Friday, January 27, 2017

UPDATE: FAC announces leadership changes under CC

Posted By on Fri, Jan 27, 2017 at 12:47 PM

Per an update from Leslie Weddell, Director of News and Media Relations at CC, the draft program plans will be available online Friday, February 3. Public presentations will be held on Monday, Feb. 6 at 5 p.m. at the FAC's music room and Thursday, Feb. 9 at 3 p.m. in Gaylord Hall in the Worner Campus Center.

——————ORIGINAL POST 11:04 A.M. FRIDAY JAN. 27, 2017———————
Future director of the FAC, Erin Hannan. - COLORADO SPRINGS BUSINESS JOURNAL
  • Colorado Springs Business Journal
  • Future director of the FAC, Erin Hannan.

In a press release, the Fine Arts Center has announced that President and CEO David Dahlin will step down on July 1, when Colorado College officially takes over the FAC. Under CC ownership, Dahlin's job will not need to exist.

Instead, the FAC will have a director position, to be filled by Erin Hannan, current executive director of advancement and external affairs at the FAC. Her promotion is not the first major staffing change made as part of the CC takeover. But her 15-year history with the FAC should inspire confidence on all fronts.

“I am very excited that Erin has agreed to take on the directorship of the Fine Arts Center for this new era,” said CC President Jill Tiefenthaler in the press release.

“The Fine Arts Center is the anchor of the arts sector for our community. Ensuring that the FAC had long-term sustainability became my top priority when I became CEO in 2014,” Dahlin said in the press release. “I am pleased to have played a significant role in forging this historic alliance with CC, and I am pleased to be able to complete my term as president by managing this transition well, setting the stage for a vibrant future.”

In related news, on Wednesday, February 1 Friday, February 3, CC will release draft program plans put together by its strategic planning subcommittees for public comment. More on that soon.

Read the full press release below:
David Dahlin, Erin Hannan Leadership Updates
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colorado — Jan. 27, 2017 — Colorado College (CC) and the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center (FAC) continue to make progress on their alliance. As of July 1, 2017, Colorado College will assume full operational management of the FAC at which time it will become known as the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center at Colorado College.

Current FAC President and CEO David Dahlin has agreed to continue to shepherd the transition through June 30, 2017. As of July 1, the FAC will no longer be an independent organization with an independent board of directors. Fiduciary responsibility and centralized facility and services management will transition to the college, and, as a result, the position of FAC president and CEO will not continue beyond that date.

“The Fine Arts Center is the anchor of the arts sector for our community. Ensuring that the FAC had long-term sustainability became my top priority when I became CEO in 2014,” Dahlin said. “I am pleased to have played a significant role in forging this historic alliance with CC, and I am pleased to be able to complete my term as president by managing this transition well, setting the stage for a vibrant future.”

Since being hired by the Fine Arts Center board in July 2014, Dahlin has been instrumental in the FAC’s resurgence, re-building relationships with supporters and the arts community, increasing earned revenues by more than 69 percent and increasing total revenues by 40 percent. The quality of artistic programming and community engagement have improved significantly as evidenced by an increase in membership, donations and patron satisfaction. Dahlin championed the alliance with Colorado College both as a way to build a sizeable endowment to create sustainability for the FAC and as a means to increase the quality, diversity and depth of programming that the alliance will afford.

“I am so grateful to David for his service to the Fine Arts Center and the community,” said Colorado College President Jill Tiefenthaler. “It has been a pleasure to work closely with him over the past year. He has been vital to the success of this alliance.”
Erin Hannan, currently executive director of advancement and external affairs at the Fine Arts Center, will assume the newly created position of director of the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center at Colorado College on May 1, and will report to President Tiefenthaler.

“I am very excited that Erin has agreed to take on the directorship of the Fine Arts Center for this new era,” said President Tiefenthaler.

Hannan has a 15-year history of engagement with the FAC as a staff member, board member, and most recently, serving in a leadership role at the FAC. Her upcoming responsibilities will include guiding the day-to-day operations of the Fine Arts Center, including the museum, theatre, Bemis School of Art; marketing and communications; patron services; member and donor engagement; and working with the FAC Advisory Board and the FAC Foundation Board.

Ron Brasch, chair of the Fine Arts Center Board of Trustees, endorsed the leadership transition. “I want to thank David for his visionary leadership and selfless contributions during his tenure here, and I couldn’t be more pleased than to see Erin take on this role for the future of the FAC. Erin has been with us through many of the ups and downs of the last two decades, knows the FAC and the Colorado Springs community deeply and has a profound passion for the arts. I am confident in her ability to lead us into this new era.”
FAC CEO David Dahlin and CC President Jill Tiefenthaler. - MATTHEW SCHNIPER
  • Matthew Schniper
  • FAC CEO David Dahlin and CC President Jill Tiefenthaler.

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Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Christo cancels Over the River project to protest Trump administration

Posted By on Wed, Jan 25, 2017 at 4:52 PM

Christo's rendering of the Over the RIver project. - CHRISTO
  • Christo
  • Christo's rendering of the Over the RIver project.
World-renowned artist Christo has sidelined long-gestating plans for Over the River, a massive art installation consisting of 5.9 miles of shimmery silver fabric suspended over a section of the Arkansas river. As he explained to the New York Times, the federal government owns the land where the piece was to be set up, and he "can’t do a project that benefits this landlord.” Rather than go into detail on his views of Donald Trump, he told the Times that "the decision speaks for itself."

Over the years since Christo selected the Arkansas River as the site for this piece, he's faced stiff legal resistance, mainly from a local environmental coalition, Rags Over the Arkansas River, or ROAR. At the time of the announcement, Christo was waiting for a decision by a federal appeals court, the latest in a five-year legal battle. But whatever the decision, he'll instead be focusing on a project in Abu Dhabi, in the United Arab Emirates, titled The Mastaba.
A collage visualization of The Mastaba by Christo. - ANDRE GROSSMAN
  • Andre Grossman
  • A collage visualization of The Mastaba by Christo.

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Thursday, January 19, 2017

Cirque du Soleil's OVO impresses

Posted By on Thu, Jan 19, 2017 at 11:22 AM

I’m not saying I rate circus acts based on how many times it looked like the performers could’ve died if someone had made a mistake, but if I did, then Cirque du Soleil’s OVO would get a 10/10.

  • Courtesy Cirque du Soleil
  • Case in point.
These performers (or artists, as Cirque rightfully calls them) are on a level that is frankly unimaginable. It’s fitting that the aesthetic of Cirque shows is, by nature, surreal. Because when you see someone hanging by a single strap from a 30-foot ceiling — while holding a grown woman by the ankle as the pair swirls around the stage like a beautiful, high-flying blender — you start to feel like you’re dreaming.

Like most Cirque premises, the concept for OVO is a little opaque, but nevertheless enjoyable. The performers represent insects living in a thriving ecosystem, but it’s disrupted when someone brings a mysterious egg into their midst. I’m still struggling with the metaphor of the egg, but my companion guessed it could represent creativity or new beginnings. Both, or neither, might be accurate, but it’s fun to watch at any rate. Especially considering the plotty bits are acted out by the circus’ clowns (a beetle, a mosquito and a ladybug), who are just hilariously over-the-top.

The most impressive part of the whole thing, though, is how the the acrobatic performers somehow manage to act their parts (as spiders or crickets or whatever else) even while they’re, say, balancing on their chin on a unicycle on a slackwire.

This spider's slackwire routine caused more than a few audience-wide gasps. - COURTESY CIRQUE DU SOLEIL
  • Courtesy Cirque du Soleil
  • This spider's slackwire routine caused more than a few audience-wide gasps.

The costumes, too, deserve a mention, especially the grasshoppers, who had angled "legs" attached to their pants. It made for an excellent effect as they danced. Throughout the show, there was hardly a moment I doubted these people were supposed to be insects, and most of the time I felt I could accurately guess at which ones they were.

The ensemble did an excellent job diffusing the tension after acrobats flung themselves dangerously all over the arena. - COURTESY CIRQUE DU SOLEIL
  • Courtesy Cirque du Soleil
  • The ensemble did an excellent job diffusing the tension after acrobats flung themselves dangerously all over the arena.

Last night’s premiere at the Broadmoor World Arena was frankly flawless, at least as far as I could tell. I gasped, shook my companion by the shoulder and pointed wide-eyed at the stage more times than I care to admit. It really makes you feel like a kid again.

OVO will run daily through Jan. 22, so don’t miss your chance. The tickets might be a touch pricey (starting at $43), but it's certainly a memorable enough performance to warrant the splurge.

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Tuesday, January 10, 2017

The Modbo and SPQR plan to go in different directions

Posted By on Tue, Jan 10, 2017 at 1:02 PM

Modbo and SPQR's joint Small Works exhibit will still take place as planned next year. - FILE PHOTO
  • File Photo
  • Modbo and SPQR's joint Small Works exhibit will still take place as planned next year.

Big changes are in store for The Modbo and SPQR, two well-loved local art galleries that, historically, have functioned almost as one.

Modbo/SPQR co-owner Lauren Ciborowski announced this morning that, moving forward, the businesses are going to go in separate directions. Not to worry, though, the split is amicable, and it’s exciting news for our local arts community.

“We just felt we had plateaued,” Ciborowski says, “things were good, but they weren’t growing.” She says they had lost their “novelty edge” and considered ways to get it back. Since The Modbo’s lease was about to expire, co-owner Brett Andrus suggested Ciborowski take The Modbo space and “run with it.”

Ciborowski sees it as an exciting opportunity make a career in the arts, something she has wanted to do for a long time. She plans to turn The Modbo into a more self-sustaining, profitable business — a functioning commercial gallery that takes advantage of its unique space and downtown location.

She’s thinking of making the space available for rent (for small business get-togethers and parties), as well as hosting more performances. There’s even talk of a potential “Shakespeare in the Alleyway” production this summer, which is still in its planning stages.

Meanwhile, Andrus will keep the reins of SPQR and concentrate on his artistic career. The part of the business Andrus has always enjoyed most has been nurturing the next generation of artists through classes and mentorship programs, which he will still run out of the SPQR space. He will also use the gallery to exhibit his own work as well as occasional guest artists.

The business may be split, but Ciborowski assures us that The Modbo and SPQR will still collaborate on occasion, at the very least for their annual Small Works show, which is a local favorite.

See The Modbo’s full Facebook post with more details about the split below:

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Thursday, January 5, 2017

Out Loud Colorado Springs Men’s Chorus travels new ground in 2017

Posted By on Thu, Jan 5, 2017 at 10:24 AM


A community chorus made up of auditioned volunteers, Out Loud Colorado Springs Men’s Chorus, a gay men’s chorus, sits at a unique intersection of the LGBTQ, arts and faith communities of Colorado Springs. The story of how Out Loud came to be and where they’re headed challenges stereotypes of all kinds. As for many of us, 2017 will be a year of new adventures for the group.

Last year, the chorus voted to leave the Denver-based Rocky Mountain Arts Association, and the group's artistic director, James Knapp, left in August to focus his efforts on the Denver Gay Men’s Chorus. But Out Loud hasn’t missed a beat, as Joshua Brown will soon take over as the artistic director position and the chorus pursues recognition as its own nonprofit, focusing on the Pikes Peak region.

This year, the focus will be on generating name recognition for Out Loud, now 10-years-old. With 35 members, the chorus puts on two concerts a year, with the next performance, featuring Out Loud trademarks of choreography, memorized music and a bit of showmanship for the audience, coming the first week of May.

“We’re not the new kids on the block anymore,” Out Loud founding member Guy McPherson, who was one of the Indy’s 2016 Inclusion Award Winners, says. “I’m surprised how many people don’t know we exist in this town.”

Out Loud formed in 2006, after members of First Congregational Church were talking after service one Sunday. McPherson recalls the conversation: “We can all sing. Let’s sing together.”

And they weren’t alone.


“People peeked their head in after church,” McPherson says of one the first chorus gatherings. “They were like, ‘Will you sing for the church?’ And we were like, ‘Oh, crap...’”

Without a director, they put together a concert for parishioners that ended with a standing ovation.

“The church just went crazy,” McPherson says.

Gaining momentum, the group staged their first concert for the whole community, “A Night on Broadway.” Making programs by hand and without a way to issue tickets, a crowd of around 200 people was expected to fill the pews. Come performance day, around 900 people — the largest event attended at the church — crowded in.

“There’s something about our crowd,” McPherson says. “We knew we were doing the right things. It was a little overwhelming with the response.”

The chorus still utilizes First Congregational for all its rehearsals and many concerts, support which has been critical to the group’s success.

“The joke is we’re one of the few if not the only gay chorus to start in a church,” McPherson says. “People here do care, and they care for us like we’re family.”


But Colorado Springs and the gay community have an odd relationship, McPherson says.

After a Gazette article ran in 2006, the day before the group's inaugural performance, many members of the chorus were nervous about being associated with a gay choir in the paper. One of the members quoted was disowned by his family, while others feared the same. Even the word "gay" was intentionally left out from the group’s name, due in part to Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and not wanting to exclude members enlisted in the military.

“If I meet someone from Denver and I tell them I’m from Colorado Springs, the first thing people say is ‘I’m sorry for you,’” he said. “We’ve had a hard time curing that.”

McPherson, who has lived in Colorado Springs since 1979, notes the ability of Out Loud to serve as more than a choir now, bringing gay men together and creating a brotherhood that takes care of each other.

“Being a part of this choir is being a part of that gay identity for Colorado Springs,” he said. “It’s a great bonding experience.”

“When I meet someone gay, my first words are ‘Do you sing?’ and ‘Do you want to join Out Loud?’”


More about Out Loud:
Out Loud is holding auditions on Jan. 9 and Jan. 16, visit, or email for more information. Voices of all experience levels are welcome and encouraged to audition.

Out Loud rehearses most weeks on Monday evening, from 6:45-9:45 PM at First Congregational Church (20 E. Saint Vrain Street, Colorado Springs, CO 80903). All are welcome to attend to share in the Out Loud experience. Email to confirm rehearsal times.

Jonathan Toman serves as the Peak Radar manager for the Cultural Office of the Pikes Peak Region. connects you to over 4,000 local events, 450 creative groups, & 350 artists — all in one beautiful website for the Pikes Peak region. Jonathan can be reached at

Click here for this month’s events, updated monthly. Click here to see this month’s art walk information. To sign up for the Peak Radar weekly e-blast, click here.

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Wednesday, January 4, 2017

CoCo Crafted to open in Mountain Fold space, and more downtown development to come in 2017

Posted By on Wed, Jan 4, 2017 at 11:08 AM

  • courtesy of Colorado Springs Business Journal
  • COCO Crafted founder Mundi Ross.

2016 was a year littered with losses, as you may well remember. But amidst all the geopolitical absurdities and tragedies was a local loss that left the Springs’ small but mighty scene of artists, queers and progressives without what had become a downtown hub of creative activity.

After three years in business, Mountain Fold Books closed in November with an estate sale to off-load all its unique furnishings and bid adieu to loyal customers. But its emptied Costilla Street location will remain that way no longer, as the artisan promoting Colorado Collective prepares to move in.

Founder Mundi Ross announced the new venture via a Facebook video. “You’re looking at the future of COCO Crafted,” she says, gesturing at blank walls behind her. Ross explains the storefront will become a craft studio for the “makers” featured in Colorado Collective’s high gloss quarterly magazine to make and sell whatever it is they make. Facilities will include woodworking and jewelry making tools, Ross says, and a small kitchenette. Also expect skill-shares and other events for and about the city’s growing community of creative entrepreneurs.

“Now, I know for many the Mountain Fold space brought hope. It was a sanctuary; it was safe haven for many,” Ross noted. “I can’t be another Mountain Fold, but I’m really excited about what I’m about to bring to this space.”

COCO Crafted will join other buzzy businesses in that downtown nook termed the "New South End," with the likes of Loyal Coffee, Iron Bird Brewing and Fox & Jane Salon that bring that Springs closer to resembling bigger, hipper and pricier cities that attract and retain more young people.

That kind of development is precious to the Downtown Partnership, which touted 2016 as a record-setting year for street-level business growth.

The New South End is sticking with the arts. - GRIFFIN SWARTZEL
  • Griffin Swartzel
  • The New South End is sticking with the arts.

“We are seeing tremendous growth in our urban core,” says Sarah Humbargar, Director of Business Development & Economic Vitality for the Downtown Partnership of Colorado Springs, in a press release.

23 new retailers, restaurants and other businesses opened up in 2016 and so far, 12 new ones are poised to do so in 2017. There’s a retail vacancy of less than four percent downtown, according Humbargar, who also emphasized new apartment and condo construction that’ll add much needed (though questionably affordable) housing inventory.

The Partnership's release also highlighted some notable newcomers to the downtown culinary scene, including Chef Brother Luck, who’ll open a new restaurant in the spring, and Oskar Blues brewery which will soon move into the Old Chicago building on Tejon Street.

So, if you spent 2016 wishing you had more opportunities to spend money, 2017 is about to provide.

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Tuesday, January 3, 2017

TheatreWorks founder Murray Ross remembered

Posted By on Tue, Jan 3, 2017 at 5:10 PM

Our local theater community suffered a hard blow this afternoon when it was announced that Murray Ross (74), artistic director and founder of TheatreWorks, had passed away following a “short illness,” according to a release from UCCS chancellor Pam Shockley-Zalabak.

click image Ross (right) accepted his Eve Tilley Lifetime Achievement Award at last October's Pikes Peak Arts Council awards. - GRIFFIN SWARTZELL / FILE PHOTO
  • Griffin Swartzell / File Photo
  • Ross (right) accepted his Eve Tilley Lifetime Achievement Award at last October's Pikes Peak Arts Council awards.

Following the news, friends, family and members of the community took to Facebook to share their experiences with Ross and express their condolences to his family. In between recurring words like “remarkable” and “visionary,” and stories recalling some of the 100-plus productions with which he was involved, it’s clear to see the effect that Ross has had on this community since starting TheatreWorks in 1975.

Drew Martorella, Executive Director of UCCS Presents and longtime friend of Ross', posted on TheatreWorks Facebook Page, "I have known and worked with Murray for over twenty years. And while I was the Executive Director of TheatreWorks we were essential to each other. We were best friends. I already miss him terribly. Once more, to quote Murray, 'In play we are free, and we are human, and in the theatre we are free and human together. We wish you joy.' I share his wish for joy for you all."

Here is what UCCS has to say about Ross and his accomplishments. Out of respect to his family’s wishes, the language is unchanged.

Murray joined UCCS in 1975 and is considered the founder of Theatreworks, the professional theater based at the university, as well as the academic theater program at the university. He produced classic and contemporary plays in classrooms, buses, warehouses, basements and the Dusty Loo Bon Vivant Theater. Among his credits are directing, adapting and creating more than 100 works for the stage including the original scripts "Monkey Business," "The Last Night of Don Juan," "The Lady of Camellias," "Dar-al-Harb" and "I Am Nikola Tesla." He also wrote stage adaptations of classics such as "Huckleberry Finn" and "A Christmas Carol." His most recent adaption of "A Christmas Carol" was successfully staged this December. His first love and greatest passion was always Shakespeare, and his 1984 production of “The Comedy of Errors” in a circus tent started a tradition of outdoor summer productions that continues to anchor the Theatreworks season today. In 1988, noted scholar Stephen Booth wrote in Shakespeare Quarterly that Murray’s summer production was “The Best Othello I Ever Saw.”

Theatreworks received a Governor's Award for Excellence in the Arts in 1994, a Henary Award for Oustanding Regional Theatre in 2013 as well as numerous local accolades. The program celebrated its 40th anniversary in 2015, the same year UCCS marked the 50th anniversary of its founding. Murray directed four plays in 2016, and during his recent days in the hospital Murray was making active preparations for his next production.

In addition to his work with Theatreworks, Murray was a respected teacher and scholar. He taught theater as well as English literature. Murray and his wife, Betty, were fixtures of the Colorado Springs arts community. They were ardent supporters of the arts and the development of the under construction $70 million UCCS Ent Center for the Arts which contains a space named in their honor.

Murray worked with thousands of students, artists, actors and staff and left an impression on each. He was funny, smart, a bit of an anarchist and a great lover of life. Adventures, storytelling and spirited debate filled his life.

Murray earned a bachelor's degree from Williams College, a master's degree from the University of California, Berkeley, and also pursued doctoral studies at UC Berkeley, where he began directing. He served in the National Guard from 1963-1969, and taught and directed at the University of Rochester before joining UCCS.

Survivors include his wife, Betty, his sisters Susanna, Christina and Kit, and his sons Felix, James, Orion and Matthew.

Please join me in offering condolences to the family, friends and colleagues of Murray Ross. Notes may be sent to the family in care of the Office of the Chancellor, 401 Main Hall. At the request of the family, donations can be made to the Murray Ross Artists Endowment Fund with the CU Foundation.

There will be a campus memorial service Thursday, Jan. 19 at 5:30 p.m. at the Dusty Loo Bon Vivant Theater in University Hall. Those who wish to make a donation in his honor may contribute to the Murray Ross Artists Endowment Fund with the CU Foundation.

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Friday, December 23, 2016

Debutante Ball funds major FAC art purchase

Posted By on Fri, Dec 23, 2016 at 10:14 AM

James Surls' 'It's Not About the Numbers' is now a part of the FAC's permanent collection. - BRAD ARMSTRONG
  • Brad Armstrong
  • James Surls' 'It's Not About the Numbers' is now a part of the FAC's permanent collection.
The Fine Arts Center has announced the purchase of a sculpture titled "It's Not About the Numbers," made by Carbondale, Colorado-based artist James Surls, who has exhibited and built commissioned pieces internationally.

The announcement came at the Colorado Springs Debutante Ball last night. David Dahlin, CEO and president of the FAC, took the opportunity to thank the Debutante Ball Committee for their financial support in the FAC's efforts to grow its permanent collection.

While visiting the FAC to check out this new acquisition, don't hesitate to take a look at some of the other Surls and Charmaine Locke pieces currently on display, as part of an exhibition titled All I Ever Wanted.

Read the full press release below:
Last night at the Colorado Springs Debutante Ball, a major purchase of art for the Fine Arts Center’s permanent collection was announced. This purchase was made possible thanks to the generosity of the Colorado Springs Debutante Ball Committee and was made in honor of their 50th Anniversary. The newly acquired work was created by artist James Surls and is entitled It’s Not About the Numbers. The stature of both the artist and this particular work are a perfect tribute to the significance of the 50‐year partnership between the Debutante Ball Committee and the Fine Arts Center.
Born in 1943 in East Texas, James Surls has become an award‐winning, global artist, exhibiting in over 350 solo, group, museum and gallery exhibitions across the world. He is sought‐after for large‐scale commissioned works throughout the U.S. and as far away as Singapore.
Surls is known for his largely monotone sculptures, drawings and prints that feature natural and human images and forms. Surls' work is particularly organic and primal. Having built a career in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s as a Texas artist, Surls currently lives and works on a Colorado ranch in the Roaring Fork Valley.
“It takes a mere moment in the presence of James Surls to realize that he is not only a technical and conceptual master of his craft, but an artist of profound philosophical depth,” said FAC Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art, Joy Armstrong.
His work is featured in the public collections of more than 50 institutions, including the Dallas Museum of Fine Arts, TX; High Museum, Atlanta, GA; Los Angeles County Museum, CA; Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, CA; Seattle Art Museum, WA; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, NY; Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY; and now the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center, CO.
“The Fine Arts Center is deeply grateful for the Debutante Ball Committee’s ongoing support and we want to congratulate them on 50 years of grace, elegance and philanthropy,” said FAC President and CEO, David Dahlin. “This purchase is another very fine example of the quality and magnitude of work that their generous contributions have made possible for us to bring to the community of Colorado Springs.”
This large‐scale sculptural work is installed in the front landing of the glass addition of the FAC, adding drama and beauty that is visible from the outside as well as from within. Other works by James Surls are currently featured in an expansive exhibition at the Fine Arts Center called All I Ever Wanted, along with the work of his wife, Charmaine Locke, through January 15, 2017. Also on view through January 2017 is the exhibition 50 Years of Grace, featuring nearly every purchase made possible by the Debutante Ball Acquisitions Fund; beginning with the first, John Sloan’s Eagles of Tesuque in 1968, and ending with 2016’s recent acquisition, Cindy Sherman’s Madame Pompadour Tea Service.

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Monday, December 19, 2016

Kinder Realm hosts kids' contest with an impressive prize

Posted By on Mon, Dec 19, 2016 at 6:01 PM

Kinder Realm, a downtown kids' furniture store, is well-loved for the handcrafted, interactive and unique pieces it showcases. Now, owner/designer James Carlin is offering one of his most impressive (and expensive) home furnishings as a contest prize.

Carlin's kids’ cottages stand out from the rest of his unique pieces, partly due to size and partly due to sheer artistry. These two-level, full-size play houses are crafted from fine wood, with painted murals and detailed accents that give them a sort of fairytale feel.

Nothing inspires creativity in kids like a real-life fantasy cottage. - COURTESY KINDER REALM
  • Courtesy Kinder Realm
  • Nothing inspires creativity in kids like a real-life fantasy cottage.

Most of us would've killed for something like that when we were young. Luckily, your kids just have to complete a couple challenges.

Ages 4-12 can compete in the creativity contest, and one winner will receive the full cottage set, furniture included. The best part is that the contest isn’t just for artists, but for children who excel in writing, math and science — celebrating any kind of creativity.

Ensure before entering that your home can accommodate the cottage’s size. It covers a 6’x8’ floor space and stands 7’ high. Plus, it's designed to be used inside a bedroom or playroom. Good news: it can be used outdoors provided there is a raised platform and a roof to cover it from the elements.

If that sounds good to you, check out the abridged requirements below, and make sure you read the full contest rules before your kids start their tasks.

The deadline for entries will be Feb. 15.

To the applicants: To enter the competition, your challenge is to choose any two of the four tasks listed below and write or record your responses.

1. Design a mathematically-based or scientifically-based puzzle or game.

2. Write* a short story with at least three characters. The story must cover a time span of more than one day and it must come to a definite conclusion. The story must evoke any particular emotion of your choice. This story must be no longer than 1000 words.

3. Create a visual artwork in any media you like – drawing, painting, sculpture, collage, mosaic (any material).

4. Approach this fourth task as though you are an architect and design a unique living environment or an individual structure, intended for either some specific person (it could be yourself, or not), some particular group (such as deaf children, lovers of the desert or forests, or maybe apartment dwellers – just to name just a few), or you could intend your design for a non-human subject or group (such as a real animal or a fantasy creature or group of creatures).

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Friday, December 16, 2016

Manitou Art Center hosts show on treatment of aging women

Posted By on Fri, Dec 16, 2016 at 9:34 AM

Three pieces from Jo Hart's The Older We Get... - JO HART
  • Jo Hart
  • Three pieces from Jo Hart's The Older We Get...
Fresh off of a residency at the Pikes Peak Library District, artist Jo Hart will debut her newest exhibit, The Older We Get..., at the Manitou Arts Center on Friday, December 16, from 5 to 8 p.m. as part of the MAC's third Friday Art Attack.

“A lot of my work focuses on beauty & the female body,” says Hart. This exhibit, which features 12 porcelain sculptures between one and two feet tall, examines how women are seen and treated at different ages, from 18 to 76.

“There’s different points in our lives," she says. "When women are younger, there’s a lot of attention they get. There’s peak points. But as we get older, we get forgotten, pushed in a corner or ignored, and treated poorly. I’m trying to address the different ages in a woman’s life.”

The show will be on display through Sunday, Feb. 12, and each piece is for sale.

Read the press release in full below:
"The Older We Get..." invites viewers to examine society's views on aging women
Local artist Jo Hart showcases new body of work in first Colorado show

What: “The Older We Get…”, a fine art show by local artist Jo Hart, opens next week at the Manitou Arts Center. Featuring ten twelve porcelain sculptures ranging all approximately a foot tall and just a few inches wide, the show tackles the often-ignored topic of how society treats older women. Part-trophy, part-bust, the pieces are each prominently adorned with a number representing their age, addressing the emphasis placed on youth in modern culture and stereotypes aimed at each stage of a woman’s life.

“There’s beauty and purpose in all ages of a woman’s life,” Hart said. “But society puts so much importance on youth and often ignores women past a certain age. I hope people who see my show think about how much value they place on the women in their lives, and whether they honor the women they know, and women they don’t know.”

Who: After decades working as a graphic designer, Jo Hart returned to school to earn her master’s in fine arts in ceramics from Illinois State University in 2015. Seeking a different way of life, she moved to Colorado Springs, where she serves as TITLE at the Manitou Arts Center, teaches classes in a variety of mediums and explores women’s issues through her studio practice.

Where: Manitou Arts Center
513 Manitou Ave
Manitou Springs, CO 80829
(719) 685-1861

When: The opening for “The Older We Get…” will be held from 5-8 pm, Friday, Dec. 16. The show will run through Feb. 12.

More: The artist will be available during and after the opening reception for interviews. Pieces may be photographed during or after the opening reception.

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Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Cottonwood gets good news to the tune of $15,000

Posted By on Wed, Dec 7, 2016 at 3:11 PM

The Soul of San Luis is one of three eclectic exhibits on display at Cottonwood through December
  • The Soul of San Luis is one of three eclectic exhibits on display at Cottonwood through December
Thanks to Colorado Creative Industries, a division of the Colorado Office of Economic Development, our very own Cottonwood Center for the Arts announced today that it has received a two-year, $15,000 grant. 

Among Cottonwood’s usual programming (such as its rotating art exhibits, classes and theater performances), the grant will also fund such special projects as the neighboring alleyway they’ve been improving with the help of Concrete Couch, which is meant to be an outdoor creative space for artists and performers.

Some money will also funnel into Cottonwood’s newest entity, Textiles West, which provides resources for textile and fiber artists.

Considering Cottonwood’s programming continues to go above and beyond, we’re all anxious to see what they’ll do with this opportunity. Check out this portion of the press release to see what Cottonwood has to say:

State grants are highly competitive, and signifies that Cottonwood provides high-quality programs, community service and administrative ability to the city and the state at large. Cottonwood serves over 25,000 visitors annually, and works tirelessly to give a voice to underserved populations. These include fully scholarshipped art classes, programming with TESSA, Finding Our Voices and Urban Peak, as well as exhibitions that partner with entities such as the United Court of the Pikes Peak Empire and the Colorado Springs Queer Collective.

2016 has proved to be a banner year for Cottonwood Center for the Arts. This grant will join the gifts and donations from the Bee Vradenburg Foundation, Richard Petritz Foundation, Griffis/Blessing, Inc., Google, and the kindness of individuals throughout the community.

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Ladyfingers Letterpress hosts all-local holiday sale

Posted By on Wed, Dec 7, 2016 at 2:44 PM

Local printmakers, card-makers and stationery-sellers Ladyfingers Letterpress are always worth a visit. Their unique (and often tongue-in-cheek) hand-printed and uniquely designed greeting cards became somewhat of an internet sensation after they printed a card based on the Netflix hit, Stranger Things.

But Friday, they’re giving us one more reason to drop by. Ladyfingers’ Sweet Holidaze Sale isn’t just a sale of their own locally made wares, but features some other artisanal goodies from local makers.

With The Universe Conspires’ jewelry, Flourish’s terrariums, Wandering Ink’s screen-printed apparel and what their flyer calls “other artisanal radness,” everything at this shindig is locally made. And all of it is a little off-the-beaten-path, a little indie and DIY, much like Ladyfingers’ whole aesthetic.

Our last three issues of the Independent have contained a shop local guide, encouraging you to keep your holiday dollars in our local economy. Well, it doesn’t get more local than this. Support your hometown business and artists, and pick up some one-of-a-kind gifts for the rest of the folks on your gift list. Trust us, this beats Amazon.


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Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Bee Vradenburg Foundation gifts $5,000 in surprise grants

Posted By on Wed, Nov 30, 2016 at 1:12 PM

Executive Director David Siegel - BEE VRADENBURG FOUNDATION
  • Bee Vradenburg Foundation
  • Executive Director David Siegel
It's always nice when hard work gets recognized. And last Wednesday, the Bee Vradenburg Foundation gave out five surprise $1,000 grants to local organizations who did cool things for the arts in Colorado Springs this year. Congratulations and thanks are in order — to the Bee Vradenburg Foundation and to the hardworking grant recipients: “First and foremost we wanted to select organizations doing incredible art, and groups that may be less well known than they ought to be," says David Siegel, Executive Director for the Bee Vradenburg Foundation. "We also tried to select a diverse group of art forms — everything from spoken word, to modern dance, to public art — to highlight the diversity of the arts community in the Pikes Peak region.”

If the Foundation's unprecedented act of kindness leaves you feeling charitable, both Ormao Dance Company and Springs Ensemble Theatre are a part of this year's Indy Give! campaign.

Read the full text of the press release below:
November 23, 2015 Colorado Springs, CO – Five Colorado Springs arts nonprofits received surprise $1,000 “thank you” grants this week from the Bee Vradenburg Foundation to celebrate a banner year for the arts in the Pikes Peak region. In an unprecedented move for the Foundation, the grants are unsolicited and designed to celebrate the often unsung arts organizations that enhance the community year round.

“We want to extend our sincere gratitude during this season of giving to the exceptional arts organizations that make the Pikes Peak region a great place to call home” said Foundation Board President, Phil Kendall. “We reap the benefits of these organizations daily – whether it’s a mosaic in a neighborhood park, or youth poetry slam after school – this is a very small way for us to say thanks.”

Recipients of the unsolicited $1,000 grants are:
• Colorado Springs Creative Collective championed a feasibility process to assess the validity of an Artspace Development to provide affordable live/work space for local artists.
• Concrete Couch unveiled several impressive “community built” public art installations including a mural at the Penrose Public Library and a giant pumpkin on the corner of Pueblo and Nevada Avenues.
• Hear Here continues to champion the local slam poetry scene and recently brought a team of local high school students to compete at the Brave New Voices festival in Washington DC.
• Ormao Dance Company premiered a groundbreaking “site-specific” dance work at the former Gazette newsroom and print shop earlier this year.
• Springs Ensemble Theatre is always on the cutting edge of live theatre and with productions like an all-female Titus Andronicus, 2016 was no exception.

“2016 was a banner year for art in the Pikes Peak region, largely thanks to innovative organizations like these” said Foundation Executive Director, David Siegel. “On any night of the week you can see live theatre, perform at a poetry slam, take in a dance performance, or enjoy public art. This remarkable access to art enriches our community and these grants are our way of saying thanks.”

Bee Vradenburg Foundation furthers the legacy of Bee Vradenburg by advancing the relevance, resilience and greatness of the arts in the Pikes Peak region. To date the Foundation has awarded more than $2.5 million to local artists and arts organizations with the knowledge that the arts are the soul of a thriving community.

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Monday, November 7, 2016

Mountain Fold Books announces closure

Posted By on Mon, Nov 7, 2016 at 4:31 PM

Marina Eckler announced the store's closure on Friday, Nov. 4. - MATTHEW SCHNIPER
  • Matthew Schniper
  • Marina Eckler announced the store's closure on Friday, Nov. 4.
After three years in business, Mountain Fold Books has closed, effective Friday, Nov. 4. Marina Eckler made the official announcement via Facebook, citing the Pikes Peak Community Foundation's recent discontinuation of its fiscal sponsorship program as a major reason for the bookstore's closure.

Founded by UCCS visual arts instructor Marina Eckler and English graduate Jonathan Fey, the store housed small-press books, zines, offbeat comics and other such print publications that are generally hard to come by. During its time, the store became a center for local arts and cultural events, including a zine fest. The store was also a participant in the Independent's Indy Give! campaign last year.
The Indy reached out to Eckler for comment, we'll update this posting if and when we hear back.

The store will be open one last time this Saturday, Nov. 12, from noon to 5 p.m., to sell its remaining stock, as well as furniture, dishes and everything else in the store. Any unsold books will be donated to the Pikes Peak Library District.

Read the full text of Mountain Fold's closure announcement below:

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Friday, November 4, 2016

The Cultural Office wants your Arts Month input

Posted By on Fri, Nov 4, 2016 at 1:40 PM

Well, October has sadly come to an end, which means we have a whole year to wait for another Arts Month. If you took advantage of the myriad arts and culture opportunities around town last month, then the Cultural Office of the Pikes Peak Region wants you to share your experience.

"The third year of Arts Month was a solid success," says Cultural Office Executive Director Andy Vick, "with significant growth over last year. Each October now, more people 'have one new cultural experience with family or friends,' so we're asking the whole community to tell us about their experiences through our first-ever Arts Month survey."

The survey, which takes only a few minutes to complete, is meant to provide the Cultural Office with new data to take into Arts Month next year. Deadline is noon Thursday, Nov. 10.

Bonus: By completing the survey you will be entered to win two weekend passes to the Rocky Mountain Women's Film Festival, Nov. 11-13. Pick up the November 9 issue of the Independent for more on the festival.

If you aren't quite ready to leave Arts Month behind, join the Cultural Office for "Coffee with COPPeR: Arts Month Wrapup" on Friday, Nov. 18, 8:30 a.m. RSVP to

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