Monday, July 15, 2019

Local artist has big plans for community festival grounds, seeks collaborators and donations

Posted By on Mon, Jul 15, 2019 at 5:29 PM

  • Art by Brian Seal, photos by Alissa Smith
Fountain-based artist Brian Seal has walked a hard road, and often a lonely one, but he has maintained a vision and his hope for the future. When we talk to him, we can't help but want to see that vision realized — for Seal's sake and the sake of wherever he calls home.

That home used to be Wisconsin, first Fon du Lac, then Shawano. In the latter, he even built a little cabin with an art studio overlooking the lake, the place he thought he would retire. But life circumstances changed too many times to count. He dealt with destructive renters, lost his homes, and lost a great deal more than that.

In the late '90s, Seal's 2-year-old daughter, Miriah Lynn Seal, passed away, and Seal turned to his artwork to find refuge. He painted his first public mural in Miriah's honor, a piece depicting a young girl releasing a dove into the air. It was the first of four murals he would paint in Fon du Lac. His next mural was a tribute to 9/11; the next one promoting diversity with portraits of children of various ethnicities and races; and the final one “a message of love” — a white rose breaking through a wall.

After driving a truck cross-country for about 10 years, Seal returned to Fon du Lac to find the murals all painted over, with school sports trophies and pictures of middle school principals covering them. The intentional way in which his murals were obscured added to a long list of reasons he felt he was no longer welcome in Wisconsin. “So do you fight?” he asks, “Or do you walk away? … I just felt so jilted when they thought softball was more important than the kids in the community. They thought it was more important than people that gave their lives here, gave their lives abroad, and they thought it was more important than my daughter's memorial.”

  • Art by Brian Seal, photos by Alissa Smith

He ended up moving to the Fountain area not too long ago, with an eye on setting up a permanent home here, and creating a gathering place for artists like him to create work and share it with the community.

A multi-talented artist with more than 25 years under his belt, Seal does more than paint. He’s an architect and a builder, and he sculpts, usually fantasy creatures and characters like elves and dragons, inspired by video games and Lord of the Rings.

It’s characters like these that he hopes can populate his vision for a festival grounds of sorts, including a 14-foot-tall dragon sculpture, in progress, that will eventually mark the entrance. These festival grounds would serve multiple functions: Not only could local artists exhibit and sell their work at booths around the complex, but they could also work in studios on-site. Seal’s call to collaborators is open to anyone, from painters and sculptors like Seal to video game developers.

  • Art by Brian Seal, photos by Alissa Smith
On his website, Seal writes: “Art work to be created will be art for good and in the festival grounds will promote gender and racial equality. Other art and future art to be created will be to promote healthy habits.” He envisions video games that have players drink water to regain health, thereby promoting hydration, or games that don’t include violence.

“So that's kind of, you know, the kind of games I want to make,” Seal says with a smile, “and just stuff for nerds.”

But he has run into roadblocks on his path to making this vision a reality. Unable to find many funders or collaborators, Seal has been creating blueprints and concept sketches on his own. Unable to find a permanent place to settle, Seal recently lost access to the venue in Fountain where he had set up a sculpting studio.

Even so, Seal hasn’t given up hope. Hope, in fact, is his most clear and present quality. He has his eye on a property in Fountain that could support his festival grounds, and he hopes to continue seeking collaborators, grants and donations to eventually purchase it. Even small donations can keep the dream alive, and someday bring it to fruition.

“We could get together with people and build,” he says enthusiastically. “I mean, if you can draw and paint, you can swing a hammer, or run a screw gun, or carry a board. Yeah, that can be done.”

Artists, developers, community builders and others interested in collaborating with Seal on his concept for these festival grounds can reach him through, email him at or call him at 920-268-2833.
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Thursday, July 11, 2019

Ormao Dance Company and TESSA partner with New York dance group for anti-bullying program

Posted By on Thu, Jul 11, 2019 at 1:13 PM

  • Scott Shaw

The concept of innovation is hardly new to Ormao Dance Company, a local organization that has trained and showcased dancers of all styles for more than 30 years. But with the announcement of a new project, the company plans to push the envelope just a little further than it ever has, and in an exciting new direction.

Ormao Dance Company in partnership with TESSA, a local organization focused on domestic violence and sexual assault prevention, will provide an in-school dance assembly program that is based on Gibney Dance Company's Hands are for Holding program. Gibney Dance Company, based in New York City, has worked with survivors of intimate partner violence for decades, but in 2013 they turned their sights not only to healing trauma, but to preventing that trauma from happening in the first place.

Thus Hands are for Holding was born. Using dance, conversation, interaction and movement, this program reaches students from elementary school to high school, and teaches them how to recognize abuse and where to go for help. And the program covers all corners. With four dances total, they address intimate partner violence, technological abuse, bullying and healthy relationship balance.

In the years since they debuted the program in 2014, Gibney has gone from 14 to 90 assemblies per year, and reached around 28,000 students, according to Yasemin Ozumerzifon, the company’s director of community action.

Janet Johnson, executive and artistic director of Ormao, says: “Gibney's Hands are for Holding provides a proactive and preventative approach to the social and emotional well-being of our youth. Dance provides this dynamic point of entry for meaningful dialogue.”

It is for this reason that she jumped on the chance to bring Hands are for Holding here; students in our area will be the first outside New York to benefit from the program,

Gibney dancers and directors recently flew to Colorado Springs for an intense five days with Ormao dancers, training them not only to perform the Hands are for Holding dances, but also training them to facilitate conversations with students around the dances. And it is here that the program’s true value becomes apparent. Contemporary dance can often be difficult for even adults to fully dissect and understand, but conversations after each dance ensure that the audience (no matter their age) sees what the movement represents, and give them vocabulary to talk meaningfully about the themes addressed by the performance.

At a launch event on July 10, representatives from Ormao, Gibney and TESSA presented a short version of the program to a room of donors and community partners and explained the program and its benefits.

Paige Gunning from TESSA says that through the Transforming Safety Grant, TESSA already offers presentations on domestic violence to area schools. But, she adds, presentations are not always effective. “And through Ormao, and in programs and partnerships, we can create a low-barrier access point for all students to have this information and to develop a conversation around healthy relationships.”

A survey distributed after assemblies in New York found that 90 percent of students reported that they now knew what to do if they found themselves in an unhealthy relationship. That is a promising statistic.

Because Hands are for Holding is not a fix-all solution to bullying and the beginnings of intimate partner violence, but a way to start meaningful conversation.

“We are all in relation to one another,” says Ozumerzifon. “Yet in many states, it's not mandatory to have a curriculum around healthy relationships. … But as you can see, this is such a need. I did not have this training 'til I was late into my 20s. And I did it only because of my work. And when I did it, I was like, 'I wish I had some of these tools when I was growing up, when I was a young person.'”

Ormao plans to roll out Hands are for Holding in four schools in the fall semester of 2019, expanding to 12 in the spring of 2020. They’re hoping to raise $20,000 more through donations to fund the program. See for more information.

Editor's note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that there was a lack of data about the program's effectiveness. We regret the error.
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Thursday, June 27, 2019

Counterweight Theatre Lab presents intimate look at Mark Rothko in Red

Posted By on Thu, Jun 27, 2019 at 10:26 AM

Steve Emily shines as Mark Rothko. - ETHAN EVERHART
  • Ethan Everhart
  • Steve Emily shines as Mark Rothko.

As the lights come up on the stage, actor Steve Emily sits in a rickety wooden chair, staring out over the audience, eyes narrowed in concentration. The first line he speaks is to actor Joe O’Rear, who stands nervously in the doorway: “What do you see?”

This feels an appropriate way to open a play presented by Counterweight Theatre Lab, which never shies away from making its audience think. The works they present consistently delve into deep human truths or traumas, often asking questions that stick with the viewer long after the proverbial curtain falls. Red, a play about famed Abstract Expressionist painter Mark Rothko (you know, the one with the fuzzy colored rectangles), absolutely does the same. It beautifully weaves together philosophy, humor, history and tragedy, but you can’t credit the script alone for its success.

With only two characters bearing the weight of long monologues and conversations on creativity and artistic zeitgeists, Red isn’t the kind of play you might sit down and read for funsies. But Emily as Rothko and O’Rear as his assistant, Ken, put so much emotion and physicality into their lines, the play never once comes across as weighty or self-important — except when it wants to. Rothko was, after all, a weighty and self-important man, which Ken helpfully points out.

At its best — and for the record it is very good — Red makes the audience part of the scene, almost a third character. We become the murals Rothko is painting to decorate a new Four Seasons restaurant — a commission that brings him two years of grief. He stares critically at us, discusses our vulnerability and our meaning. We feel all at once valued and lacking in his eyes. But we aren’t only the paintings. At times, we’re also Ken, who watches this self-destructive painter — a man he admires — lock himself in this dark studio and dismiss the rest of the world.

Ken and Rothko’s interactions could be any interactions between a young creative and the mouthpiece of the generation that came before him. We see Rothko’s irrelevance creeping into the studio, even as he tries to shut it out, and we feel Ken’s frustration.

That is, perhaps, why the second act proves so damn satisfying. Ken isn’t always just Rothko’s dutiful assistant. He has his breaking points; at times he delivers lines so piercing I half expect the bass to drop and Lil John’s “Turn Down For What” to come out of the record player in the corner.

But, through all of the philosophy and tension, it’s funny, too. The moments of humor — expertly delivered by these two talented actors — make this play work.

Red functions best in an intimate setting like The Cellar at the Carter Payne, where the audience can see every tic of expression on Rothko’s face as he contemplates his paintings, or where they can notice the subtle shift’s in Ken’s body language as Rothko lectures him about intellectualism and creativity. In this space, we hear every whisper, and suffer the tension when the characters shout. Sitting in one of those chairs, we really are paintings on the wall, hanging in the studio of a man whose creative energy was always too big to be contained in any box.

Editor's note: An earlier version of this review mistakenly referred to Rothko as an Abstract Impressionist. We regret the error.
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Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Knob Hill Urban Arts District sends Pride Month message, city responds

Posted By on Tue, Jun 25, 2019 at 3:03 PM

The rainbow crosswalk created by the Knob Hill Urban Arts District - PAES164
  • Paes164
  • The rainbow crosswalk created by the Knob Hill Urban Arts District
The group of artists that make up the Knob Hill Urban Arts District (the stretch of Platte Avenue between Union and Circle) may be street artists, but could hardly be considered misfits. As they’ve worked to beautify this area of central Colorado Springs that seldom gets attention for its art and culture, they have coordinated with the city and with local business owners to ensure that the art they create will not only function for the benefit of the artists, but the community as a whole.

Even so, as artist Paes164 puts it, “The city is growing so much, the city is super freaking busy. And for them to pay attention to us and what we're doing — we haven't gotten nothing back from them.”

So in this case, fellow artist Muji says they figured it might be easier, and faster, to ask for forgiveness rather than permission.

In an effort to celebrate Pride Month, the month of June, and the upcoming Colorado Springs PrideFest the first weekend of July, Paes and Muji, along with fellow artist Pikaso210, spent the night of June 24 dodging traffic à la Frogger at the intersection of Platte Avenue and Platte Place, hurriedly spray-painting the intersection’s crosswalk in the colors of the rainbow pride flag.

“You know, we're not the first to do this,” Paes says. “A lot of cities are doing the rainbow crosswalks. A lot of those crosswalks are getting put in art district areas, right? So you know, we're thinking about what can we do to show support for Pride Month.”

It fits into the district’s vision, to proclaim inclusivity and artistic engagement. They’re taking the motto of Colorado Springs hero Fannie Mae Duncan to heart: Everybody Welcome. Duncan, the once-purveyor of the long-defunct Cotton Club, is a local legend whose legacy was one of integration and tolerance. They’re honoring her with a mural just a few blocks away from the rainbow crosswalk. The portrait is being painted by artist Molly McClure, with other arts district members contributing text and design elements.

The owner of the building, according to Paes, is “an old white dude — partied at Fannie Mae’s spot back in the day.” He supports the mural fully.

Molly McClure paints Fannie Mae Duncan, visible to drivers along Platte Avenue. - ALISSA SMITH
  • Alissa Smith
  • Molly McClure paints Fannie Mae Duncan, visible to drivers along Platte Avenue.

Unfortunately for Knob Hill, the rainbow crosswalk was not received with as much enthusiasm by the city of Colorado Springs.

Merely an hour after I visited Paes and Muji at Creator Supreme, Paes’ studio, and less than 24 hours after the crosswalk was painted, Knob Hill sent the Indy an email saying the city was buffing out the paint.

Sure enough, by the time I arrived, half the crosswalk was gleaming white as alabaster, the other half proclaiming its Pride colors in stark contrast. On the north side of the street, members of the arts district looked on sadly while city workers sprayed away the paint, which apparently would have lasted a few months without intervention.

City workers remove the rainbow street art from the crosswalk at Platte Avenue and Platte Place. - ALISSA SMITH
  • Alissa Smith
  • City workers remove the rainbow street art from the crosswalk at Platte Avenue and Platte Place.
Muji says, “We did this for free, we brightened this place up for free, and the city is charging us [taxpayers] to make it white again.”

Among the abandoned buildings, empty businesses and half-full parking lots, all of which the arts district looks at as blank canvases and opportunities, Muji says the city could do with paying more attention to what happens in Knob Hill when they need potholes filled or other issues addressed. “We were hoping they’d leave it [the crosswalk] alone like they leave everything else here,” he says. In his eyes, if it weren’t for the media coverage, the city may never even have known about the crosswalk.

According to one of the workers on the scene, response times to cleanup calls can be anywhere from a few hours to a day. Around 1:50 p.m. when half the crosswalk had been cleaned up, he said he received this particular call at around noon.

He added that crosswalks need to be visible at night, and are painted with reflective beads to make them stand out. The rainbow paint, he said, would make those beads invisible in the dark.

As of right now, the artists don’t know what the next step is, whether they will attempt again to go through official channels to create an official rainbow crosswalk in the area, or if they will leave this as is.

But their message has still been sent, loud and clear: Everybody Welcome. Whether you can see it or not.

UPDATE: We reached out to the city for comment about policies and response times. The city's communications department replied that the city has guidance for pavement markings that must be adhered to: "Signage and Pavement Marking Guidelines. This guidance is a supplement to the national guidance provided by the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices."

The city's response to us also said that a resident had previously requested permission to paint the crosswalk in question, and the resident received the below "very clear" response from the city, included here in full:

Good morning,

Pavement markings in Colorado Springs follow the guidance set by the City’s Signage and Pavement Marking Guidelines. This guidance is a supplement to the national guidance provided by the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices. It is our standard practice to not
deviate from these guidelines in the striping of public roadways.

Specifically with regards to crosswalks, The City’s marking guidelines for crosswalks require 1 to 2 foot wide white crosswalk lines across the intersection. Since crosswalks are a potential point of conflict between pedestrians and road users, we require all crosswalks to be striped by
our guidelines to provide consistency for both pedestrians and road users. For pedestrians, the crosswalk provides guidance by defining and delineating paths on approaches to and within intersections. For the road uses, the crosswalk alerts users of a designated pedestrian crossing point across a roadway. It is for these reasons that we do not deviate from the City’s marking guidelines as we feel that a deviation from these guidelines has the potential to create a safety hazard for both pedestrians and road users.

Thank you for your request,

Public Works Administrative Support
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Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Fine Arts Center nominated for 26 Henry Awards, plus nominations for other Pikes Peak Region companies

Posted By on Wed, Jun 19, 2019 at 4:27 PM

The FAC's production of Anna in the Tropics was nominated in eight categories. - COURTESY COLORADO SPRINGS FINE ARTS CENTER AT COLORADO COLLEGE
  • Courtesy Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center at Colorado College
  • The FAC's production of Anna in the Tropics was nominated in eight categories.

On June 18, the Colorado Theatre Guild announced its nominations for the 14th annual Henry Awards, acknowledgements given to outstanding theater companies throughout the state. Three Pikes Peak Region companies have been nominated, with the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center at Colorado College appearing in 15 of the awards' 25 categories, including the big one: “Outstanding Season for a Theatre Company.” Their total number of nominations, 26, ties them with the Denver Center of Performing Arts for the company with the most nominations.

UCCS-connected TheatreWorks was nominated for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Play (Al-nisa Petty, A Raisin in the Sun) and the Cripple Creek-based Butte Theater was nominated for Outstanding Musical Direction (Annie Durham, Forever Plaid) and Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Musical (Rebecca Myers, Always...Patsy Cline).

From a Colorado Theatre Guild press release: “Established in 2006, the Henry Awards honor outstanding achievements during the past season and serves as the Colorado Theatre Guild's annual fundraising event. The awards are named for longtime local theatre producer Henry Lowenstein. Nominations are determined through a judging process conducted by more than 100 statewide peer professionals, academics/educators and other theatre lovers.”

See below for a full list of nominees, with Pikes Peak Region companies bolded and underlined:

Outstanding Season for a Theatre Company
Arvada Center for the Arts and Humanities Aurora Fox Arts Center
Colorado Shakespeare Festival
DCPA Theatre Company
Fine Arts Center Theatre Company at Colorado College
Thunder River Theatre Company
Vintage Theatre

Outstanding Production of a Play
"The Diary of Anne Frank", Arvada Center for the Arts and Humanities, Directed by Christy Montour- Larson
"Miss Holmes", Creede Repertory Theatre, Directed by Jessica Jackson
"Anna Karenina", DCPA Theatre Company, Directed by Chris Coleman
"Church & State", Fine Arts Center Theatre Company at Colorado College, Directed by Nathan Halvorson
"Anna in the Tropics", Fine Arts Center Theatre Company at Colorado College, Directed by Rebecca Martinez
"Paper Cut", Local Theater Company, Directed by Pesha Rudnick "Equus", Thunder River Theatre Company, Directed by Corey Simpson

Outstanding Production of a Musical
"ELF – The Musical", Arvada Center for the Arts and Humanities, Directed by Gavin Mayer, Musical Direction by Christopher Baggage
"Songs for a New World", Aurora Fox Arts Center, Directed by Helen R. Murray, Musical Direction by David Nehls
"Caroline, or Change", Aurora Fox Arts Center, Directed by Kenny Moten, Musical Direction by Trent Hines
"Oklahoma!", DCPA Theatre Company, Directed by Chris Coleman, Musical Direction by Darius Frowner
"Xanadu", DCPA Cabaret, Directed by Joel Ferrell, Musical Direction by David Nehls
"Hands on a Hardbody", Fine Arts Center Theatre Company at Colorado College, Directed by Nathan Halvorson, Musical Direction by Stephanie McGuffin
"Roald Dahl’s Matilda The Musical", Fine Arts Center Theatre Company at Colorado College, Directed by Mêlisa Annis, Musical Direction by Jay Hahn & Sharon Skidgel
"Disney’s NEWSIES: The Musical", Parker Arts & Inspire Theater Company, Directed by Liane Adamo, Musical Direction by Tanner Kelly
"A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder", Vintage Theatre, Directed by Bernie Cardell, Musical Direction by Lee Ann Scherlong

Outstanding Direction of a Play
Pam Clifton, “Lend Me a Tenor”, Breckenridge Backstage Theatre
Nathan Halvorson, “Church & State”, Fine Arts Center Theatre Company at Colorado College
Carolyn Howarth, “You Can’t Take It With You”, Colorado Shakespeare Festival
Rebecca Martinez, “Anna In The Tropics”, Fine Arts Center Theatre Company at Colorado College
Christy Montour-Larson, “The Diary of Anne Frank”, Arvada Center for the Arts and Humanities
Rose Riordan, “Sweat”, DCPA Theatre Company
Corey Simpson, “Equus”, Thunder River Theatre Company

Outstanding Direction of a Musical
Bernie Cardell, “A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder”, Vintage Theatre
Chris Coleman, “Oklahoma!”, DCPA Theatre Company
Joel Ferrell, “Xanadu”, DCPA Cabaret
Nathan Halvorson, “Hands on a Hardbody”, Fine Arts Center Theatre Company at Colorado College Mark Martino, “Ragtime”, Theatre Aspen
Kenny Moten, “Caroline, or Change”, Aurora Fox Arts Center
Kelly Van Oosbree, “A Little Night Music”, Cherry Creek Theatre

Outstanding Musical Direction
Eric Alsford, “Ragtime”, Theatre Aspen
Annie Durham, “Forever Plaid”, The Butte Theater
Darius Frowner, “Oklahoma!”, DCPA Theatre Company
Trent Hines, “Caroline, or Change”, Aurora Fox Arts Center
Tanner Kelly, “Disney’s NEWSIES: The Musical”, Parker Arts & Inspire Theater Company
David Nehls “Songs for a New World”, Aurora Fox Arts Center
Lee Ann Scherlong, “A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder”, Vintage Theatre

Outstanding Actor in a Play
Dustin Bronson, “Barefoot in the Park”, Creede Repertory Theatre
Brian Landis Folkins, “Church & State”, Fine Arts Center Theatre Company at Colorado College
Felipe Gorostiza, “Anna in the Tropics”, Fine Arts Center Theatre Company at Colorado College
Sam Gregory, “You Can’t Take It With You”, Colorado Shakespeare Festival
Geoffrey Kent, “Sin Street Social Club”, Arvada Center for the Arts and Humanities
Owen O’Farrell, “Of Mice and Men”, Thunder River Theatre Company
Isaac Stackonis, “Equus”, Thunder River Theatre Company

Outstanding Actress in a Play
Gretchen Egolf, “The Constant Wife”, DCPA Theatre Company
Sally Hybl, “Church & State”, Fine Arts Center Theatre Company at Colorado College
Wendy Ishii, “The Waverly Gallery”, Bas Bleu Theatre
Darrow Klein, “The Diary of Anne Frank”, Arvada Center for the Arts and Humanities
Kate MacCluggage, “Anna Karenina”, DCPA Theatre Company
Leslie O’Carroll, “You Can’t Take It With You”, Colorado Shakespeare Festival
Maria Peyramaure, “Anna in the Tropics”, Fine Arts Center Theatre Company at Colorado College
Elise Santora, “Anna in the Tropics”, Fine Arts Center Theatre Company at Colorado College

Outstanding Actor in a Musical
Leonard Barrett, Jr., “Songs for a New World”, Aurora Fox Arts Center
Brandon Bill, “A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder”, Vintage Theatre
Brandon Bill, “Murder for Two”, Stagedoor Theatre
Nathan Halvorson, “Roald Dahl’s Matilda The Musical”, Fine Arts Center Theatre Company at Colorado College
Wayne Kennedy, “A Christmas Story”, BDT Stage
Scott RC Levy, “Roald Dahl’s Matilda The Musical”, Fine Arts Center Theatre Company at Colorado College
Antoine L. Smith, “Oklahoma!”, DCPA Theatre Company

Outstanding Actress in a Musical
Iris Beaumier, “Ragtime”, Theatre Aspen
Mary Louise Lee, “Caroline, or Change”, Aurora Fox Arts Center
Kathleen Macari, “Thoroughly Modern Millie”, Thingamajig Theatre Company
Sheryl Renee, “Sister Act”, Town Hall Arts Center
Leiney Rigg, “Songs for a New World”, Aurora Fox Arts Center
Carmen Shedd, “Roald Dahl’s Matilda The Musical”, Fine Arts Center Theatre Company at Colorado College
Emily Van Fleet, “9 to 5: The Musical”, Creede Repertory Theatre

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Play
Casey Andree, “Pride and Prejudice”, Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company
Jordan Bellow, “Sweat”, DCPA Theatre Company
Bobby Bennet, “The Boys in the Band”, Vintage Theatre
Dustin Bronson, “Miss Holmes”, Creede Repertory Theatre
Kyle Cameron, “Anna Karenina”, DCPA Theatre Company
Kevin Hart, “Lend Me a Tenor”, Breckenridge Backstage Theatre
Rodney Lizcano, “Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley”, Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company Alex Perez, “Anna in the Tropics”, Fine Arts Center Theatre Company at Colorado College

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Play
Eva Balistrieri, “Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley”, Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company Christy Brandt, “Barefoot in the Park”, Creede Repertory Theatre
Brittany Dye, “Equus”, Thunder River Theatre Company
Tara Kelso, “The Wolves”, Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company
Chloe McLeod, “You Can’t Take It With You”, Colorado Shakespeare Festival
Deborah Persoff, “Lost in Yonkers”, Miners Alley Playhouse
Al-nisa Petty, “A Raisin in the Sun”, THEATREWORKS
Karen Slack, “Men on Boats”, The Catamounts

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Musical
Chase Conlin, “A Chorus Line”, Parker Arts & Inspire Theater Compay
Ian Coulter-Buford, “Trav’lin – The 1930s Harlem Musical”, Arvada Center for the Arts and Humanities
Brian Maurice Kinnard, “The Full Monty”, Rocky Mountain Repertory Theatre
Rennie Anthony Magee, “Oklahoma!”, DCPA Theatre Company
Chris Mauro, “The Full Monty”, Rocky Mountain Repertory Theatre
Jeremy Rill, “A Little Night Music”, Cherry Creek Theatre
Aaron Vega, “Xanadu”, DCPA Cabaret

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Musical
Bre Jackson, “Oklahoma!”, DCPA Theatre Company
Katie Jackson, “A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder”, Vintage Theatre
Anne Jenness, “A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder”, Vintage Theatre
Maggie Lamb, “Sister Act”, Town Hall Arts Center
Alicia King Meyers, “A Christmas Story”, BDT Stage
Rebecca Myers, “Always...Patsy Cline”, The Butte Theater
Megan Van De Hey, “A Little Night Music”, Cherry Creek Theatre

Outstanding Ensemble Performance
“The Diary of Anne Frank”, Arvada Center for the Arts and Humanities
“The Wolves”, Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company
“Pride and Prejudice”, Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company
“Oklahoma!”, DCPA Theatre Company
“Anna in the Tropics”, Fine Arts Center Theatre Company at Colorado College
“Church & State”, Fine Arts Center Theatre Company at Colorado College

“Equus”, Thunder River Theatre Company

Outstanding Choreography
Nathan Halvorson, “Hands on a Hardbody”, Fine Arts Center Theatre Company at Colorado College
Kitty Skillman Hilsabeck, “Mamma Mia”, Arvada Center for the Arts and Humanities
Kitty Skillman Hilsabeck, “ELF – The Musical”, Arvada Center for the Arts and Humanities
Tobi Johnson Compton, “Disney’s NEWSIES: The Musical”, Parker Arts & Inspire Theater Company Dominique Kelley, “Oklahoma!”, DCPA Theatre Company
Mark Martino, “Ragtime”, Theatre Aspen
Melissa Zaremba, “Roald Dahl’s Matilda The Musical”, Fine Arts Center Theatre Company at Colorado College

Outstanding New Play or Musical
“1 Night 6 Plays”, Written and Directed by Kristen Adele Calhoun, Kenya Fashaw, Gabriela Goldstein, Bobby Lefebre and Suzi Q Smith, Produced by 5280 Artist Co-op
“Sin Street Social Club”, by Jessica Austgen, Directed by Lynne Collins, Produced by Arvada Center for the Arts and Humanities
“What You Will”, by Jeffrey Neuman, Directed by Warren Sherrill, Produced by Benchmark Theatre
“Rausch”, Created and Directed by Amanda Berg Wilson and Patrick Mueller, Produced by The Catamounts
“Last Night and the Night Before”, by Donnetta Lavinia Grays, Directed by Valerie Curtis-Newton, Produced by DCPA Theatre Company
“The Whistleblower”, by Itamar Moses, Directed by Oliver Butler, Produced by DCPA Theatre Company
“Paper Cut”, by Andrew Rosendorf, Directed by Pesha Rudnick, Produced by Local Theater Company

Outstanding Costume Design Tier 1
Kevin Brainerd, “Ragtime”, Theatre Aspen
Sara Ryung Clement, “The Constant Wife”, DCPA Theatre Company
Jeff Cone, “Anna Karenina”, DCPA Theatre Company
Jeff Cone, “Oklahoma!”, DCPA Theatre Company
Meghan Anderson Doyle, “You Can’t Take It With You”, Colorado Shakespeare Festival
Courtney Flores, “Anna in the Tropics”, Fine Arts Center Theatre Company at Colorado College
Clare Henkel, “The Diary of Anne Frank”, Arvada Center for the Arts and Humanities

Outstanding Costume Design Tier 2
Erika Duan, “Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley”, Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company
Kelly Gregson, “A Little Night Music”, Cherry Creek Theatre
Julie LeBlanc, “Lend Me a Tenor”, Breckenridge Backstage Theatre
Madeline Miles & Colin Tugwell, “Equus”, Thunder River Theatre Company
Linda Morken, “Disney’s The Little Mermaid”, BDT Stage
Jesus Perez, “A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder”, Rocky Mountain Repertory Theatre Susan Rahmsdorff-Terry, “A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder”, Vintage Theatre

Outstanding Lighting Design Tier 1
Paul Black, “Ragtime”, Theatre Aspen
Diane Ferry Williams, “Anna Karenina”, DCPA Theatre Company
Diane Ferry Williams, “Oklahoma!”, DCPA Theatre Company
Katie Gruenhagen, “You Can’t Take It With You”, Colorado Shakespeare Festival Shannon McKinney, “Diary of Anne Frank”, Arvada Center for the Arts and Humanities
Jeanette Oi-Suk Yew, “Vietgone”, DCPA Theatre Company
Jon Olson, “Educating Rita”, Arvada Center for the Arts and Humanities

Outstanding Lighting Design Tier 2
Kristof Janezic, “Men on Boats”, The Catamounts
Sean Jeffries, “Equus”, Thunder River Theatre Company
Sean Mallery, “Songs for a New World”, Aurora Fox Arts Center
Brett Maughan, “Caroline, or Change”, Aurora Fox Arts Center
Brian Miller, “Frankenstein”, OpenStage Theatre & Company
Jacob Welch, “Disney’s NEWSIES: The Musical”, Parker Arts & Inspire Theatre Company
Jacob Welch, “Paper Cut”, Local Theater Company

Outstanding Scenic Design Tier 1
Caitlin Ayer, “You Can’t Take It With You”, Colorado Shakespeare Festival
Brian Mallgrave, “The Diary of Anne Frank”, Arvada Center for the Arts and Humanities
Matthew Schlief, “Miss Holmes”, Creede Repertory Theatre
Christopher L. Sheley, “Shakespeare in Love”, Fine Arts Center Theatre Company at Colorado College
Christopher L. Sheley, “Roald Dahl’s Matilda The Musical”, Fine Arts Center Theatre Company at Colorado College
Christopher L. Sheley, “Church & State”, Fine Arts Center Theatre Company at Colorado College

Matthew Smucker, “Last Night and the Night Before”, DCPA Theatre Company

Outstanding Scenic Design Tier 2
Brandon Case, “Caroline, or Change”, Aurora Fox Arts Center
Brandon Case, “Songs for a New World”, Aurora Fox Arts Center
Michael R. Duran, “Disney’s NEWSIES: The Musical”, Parker Arts & Inspire Theater Company Michael R. Duran, “Lend Me a Tenor”, Breckenridge Backstage Theatre
Michael Grittner, “The Boys in the Band”, Vintage Theatre
Brian Miller, “The Waverly Gallery”, Bas Bleu Theatre
R. Thomas Ward, “Yankee Tavern”, Thunder River Theatre Company

Outstanding Sound Design Tier 1
Philip G. Allen, “Oklahoma!”, DCPA Theatre Company
Jason Ducat, “The Diary of Anne Frank”, Arvada Center for the Arts and Humanities
Jason Ducat, “You Can’t Take It With You”, Colorado Shakespeare Festival
Robert Jackson, “Church & State”, Fine Arts Center Theatre Company at Colorado College
Becca Pearce, “Educating Rita”, Arvada Center for the Arts and Humanities
André Pluess, “Vietgone”, DCPA Theatre Company
David Thomas, “Ragtime”, Theatre Aspen

Outstanding Sound Design Tier 2
Peter Anthony, “Frankenstein”, OpenStage Theatre & Company
Curt Behm, “Caroline, or Change”, Aurora Fox Arts Center
Curt Behm, “Songs for a New World”, Aurora Fox Arts Center
Brian Freeland, “Men on Boats”, The Catamounts
Chris Gavin, “Lend Me a Tenor”, Breckenridge Backstage Theatre
Sean Jeffries, “Equus”, Thunder River Theatre Company
Allen Noftall, “Beehive: The 60’s Musical”, Lone Tree Arts Center

Editor's note: An earlier version of this story's headline said that the Fine Arts Center was nominated for 15 Henry Awards. The story and its headline has been updated to reflect and clarify its actual number of nominations, 26. We regret the error.
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TheatreWorks opens its next chapter with a season of unique storytelling

Posted By on Wed, Jun 19, 2019 at 2:18 PM

Measure for Measure opens at Rock Ledge Ranch on June 26 - ISAIAH DOWNING
  • Isaiah Downing
  • Measure for Measure opens at Rock Ledge Ranch on June 26

The stories we choose to tell, and how we choose to tell them, say a great deal about not only who we are as individuals, but also as a culture. In putting together UCCS-based TheatreWorks’ 2019-2020 season, artistic director Caitlin Lowans and artistic producer Lynne Hastings approached this theme a little differently.

“There are two different people whose lenses we are telling stories through, and they will not be identical to Murray,” says Hastings, referring Murray Ross, the late and beloved founder of TheatreWorks who passed away in 2017.

“We want to respect and carry on the legacy,” Lowans adds, “but we still have to have our own lens and our own voice, and stories that we tell. And we are two very different people from Murray.”

As they are very different from each other, as well. They are drawn to different kinds of storytelling that have made this upcoming season a grab-bag of diverse and unique styles of theater.

Coming from an acting background, Hastings looks for plays with strong character development — especially in regard to female characters. Lowans, who leans more on a directing background, tends to look for plays that have an element of surrealism and visual excitement. With their preferences and talents combined, the 2019-2020 season is looking damn good.

It begins with Measure for Measure (June 26-July 21), performed for TheatreWorks’ annual Shakespeare at the Ranch production. “[It is] so much more funny than anyone knows, than we even do a good job of telling people about. It's a very funny show. But it's a very funny show about very big, serious stuff,” Lowans says. This big, serious stuff? Power and leadership, gender and sexuality, and plentiful intersecting topics. But it kicks off the storytelling theme of the season in an interesting way.

“When two people go into a room, and one of them has all of the structural power, and they come back out of the room, whose story about what happened will be believed?” Lowans asks.

This theme of power in storytelling provides a through-line for the other works on the docket, peppered with both well-known and more obscure titles.

TheatreWorks’ August show, The Mountaintop (Aug. 22-Sept. 8), is a two-person play about Martin Luther King Jr.’s final hours in the Lorraine Motel, an overnight success after it was first produced in London in 2010. The TheatreWorks show will star Calvin M. Thompson, a TheatreWorks veteran who most recently appeared in the company’s 2018 production of A Raisin in the Sun; plus local powerhouse Marisa Hebert who knocked it out of the park in TheatreWorks’ American Prom.

  • Fixer Creative

Lowans and Hastings say it should prove to be a powerful piece. It was written and originally performed in the Obama era, and its lessons — its stories — take on new meaning under our current administration, facing our culture’s current struggles.

Perhaps the most recognizable title in the lineup is Arcadia (Oct. 10-27), a Tom Stoppard classic. Lowans, who was shocked to see that TheatreWorks had produced very few Stoppard plays over the decades, says: “[Arcadia] deals with this question of history and time. And how the things that happened in the past are never truly knowable in the present, but it has this hopefulness that ideas and will, as they say in the play, ‘be rediscovered and carried through.’”

She has a lot of love for this play, and adds that it has elements of what she and Hastings both look for in a successful piece: roles for incredible female characters, plus an element of magical realism that makes it intriguing to stage. “And sometimes,” Lowans adds, “when I feel kind of nervous about the world and the way it's going, a play that says the great lessons of the past can be rediscovered makes me feel better.”

Of course, though each of these plays contains elements of comedy and elements of drama, the play they have chosen to fill the slot of their usual holiday special promises to be a generally straightforward rollicking adventure. Around the World in 80 Days (Dec. 5-22), adapted from the Jules Verne novel by the Lookingglass Theatre Company out of Chicago, calls for a small cast to play a world’s worth of roles. “Very physical, very madcap, a lot of narration. … It's the idea that we can listen to a story, and that many people can tell it. So the cast of Around the World in 80 Days is not going to look like the cast that's on the page of the novel, and that's part of the point.”

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(Jan. 30-Feb. 16) is set up to shock and awe local theatergoers. Both Hastings and Lowans say that this modern satire, set in your average American office space, took them entirely by surprise when they first encountered it. At turns hilarious, heartfelt and shocking, Gloria follows a group of writers struck by an office tragedy, each trying to take ownership of the story in their own way. Hastings emphasizes that, from a character perspective, Gloria proves particularly interesting because none of the characters are necessarily “good people.” This isn’t a play with a moral center, but rather a group of very human, very flawed individuals dealing with tragedy differently — and maybe not always in the best ways.

March of 2020 will bring another two-man show to the TheatreWorks stage, though it takes a village behind the scenes. An Iliad (March 12-29) tells the story of Homer’s Iliad the way it would have been told in ages past. The only two characters: the poet and the muse. “They, plus the audience's imagination, are creating all the voices, deepening the story. In the many millennia since [Homer], we have gotten away from that as a mode of storytelling. And now this play brings it back.”

The written play doesn’t come with its own music, but accompaniment is key, so TheatreWorks has enlisted UCCS music faculty power couple Jane Chan, a cellist who will play the muse, and Anthony Tan, her husband and an accomplished composer, to compose music specifically for this production.

You might say that Lowans, who will be directing the final production of the season, is passionate about this play. She says this one, titled Passion Play (April 23-May 10), will tie together the themes of the season and give audiences a lot to think about. Passion Play meets three different communities at three different points in time: Elizabethan England, 1930s Germany and South Dakota during the Vietnam War. Each community is putting on a production of the Passion of Christ, and the same actors play the same roles in every version.

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Hastings says the tension of the play falls on this question: “What happens when you have to tell the same story year after year after year? Regardless of who you are as a person?”

Lowans adds: “It has a great moral questions and ethical questions about like, if you do break out of those societal expectations, if you do move away from that role you've been assigned, and have to make your own choices, how do you know you'll make the right one?”

As always, TheatreWorks plans to enrich their season with town hall talks and prologues — community discussions that help deepen understanding of the works or the cultural context in which the works were produced. Though they have not yet solidified the entire prologue schedule, two have been announced: Curating The Political Divide and a panel discussion about updating controversial works with playwright David Henry Hwang.

They also aim to make their shows more accessible by hopefully opening up dress rehearsals for folks who might not otherwise be able to attend, or reaching out to local organizations and nonprofits like REACH Pikes Peak. Perhaps most exciting: They will be touring Shakespeare’s Comedy of Errors throughout town this summer, performing in libraries and community centers for free.

So while Hastings and Lowans may be different from Murray Ross, and though the direction in which they take TheatreWorks’ upcoming season will be of their own choosing and making, they uphold the legacy of TheatreWorks: To present great theater, to educate the community, and to open doors for those who may not always have felt they had a place in an audience or onstage.

Michelle Winchell, UCCS Presents’ marketing and media relations manager, says: “Lynne [Hastings] has been a part of this community for such a long time, and then Caitlin [Lowans] has invested immense energy in getting to know people since she got here, and so it feels like we're, you know, we're asking people to come on this journey with us.”

A journey into the next chapter of TheatreWorks’ ever-evolving story.
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Monday, June 17, 2019

Beloved Manitou Springs painter Charles Rockey dies at 87

Posted By on Mon, Jun 17, 2019 at 3:41 PM

  • Cameron Moix
It is the end of an era for Manitou Springs, specifically the town's tight-knit arts community, which lost an icon on June 16 when artist Charles Rockey passed away at the age of 87.

A recent Gazette article called Rockey the “Godfather of the Manitou arts scene,” and that is not an exaggeration. He has been a pillar of the community since the ‘70s, filling his studio and — most importantly — the hearts of his audience with whimsical and fantastical paintings.

Perhaps Rockey’s greatest artistic achievement: Love Songs of Middle Time Echoed through Illuminations and Fables — by C.H. Rockey together with Friendfolk, a book he published in 2015 that took him 14 years to illustrate and write. It was filled with love stories written by himself, his daughter Hannah and friends, each illustrated in his characteristic hand.

At the time, he told John Hazlehurst for the Indy: “Love is the foundation for living.”

To hear his friends tell it, Rockey embodied that philosophy. Though his talent always drew fans and admirers from all corners of the country, Rockey was never boastful or ambitious. He was content working quietly in his studio on Cañon Avenue where passersby could watch him working through the window, surrounded by sculptures and tilted easels and all the trappings of a quiet artist's life. Though his work has been highly coveted for decades, money never motivated Rockey. Even his book, which sold at $385 a copy, was only priced so that Rockey could recoup his printing costs.
  • Eli Epstein

It is perhaps his humility and compassion as much as his talent that made him one of Manitou’s most
beloved artists, and he will be missed.

Before his passing, there was talk of naming a street in his honor, or hosting a concert to celebrate him. We cannot yet confirm that those ideas will now come to pass, but even the planning of them proves the admiration he has earned from his hometown.

Shortly after his passing, Don Goede of the Smokebrush Foundation for the Arts posted on Facebook: “I hope dear Rockey, you rest with creativity, love, and peace. Thank you for inspiring so much of us. We are better for knowing you. Your art and words will be a part of Manitou's legacy forever.”

Farley McDonough, owner of Manitou's Adam's Mountain Cafe, had this to say of her friend: "On behalf of Adam's, Rockey's artwork was the landscape upon which we built the atmosphere people associate with the Cafe. The antique tables and chairs, the love letter drawers, the stylized food and the our connection to the Manitou community in a sense all came from being surrounded by his stunning depictions of our beloved little town. It has been our honor to hang his art in the restaurant."

Others commented with their condolences and their memories. No doubt, as the news spreads, we’ll see an even greater outpouring of love for this man to whom love mattered more than anything.

"There are lots of things I can't remember now," Rockey said to Hazlehurst in 2015, pointing to the cover of his book, which depicted a couple walking through a door into the light, surrounded by cherubs. "When all my memory goes, I want to go — just like this, pure love, like an infant when he's first born, just love, up there with the angels."

We reached out to members of the Manitou arts community for comment, and will update this space if and when we hear back.
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Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Powered by committed volunteers, Pikes Peak Trolley Museum and Restoration Shop rolls on

Posted By on Wed, Jun 5, 2019 at 12:07 PM

Note: This article is part of a monthly column written by Jonathan Toman that explores cultural organizations in the Pikes Peak region and the personalities that power them. Jonathan serves as the Peak Radar Manager for the Cultural Office of the Pikes Peak Region. connects you to over 4,500 local events and 400 creative groups — all in one beautiful website for the Pikes Peak region. Jonathan can be reached at
“Did you know you’re in Roswell?” Marti Benson prompts.

“…no…” I say, suddenly concerned that I had taken a seriously wrong turn, or been abducted by aliens. The Director of Outreach for the Pikes Peak Trolley Museum and Restoration Shop assures me I’m still in the heart of Colorado Springs, but will need to do a little time travel.

The museum’s campus sits just off I-25 and Fillmore, located in what was once Roswell, Colorado. A rail town that even had its own racetrack, Roswell was annexed into Colorado Springs in 1909. The museum is housed in what once was a roundhouse, though its original footprint was adjusted over time by a flood and runaway train from Falcon.
  • Cultural Office of the Pikes Peak Region
Benson says she’s become captivated by the history of Roswell. She’s been a flight attendant and worked at a veterinary clinic, but tracing her family’s spotty history has led to a passion for preserving. That spirit and appreciation of history powers the present-day museum. The nonprofit Pikes Peak Historical Street Railway Foundation, started in 1982, operates the museum, which is run entirely by volunteers.

“Most of our volunteers get involved because they’re interested in something here – antiques, old photographs, the cars themselves,” says Ron Oatney, Manager of Streetcar Operations and Crew Training. Around 10 volunteers rotate on a regular basis, averaging between one and three days a week.

That group handles everything from guest tours to crafting a monthly publication. But there’s also an expanded network that helps with the other half of the house – working on restorations of trolleys and train cars. They’ll often build specific parts at their homes, then bring them in to install. Restoring the Birney streetcar, which celebrated its 100th birthday on May 25, took nine people nine years. Oatney estimates another car to be a 15-year project.

There’s railroad history, too, including a volunteer-restored caboose and a Rock Island car that houses an extensive donated historical collection of that railroad, which now crosses the city as the Rock Island trail.

“(The volunteers) are all extraordinary, they all have their own gift,” Benson concludes.
The operational PCC streetcar sits next to the entrance to the Rock Island rail car, a museum within a museum. - CULTURAL OFFICE OF THE PIKES PEAK REGION
  • Cultural Office of the Pikes Peak Region
  • The operational PCC streetcar sits next to the entrance to the Rock Island rail car, a museum within a museum.

Regis Larouere is no exception. He’s been volunteering for 19 years, and serves as a resident encyclopedia of knowledge. Streetcars have always held a fascination for him. Growing up in Pittsburgh, they were the only form of transportation his family had – they didn’t get a car until he was in high school.

A man imbued with transportation information is now dependent on others for his own - to get around, he relies on his wife and a network of helpers, including other volunteers at the museum. He fights macular degeneration, has hearing aids in both ears, and moves a little slower than his beloved streetcars. Still, he summons his powers to illustrate how he begins a tour. The back straightens, the hat is adjusted, and then: a clear, sharp “Welcome to Roswell!”

“(The other volunteers) go out of their way to take care of me,” he says. “They want me here. That sends a really powerful message.”
Volunteer Regis Larouere poses in front of the ticket stand that greets visitors when they enter the museum. - CULTURAL OFFICE OF THE PIKES PEAK REGION
  • Cultural Office of the Pikes Peak Region
  • Volunteer Regis Larouere poses in front of the ticket stand that greets visitors when they enter the museum.

There is some irony that the museum is located so close to a monument of the downfall of streetcars – if you listen closely, the unending multitude of cars on I-25 are clearly audible. At one point, an extensive streetcar network crisscrossed Colorado Springs, with a stop even as far north as Roswell. But streetcars haven’t run in the city since the early 1930’s.

Preserving that history is important, but the mission of the museum is to get them back into the present, on the streets. The restorations are not just cosmetic – the goal is to refurbish them to run again. A city-sponsored feasibility study was done in 2011. Renewed talk of a commuter rail along the front range, Larouere says, illustrates our region’s need for a transportation ecosystem - railroads, commuter rail, light rail, streetcars. Without the light rail in Denver, he says, two extra lanes would be needed on I-25.
A 2009 rendering by J. David Thorpe that imagines the intersection of Pikes Peak and Tejon in downtown Colorado Springs with a streetcar line. - CULTURAL OFFICE OF THE PIKES PEAK REGION
  • Cultural Office of the Pikes Peak Region
  • A 2009 rendering by J. David Thorpe that imagines the intersection of Pikes Peak and Tejon in downtown Colorado Springs with a streetcar line.

Larouere outlines the positives of streetcars: clean electric power, added tourism, and businesses located on the route. Also, the frustrations of cars – traffic, parking, dents – all vanish with streetcars. Plus, they’re fun, unique and just look darn cool. Along with the obvious infrastructure and funding issues, the greatest challenge, Larouere says, will be fighting car-centrism: we want to be in our own cars, and on our own schedule. To help offset the expenses of operating and maintaining streetcars, and keeping a low cost to ride, riders will be needed.
Where streetcars once roamed, city buses and cars now rule. Though streetcars operate on a set route, they run smoother and have more power than a bus. The operational PCC car at the museum has already reached top speed when a bus is in second gear. - CULTURAL OFFICE OF THE PIKES PEAK REGION
  • Cultural Office of the Pikes Peak Region
  • Where streetcars once roamed, city buses and cars now rule. Though streetcars operate on a set route, they run smoother and have more power than a bus. The operational PCC car at the museum has already reached top speed when a bus is in second gear.

The museum, like the cars the volunteers restore and their goal of returning streetcars to the rails, is a work in progress. They’d like to organize the trains, and add streetlamps to help recreate the heyday of the cars. The work, and the people who do it, continue on.

“If you don’t have people with passion, you don’t have anything,” Larouere says. “The more passion, the better the organization.” I’m reminded of my arrival earlier in the morning, when a call on Oatney’s phone was heralded by a distinct sound - a train whistle.

The Details
Pikes Peak Trolley Museum and Restoration Shop
2333 Steel Drive, Colorado Springs, CO 80907
(719) 475-9508

Open Wednesday - Saturday
9:30 am to last tour (3 p.m.)
Adults: $5
Children (12 and under): $3
Senior: $4
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Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Fine Arts Center lead actor literally breaks a leg, but the show must go on

Posted By on Tue, Jun 4, 2019 at 2:14 PM

  • Jeff Kearney for Fine Arts Center Theatre Company

A tightwire, a prop and set piece for the Fine Arts Center at Colorado College's current production of the musical Barnum, stretches across the center's stage, measuring 3 feet high and about 20 feet across, with mats below in case of any unfortunate falls. Toward the end of act one, it functions as a bridge for lead actor Gil Brady, who has been training with tightwire since he was cast in the role of P.T. Barnum months ago — some training in his home of New York City, and some with local clown and Millibo Art Theatre director Jim Jackson.

Brady had taken to it like a duck to water, but on May 23, the night of Barnum's final dress rehearsal, he faltered. Though he dismounted the tightwire twice without incident, the third time proved unlucky, and he fell.

“Quite frankly, I didn't know that he had done any damage,” says the FAC’s director of performing arts Scott RC Levy. “And I had said, you know, ‘Let's try that again tomorrow. Why don't you just go to the end of the tightwire and finish the song.’ And he did it, and we didn't know anything was wrong.”

Brady completed the rest of the dress rehearsal from a chair, but a trip to the emergency room later confirmed he had fractured his leg. Considering the role requires both a great deal of dancing and the aforementioned tightwire scene, this posed problems for the FAC’s theater company.

No one would have blamed Brady if he had called it quits, nor the theater company if they had postponed the opening of the show. But the team behind Barnum pulled together some creative solutions — and quickly.

“After a very sleepless night that night, and being in communication with the rest of my creative team,” Levy says, “I'd say probably at noon on Thursday [the day after the dress rehearsal], we had developed sort of a plan A-through-H scenario.”

They spent three hours that afternoon running through the play once more, with Nathan Halvorson, associate director of performing arts and show choreographer, performing the dance sequences; and ensemble member Mark Alpert taking to the tightwire.

And, hey, it actually worked out pretty well. They've been performing with that configuration since May 24. Meanwhile, Brady continues to sing and act in his role — in a period-appropriate wheelchair no less. If you're wondering where they got a period-appropriate wheelchair with less than 24-hours notice: The FAC just so happened to have such a prop in storage.

“Oh, yeah, well, the FDR wheelchair for Annie comes in handy for all sorts of things,” Levy says with a chuckle.

But does this new configuration affect the play at all? Levy says yes, but in unexpectedly positive ways.

“I think that it adds another layer to the story,” he says. “You know, in many ways in Barnum, it's Barnum telling the story of his life, almost like a memory piece. And so him now being on the outside of some of the scenes and sort of watching this other actor portraying him actually makes the show take on a different level. … Some people have even reported to me that, had they not known that what was going on, they would have thought this is how Barnum is supposed to be.”

Maybe these circumstances can’t be considered a “happy accident,” but a mix of ingenuity and dedication has cushioned the blow. The FAC, Brady and Barnum have pulled off the theatrical equivalent of a death-defying tightwire act.

Barnum runs Wednesdays through Sundays, through June 16. Details below.

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Friday, May 31, 2019

Ent Center for the Arts presents diverse lineup for 2019-2020 Artist Series

Posted By on Fri, May 31, 2019 at 8:00 AM

Guangdong Modern Dance Company - COURTESY UCCS PRESENTS
  • Courtesy UCCS Presents
  • Guangdong Modern Dance Company

When Aisha Ahmad-Post, director of UCCS’ Ent Center for the Arts, curated the first UCCS Presents Artist Series, the Ent Center was still under construction, and she was still relatively new to this city. She says she put the first season and a half together “in a bubble,” though she had a clear and worthy objective: to bring diverse and conversation-starting performance art and music to Colorado Springs.

Now, as the Ent Center rolls out its Artist Series for 2019-2020, its second full season, Ahmad-Post’s confidence in her vision is well-deserved, and she’s got some impressive acts on the lineup to prove it. “I'm really excited about the about the diversity of voices and artistic experiences and traditions that are going to be part of the series,” she says.

The series is divided into five categories: Classical, Jazz, Cabaret, Dance and a new category that Ahmad-Post calls the “Global Get Down.” These are acts that could conceivably be placed in another category, yet showcase something vibrant and beautiful about another culture and its traditions and identities.

As a curator, she says, she struggles with putting performances into genres with arguable, or even problematic, interpretations. “And this Global Get Down series was really sort of my way to start working through as a curator: How can I eventually start to sort of blow away these boundaries and genres and let the music just sort of speak for itself?”

In the Global lineup, you’ll find such diverse acts as Slavic Soul Party, a Balkan brass band; A Celtic Family Christmas, Celtic fiddling; and Gaby Moreno, a Guatemalan singer-songwriter. But the diversity extends far beyond just the Global series, too.

Some of Ahmad-Post’s favorite acts on the lineup come from the dance category, including Guangdong Modern Dance Company, which explores the tradition of Chinese calligraphy through movement.

“Guangdong Modern Dance obviously is from China. But they take modern dance and then apply it to a more traditional art. And then Ballet Hispánico takes modern dance … then includes more traditional dance traditions from around Latin America. So you're using the form of modern dance to explore two different cultural traditions. That seems really important to me.”

  • Courtesy UCCS Presents
  • Ballet Hispánico

The dance category also includes Rubberband Dance Group, an innovative troupe that has forged its own style through modern and breakdance traditions; and AXIS Dance Company, the first dance group to highlight individuals with physical disabilities.

When it comes to music, Ahmad-Post, a “survivor of music school” herself, was very intentional about bringing different interpretations of classical music to the Ent Center stage, and ensuring that these acts were accessible. “And so, PUBLIQuartet felt really important to bring because I think they're doing an interesting thing when it comes to innovation and improvisation within a traditional classical music sphere,” she says, adding that they possibly could have been included in the jazz category, as well. It's a kind of classical music that we rarely, if ever, see in the Springs.

So no matter the genre of preference for Ent Center audiences, this season will likely break down boundaries and open up the stage to new voices. Among these voices, cabaret rockstar Justin Vivian Bond; guitarists Bill Frisell and Julian Lage performing a rare duo concert; The Dirty Dozen Brass Band, Ian Neville and more presenting Take Me To the River: New Orleans Live; and plenty more.

Moreover, continuing a long-standing UCCS tradition of prologues and town halls to deepen understanding and engagement, the Artist Series will include community conversations and educational opportunities, many as-yet to be determined. “So we're going to have one [talk] on curating art in the political divide,” Ahmad-Post says. “I'd love to have a conversation at some point about audience expectations … And then, of course, conversations around the actual music, and work itself.”

Subscriptions are available for purchase now, including special packages. Keep an eye on the Ent Center’s social media pages for updates on talks and town halls, and see below for a full schedule of the 2019-2020 season:



















EMANUEL AX: MAY 10, 2020
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Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Poet Jodie Hollander hosts local workshops for National Poetry Month

Posted By on Wed, Apr 10, 2019 at 12:56 PM

  • Courtesy Jodie Hollander
Poet Jodie Hollander, author of The Humane Society and My Dark Horses, has made a mark everywhere she’s touched. From Australia, where she was included in multiple national poetry anthologies, to Italy, where she won a National Endowment for the Humanities grant, to South Africa, where she received a Fullbright Fellowship. Now living in Avon, Colorado, Hollander has made her mark on our state, too.

April, National Poetry Month, always proves to be Hollander's busiest month of the year. She spent the first week of the month in Flagstaff, Arizona, where she was the poet in residence at the Museum of Northern Arizona last year. Now, she’s coming to Colorado Springs to conduct four free workshops for local poets — and the poem-curious.

Hosted by Pikes Peak Library District at libraries across the city on April 12 and 13, Hollander’s workshops include a variety of topics: Poetry of Grief and Healing (East Library, April 12, 10 a.m.), Poetry of Place (Rockrimmon Library, April 12, 3 p.m.), and Poetry of Memory and Childhood (Penrose Library, April 13, 10 a.m. and Ute Pass Library, April 13, 1:30 p.m.)

“It's meaningful for me, not only as a teacher, but also as a poet, and really, as a person to see people able to sort of take things that maybe they've struggled with, or suffered from, and really transform them into something beautiful through poetry. And I think that poetry can serve so many different roles for people, all good,” Hollander says.
  • Courtesy Jodie Hollander

These workshops, though taught by an internationally recognized poet, aren’t just for seasoned writers. In fact, Hollander emphasizes that no experience is necessary for any of her classes. “Sometimes I think people get intimidated by the word ‘poetry,’” she says. “And they're, you know, they might be interested in prose writing or fiction writing, and they've never done poetry … But I would just really encourage everyone who might be even just a little bit interested to come and try it out and see what poetry has to offer, because I think it has something for everyone.”

Hollander’s workshop style proves accessible, as well. She’ll start with some examples to learn from, some discussion of technique, and then writing prompts to get people started on creating their own poems. Participants are welcome to share at the end, but there is no obligation to.

More than anything, Hollander just wants people to experience what poetry can do for them. “Sometimes people don't realize how badly that they might need poem until they actually have that private moment with one,” she says, “whether that be reading or writing a poem. And then they realize really how transformative that experience can be for them.”

Celebrate National Poetry Month with Hollander at any of her weekend workshops, details below:
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Friday, March 29, 2019

FAC's 2019-2020 theater season is studded with big titles and regional premieres

Posted By on Fri, Mar 29, 2019 at 10:00 AM

The second-to-last mainstage show of the FAC's 2018-2019 season, Hands on a Hardbody, opened March 28 and runs through April 14. - COURTESY COLORADO SPRINGS FINE ARTS CENTER
  • Courtesy Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center
  • The second-to-last mainstage show of the FAC's 2018-2019 season, Hands on a Hardbody, opened March 28 and runs through April 14.

On March 29, the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center at Colorado College announced its 2019-2020 theater season, stuffed with big titles, regional premieres, and some special productions we’re looking forward to. Producing artistic director Scott RC Levy says: “There’s a deep well of variety. There’s a lot of different styles of storytelling, something I think everyone will appreciate, and maybe audience members can surprise themselves, and get tickets to something they don’t even know about, and find out it’s their favorite show of the year.”

In putting together the season, Levy noticed that almost every show explored the idea of "home" in its own way — either how one defines home for themselves, or how one creates a home in a place where they’re initially uncomfortable. He mentions Maria finding life and love with the von Trapp family in The Sound of Music, and “Christopher, the autistic teenager in The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time going on this journey to discover what happened to his home, and what happened to his mother, who he thinks is dead."

The season actually starts with these two incredible works: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, which won the 2015 Tony Award for best play, will open on Sept. 26. Levy says rights to this show were only recently released, so the FAC is “just jumping on that as soon as possible.”

Meanwhile, The Sound of Music, one of the most beloved musicals of all time, celebrates its 60th anniversary this year, and Levy expresses excitement at staging a show that was written six decades ago while continuing to prove its relevance and give audiences a new and unique experience within it. It will function as the FAC’s holiday show, opening Dec. 12.

While it might seem impossible to follow The Sound of Music, the rest of the mainstage season lives up to its beginnings. Beloved musical The Bridges of Madison County (opening Feb. 13, 2020) is followed by Silent Sky (opening April 2, 2020), which tells the story of Henrietta Leavitt, a female scientist in the early 1900s whose passion for her work went unappreciated in her patriarchal field. The season will end with In The Heights (opening May 28, 2020), Lin Manuel Miranda’s first Tony Award-winning musical.

And, hell, that’s just the mainstage shows. The Family & Studio Series has its own surprises in store. Levy says he has been wanting to stage one of them, Lonely Planet, for years, since he saw the original production off-Broadway. This play by Steven Dietz is about 25 years old, written during the height of the AIDS crisis. It captures themes of the time that remain relevant today, and should prove incredibly affective with the FAC’s stellar team behind it.

The rest of the season includes special productions of Carrie the Musical and more, so peruse the full lineup below, from a FAC press release:

2019-2020 Mainstage Theatre Season
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time Sept. 26-Oct. 20, 2019
The Sound of Music Dec. 12, 2019-Jan. 12, 2020
The Bridges of Madison County Feb. 13-March 1, 2020
Silent Sky April 2-19, 2020
In the Heights May 28-June 21, 2020

2019-2020 Family & Studio Series Theatre Season
Busytown: The Musical Sept. 14-Oct. 13, 2019
Tiny Beautiful Things Nov. 8-Dec. 1, 2019
The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane March 6-April 5, 2020
Lonely Planet June 26-July 19, 2020

2019-2020 Special Added Attractions
Carrie the Musical: A Staged Concert Oct. 25-27, 2019
Men on Boats April 24-May 3, 2020
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Monday, March 18, 2019

Peak Arts Prize announces 2019 winners

Posted By on Mon, Mar 18, 2019 at 4:16 PM

Thom Phelps' ambitious art exhibit idea, A Farewell to Bees won the public's support in the category of "Individual Artists." - THOM PHELPS
  • Thom Phelps
  • Thom Phelps' ambitious art exhibit idea, A Farewell to Bees won the public's support in the category of "Individual Artists."

After receiving more than 1,800 votes in its public voting period, the Peak Arts Prize has selected its 2019 winners, getting ready to dole out grants equaling $15,000 to support new projects in local art.

Peak Arts Prize, run by the Cultural Office of the Pikes Peak Region, with funds from the Pikes Peak Community Foundation’s Fund for the Arts, announced the winners of its second-annual contest on March 18. The three categories combined (large arts organization, small arts organization and individual artist) drew 33 applicants this year, and on March 1 the Peak Arts Prize judges selected three finalists for each category before opening up public voting.

In a press release, COPPeR deputy director Angela Seals says: “The community has chosen inspiring winners this year, whose projects will engage people in new ways with local art. Peak Arts Prize is all about community connection. We invite the public to watch for when the Prize winners’ projects unfold this year near you and attend, participate, and support the winners!”

See the winners and a short description of their projects below, from the press release:


Bliss Studio & Gallery will present welding and iron pour workshops to introduce new local audiences to ironworking and spark conversations about empathy. Participants will collectively create a public art sculpture, led by Jodie Bliss and her team, culminating at the second annual Bliss Studio Iron Pour in Monument, CO.


The Unsteady Hand will grow its artistic programs for people living with Parkinson’s Disease and their caregivers. Creativity Labs and an annual art show develop participants’ creative expression, fine motor skills, and community connections. They hope to reach many more Coloradans living with the disease.


Thom Phelps will sculpt a large dead bee out of steel to be the centerpiece of a local art exhibition engaging the public in discussion about bee extinction. The artist will raise public awareness about pollinator protection by provoking a collective, emotional response about the loss of bees.
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Friday, March 1, 2019

Peak Arts Prize individual artist finalists want to spark conversation and share stories

Posted By on Fri, Mar 1, 2019 at 1:00 AM

The Peak Arts Prize, a grant contest run by the Cultural Office of the Pikes Peak Region and the Pikes Peak Community Foundation's Fund for the Arts, kicked off public voting for its second year on March 1, open through March 15.

Anyone in the community may take a look at the videos on Peak Arts Prize's page, and vote on the project they most want to fund in three categories: large arts organizations, small arts organizations, and individual artists.

We at the Indy chatted with each of the finalists in the individual artist category to learn more about their projects, what they wanted to do with the funds, and what value they feel their work will bring back to the community that invests in it.

See our print issue on Wednesday, March 6, for a chat with Angela Seals of COPPeR about changes made in the prize's second year.

Kailani Dobson: Atlas.Promisi

  • Courtesy Kailani Dobson
Local dancer Kailani Dobson proves unique among the finalists in this year’s Peak Arts Prize, as she has been here before. Last year, she and her project partners Robert Stokes and Bailey Wilde made it into the finals for their ambitious photography project. This year, however, Dobson’s proposal proves more personal.

“I lost my grandma last year in November,” Dobson says. “And she was a really big part of, like, why I do art and why I dance. And I was stuck with these weird kind of feelings of what to do with the promises that we had left with each other.” She asked herself whether or not she still had to follow through with the promises she had made, or if any of those promises changed now that her grandma had passed away. “I got interested in what other people would say if I asked them to share a promise with me.”

Since then, Dobson has been collecting written promises by leaving submission boxes at the coffee shop where she works, and asking friends to collect promises from people they know. These promises can be simple, Dobson says, the “tiny contracts we make in a day” like telling someone you’ll call them when you get home. But Dobson has collected promises that delve deeper, too. One promise reads simply, “Me time,” while another says, “I promise to live through you and for you, dad.”

“And after I started collecting them, I realized that it was this weird kind of untapped vulnerability in the community,” Dobson says, “and that people wanted to share these things, but they didn't have a platform.” She has collected more than 100 promises already.
Her project, Atlas.Promisi, aims to combine these hand-written notes into a physical art installation which will provide an environment for Dobson’s culminating performance. She plans to choreograph a dance to a custom soundscape, all inspired by the promises she has received. But that’s far from the last of it. In conjunction with the project, Dobson will host workshops to help people tap into whatever their promises happen to bring up — memories, sadness, joy, guilt — any emotion that needs an outlet. She hosted her first workshop already at Ormao Dance Studio, and encouraged people to explore their promises through journaling and movement. 
  • Kailani Dobson

Should Dobson receive the Individual Artists grant from Peak Arts Prize, she hopes to spruce up her submission boxes and place them in more locations throughout town, and to make the workshops more accessible to the wider community by traveling them to different locations. Then, later, she will use some grant money to copy and bind these promises in a book so everyone who anonymously submitted their promise may take home a piece of the project. “They can also see the vulnerability of the entire community … all the other things people are struggling with,” she says.

Thom Phelps: A Farewell to Bees

  • Courtesy Thom Phelps

Thom Phelps may have gotten his start in cartooning, and may consider himself a cartoonist at heart, but over the course of his career his artwork has taken plentiful turns. For decades he worked in graphic design, and more recently he has become a prolific sculptor.

His sculptural works can be spotted throughout town, such as the “Giving Tree,” crafted in steel and stone, situated outside Giving Tree Montessori School, or “High Plains Desert Flower,” a sculpture purchased by the city of Colorado Springs in 2017 to occupy a flower planter near Acacia Park on Tejon Street.

Phelps’ most ambitious sculpture project to-date, though, will take on a different kind of design, moving away from his usual abstract works to focus on a poignant image that he hopes will spark conversation. “We love bees,” Phelps says. “I love bees … and they're usually such a sweet image. But then when you see one dead, you know, it kind of hits us viscerally.”
After seeing a great many articles about the slow extinction of Earth’s pollinators, then conducting his own research into the depth and breadth of the problem and its controversies, Phelps was struck by this image of the dead bee as a representation of climate change and our planet’s future. “The conversation needs to be made, and I think it should be a conversation about the image ... And I personally feel very strongly about it, but I wanted to come at it from a sense of 'well, let's look at this objectively.'”

He hopes to recruit other artists for a gallery show, to be titled A Farewell to Bees. Whether contributing artists and visiting community members believe bee extinction is a genuine problem or a natural process whose impact is up for dispute, Phelps simply wants people to talk about what the bee means to us.
  • Thom Phelps
Should Phelps win the Peak Arts Prize this year, he plans to put most of the money into the centerpiece of “A Farewell to Bees,” a massive steel sculpture of a dead bee, legs curled as it lies on its back. With any extra funds, he hopes to compensate other artists contributing to the gallery show, and perhaps offer a cash prize for an opening night “people’s choice” award.

He believes drawing attention to this in Colorado Springs, especially, can be valuable, because this city hosts so many different viewpoints.

“You've got the, you know, the right and the left, right here on … the environment and climate and GMO and all these different topics; this is a great place to have that kind of conversation.” He hopes being confronted with such visceral imagery may encourage people to “be more aware of the images that you are taking in, that are being put in front of your eyes — and not necessarily ‘be wary,’ but be aware.”

Adam Williams: Humanitou 2.0

Xanthe Alexis, photographed for Humanitou - ADAM WILLIAMS
  • Adam Williams
  • Xanthe Alexis, photographed for Humanitou
Three years ago around Christmas, photographer Adam Williams moved from St. Louis with his family to Manitou Springs. Both he and his wife worked from home, and they struggled to find ways to engage meaningfully with their new community. However, with a background in journalism, and with an entire town of creative, fascinating individuals surrounding him, Williams hatched an idea for a project to not only connect him to the community, but to allow him to share that community’s stories with the world.

In 2017, Williams launched Humanitou, a website where he has since collected almost 60 interviews with Manitou Springs locals, especially the town’s artists. But these interviews don’t just scratch the surface of what these people do for a living or how they make their art. Williams doesn’t document small-talk or chit-chat. “I want to get at the heart of how they see life, maybe where they — well, definitely where they've learned that from. That comes from life experiences.” He mentions a 65-year-old man he interviewed recently who lost both of his parents suddenly when he was only 15. “You know, these are things that really have influenced him, of course, through the rest of his life,” Williams says. “And I think when we talk about those things, that can be about resiliency, struggle, can be about love and marriage, or any kind of relationship that people are in.”
Williams has interviewed some of the area’s biggest names, from nationally recognized artist Floyd D. Tunson to prolific illustrator Charles Rockey to drummer and dancer Dallo Fall. But Williams wants to spread the wings of this project, and he wants Peak Arts Prize’s help to do it.

Dallo Fall, photographed for Humanitou - ADAM WILLIAMS
  • Adam Williams
  • Dallo Fall, photographed for Humanitou

“The 'humanness' aspect of [Humanitou] is about inclusivity and diversity in every way that we can think of that,” Williams says. “So I want that in age, and I want in race, and I want it in religion and I want it and sex and gender matters, and just every way that a person, you know, holds their story.” His goal is to expand into Colorado Springs and the Pikes Peak region at large, and to open up both the audience and the participants in order to better share the region’s stories.

Of his project’s importance, Williams speaks with passion for the people he has met, and those he hopes to meet as Humanitou breaks out into its next phase: “Humanitou is about those connections of humanness especially, and creativity. And I think especially in the current ongoing climate of negativity, division, fear, anger — it's probably fair to even say, hatred — then to have this project be about bringing us together, to learn about each other, to hear from voices we're not necessarily always connecting with, whether that's socially or professionally, I think it's important that there be a project that focuses on the common ground of our humanity.”
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Thursday, February 14, 2019

Art on the Streets sculpture vandalized, Downtown Ventures searching for missing piece

Posted By on Thu, Feb 14, 2019 at 4:26 PM

  • Courtesy Downtown Ventures

Though Downtown’s Art on the Streets program has seen isolated incidents of vandalism and theft, generally the community has been respectful of the public art on loan to the city from the program's many contributing artists. Unfortunately, the Downtown Partnership announced on Feb. 13 that a piece of the 20th anniversary Art on the Streets exhibit has been stolen.

The sculpture, You, Light as a Cloud, was created by South Korean artist Byeong Doo Moon, and depicts a large cat sitting on a bench beside an unlikely friend, a small snipe. It is the snipe that has fallen victim to thievery, as it is reportedly no longer attached to the sculpture and has gone missing.

You, Light as a Cloud, which can be found at Boulder Crescent Park on Cascade Avenue, is valued at $70,000, but according to a Downtown Partnership press release, “because the bird was stolen, it is considered incomplete and no longer valid for sale. Downtown Ventures, the nonprofit organization that runs the Art on the Streets program, is seeking the public’s help to find the stolen bird.”

According to their Facebook page, the Downtown Partnership has already contacted scrap metal businesses and the Colorado Springs Police Department in their search for the snipe, but they hope to enlist the public’s help in finding the stolen bird.

From the press release:

“In the past, vandals of another public artwork were identified through a public call for information, so we’re hoping someone who knows about this incident will come forward,” said [Urban Engagement Manager Claire] Swinford.

“It is especially disheartening to see this sculpture vandalized. This artist worked with local donors to have another of his sculptures – a stunning wire deer titled I have been dreaming to be a tree – acquired and gifted to the city’s permanent collection of public art,” said Swinford. In fact, the artist so appreciated the beauty and friendliness of our community when he visited that he applied for a visa to move here with his family. Swinford continued, “It is a shame that such a talented person, who so admires our community and who so badly wants to be part of it, would have his generosity repaid in such a selfish, uncaring way.”

If anyone has any information as to the bird’s whereabouts or any information that could lead to a suspect, the Downtown Partnership asks that you call 719/886-0088.

  • Courtesy Downtown Ventures
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