Monday, May 16, 2016

Fine Arts Center announces 2016/17 programming

Posted By on Mon, May 16, 2016 at 9:50 AM

From Peter and the Starcatcher, a highlight of the 2015-2016 FAC stage season. - FINE ARTS CENTER
  • Fine Arts Center
  • From Peter and the Starcatcher, a highlight of the 2015-2016 FAC stage season.
Thought the Fine Arts Center's current season doesn't end until autumn, they've done us all the kindness of announcing the next season's programming. To get a little insight on the always-exciting FAC theater season, we got Executive Director of Performing Arts and Producing Artistic Director Scott RC Levy on the phone to talk about the lineup. We also spoke with Curator Joy Armstrong about the museum lineup, further down the page.

“Musicals, plays, dramas comedies — we’ve hit it all this season," Levy says. “[It's] marked by a lot of really, fantastically fun productions.”

The main stage programming kicks off with Shear Madness, one of the longest-running non-musical plays on the stage. It's an interactive, spontaneous murder mystery that promises to be different every night. The landlady of a unisex hair salon has been killed, and everyone on the premises is a suspect — and the audience gets to decide who's responsible.

Levy says that the FAC alternates between Christmas plays and family-friendly spectaculars for the holiday season, and Shrek the Musical lands in the latter category. This humorous tour-de-force promises to be just the thing for kids from 9 to 99.

To spotlight the FAC's substantial female talent, they've lined up Enchanted April for February. It's a classic romantic comedy — thus the February slot — following four women on vacation in Italy.

The Tony-winning rock musical Bye Bye Birdie will line up with Larry Hulst's rock photography exhibit in the museum. It ties into the FAC's ongoing efforts to explore multidisciplinary themes — rock music in this case. This musical will feature in part the talent of the FAC's conservatory training program, now in its 19th year. As such, the teenagers in this Elvis-era show will be played by actual teenagers.

To wrap the season, a classic: Man of La Mancha, the musical take on Miguel de Cervantes classic Don Quixote

"The most classic song from that piece is called 'The Impossible Dream,'" says Levy. "In a way, if I were to say there were a theme to the season, that would be it, that we're making the impossible dreams a reality."

The Fine Arts Center's second stage found a niche in hour-long musicals for kids based on literature, Levy says, and they've got two plays in that vein this year. Between The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales and Junie B. Jones: The Musical, they have the young audiences locked down. The former is based on Jon Scieszka's irreverent take on classic fairy tales, published in 1992. The latter is based on the long-running children's book series, which follows a precocious kindergartener.

Less directed at the young'uns, Too Much Light Makes The Baby Go Blind challenges the actors to perform 30 plays in 60 minutes, with the order determined by the audience.
"The audience shows up, they get a menu numbered one through 30 with the titles of 30 plays, the audience screams out a number to the actors," says Levy. "The actors have a clothesline with paper that says one through 30, they pull down the number [the audience calls out], and they perform that play while there's a stopwatch going on."

Expect also the premiere of the newest piece by the folks at WYNOT Radio Theatre, dubbed The Other Coast Caper. No doubt the guys and gals in this troupe have cooked up another evening full of thrills and chills, with a few laughs thrown in besides.

Wrapping up the season, Souvenir is the story of Florence Foster Jenkins, known as the worst opera singer in the world. The play follows her along the path to, ultimately, selling out Carnegie Hall.

"In the piece, she often refers to going to rehearse in the music room," Levy says. "Our second stage space is called the music room, so it seemed like a really perfect fit." 

Now, moving on to the museum, Joy Armstrong says the new season is "exemplary of what the FAC does at its best. We have a really beautiful gamut of artists from local to international, from works we are bringing into the museum to works being created specifically for the museum.”

The season begins with a show by Carbondale-based artists James Surls and Charmaine Locke, titled All I Ever Wanted. Surls and Locke have been married for over 40 years, but they've made their names as artists independently. This show will reveal their own prolific works, but sharp-eyed museumgoers will no doubt note the subtle ways these two have influenced and inspired each other over the years.

Next, Claudia Mastrobuono and Jodi Stevens will be creating a site-specific installation titled Limen. Made from flimsy, disposable materials, Limen will mimic the natural environment of the Colorado Springs area — no doubt, one of the overarching themes makes itself clear already. They'll also be building a unique installation at GOCA 1420.

Overlapping Limen, the museum will host three concurrent exhibitions. As noted above, Larry Hulst's Front Row Center is an exhibition of rock photography, selected to line up with Bye Bye Birdie. Armstrong is also toting out permanent collection works from local artist Mary Chenoweth, which will make up the bulk (but not all) of the Works on Paper exhibit. Finally, Don Coen's The Migrant Series will use photos to look at the critical role that oft-forgotten laborers play in American agriculture. 

Somewhat recently transplanted to Denver, Drs. Morton and Tobia Mower have a legendary collection of Rembrandt etchings, classic impressionist pieces and modern works by Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein. They're putting a selection of their legendary private collection on display for the aptly-named From Rembrandt to Warhol: Selections from the Mower Collection.

Finally, locals Wendy Mike and Delane Bredvik are collaborating on an installation called Ragnarök, named for the Norse apocalypse which translates roughly to "the death of the Gods." They'll be tying these epic, apocalyptic themes into the fires and floods that have beset the region in the past few years. But Armstrong says that, despite any doom and gloom, the piece will ultimately be hopeful.

Read the full lineup and press release below. 
Award‐Winning Theatre, Exhibitions and Art School Offerings
Slated for the FAC’s 2016‐2017 Season
COLORADO SPRINGS (May 6, 2016) — The Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center (FAC) has announced the
line‐up for the 2016‐2017 season which starts Sept. 1 and will include world‐renowned artists such as
James Surls, life‐changing workshops like the Military Artistic Healing program, and award‐winning
theatre productions such as Shrek The Musical.
The FAC has experienced tremendous success in previous seasons. The 2015‐2016 theatre season,
coming to a close in June, will be the most attended season in FAC history. And recently named Best
Museum, Best Theatre Company, and Best Summer Arts Camp in Colorado Springs, momentum is far
from slowing at the FAC. Continuing with this upward trend, the 2016‐2017 season programming
schedule is an impressive line‐up that will delight every person who walks through the FAC doors.
 James Surls and Charmaine Locke: All I Ever Wanted (Oct. 15, 2016‐Jan. 15, 2017)
 Claudia Mastrobuono and Jodi Stevens: Limen (Jan. 28‐May 7, 2017)
 Concurrent exhibitions ‐ Larry Hulst: Front Row Center; Mary Chenoweth Works on Paper; and
Don Coen: The Migrant Series (Feb. 18‐May 21, 2017)
 From Rembrandt to Warhol: Selections from the Mower Collection (June 24‐Sept. 17, 2017)
 Wendy Mike and Delane Bredvik: Ragnarӧk (July/Aug. 2017‐Jan. 2018)
2016‐2017 Mainstage Theatre Season
 Shear Madness by Paul Portner; Colorado Premiere! Sept. 22 – Oct. 16, 2016
 Shrek The Musical Music by Jeanine Tesori, Book & Lyrics by David Lindsay‐Abaire Dec. 1, 2016 – Jan. 8, 2017
 Enchanted April by Matthew Barber, from the novel by Elizabeth von Arnim Feb. 9 – 26, 2017
 Bye Bye Birdie Book by Michael Stewart, Music by Charles Strouse, Lyrics by Lee Adams March 30 – April 23, 2017
 Man of La Mancha by Dale Wasserman, Music by Mitch Leigh, Lyrics by Joe Darion May 25 – June 18, 2017
2016‐2017 Second Stage Theatre Season
 The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales by John Glore Sept. 30 – Oct. 30, 2016
 Too Much Light Makes The Baby Go Blind by Greg Allen Oct. 21 – Nov. 19 2016
 WYNOT Radio Theatre in The Other Coast Caper by Cory Moosman Jan. 13 – 29, 2017
 Junie B. Jones: The Musical Book and Lyrics by Marcy Heisler, Music by Zina Goldrich Feb. 24 – March 26, 2017
 Souvenir: A Fantasia on the Life of Florence Foster Jenkins by Stephen Temperley April 28 – May 21, 2017
 The partnership with PPLD’s Library 21C will continue throughout 2016‐2017
 The award‐winning Military Artistic Healing program will continue throughout 2016‐2017
 Award‐winning documentary film maker, Tom Shepard, will return to teach two documentary
workshops Summer 2017. Tom Shepard has produced and directed four award‐winning feature
documentaries that have broadcast nationally on PBS. His films have won top awards at the
Sundance Film Festival and have screened at hundreds of film festivals, theatres and universities
around the world.
 Molly Lord, acknowledged as an elite teacher and visionary, will be back for another Tuned‐In
Workshop Fall 2016 – discover the secret formula to your toughest and best life questions
through music.
 Continued to offer hundreds of enriching classes year‐round to all ages and skill levels
Fine Arts Center
The Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center’s (FAC) story began in 1919 as the Broadmoor Art Academy (BAA). After the Great
Depression hit in 1929, the BAA looked at diversifying further, expanding into an entire arts district under one roof. And that’s
how the FAC came to be, as it is known today. The name was changed to the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center and an
expansive building was created to house a multi‐disciplinary center for the arts. The FAC, a privately‐funded, nonprofit
organization, opened the doors on the exciting architectural treasure in 1936 as an art museum, professional theatre company,
and arts education center. The FAC building is considered an architectural landmark in the Rocky Mountain region, designed by
John Gaw Meem, and is listed on the National Register for Historical Places. For information, visit

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Thursday, March 24, 2016

Warka Water wins World Design Impact Prize

Posted By on Thu, Mar 24, 2016 at 1:32 PM

In January, we spoke to Italian architect Arturo Vittori, creator of Warka sculptures, as part of our coverage of Hydro-Logic: Artists and Designers as Change Agents for Water at Colorado College's I.D.E.A. Space.

In that article, we mentioned that Vittori would be venturing to Taiwan in mid March as one of three finalists for the International Council of Societies of Industrial Design's World Design Impact Prize.

As it turns out, Vittori won the award, which "seeks to increase awareness of industrial design driven projects that are making a positive impact on our social, economic, cultural and/or environmental quality of life."

A big congrats to Vittori and his team. 
Vittori receives the prestigious World Design Impact Prize. - COURTESY ICSID
  • Courtesy ICSID
  • Vittori receives the prestigious World Design Impact Prize.
Villagers in Ethiopia gather fresh water captured from a Warka tower. - COURTESY ARCHITECTURE AND VISION
  • Courtesy Architecture and Vision
  • Villagers in Ethiopia gather fresh water captured from a Warka tower.

Arturo Vittori inside of CC's I.D.E.A. Space gallery in early January. - MATTHEW SCHNIPER
  • Matthew Schniper
  • Arturo Vittori inside of CC's I.D.E.A. Space gallery in early January.

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Friday, March 4, 2016

Commonwheel to reopen Sunday

Posted By on Fri, Mar 4, 2016 at 4:06 PM

Lynn Lemmon-Oliver was the first artist to move her works back into the office. - GRIFFIN SWARTZELL
  • Griffin Swartzell
  • Lynn Lemmon-Oliver was the first artist to move her works back into the office.
As you may or may not know, the Commonwheel Artists Co-Op closed for renovations in mid-February. They let me in to snap a few photos before their grand reopening, happening Sunday, March 6.

Expect to see new fabric paneling for wall art, plus UV- and heat-resistant coatings on the windows, as well as new carpeting, new paint and some spackle.

"The building is over a hundred years old, and there are some cracks that need to be patched," says Juanita Canzoneri, Commonwheel's marketing manager.

She says this renovation has been a long time coming — the members have been planning for between 15 and 18 months, timing the closure of two-and-a-half weeks with the slower season.
After the renovation, Canzoneri says that Commonwheel will continue to work on its guest gallery, dubbed the Creekside gallery. In the past, an unclear divide between member works and visiting artists' pieces has caused some confusion among visitors. The Creekside gallery will allow Commonwheel to give visiting exhibitors a separate exhibition space.

The Creekside gallery will open on March 18. Its first exhibitor will be Pueblo artist David Caricato, presenting a selection of sculptures and figure paintings titled "Journey to Nowhere." Caricato recently won both the eclectic class and the professional best in show at the 2015 Colorado State Fair Fine Arts Exhibition for a 23-painting exhibit titled “The History of the Nude in Art.”

All of these changes are part of a "new energy" Canzoneri hopes to foster in the co-op.

Here's a peek at some of the work:

  • Griffin Swartzell
Kathy Sullivan, lining up a bird she's going to fill with birds. - GRIFFIN SWARTZELL
  • Griffin Swartzell
  • Kathy Sullivan, lining up a bird she's going to fill with birds.
  • Griffin Swartzell
  • Griffin Swartzell
  • Griffin Swartzell
  • Griffin Swartzell

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Friday, February 26, 2016

Be part of Concrete Couch's "mega mural"

Posted By on Fri, Feb 26, 2016 at 10:42 AM

Come the week of April 25, Penrose Library will benefit from a new "mega mural" created by Concrete Couch and large groups of volunteers. 

The installation is happening as part of the Community Built Association 2106 Conference and Bootcamp — Concrete Couch is hosting the Oakland-based nonprofit, devoted to the transformation of public spaces.  

Here's a complete schedule of events:

But work's already underway with five Hub Groups who are creating the individual panels of the larger mural — meetings take place once a week (schedule below) and are free to participate in (those under 13 require an adult helper — please RSVP with or 561-400-2275). 

Concrete Couch encourages families to attend though, and helpers will learn how to design and create a mosaic and ceramic tile mural; there's also opportunities to work on a metal relief element (Wednesdays from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. at the Manitou Art Center). 

Here's the Hub schedule:

Manitou Springs High School, noon to 1:40 p.m.
PPCC-Downtown Studio, 6 to 7:30 p.m. 

Community Prep School, 10 to 11:30 a.m.
Will Rogers Elementary, 2:45 to 4 p.m.
Colorado College, Morale House, 6 to 7:30 p.m. 

The large wall in the parking lot will be transformed in late April. - COURTESY CONCRETE COUCH
  • Courtesy Concrete Couch
  • The large wall in the parking lot will be transformed in late April.

An example of Concrete Couch's mural prowess. - COURTESY CONCRETE COUCH
  • Courtesy Concrete Couch
  • An example of Concrete Couch's mural prowess.

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Friday, January 22, 2016

FAC and CC 'forging a future together'

Posted By on Fri, Jan 22, 2016 at 9:57 AM

Yesterday, the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center posted the following statement on its website:

Statement from the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center and Colorado College
January 21, 2016

The president of the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center, David Dahlin, and the president of Colorado College, Jill Tiefenthaler, announced on Thursday, January 21 that the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center and Colorado College have entered into substantive conversations about the possibility of forging a future together. The organizations began discussing the potential synergies after being approached by members of the community who are longtime supporters of arts and culture. The two institutions share a long history and have collaborated in both formal and informal ways since the founding of the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center in 1919.
The boards and senior leadership of both institutions are involved in a process of determining if, by joining forces, both institutions would better be able to fulfill their respective missions. Leaders of both institutions are optimistic about the potential, and are approaching these discussions diligently and thoughtfully. At this time, no official decisions have been made other than to continue these conversations and explore the possibilities.
Further information will be provided as it is available.
I received a call later from executive director of advancement Erin Hannan, directing me to the statement and confirming that there are no further details at this time. 

The two institutions have been close allies in the past. One example of that relationship is when the FAC gifted CC most of its library collection a couple years ago, including around 6,000 of FAC co-founder Alice Bemis Taylor's books.

As noted in a CC Bulletin posting, the Bemis family has a "deep-rooted legacy" at Colorado College. 

Good neighbors: CC's Cornerstone Arts Center is visible through the FAC's grand hallway. - COURTESY FAC
  • Courtesy FAC
  • Good neighbors: CC's Cornerstone Arts Center is visible through the FAC's grand hallway.

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Friday, December 18, 2015

Free Days at Sangre de Cristo Arts Center

Posted By on Fri, Dec 18, 2015 at 10:46 AM

Brooke Shaden's Shadows We Follow, part of the Sangre de Cristo Art Center's Beautiful Grotesque exhibit. - BROOKE SHADEN
  • Brooke Shaden
  • Brooke Shaden's Shadows We Follow, part of the Sangre de Cristo Art Center's Beautiful Grotesque exhibit.
Good news for art fans young and old: the Sange de Cristo Arts Center and Buell Children's Museum (210 N. Santa Fe Ave., Pueblo) is waiving admission fees the second Sunday of every month in 2016. Haven't had the chance to see the Center's tribute to Michelangelo's models, Touched by the Hands of God? Your first chance to see it and other exhibits free of charge will be Sunday, January 10. For a full list of what will be at the center, click here.

Read the full press release below:

Second Sundays are Now Free Days at the Arts Center
Businesses and Individuals Support the Arts Through Partnership in 2016

The Sangre de Cristo Arts Center and Buell Children’s Museum offer an unforgettable experience for those who visit, and now every second Sunday of the month during 2016 is free. “Community access is a priority for the Arts Center, and we try very hard to be inclusive,” says Executive Director Jim Richerson. “These opportunities would not be possible without leaders in the community like Carolyn Jackson, daughter of Bob Jackson, who has sponsored Sunday, January 10, 2016 and Parkview Medical Center who has sponsored Sunday, June 12, 2016. Together, we are strengthening and elevating our community. The Arts Center is grateful for all the donors, members, and supporters who make the sharing of our permanent collections, exhibitions, and programs available to visitors from around the world.”

Free days during 2016 are January 10, February 14, March 13, April 10, May 8, June 12, July 10, August 14, September 11, October 9, November 13, and December 11. Sunday hours of operation for the Buell Children’s Museum and Helen T. White Galleries are from 11 am - 5 pm. Sponsorship opportunities for these special days are still available. If an individual or business is interested in providing community access to the Arts Center through sponsorship of a day, please call (719) 295-7200 ext. 7235. 

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Monday, December 7, 2015

Light the Drake cancelled, for now

Posted By on Mon, Dec 7, 2015 at 4:00 PM

Earlier this summer, Andy Vick, executive director for the Cultural Office of the Pikes Peak Region (COPPeR), proposed a large-scale art project that would have utilized lighting to illuminate the Martin Drake Power Plant's unsightly omissions. The initiative was called Light the Drake

Opponents were quick to step forward, essentially calling the idea tone deaf, for glorifying toxic coal-fire emissions that harm public health

Vick defended his position, saying he was making an artistic statement, and that he wasn't interested in "making a political issue about it." 

Read some of the back-and-forth as well as my own contextualizing of the situation here

Flash forward to today, when the Colorado Springs Utilities Board has finally set an arbitrary 2035 deadline to close Drake, in the face of strong opposition from the business community and beyond to shut it sooner. 

Perhaps some of that pushback inspired the decision to not move forward with the art plan, at least for now, as we received a statement emailed by Vick yesterday indicating that it is on hold. (Vick is traveling today and not available for further comment at the moment.)

Here's the statement in full:
After carefully considering the input and guidance from the COPPeR Board of Directors, our elected officials, the members of the project committee, and other community stakeholders, a decision has been made to table the Light the Drake initiative at this time. The project still has many community development benefits, and may be revisited at a more opportune time in the future. All further inquiries may be directed to
Don't expect any illuminated smoke stacks soon on Martin Drake. - MATTHEW SCHNIPER
  • Matthew Schniper
  • Don't expect any illuminated smoke stacks soon on Martin Drake.

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Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Denver calling on Colorado composers for theme song

Posted By on Tue, Dec 1, 2015 at 5:20 PM

  • onime/shutterstock
Much like superheroes, cities need theme songs. Or at least Denver does.

The Mile High City will be spending $5,000 to commission a composer for its official “City and County Building Chime.”

Proposed signature tunes need to be uplifting, lively, positive, and celebratory — none of that “Phantom of the Opera” or “Bells of Rhymney” stuff — and they must also be limited to 10 notes (C, D, E, F, G, A, B, B flat, C, and D).

Entries are restricted to Colorado artists, and must be received by Friday, January 15.

You can find more rules — lots of them — here.
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Monday, November 23, 2015

Astronaut samurai punks — read all about it

Posted By on Mon, Nov 23, 2015 at 2:30 PM

When Jonas McCluggage draws something, we'll probably talk about it. 

That dates back to The Lofty's Comic in 2011, as well as the more recent The Adventures of Jonas publication. 

McCluggage is among a small group of Springs-based or Springs-launched illustrators who're doing us proud in the comic marketplace. 

And his latest effort, now on sale, is a limited-print effort about ... well, read all about it below:


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Friday, November 13, 2015

Joy Armstrong named next FAC exec director/curator

Posted By on Fri, Nov 13, 2015 at 1:25 PM

Those excited by the fresh energy of the recent El Mac graffiti exhibition inside the fine-art setting of the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center will be thrilled to learn that the curator behind it, Joy Armstrong, has been named the FAC's new executive director and chief curator. 

Armstrong replaces Blake Milteer, who is soon moving to Scotland after bringing consistently wonderful and dynamic programming to the FAC since 2007.

Meet the FAC's incoming executive director and chief curator. - COURTESY JOY ARMSTRONG
  • Courtesy Joy Armstrong
  • Meet the FAC's incoming executive director and chief curator.
"We consider Joy a rockstar among us," says David Dahlin, FAC president and CEO. "She's a homegrown talent and she's quite amazing. If I was running a museum in some other city and saw the work Joy's done, and the arc of her career, I'd be thrilled."

Dahlin credits Milteer with developing Armstrong, saying "many chiefs wouldn't give a junior associate the latitude and faith he's given Joy. People aren't always that gracious. ... If I was Blake, I might say my single greatest achievement is Joy Armstrong." 

Armstrong — who graduated Magna Cum Laude from the University of Denver, studying Studio Art and Mass Communications, and obtained a Master’s Degree from Kent State University in Art History —  began volunteering with Milteer in fall 2009. By March 2010, she was hired on full-time. 

In the last five years, Armstrong says Milteer has "really supported my vision, and that's been critically important to me. He believed in me and supported the projects I've proposed. I feel that we've been tremendously successful as a team."

She points to the fall of 2013 as "a huge turning point in me stepping out on my own, on a grand scale," with Pamela Joseph's The Sideshow of the Absurd. "It was unlike anything we'd done up to that point. Blake really let me run with my ideas, and he was being super supportive of something that was a huge question mark as to how people would respond. It was a monumental moment for me."

Says Milteer, "When I hired Joy in 2010, that was the idea. She'd have a different skill set and vision than I would. I was hired in 2007 to move things forward, and I believe that we've done that with the resources we've had. We need to continue that momentum." 

Milteer adds that at the time of Armstrong's hiring, he knew he wanted someone who had the potential to become curator: "What I've seen with every project Joy's taken on, be it curatorial or administrative, she's taken it to a whole new level."

To be clear, the two still have months of work together ahead; Milteer isn't expected to depart until early next summer, tentatively. "We've got work to do here," he says. "I'm still full speed ahead on some projects that we began years ago," he adds, pointing to upcoming exhibits next spring. 

For her part, Armstrong says "Milteer's direction up to this point has been outstanding, especially the variety of exhibitions we've been able to bring. I expect that diversity of shows to continue." 

From volunteer to chief curator in five years, Armstrong's career trajectory is a bit surreal. - COURTESY JOY ARMSTRONG
  • Courtesy Joy Armstrong
  • From volunteer to chief curator in five years, Armstrong's career trajectory is a bit surreal.
Asked about her vision for the future, she says she'd love to work with some experts on the FAC's Taylor Collection, and "I'd love to see more projects that bring the artists here to do large-scale installation, like the Charles and Collin Parson show, or Sideshow, to activate the space. I want guests to see an artist at work and interact directly." 

Dahlin says the months ahead with both curators will be great for our community, presenting a smooth succession timeline.

Looking back over the last year-and-a-half, since he's arrived as CEO, Dahlin mentions the recent John James Audubon and Kevin Sloan show, saying Blake's strong suit has been "an ability to pair what's in our permanent collection, what belongs to our community, with contemporary works, and find the way in which they speak to each other." 

He also cites the recent Georgia O'Keeffe exhibit as "testimony to [Milteer's] and our reputation" in securing masterpieces "that don't just go anywhere ... it's a feather in his cap, and shows the position he's moved the museum into during his time here." 

Looking ahead, he says the FAC will try to balance historic and modern exhibitions: "We try to balance those things, and Joy's really good at playing with that balance."

Considering just how far the FAC has come since its $28 million expansion in 2007, Dahlin looks at the recent example of Armstrong's El Mac graffiti exhibition and the response he has personally received from older community members: "They were thrilled to see young people and diverse crowds inside the museum — even if it wasn't their thing in some instances. They were glad we were doing it. ... To thrive, we have to reach out to a broader demographic and shift our core." 

He says Armstrong has done that, too, via museum special events, such as the recent Halloween Bash and Sashay, a fashion, music and dance celebration. 

"Those events have her signature of being hip and cool and artsy. That's the theme I hear: 'Wow, I can't believe this is in Colorado Springs!'"

Yep, the FAC has definitely found the right person for the job. 

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Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Graffiti extra: more El Mac and Fuse

Posted By on Wed, Sep 30, 2015 at 3:54 PM

Ahead of the FAC's Aerosol Exalted show this weekend, we spoke with both El Mac, and Fuse, both well-regarded graffiti artists.  

We shared snapshots of each of their works in our print edition, but have several more images on hand they shared with us. For those appreciative of the form, here's a quick tour through more vibrant works:

"Ars et Scientia" - COURTESY TODD MAZER
  • Courtesy Todd Mazer
  • "Ars et Scientia"

"Clothed with the Sun" - COURTESY EL MAC
  • Courtesy El Mac
  • "Clothed with the Sun"

A train car collaboration with Fuse and El Mac. - COURTESY FUSE
  • Courtesy Fuse
  • A train car collaboration with Fuse and El Mac.

  • Courtesy Fuse

  • Courtesy Fuse

  • Courtesy Fuse

Fuse painting at the recent What If ... Festival. - JOY ARMSTRONG
  • Joy Armstrong
  • Fuse painting at the recent What If ... Festival.

The artists at the Springs' graffiti warehouse, where they last collaborated in 2010. - MATTHEW SCHNIPER
  • Matthew Schniper
  • The artists at the Springs' graffiti warehouse, where they last collaborated in 2010.

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Thursday, August 13, 2015

More on Lucere at Kreuser Gallery

Posted By on Thu, Aug 13, 2015 at 4:10 PM

  • Edie Adelstein
Today, we took a closer look at Lucere at the Kreuser and Aha galleries, following up on our story about the show from a previous issue (which you can find here).

Lucere consists of 48 "profiles" of locals who have inspired artist and gallery owner Abigail Kreuser, who took photos of her subjects and included snippets from interviews she held. (Disclosure: I am one of them.) Kreuser then took the photos and printed them on watercolor paper, and mounted each on a platform made from composition books and bound it all together with hemp string. Kreuser had planned on a more typical layout, with large-scale photos mounted in frames with artist statements hung nearby, but changed her mind.

"I wanted to do something more non-traditional," she says, "I woke up, literally three weeks before the show [with the new idea.]"

Such short notice involved some compromises, but Kreuser is pleased with the final product, and hopes to be able to continue the series with re-prints, a possible coffee-table book and even expanding the series count to 100.

About 75 percent of the depicted artists (the term here is used inclusively, as Lucere includes writers, musicians, and curators) came to the opening at the beginning of the month, and were similarly happy with the result, much to Kreuser's relief, she admits with a laugh.

Looking back on the project, which has been her largest thus far, Kreuser reflects on the artists who really let her into their heads, and studios.

"I got to know them at a different level," she says. "So often you're just talking shop."

The show reflects as much, with the answers prompted by the question "What inspires you?" ranging from family, faith and friends, to struggle and even selfishness. Some answers:

Nethery Wylie: "If I do not create every day ... I start to feel bad."

Gary Jensen: "I feel the need to be understood."

Randal Barbera: "I got into photography with the need to understand light, it is very much akin to the process of poetry ... they are both subtractive arts. You start with an entire sphere of your experience and edit out what is not essential."

Marie David: "My inspiration is a selfishness ... a way of keeping myself more honest with myself. I have spent a lifetime trying to justify this feeling, but it is the only way to stay grounded."

The photographs, meanwhile, are quite varied and sensitive. Kreuser set up a few posed shots, but for the most part captured her subjects working, either in their studios, or playing music in the gallery. They clearly reflect Kreuser's experience in photojournalism and documentary photography. Outtakes and extra shots appear in several collages that accompany the show, which are very fun (details seen left).

It feels something like a high school yearbook, slicing off a moment in time in the community. Less cheesy, of course, and while some may criticize Kreuser's emphasis on positivity here, it hardly negates the passion of the people represented. Here's hoping there is more to come.

Lucere is on display through Aug. 28 






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Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Drake Drake everywhere

Posted By on Tue, Aug 4, 2015 at 5:31 PM

The Martin Drake Power Plant is a spotlight hog. 

Locally, its significance goes beyond other urban eyesores and public health concerns. 

With all the talk around Colorado Springs Utilities' pending Electric Integrated Resource Plan (EIRP) — plus the much larger national debate over President Obama and the EPA's lame-ass Clean Power Plan — Drake has largely become a symbol of dirty coal and outdated fossil fuels. 

Its steam stacks are ground zero for the debate, representing a future we can either prolong or avoid. 

Pennsylvania's SteelStacks offers one model for creatively repurposing historic industrial landmarks. The lights, in this case, illuminate non-operational steam stacks. - COURTESY STEELSTACKS
  • Courtesy SteelStacks
  • Pennsylvania's SteelStacks offers one model for creatively repurposing historic industrial landmarks. The lights, in this case, illuminate non-operational steam stacks.
According to the Clean Air Task Force, via the Sierra Club
Retiring one dirty coal-burning plant will prevent:
more than 29 premature deaths
47 heart attacks
491 asthma attacks
22 asthma emergency room visits
That said, it's not surprising to find controversy boiling over artist and Cultural Office of the Pikes Peak Region executive director Andy Vick's idea to Light the Drake, despite City Council's enthusiasm. 

Writer Billie Stanton Anleu outlines the "outrage to some in Colorado Springs" in the Aug. 4 issue of the Gazette

Anleu cites dissent from local science teacher Laura Van Der Pol, outspoken Old Town Bike Shop owner John Crandall and Monument-based attorney Leslie Weise

Anleu quotes Van Der Pol as saying:
If they wanted to put on a skull and crossbones or numbers showing the nitrogen oxides put into our air, OK. But not masking it as something beautiful we should glorify.
And Weise as saying: 
To consider beautifying the Drake plant with pretty lights while it still burns coal would be an embarrassing symbol associated with our city ... What makes this proposed project even more offensive is to consider lighting Drake as a backdrop for the Olympics (Museum), which upon last check remains an international symbol for good health and personal excellence.
And Vick, defending his idea:
I respect their opinion, but our job at COPPeR is to work to elevate the arts in our community and help to use the assets and resources available to us to make a statement about art. I'm just not interested in making a political issue about it.
In the KOAA piece I link to above, inspiration is credited to a "similar lighting project used on an old steel mill in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania," with Vick saying: 
Instead of fighting what was there, they decided to embrace it and use art as a way to engage the community and it added some kind of excitement, and wow factor if you will to those structure and we're hoping to do the exact same thing here with the Drake Power Plant.
The obvious difference in this case is that the SteelStacks project Vick is ostensibly referencing is a "ten-acre campus dedicated to arts, culture, family events, community celebrations, education and fun," sitting atop what was formerly the nation's second-largest steel manufacturing plant, which ceased operations in November, 1995. 

They've been revitalized in a way similar to Birmingham, Alabama's Sloss Furnaces, which have been designated as a national historic landmark. 

On her Facebook page, Van Der Pol commented on a link to the article: 
What the Gazette's original article neglected to mention, is that similar projects in other towns beautified power plants that were ALREADY decommissioned. If the art project could coincide with decommissioning Drake and was an intermediate stage between Drake the Superfund Site, and Drake the Community Center — I would be all for it.
From the sidelines, it's easy to see how Vick comes across as tone deaf in the above media exchanges and with his idea, though his heart for public beautification seems to be in the right place. 

Other than embracing Drake and trying to "put lipstick on that baby," in Councilman Don Knight's words, we aren't really hearing much of a "statement about art" from Vick. (Other than it can potentially be useful in transforming ugly things into pretty things?)

This is the COPPeR news page on its website recently said about the initiative:
Regardless of future usage of the Drake, the stacks will be part of our built landscape Downtown for many years. COPPeR is leading the charge to use dynamic, state of the art lighting to make the stacks an attractive backdrop for economic development in Downtown and an enticement for travelers on I-25. We are working with a committee of local stakeholders to make this project a positive example of how creativity can brighten the future for our city.
Though Vick may not be interested in "making a political issue about it," it comes across as naive to think he would be able to avoid doing so. 

To illuminate an operational coal plant in the night sky simply for "wow factor" seems as careless as accidentally championing Monsanto for producing pesticides that wreak havoc all over our environment. (Laser Lights Over the Lab!) 

Art should make a statement, as it has brilliantly, in multifold forms, for thousands of years. And art that takes on political issues acts as an important voice, mirror and catalyst in communities. Van Der Pol's idea for a skull and crossbones would at least be saying something by way of critical commentary.

Let's proverbially shine lights on corruption, underserved citizens, crumbling infrastructure, budget woes, etc., and hold off on the the actual LEDs until Drake's done fuming and we have a healthful community space worth celebrating. 

Vick's current push feels like a missed opportunity for true art activism or a social movement, which would arguably be a better way to "elevate the arts in our community" through his role at COPPeR. We don't want our city-sanctioned arts advocate appearing as a booster of big industry — an intended effect or not — or as a toothless pet to City Council (also our Utilities Board). 

"Wow" us with something different that points the way forward, not backward. Light the Drake wouldn't celebrate local history or legacy as much as it would make a worrisome wart glow.  

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Thursday, July 23, 2015

Another kind of industrial art

Posted By on Thu, Jul 23, 2015 at 10:50 AM

We all know how meaningful both power and art can be. Now, the Cultural Office of the Pikes Peak Region is proposing a literal meshing of the two.

COPPeR wants to jazz up the downtown Drake Power Plant by shrouding it in lighting. Hide it in plain sight, so to speak.

It's no surprise that the Colorado Springs Utilities Board, comprised of City Council, which favors keeping the coal-fired, pollution-emitting plant on line as long as possible, fell in love with the idea.

Now, the organization will seek grants. The idea comes from Bethlehem, Pa., where old steel stacks are bathed in vibrant color, like this:


If you want to read the group's proposal, here ya go:

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Monday, July 13, 2015

Help COPPeR, take a survey

Posted By on Mon, Jul 13, 2015 at 7:02 PM

It won't tell you what you would be if you were a color, a major city or a grade of cheese, but this quiz will help the Cultural Office of the Pikes Peak Region, by asking how you find the arts and culture scene around here.

This easy survey takes 5 to 10 minutes, and asks how cultural you find the Springs, how important various aspects of it are to you, and how you find events to go to. (Here's pulling for the Indy on that last one.) Information will be collected by COPPeR and inform its strategic planning.

It's anonymous, and expires July 19. Any questions, hit up COPPeR exec Andy Vick at

Artists and representatives from arts organizations who wish to take things further are invited to RSVP and join three upcoming Arts Partners Meetings:

Session A: Tues., Aug. 11, 6:15-8 p.m. at the Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts
Session B: Wed., Aug. 12, 8:15-10 a.m. at the Cottonwood Center for the Arts
Session C: Thurs., Aug. 13, 3:15-5 p.m. at the Manitou Art Center

RSVP to with your name, email address, phone number and preferred meeting date.
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