various places throughout town
Love Yoga in Mansions Park, 4:00 pm with Kat Tudor
Love Songs throughout town
Community Council on Love, 2:00 pm, Mansions Park with Judy Piazza
· 7-9 pm, Manitou Chooses Love Concert featuring Shawn Gallaway (winner of a Global Peace Song Award) and The Cosmic Flying Goats, purchase $10 presale tickets or $15 at the door, Memorial Hall

· Friday, May 11, 7-9pm, Story Project Stories of Love! at SunWater Spa, with Hannah & renowned artist CH Rockey, Barry & Janae Weinhold, and two Ukrainian love stories

· Tuesday, May 15, 6:30-8 pm, International Folk Dancing with Ava Molnar Heinrichsdorff & Linda Kopman-Gravelle, Memorial Hall, Free to all, families encouraged! Come dance!

· Wednesday, May 16, Yogic Love Spiral with Kat Tudor in Nature! Check back for details. Open to all.

· Friday, May 18, 6:30-8 pm, Walking Art Tour in Manitou Springs 

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