Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Concrete Couch enters a new era with ‘Concrete Coyote’

Posted By on Tue, Nov 12, 2019 at 5:28 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. PeakRadar.com 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 jonathan@culturaloffice.org.
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Many landmarks can be used when giving directions — gas stations, restaurants, parks — but a giant hammer sculpture might just be unique in the history of finding your destination.

Steve Wood and Concrete Couch have a new home — more than five acres of land southeast of downtown Colorado Springs, at the intersection of Royer and Las Vegas streets in the Hillside neighborhood. But no worries if you get lost — you can always search the skies for the giant hammer, the bat signal for the next evolution of Concrete Couch.

Dubbed “Concrete Coyote,” the site will include a little of everything: a revived landscape with trails, gardens and a playground, office and storage buildings, and of course all kinds of room for programming — art, job training, urban gardening, restoration and more.

“There are 100 new doors, and we want to open all of them,” Concrete Couch founder and director Wood says of the new “house for the Couch.”

Visitors explore some of the new Concrete Coyote land at an ArtPOP event on October 15. - CULTURAL OFFICE OF THE PIKES PEAK REGION
  • Cultural Office of the Pikes Peak Region
  • Visitors explore some of the new Concrete Coyote land at an ArtPOP event on October 15.

Inspiration for Concrete Couch originally came to Wood from, of all places, a utility bill. It mentioned a program where community youth had been engaged to remove graffiti, building job skills along the way.

“I thought, those are mainly stop-gap solutions, those areas could get grafittied 20 times a month,” Wood says. “What if we could create a piece of public art in an intense class-type setting? You’d still get those job skills and we’d also make a statement that could potentially stop graffiti at that site.”

“It was really compelling for those kids to put their mark on the town.”

The goal was to get to know people and make something bigger than the sum of its parts, and do it at a high artistic level. The mural program saw quick success, and Concrete Couch, formed in 1990, became a 501(c)(3) in 2004. The mission: To work with kids and community groups to create public art, to build community, and to create environments and experiences that humanize our world.

“’Humanize our world’…that’s pretty broad,” Wood says. “But that allows us to create lots of types of experiences, to create beautiful experiences and beautiful and functional things for the community.”

Shooks Run cuts through the Concrete Coyote plot, and will play a critical role in the proposed natural park at the site. - CULTURAL OFFICE OF THE PIKES PEAK REGION
  • Cultural Office of the Pikes Peak Region
  • Shooks Run cuts through the Concrete Coyote plot, and will play a critical role in the proposed natural park at the site.


With Concrete Coyote, those experiences can now be pushed into overdrive.

“Whenever it’s not yours, you don’t have the same potential to transform it,” Wood says. “We can create experiences and projects that will be of value to different communities. The question becomes ‘How do we weave these ideas into the same tapestry?’ As a creative group, that’s a wonderful challenge to have.”

Wood and his team are entertaining a wide range of ideas. There are a few must-dos: improve the ecological environment of the site, including making the community park available through inclusive experiences for visitors with differing skills and abilities.

“One of the big challenges is prioritizing,” Wood says. “Anything we take on has to be value added to Hillside community.”

Working with the neighborhood’s youth is another key, along with bringing a diverse group of community members together. Beyond that, the sky is the limit. They’ve already fashioned a small soccer field on the property, and waste from the Pikes Peak summit house project is being diverted to be used for projects at Concrete Coyote.

Visitors check out the soccer field at the Concrete Coyote site. - CULTURAL OFFICE OF THE PIKES PEAK REGION
  • Cultural Office of the Pikes Peak Region
  • Visitors check out the soccer field at the Concrete Coyote site.

To Wood, Concrete Coyote is transformative for the organization — a new piece for the tapestry of the evolving Pikes Peak region.

“It’s not a replacement for something like the Garden of the Gods… but in its own unique and funky way, just as amazing.”

Find more about the Concrete Coyote project here.
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Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Property purchase advances Artspace development project downtown

Posted By on Wed, Oct 23, 2019 at 3:21 PM

Artspace developments provide opportunities for artists and their families to live and work in an affordable, collaborative community. - COURTESY ARTSPACE
  • Courtesy Artspace
  • Artspace developments provide opportunities for artists and their families to live and work in an affordable, collaborative community.

As Rocky Mountain PBS has now moved from its location at 315 E. Costilla St. to its new center of operations at Colorado College, many see potential in its former building, which has been a hub for arts and media under RMPBS (which continues to operate in partnership with with KRCC and the CC Journalism Institute). Now, it looks as though the site may be the key to establishing multi-use, affordable housing for artists near the downtown core.

The Downtown Partnership announced Oct. 23 that, with funds from the Colorado Springs Downtown Development Authority (CSDDA) and investments by the John and Margot Lane Foundation and the GE Johnson Foundation, the property has been purchased for $1.8 million. The goal: To turn the former Tim Gill Center into an Artspace development.

Artspace, an organization based in Minneapolis, Minnesota, has set up affordable artist housing and studio space across the nation, including developments in Loveland and Trinidad. In 2015, the Colorado Springs Creative Collective began looking into a possible collaboration with Artspace to provide affordable live/work space to creatives in the Pikes Peak region, many of whom struggle to find housing and studio space as the cost of living in Colorado Springs rises. Each Artspace development is different, catered to the needs of the community, and for a long time no one knew for sure what Colorado Springs’ Artspace may look like.

Partners on the project conducted a feasibility study in 2017, and conducted a survey of local creatives to gauge public interest. That same year, the board of directors of the CSDDA pledged to commit up to $750,000 to bring Artspace to Colorado Springs. At that point, the project entered its third of four phases, the pre-development phase, “which involves obtaining a site, designing the project, and finalizing the financial model to allow the project to obtain competitive Low Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC) and other sources common to affordable housing development,” the CSDDA said in a press release at the time. “This phase of the project is expected to take one-and-a-half to two years, after which, if successful, Artspace will move toward construction and opening.”
News on the Artspace project has been quiet since then, as the organizations involved in this project have worked toward acquiring those sources of funding and exploring site and architectural options. Though the statement asserts that the project will and must continue to seek investors, the CSDDA and Artspace secured investment from the two foundations to purchase the Costilla property while the rare opportunity presented itself.

The purchase represents “the most tangible step forward to make affordable housing for creatives a reality in our Downtown,” said Susan Edmondson, the Downtown Partnership’s president and CEO, in an Oct. 23 statement. “Through the incredible generosity and innovative approach of these two foundations, we’re well on our way.”

Editor's note: An earlier version of this blog mischaracterized the relocation of RMPBS. It has been updated to clarify and correct the error.
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Monday, September 23, 2019

Can’t-miss events to celebrate Arts Month

Posted By on Mon, Sep 23, 2019 at 4:59 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. PeakRadar.com 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 jonathan@culturaloffice.org. ———————————————————————————

Arts Month 2019 is here! Each October, the Pikes Peak region celebrates Arts Month as a way to elevate the visibility and importance of arts & culture in our community.   
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During Arts Month, you’re encouraged to have at least one new cultural experience with family or friends. Below, we highlight a few events in October that are fun, easy ways to get involved in #ArtsOctober.

Find more Arts Month details, including resources, event info, and more at PeakRadar.com/ArtsMonth!
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Artini
Friday, September 27 | 5:30-8:30 p.m.
The Mining Exchange and Gold Room | Downtown Colorado Springs
Free | 21+


Get ready for one of the best parties of the year — Artini, the official kickoff for Arts Month! Hosted annually by the Cultural Office of the Pikes Peak Region, the Artini is a free community celebration with live entertainment on multiple stages, lots of mixing and mingling, and the opportunity to sample signature martinis created by some of the area’s top mixologists. Art + Martini = Artini!
A guest samples one of the many artinis at the 2018 Artini. - MIKE PACH
  • Mike Pach
  • A guest samples one of the many artinis at the 2018 Artini.

Bliss Iron Pour
Saturday, September 28 | 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Bliss Studio and Gallery | Monument
$25


Over the past months, Bliss Studio & Gallery has presented welding and iron pour workshops to introduce new local audiences to ironworking, and spark conversations about empathy. Participants have, and will continue until the day of, to collectively create a public art sculpture, led by Jodie Bliss and her team, culminating at the second annual Bliss Studio Iron Pour.
The Iron Pour in action. - BLISS STUDIO AND GALLERY
  • Bliss Studio and Gallery
  • The Iron Pour in action.

Pikes Peak Litter Letter Project Dedication

Tuesday, October 1 | 4 p.m.
Just off Cimarron, south of America the Beautiful Park | Downtown Colorado Springs
Free


In celebration of Arts Month, the Pikes Peak Outdoor Recreation Alliance, Fountain Creek Watershed Flood Control and Greenway District, and Cultural Office of the Pikes Peak Region have joined forces to orchestrate the 2nd annual Pikes Peak Litter Letter Project—resulting in a unique piece of public art that is constructed with trash collected during Creek Week.
The 2018 Litter Letter Project spelled "Inspire" at the intersection of Highway 24 and 21st street. - MIKE PACH
  • Mike Pach
  • The 2018 Litter Letter Project spelled "Inspire" at the intersection of Highway 24 and 21st street.

First Friday Shuttle Bus

Friday, October 4 | 4:30 to 9 p.m.
Downtown Colorado Springs, Old Colorado City, and Manitou Springs
Free


The free First Friday Shuttle Bus allows riders to visit Art Walk events throughout the Pikes Peak region, including Downtown Colorado Springs, Old Colorado City and Manitou Springs. This is the final run of the shuttle bus in 2019 — it will return in April 2020.
First Friday Shuttle Bus artist host Peter Tuff entertains guests on the way to the next shuttle stop. - MIKE PACH
  • Mike Pach
  • First Friday Shuttle Bus artist host Peter Tuff entertains guests on the way to the next shuttle stop.

ArtPOP
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October 4-29
Various Times & Locations in the Pikes Peak region
Free


ArtPOP is a series of 20 artist-driven pop-up performances, exhibitions and creative experiences in various locations across the region in celebration of Arts Month during the month of October. ArtPOP is curated each year by the Pikes Peak Arts Council, and funded by the Cultural Office of the Pikes Peak Region and the Gazette Charities.

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Pikes Peak Zine Fest
Saturday, October 5 | 1-5 p.m.
Knights of Columbus Hall | Downtown Colorado Springs
Free


Pikes Peak Zine Fest is Colorado Springs’ new DIY publishing event! This is a free event for attendees. Anyone interested in zines, DIY publishing, art, poetry, illustration, photography and many other art forms are welcome at this event!

Business & Arts Lunch
Thursday, October 10 | 11:30 a.m.
Antlers Hotel | Downtown Colorado Springs

$60 per person; $600 corporate table includes eight seats plus two artist seats

The annual Business & Arts Lunch is always one of the most colorful professional events of the year. Presented by the Cultural Office of the Pikes Peak Region and the Colorado Springs Chamber of Commerce & EDC, the annual Business & Arts Lunch features eclectic live performances on multiple stages, local art for sale, delicious food and drink, and multiple awards for leadership at the intersections of business and creativity.
Krithika and Shreya Prashant perform at the 2018 Business & Arts Lunch. - MIKE PACH
  • Mike Pach
  • Krithika and Shreya Prashant perform at the 2018 Business & Arts Lunch.

Arcadia
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October 10-27 | Various Times
Ent Center for the Arts | UCCS Campus
$39.50


Only the brilliant Tom Stoppard could combine love, landscape, and the Second Law of Thermodynamics with such sparkling results. Moving between an uprooted garden in 1809 England and two scholars solving a mystery in the present day, Arcadia blurs the lines between past and present, order and chaos.


The Great American Trailer Park Musical
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October 11 - November 3 | Various Times
The Butte Theater | Cripple Creek
$21


There’s a new tenant at Armadillo Acres — and she’s wreaking havoc all over Florida’s most exclusive trailer park. When Pippi, an attractive dancer on the run, comes between the Dr. Phil–loving, agoraphobic Jeannie and her tollbooth collector husband — the storms begin to brew. A country rock musical!

Broadmoor Art Academy Birthday Celebration
broadmoor.jpeg
Saturday, October 12 | Starting at 10 a.m.
Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center at Colorado College
Free


Join us as we celebrate the Broadmoor Art Academy’s official birthday and the opening of the FAC Legacy Series Exhibition: The Broadmoor Art Academy and Its Legacy, 1919-1970, featuring hundreds of works from collections across the nation.

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Face Vocal Band
October 12 | 7:30 p.m.
Stargazers Theatre & Event Center | Colorado Springs
$20-$25


Face is an internationally acclaimed all-vocal rock band from Boulder, Colorado who have been captivating audiences for over a decade with their infectious energy punctuated by an endearing love of performance.

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Urban COS: Arts & Culture in #UrbanCOS
October 14 | 6 p.m.
UCCS Downtown | Downtown Colorado Springs
Free, Pre-Registration Requested

Join us for a panel discussion about benefits of local creative districts and creative ecosystems, the economic value of arts and culture, and the function of public art. This session will conclude with a short public art walking tour.


Poetry 719 Festival
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October 16-20 | Various Times
Various Locations
Cost depends on event


The Poetry719 Festival was started in 2018 as a way to recognize poetry and artists in the community. A multi-day event across Colorado Springs that showcases the amazing talent this city has to offer, it is a jam-packed week of various poetry-related events. Last year held 11 events across four days and had over 650 attendees. This year will have 17 events across five days!

World Singing Day Colorado Springs
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October 19 | 2 p.m.
Acacia Park | Downtown Colorado Springs
Free


World Singing Day brings people together in their communities all around the world through the simple act of singing together. World Singing Day is a global singalong, held annually on the third Saturday in October. The event celebrates our common humanity, using the power of singing to connect communities and promote well-being. Through its focus on positive human interactions, World Singing Day aims to combat isolation and transcend local and global conflicts. This is the second year Colorado Springs will host a public singalong. We invite people of all ages and backgrounds — from shower singers to celebrities — to sing with their friends, family and neighbors in Acacia Park.

Fannie Mae Duncan Sculpture Dedication
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October 26 | 10 a.m.
Pikes Peak Center for the Performing Arts | Downtown Colorado Springs
Free


Celebrate the dedication of a new public sculpture in honor of Colorado Springs legend, Fannie Mae Duncan. Fannie Mae was the owner and driving force behind the Cotton Club, an integrated jazz nightclub that thrived in downtown Colorado Springs during the 1950s and 1960s, until it was closed to make way for urban renewal. Fannie Mae and her Club were known for their inclusive and inviting motto “Everybody Welcome!”
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Monday, August 26, 2019

Bohnanza: The Predatory Thrill of Bean Farming

Posted By on Mon, Aug 26, 2019 at 12:40 PM

bohnanza_bean_fields.jpg
Playing Bohnanza for the first time was akin to what I imagine it would feel like you if saw a Cadillac CTS-V get taken off the line by a Datsun B210. Bohnanza is a goofy-looking card game with dated graphics and the theme—growing and trading ostensibly comic varieties of beans—does not tweak the adrenal glands.

But sweet mother of God, does this thing go: Underneath that hail-pitted, rusted hood is a supercharged V8 trading machine that will turn everybody you know into wheeling, dealing, wheedling, fast-thinking farmer/brokers.

Your job is to plant and harvest beans for a profit. You’ve got two fields to work with, and depending on the rarity of the beans you’ve planted, you can harvest them at any time for varying degrees of profit.

What makes it a riot? For one, you always have to start a turn by planting. And because you are NEVER allowed to change the order of cards in your hand, sometimes you have to tear out a field for little to no return to make room for mandatory plants. The only way to mitigate the economic time bomb sitting in your hand is to trade out undesirable beans in your hand for something you’ve got in the ground, or hope to plant soon.

Which brings us to the trading: After you’ve done your initial plant, you roll three cards off the top of the bean deck…and all hell breaks loose. At that point, any player who likes what they see can start trying to cut deals with you: promising to “help you out” by taking troublesome beans away for no compensation, offering straight-up swaps or even considerations for future trades (which sets the stage for backstabbing if you decide later on that you’re not going to reciprocate).

When other players have stuff on the trading block during their turn, you’ve got to always be on the lookout for ways to dump beans you don’t want while hopefully building your in-ground stock and setting up more profitable harvests, grooming your hand for fewer liabilities and more opportunities. I’ve seen some very creative and devious deals be proposed, and the whole thing can be frankly dizzying; but once you figure out some basic hand management strategy, the juice of pulling off trades and harvesting just in time to start a promising new crop is one of my favorite game-table experiences ever.

Your group (which can contain up to 8 players) will cycle through the deck of beans three times during the course of the game. Each trip through the deck brings fewer options, as beans that got harvested for cash in earlier turns become trophies to be scored at game’s end.

And then? And then you pour another round and play again, because one trip through this beanfield will never be enough.
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Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Pickin’ on the Divide brings bluegrass, community vibe to Monument

Posted By on Wed, Aug 14, 2019 at 8:57 AM

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. PeakRadar.com 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 jonathan@culturaloffice.org.
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Ellen Fenter describes herself as an entrepreneur, which isn’t a word you often hear associated with a pastor.

“For me, [entrepreneur] means I have good ideas, but I’m kinda lazy,” she laughs.

One of those good ideas came to Fenter more than 10 years ago, when she arrived in Monument to interview for her current role as pastor of The Church at Woodmoor. Included as part of the church’s 18 acres is an outdoor pavilion. Fenter recalls thinking the space would be perfect for music and outdoor events. A few years later, Pickin' on the Divide was born. The annual outdoor bluegrass festival returns to Limbach Park in downtown Monument on Aug. 17.

“I was bound and determined to do things at the church to build community,” she says. “And it wasn’t about the church, it was about getting to know the people around us.”

Attendees enjoy local vendor booths. - PICKIN' ON THE DIVIDE
  • Pickin' on the Divide
  • Attendees enjoy local vendor booths.

Music was the perfect way to begin. Fenter says art and music are ingrained in The Church at Woodmoor — an accomplished choir director, talented pianist, and skilled classical music crew are staples. Bluegrass added to the repertoire, fitting in with the look and feel of the area.

The festival soon outgrew the pavilion. Partners from the Tri-Lakes Lions Club and the Town of Monument joined in, and for the last couple years Limbach Park has hosted Pickin’ on the Divide. Between 400 and 500 people attended last year.

This year’s lineup features Out of Nowhere, the Flying W Wranglers, Tenderfoot Bluegrass, WireWood Station and Scott Slay and the Rail.

“It’s some of best bluegrass,” Fenter says. “My goodness, look at the talent that gets on that stage.”

In recent years, Fenter has been able to step back, enjoying the festival’s growth and “watching exceptionally good people run with it.” An all-volunteer committee runs the show, with representatives from all three partners. Michelle Brooks is the marketing coordinator for Pickin’ on the Divide this year.

The premise for the festival, and for Brooks in her promotions, remains the same: bringing community together. Local artisans, restaurants and businesses are featured. Attendees hang out with their family sprawled on lawn chairs, relaxing before the school year begins. The hallmark is a stress-free, wholesome atmosphere — both family-friendly and friendly to all ages.

“I think we’re all feeling the growth of Colorado,” Brooks says. “This brings us back to that small town, community feel. [The festival] hasn’t grown and been commercialized too much. It feels good to connect to your neighbors and enjoy the community.”

Festival-goers relax and enjoy the music and setting of Pickin' on the Divide. - PICKIN' ON THE DIVIDE
  • Pickin' on the Divide
  • Festival-goers relax and enjoy the music and setting of Pickin' on the Divide.

To Brooks, another key component to the festival is that it is family-friendly. Brooks has two young children, and wants to make sure art is part of their world.

“Integrating arts in the lives of young families is powerful,” she says. “It really inspires kids when they’re surrounded by arts and creativity. To give them that outlet is pretty special.”

Some proceeds from the event go into a reserve for next year — the rest is given to several charities and nonprofits, including Tri-Lakes Cares, Home Front Cares, One Nation Walking Together and Compassion International.

“People are looking for the right organizations and opportunities where their money is well taken care of,” Brooks says.

Grass It Up performs at Pickin' on the Divide. - PICKIN' ON THE DIVIDE
  • Pickin' on the Divide
  • Grass It Up performs at Pickin' on the Divide.

Fenter’s favorite part of the festival is the pie tent. From a small town in New Mexico, county fairs (and therefore cooking, and therefore pie) was a staple growing up.

“I think it represents community, you know, sitting with friends and having some pie,” she says. “Right now, the world is hard, we’re bombarded with so much pain. Moments when we can be safe, let our babies play, listen to good music, and eat pie help to give us a structure of sanity. I’m so glad we can offer that to the community.”

For Ellen the entrepreneur, other projects with the church have caught her eye in the past few years. The day-to-day running of the festival is no longer on her plate. But the reason Pickin' on the Divide began is never far away from her thoughts.

“It’s an opportunity to be together. I remember the old days of county fairs, church picnics — they were an opportunity for a granddaughter to talk to her grandma about something she didn’t want to talk to her mom about. Now, we live so far away from each other, I think that those points of contact are more important than ever.”

The Details
Pickin’ on the Divide: Bluegrass Outdoor Music Festival
Saturday, August 17, 11 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.
$15 in advance, $20 at the door, free for kids
Limbach Park
151 Front St., Monument, CO 80132

Lineup
11 a.m. - Out of Nowhere
12:15 p.m. - Flying W Wranglers
1:50 p.m. - Tenderfoot Bluegrass
3:25 p.m. - WireWood Station
5 p.m. - Scott Slay and the Rail
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Friday, July 26, 2019

Local artists isolate interpersonal interactions in three-part performance/installation

Posted By on Fri, Jul 26, 2019 at 2:47 PM

COURTESY JD SELL
  • Courtesy JD Sell

Local artist JD Sell wants us to become hyper-aware of how we interact with people, how we engage with others in public and private spaces, and how we react to physical social cues. But in this day and age, it’s difficult to find time to truly examine our face-to-face interactions.

“It often feels that so many different aspects of contemporary life are demanding our attention that distract us from the physical, tangible creatures we are existing in a 4-Dimensional state,” Sell tells the Indy via email. “These Installations are also asking for that attention; not to distract but to awaken the simple truth that we are physically here and others around us are also here.”

The installations to which Sell refers are part of a collaborative, multi-media pop-up exhibition and performance called 3 Movements, which will be held at three different gallery spaces over the course of three evenings. Each movement — which includes a set piece, a body suit, a custom soundscape and Sell himself acting as the primary performer — will focus on a different aspect of interpersonal interaction.

Aug. 2 in the courtyard of the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center at Colorado College, the first movement will address hand-holding. With a live soundscape provided by Kate Perdoni, and a suit designed by Alix Garcia, the installation will invite participants to interact with the space, then lay down beside Sell and hold his hand for up to three minutes.


“When approaching the first structure being shown at the Fine art center Courtyard,” Sell says, “my goal is to present the action of hand-holding in an isolated and specialized space where direct interaction (holding my hand), observing ones’ interaction and hearing a soundscape change live to those interactions can occur all on the same plane.”

The next evening at Kreuser Gallery, Sell will wear a suit designed by Su Kaiden Cho, and interact with a tube-like space that will have an opening only large enough for one person. The soundscape, provided by Mitchell Macura, will be “constructed live or recorded to fill the space with a presence of a crowded urban space.” This installation focuses on body contact.

Then, 3 Movements will conclude the evening of Aug. 4 at The Modbo, where a dome-like structure made of fabric panels will be erected. Sell will wear a suit designed by Aaron Graves, which covers all but his eyes. “This figure will be wondering around the space only using eye contact as the source of interaction with participants in the space,” Sell says. Alex Koshack will provide the soundscape.

These three installation-based performances, in conjunction with one another, should draw direct attention to how we exist physically alongside each other, all presented in spaces where people gather and connect — art galleries. Sell hopes the series will help bridge gaps and encourage engagement between people, whether they be strangers or close friends.

“When providing a space and experience that has one central focus of a fairly common mode of interaction we see or directly experience every day,” Sell says, “it brings about a hyper awareness to the entire scope of what it means to interact physically with another being in that way. … To me, observing two people holding hands and actually holding someone’s hand are two (halves) to the same coin when speaking about engaging others in the world.”

Each performance is free to attend, but donations are requested to support all contributing artists.

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Thursday, July 25, 2019

TheatreWorks brings free Shakespeare to region’s underserved

Posted By on Thu, Jul 25, 2019 at 4:06 PM

The Free-for-All troupe’s first performance at Remington Park. - COLTON PRATT
  • Colton Pratt
  • The Free-for-All troupe’s first performance at Remington Park.

For the first time in its history, TheatreWorks is bringing Free-for-All Shakespeare to the Pikes Peak region this summer. Now through Aug. 16, Free-for-All, a no-cost traveling troupe, will be performing at three different locations across Colorado Springs.

On July 10, the seven-person troupe traveled from Rockrimmon Boulevard to Fort Carson and eventually to Hillside Community Center to perform The Comedy of Errors three separate times throughout the day.

The 75-minute adaptation is family-friendly and fast-paced, with a small cast that portrays many characters thanks to costume changes, accents and the occasional hand puppet stand-in.

“To me, theaters are a civic institution,” says TheatreWorks artistic director Caitlin Lowans. “We exist to be in service to our community.”

Although the University of Colorado Colorado Springs (to which TheatreWorks is connected) has put on free Shakespearean plays in “the very, very ancient history of TheatreWorks,” according to Lowans, this summer’s traveling program is the first of its kind.

“We already have a natural geographic connection to the folks downtown,” Lowans says. “It was really important that we … connect [with] those who live in the vibrant community of Southeast.”

Although the performances are free to attend, the cast and crew are composed of local professional actors and designers.

Sean Sharif, Alex Wimmerle, Anna Faye Hunter, Rachel Fey, Ambrosia Fees-Armstrong, Julia Greene and Dante Finley make up the cast. Under Lowans’ artistic direction, the actors have each memorized several “tracks,” which include multiple characters. Each performance, the actors switch tracks, trading characters, costumes and stage voices in the process. The actors even smoothly transition from accent-free dialogue to heavy East Coast diction, depending on the character.

Maelia Kalua is the program’s costume designer. Considering the fast pace of the performances, the costumes have to be durable, easy to change and different enough for the audience to recognize when actors trade characters.

Props designer Marie Verdu had to consider the importance of mobility and utility of space throughout the Free-for-All program. Before performances, the cast sets its stage by laying a plain sheet flat on the ground. Then, it sets chairs around the perimeter, creating a theater in the round, reminiscent of Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre.

The entire set and all the costumes fit into seven small trunks — and even those act as props. During the Fort Carson production, Fey — in character as Dromio of Ephesus — held up a 2-foot-tall painted trunk and loudly announced, “this is a door,” during a brief set change. The whimsical scenery was met with laughter from the audience.

The program is funded by several local sponsors, including the Pikes Peak Library District and the Daniels Fund Ethics Initiative.

This is a first-time program that aims to reach out to traditionally-overlooked communities, and Lowans stresses her desire for people to “come as they are” to the performances.
“Sometimes theatre can feel to folks like there is a certain way they have to be,” she says. “But we’re really excited to meet everyone where they’re at … and celebrate them coming out to share something very special with us.”

See below or the TheatreWorks website for the schedule of performances:
• 10 a.m. Saturday, July 27, Imagination Celebration, Citadel Mall: 750 Citadel Drive E.
• 1:30 p.m. Saturday, July 27, Penrose Library: 20 N. Cascade Ave.
• 6 p.m. Saturday, July 27, Deerfield Hills Community Center: 4290 Deerfield Hills Road
• 2 p.m. and 6 p.m., Sunday, July 28, Memorial Park, Manitou Springs: 502 Manitou Ave.
• 4 p.m. Friday, Aug. 2 Bancroft Park at the Old Colorado City Library: 2408 W. Colorado Ave.
• 1:30 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 3 at the East Library: 5550 Union Blvd.
• 2 p.m. Friday, Aug. 16 at the Colorado Springs Senior Center: 1514 N. Hancock Ave.
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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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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 sunchildrenstudios.com, email him at brian@sunchildrenstudios.com 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
  • 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 ormaodance.org 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.

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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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Gloria
(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
  • 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
  • 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. PeakRadar.com 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 jonathan@culturaloffice.org.
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“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
  • 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
coloradospringstrolleys.com

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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