Here’s a challenge: Go outside and toss a rock, and you’re bound to hit a gallery worth walking into. The Pikes Peak region homes hundreds of worthy artists and gallery spaces, so finding the hotspots can be a daunting task. We’ve curated a few for you, but art takes all tastes, so be sure to go out exploring on First Fridays when the free First Friday shuttle bus runs from downtown Colorado Springs to Old Colorado City to Manitou Springs, our biggest artistic hubs.
The Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center at Colorado College
30 W. Dale St., csfineartscenter.org
Celebrating its centennial in 2019, the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center at Colorado College remains a linchpin of the Springs’ arts community, with relevant rotating exhibits showcasing regional, national and international artists in a variety of styles and voices. Among our favorites, the 2018-2019 season saw an exhibition by Virgil Ortiz that translated the historical events of the 1680 Pueblo Revolution into a multimedia science-fiction narrative; paintings by Bernard Arnest; works by famed artist M.C. Escher; and more. Its partnership with Colorado College means many exhibits feature interactive elements or opportunities for education. Check out classes at the FAC’s Bemis School of Art if you want to try your own hand at a new technique.
The Gallery Below
718B N. Weber St., facebook.com/thegallerybelow
If you’re looking for something underground, you’ve found it. Literally and figuratively. The Gallery Below, beneath Pens & Needles Custom Tattoo Company, showcases local art of the oft-marginalized — voices you might not find elsewhere in the city. A recent Black Art Matters exhibition brought together African-American artists of all mediums, from photographers to painters, and the gallery has hosted an exhibition about reproductive rights and consent by Planned Parenthood for two years in a row. Add a packed lineup of events like open mics, drag shows, comedy nights and more, and The Gallery Below might just be the most happening artspace in town.
Arts Alley District
The Arts Alley District is home to both The Modbo and S.P.Q.R., modestly sized but not lacking in quality. Both galleries offer eclectic experiences, with monthly rotating exhibits.
The Modbo delights with solo and group shows by local artists like painting masters Phil Lear and Shannon Dunn. Enjoy, too, occasional special events like open mics, concerts and the annual Modbo Ho Ho, a saucy Christmas show that you don’t want to miss.
S.P.Q.R. mostly showcases the work of its owner Brett Andrus, a fabulously accomplished figure painter, but the artspace has also recently presented the works of Hannah Moghbel, April Dawes and a collaborative art/writing exhibition featuring more than 40 locals.
Unlike most First Friday destinations Arts Alley parties last until midnight. Stop here last if you want to pack your First Friday, but stop here first if you want to enjoy The Modbo’s food spread, which is pretty much always the best around.
Cottonwood Center for the Arts
427 E. Colorado Ave., cottonwoodcenterforthearts.com
There’s a lot of heart under the Cottonwood roof, where a group of passionate artists have exploited every possible space to serve and showcase local artwork. More than 70 artists hold studios at Cottonwood, where countless more exhibit their works each year through juried shows and group exhibitions. Exhibits often fit a theme, or require artists to respond to a prompt, so despite the wide variety of styles and mediums on display, each show feels cohesive.
125 E. Boulder St., abigailkreusergallery.com
Local photographer Abigail Kreuser moved at the start of 2019. Now located well north of her old location, Kreuser’s new gallery offers plenty of space to, say, host the 100-plus artists that showed there for her opening exhibit, Gratitude, in February. Consistently displaying relevant local works by artists such as Jasmine Dillavou, Angela Crews and Amanda Jean, Kreuser curates some spectacular shows that are always worth a stop. Now with the room to do so, she plans to present more performance art in 2019.
Depot Arts District
218 W. Colorado Ave., thebridgeartgallery.com
As Kreuser moved out of her space under the Colorado Avenue bridge, some artists who deserved a centrally located home of their own moved in, forming the new Under the Bridge Collective. The Alvarez Gallery & Art School, run by painter Chris Alvarez, plus Laurel Seibels Justice Gallery and Jana L. Bussanich Artist Studio officially set up shop in February of 2019. They join the illustrious Bridge Gallery, which has been a mainstay in that location for 25 years. When we stopped by in February, plentiful art of all varieties decorated the walls of these connected galleries, from textiles by Jeanne Steiner to Laurel Seibels Justice’s colorful abstract works.
25241/2 W. Colorado Ave., chavezartgallery.com
Liese Chavez, co-owner of Chavez Gallery, remains a perennial winner of the Indy’s Best Visual Artist award. Her masterful and whimsical paintings offer windows into fantasy worlds, depicting elegant queens, magical musicians and animals in fancy dress. Her husband and fellow artist Kris Chavez owns a similar sense of whimsy, his simpler style a counterpoint to Liese’s, but no less skilled and no less fun to look at. The couple has turned their Colorado Avenue location into a veritable artistic playground of interactive exhibits and affordable goodies. This might be the best “beginner” gallery out there.
Manitou Art Center
513-515 Manitou Ave., manitouartcenter.org
Spread over two buildings along Manitou Springs’ main stretch, the Manitou Art Center has it all. Local artists keep studios here, alongside a makerspace with amenities you aren’t likely to find anywhere else nearby, like 3D printers and woodturners. That is, of course, in addition to the wide-open gallery spaces hosting tons of local art, the café that churns out insanely delicious soups, a preschool with an arts focus to help local kids get a leg up on kindergarten, and plenty of special events to keep Manitou weird. Check out the rotating First Amendment Gallery, where artists use their right to free speech to display sometimes controversial and always thought-provoking works.
Galleries of Contemporary Art
5225 N. Nevada Ave., inside the Ent Center for the Arts, and 121 S. Tejon St., uccspresents.org
The UCCS-connected Galleries of Contemporary Art offer some of the most compelling and experimental art around, consistently pushing boundaries and showcasing nationally recognized artists. Since moving their campus gallery into the Ent Center for the Arts, their capabilities have expanded immensely. They used these capabilities to their fullest extent in 2018, when they, in addition to other exhibits, presented a body of work by Linda Fleming. These abstract sculptures created in wood, steel, felt and more offered a perfect glimpse of the kind of insightful contemporary art GOCA strives to present. The downtown satellite gallery, located in the Plaza of the Rockies, proves no less interesting. A 2018 exhibit, Collectivity, saw the varied works of 24 artists speaking to themes such as urban development, the body and femininity, and more.
More Galleries we love
Green Horse Gallery
729 Manitou Ave., greenhorsegallery.com
An eclectic collection of nearly 50 local artists offering unique ceramics, paintings, sculpture and more.
2531 W. Colorado Ave., squashblossom.com
Showcasing designer jewelry and décor, with fine art for sale by prominent local artists like Laurel Bahe and Phil Lear.
Commonwheel Artists Co-op
102 Cañon Ave., commonwheel.com
Easily one of our favorite gift galleries, Commonwheel has something for all tastes — jewelry, pottery, wearables, wall art and more. Check them out if you’re looking for unique pieces.
Academy Art & Frame Company
7560 N. Academy Blvd., academyframesco.com
With monthly exhibitions and featured consignment artists, the ever-rotating work at this off-thebeaten-track gallery is worth a look.
1785 S. Eighth St., Suite A, g44gallery.com
A slick, stylish smorgasbord of contemporary art by regional and national artists alike, with monthly rotating shows and plentiful special events.
Boulder Street Gallery
206 N. Tejon St., boulderstreetgallery.com
Almost 30 local artists call this gallery home, some of the most established visual artists in town with a wide range of expertise and styles.
Out and about
One nice thing about Colorado Springs: You don’t even have to go gallery hunting if you want to have yourself an artistic outing. Here are three places to check out public art outside...
Downtown’s Art on the Streets
For more than 20 years, Art on the Streets has filled our downtown corridor with public art to delight all the senses. Its 20th anniversary exhibit, which will be on display through June of 2019, includes massive public installations such as “Iscariot,” the octopus mermaid made of salvaged metal by Fort Collins artist Trace O’Connor, which you can see heading west along the Colorado Avenue bridge. Then “The Dwelling” by Louisiana artists Sara Madandar, Christina Coleman and Jieun Beth Kim changes based on the time of day. In the sunlight, this Plexiglas house appears reflective like a mirror, but when the sun sets, the walls become transparent, revealing a hidden installation piece inside. You can pick up maps of Art on the Streets installations at the Downtown Partnership office in Plaza of the Rockies, or download one online.
Knobhill Urban Arts District
Starting in early 2018, graffiti artist Paes164 decided he wanted to energize his neighborhood, the Knob Hill area around Platte Avenue between Union Boulevard and Circle Drive. He launched a major grassroots initiative to bring street art to the walls of local businesses to attract foot traffic, encourage community pride, and overall deliver artwork to an area that has limited access to the established arts scene of downtown and beyond. Not only can you walk around the neighborhood
to see these colorful and unique murals, but you can also look forward to the district’s occasional community festivals.
Art Without Limits
Officially attached to UCCS’ Galleries of Contemporary Art, the Art Without Limits (AWOL) initiative has been in place since 2008, and has overseen the installation of public sculpture, the production of public performances and much more. Now that GOCA’s home base lies at the Ent Center for the Arts, AWOL has peppered the building’s grounds with some truly awesome sculptural experiences. Typically temporary, these installations alone are reason enough to check out the Ent Center. Linda Fleming, the featured artist of GOCA’s 2018 Confluence exhibit, contributed her sculpture “Cloak of the Motion” to the outdoor gallery through May of 2019, and a few of famed Colorado sculptor Star Kempf’s pieces are on view until Jan. 1, 2020, standing on the lawn where their silver shine catches the sun.