Wednesday, May 13, 2020

(More) good news: Stories of innovation in the local arts scene

Posted By on Wed, May 13, 2020 at 5:17 PM

The impact of COVID-19 has been felt across every facet of our lives, and the local arts scene is no different. Canceled events and performances, gallery and venue closures, and loss of income opportunities are just a few of the challenges facing the local creative sector. Find ways to help here.

That said, here are a few stories of local artists at work — envisioning new ways of doing business, seeking new connection points with audiences, finding ways to cope and stay positive through art, and generally keeping art alive in the time of COVID-19.

Drive-Thru First Friday, Cottonwood Center for the Arts
If Jon Khoury played football, he would be a two-way player — playing on both offense and defense. It’s an approach the executive director of Cottonwood Center for the Arts and his team have taken during the past few weeks, and there’s no better example than Drive-Thru First Friday.

The event on May 1, which Khoury estimates drew 700-800 people in their cars (plus another hundred on bicycles, due in part to a free ride partnership with PikeRide) served a dual purpose — the community supporting the arts, and the arts supporting the community.

In addition to visual artists from Cottonwood, the event showcased dancers from Ormao Dance Company and music from the Colorado Springs Chorale. All were paid, and, importantly, the artists and performers also felt the spirit of the evening.

“They were all thrilled to be out there,” Khoury says. “There were a lot of smiles and tears, which was cool.”
COURTESY COTTONWOOD CENTER FOR THE ARTS
  • Courtesy Cottonwood Center for the Arts
In addition to taking in creativity, guests could also pick some up for themselves. Tables had free art supplies, including drawing pads, crayons, paintbrushes and more, and almost 70 take-home art packets were purchased by guests. A portion of the proceeds went to the food bank at Westside CARES.

“No challenge will stop people from creating,” Khoury says.

Khoury says two big themes drove the event. First, expanding on virtual arts experiences with an in-person offering to help get people out of the house. And second, though the local creative sector is in great need of assistance, to show that the arts can be a pillar of support for the community and play a large role in maintaining the cultural health of the region.

“This is the time for creative people to step up,” Khoury says. “If we transpose the feeling of need into our community as opposed to your organizations, if we do that, I think we’ll come out ahead.”

Local galleries are beginning to have in-person offerings, in addition to existing virtual experiences. Keep an eye on PeakRadar.com/VirtualFirstFriday as we approach the First Friday in June to see how you can support your favorite local galleries, either in-person or virtually.

A Hand 2 Hold Project, Sophie L. Thunberg

One result of social distancing is a lack of physical touch. Hugs, high-fives, and even hand-holding are now actions we have to think twice about.

For local multimedia artist Sophie L. Thunberg, that sparked an expansion of her A Hand 2 Hold Project. Growing out of memories of holding hands with her French grandmother walking through a market, the project seeks to give people a new way to connect, to virtually extend a hand to others and share wisdom, stories and more.

Adjusting original plans for an in-person performance piece, Thunberg morphed A Hand 2 Hold into an online project that anyone can contribute to, inviting participants to send in a hand portrait or “hand selfie” in any medium, along with a piece of wisdom they’d like to share. Prompts include:
  • Whose hand would you like to be holding right now the most?
  • What pieces of wisdom, care, comfort, and perspective would your elders be telling you and the world right now?
  • What “things” have you held in your hand over the years?
  • When was the last time you felt truly held?
“It’s an important and exciting shift, I love to  have different voices and stories, and it’s been inspiring to read and curate them,” Thunberg said. “It’s become less about me and my walks and more about reaching out to each other.”
COURTESY SOPHIE L THUNBERG
  • Courtesy Sophie L Thunberg
One additional prompt is to recall the things that have held you. The elderly in particular are isolated, and least likely to have their hands held right now.

“It’s an opportunity to honor those who have supported us and their teachings,” Thunberg says. “We can have some self-reflecting moments of gratitude and appreciation for the knowledge and wisdom that has been passed down to you over the years. You can reflect on what you’ve already been given and create something out of it.”

Additionally, she hopes the project creates connection between the stories of others and our own lives, offering support and comfort.

“We’re not alone in feeling alone sometimes,” Thunberg says. “Many of our stories come from others and the things we value. They remind us of other things that spark joy and bring solace.”

Down the road, Thunberg also hopes to showcase the content in new ways — visually as a “wall of hands,” as a performance piece at the Millibo Art Theatre, or even as video or audio recordings. One goal, regardless of the medium, is to help make the world feel a little less lonely.

Learn more about the project and how to submit your story.
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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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Monday, April 20, 2020

Good news: Stories of innovation in the local arts scene

Posted By on Mon, Apr 20, 2020 at 2:13 PM

The impact of COVID-19 has been felt across every facet of our lives, and the local arts scene is no different. Canceled events and performances, gallery and venue closures, and loss of income opportunities are just a few of the challenges facing the local creative sector. Find ways to help here.

That said, here are a few stories of local artists at work - envisioning new ways of doing business, seeking new connection points with audiences, finding ways to cope and stay positive through art, and generally keeping art alive in the time of COVID-19.

Mark Wong, Wong Wares
Wong's medium is clay, which makes social distancing a tough thing to ask of him.

"My lessons involve literally grabbing people's hands and pushing them into clay," he says. "I wanted to make sure there was a way people could stay engaged with clay without my presence." 

WONG WARES LLC FACEBOOK PAGE
  • Wong Wares LLC Facebook Page
So, Wong took his show on the road. For $100, he will deliver a work board and 25 pounds of clay for you to work with. Craft what you want, then he picks it up, fires it, and returns it to you.

"There's this idea of artists in the ivory tower. But when you get into it, it's about collaboration, working with galleries and customers to see what they want," Wong says. "Human interaction is a lot saner. The ivory tower lends itself to hermits stuck in a forest, and I don't want to be that hermit."

Originally part of the Military Arts Connection program, Wong has now expanded his drive-by pottery to the community at large. He's also created a series of instructional videos and lessons like this one for aspiring sculptors to check out.

The new approach allows Wong to still get out and about, as well as keeping an income stream going.

"It's a win-win," he says. "I get to keep going, and other people get too keep going, too."

Want to get your hands dirty? Check out the Wong Wares LLC Facebook page for more details.

Jon Sargent, Lonely Hope at the Manitou Art Center
In A Charlie Brown Valentine, Charlie Brown asks Lucy if she can cure loneliness. "For a nickel, I can cure anything!" Lucy responds.

Sargent retells that story, then asks "Is it something that can be cured? Or is it something that needs to be understood and talked about?"

A few years ago, Sargent solicited responses from all over the country, asking respondents to share their experiences with loneliness and the positive ways they dealt with it. This turned into a yearlong blog, with one response highlighted every week.

"When I had an opportunity for a solo show at the MAC, I wanted to do something different," Sargent says. "So I went through the writings again, selected a few, and did a painting for each that is reflective of what they'd written.

"Obviously it takes on a whole new meaning now with what's going on."

He ended up with 18 painting-writing pairings for the show that opened March 6. These pairings of Lonely Hope showcase the stories in a new way, and have allowed opportunities for further conversations about loss, grief, compassion, and what loneliness means for different people, Sargent says. Importantly, the writings also give solutions to loneliness.

"There are so many situations in [Lonely Hope], there's probably going to be something that you're going to connect with," Sargent says. "Loneliness is a universal human experience. It only becomes a problem if you get stuck." 
Sargent's art for "healing harmony," one of the pieces in his "Lonely Hope" show at the Manitou Art Center. - JON SARGENT
  • Jon Sargent
  • Sargent's art for "healing harmony," one of the pieces in his "Lonely Hope" show at the Manitou Art Center.


Sargent hopes the show illustrates the amazing things humans can do in the face of adversity, enabling viewers to see some of their own experiences reflected in the writing and art.

"Some of the writing is difficult to read, it's gut-wrenching," he says. "But they have that hope aspect as well: 'This is what I'm doing about it.'"

Sargent says finding ways to reach out to those around you — family, friends, neighbors — can be one of the best ways to connect, asking yourself what you can do for someone else.

"It's empowering, even if you're struggling yourself. It helps you realize that while you may not be able to control what's happening, you're in total control of your response to it."

Explore all 18 pieces of Lonely Hope here.
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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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Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Fine Arts Center and Colorado College to fund collaborative projects

Posted By on Tue, Apr 14, 2020 at 3:00 PM

PHILLIP SPEARS, COURTESY OF THE FINE ARTS CENTER, FILE PHOTO
  • Phillip Spears, Courtesy of the Fine Arts Center, File Photo
As we find ourselves still confined under a stay-at-home order to limit the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, many have used their isolation to explore creative projects. At G44 Gallery, for instance, a new online exhibit called COVID Creations shares the work of artists under quarantine.

Now, the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center at Colorado College, in conjunction with CC’s Performing Arts Department, has announced an extra incentive for folks creating artwork from home. More than that: They are encouraging collaborative creativity in this era of social distancing.

The new program, 3x3 Projects, will fund “creative collaborations from isolation,” according to a press release, meaning at least three artists specializing in different disciplines or mediums should work together (albeit at least 6 feet apart) on a joint project. A panel composed of FAC and CC staff, plus members of the arts community, will choose seven projects from a pool of applicants, and each of those projects will receive $3,000 toward their completion. Funding will come from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Grant for Southwest Arts and Culture, Performing Arts at CC and CC’s Cultural Attractions Fund.

“Projects will initially premiere on the FAC website,” the release says, “but artists are encouraged to consider how the project can be actualized outside of the digital realm at some point in the future.”

The press release lists these additional requirements:

Projects should:
  • Involve three or more individuals, each working in different creative arenas
  • Draw inspiration from or tell a story relevant to the Rocky Mountain West or Southwest regions
  • Culminate in a digital/virtual experience lasting between 5–10 minutes
  • Be completed and ready for premiere in summer 2020

Projects do not need to be about or provide commentary on the COVID-19 crisis.

The application window opens April 15 and closes May 1. Artists should apply through the FAC website, where they can also find more detailed entry information.
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Thursday, March 26, 2020

Peak Radar opens virtual portal to local arts scene

Posted By on Thu, Mar 26, 2020 at 10:59 AM

Among the many virtual goodies offered: 45 Degree Gallery  in Old Colorado City has uploaded video interviews of some of its contributing artists. - 45 DEGREE GALLERY
  • 45 Degree Gallery
  • Among the many virtual goodies offered: 45 Degree Gallery in Old Colorado City has uploaded video interviews of some of its contributing artists.

On March 26, Peak Radar, a program of the Cultural Office of the Pikes Peak Region, rolled out a new section of its website that offers virtual content from local artists and organizations. Peak Radar has been an online calendar and marketing asset for the arts scene for years, and is now pivoting its focus to accommodate the scene's new needs in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Many venues have been closed, events cancelled, and the stay-at-home order enacted by  Gov. Jared Polis on March 25 has made it difficult for artists and creatives to share their work with a broad audience.

"We can always look to our artists for innovation and adaptation," said Andy Vick, executive director of the cultural office, in a news release. "Across the United States, artists are adapting by exploring digital opportunities to perform, teach, and inspire. Here in the Pikes Peak region, we began seeing new live streaming cultural experiences in the very first days after the social distancing process began. ... The internet has suddenly become the new stage."

Go to peakradar.com/virtual to see a full offering of art exhibits, artist interviews, stage plays, classes, kids' activities, live-streamed concerts and more.
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Thursday, March 5, 2020

Peak Arts Prize public voting open through March 11

Posted By on Thu, Mar 5, 2020 at 3:31 PM

Jenny Maloney and Taylor Geiman's short film series is one of nine arts projects vying for the Peak Arts Prize People's Choice award. - JENNY MALONEY
  • Jenny Maloney
  • Jenny Maloney and Taylor Geiman's short film series is one of nine arts projects vying for the Peak Arts Prize People's Choice award.

The Cultural Office of the Pikes Peak Region (COPPeR) and Pikes Peak Community Foundation (PPCF) are once again holding their annual Peak Arts Prize grant competition; this time with a slightly revamped format.

“Arts funding is fairly scarce in our community,” says COPPeR's deputy director Angela Seals, program coordinator of the Peak Arts Prize, “but everyone wants to live in a vibrant and exciting place with things to do. Programs like Peak Arts Prize help to seed more creative vitality here, and that's critical as our community grows.”

So starting in 2018, the two organizations teamed up in order to make financial support more accessible to artists. Through the Peak Arts Prize grant, artists from across the Pikes Peak region are able to compete for prize money that can help support their artistic projects. Peak Arts Prize offers four different prizes in four different categories:

• Large organizations receive a $10,000 grant
• Small organizations receive a $7,5000 grant
• Individual artists receive a $4,000 grant
• The People's Choice receives a $1,000 grant

Though Peak Arts Prize was originally established on the idea of the public vote, 2020 is the first year that a committee has chosen the winners in the first three categories. The program introduced a People’s Choice category so the public may still direct the flow of a portion of the prize’s grant dollars. At peakartsprize.org/vote, members of the public can view the applicants’ submission videos and vote on their favorites until March 11 at noon.

MYTHICO, a circus-inspired retelling of classic mythology, is also up for the big prize. - EMILY WEGERT
  • Emily Wegert
  • MYTHICO, a circus-inspired retelling of classic mythology, is also up for the big prize.

The People’s Choice category is set up so that individuals in the region can vote for a project that they are especially interested in. The winner of this prize will receive $1,000, or — if the committee has awarded them with a grant already — add an additional grand to what they have won. Needless to say, with such a wide array of fascinating new projects worth funding, it will be difficult to decide upon which one to vote for. Such as the stage show MYTHICO, by producer Emily Wegert. This show, which sold out of all its performances for its first run last year at the Millibo Art Theatre, is a combination of various live performance styles (dance, martial arts, acrobatics, drama and aerobatics among them) used to visually retell a series of different Greek myths in a circus-esque aesthetic.

And then there is also the “365 Little Stories”, a short film project put together by local writer Jenny Maloney in collaboration with local filmmaker Taylor Geiman. For this project, 20 short films will be produced based on short, 100-word stories that Maloney has written as a personal challenge that she undertook starting in the year 2016. The stories primarily revolve around her experiences as a woman, and what she has observed throughout the #MeToo era; but also delve into topics such as gun control and other social issues.
Previous winners of these prizes include “Creativity Labs” by the small arts organization The Unsteady Hand. The program was set up for people with Parkinson's Disease, so that they could have better access to creative and artistic outlets. Another previous winner was “A Farewell to Bees”, an art exhibit held at Art 111 and organized by artist Thom Phelps to raise public awareness of the looming threat of bee extinction. One of the most notable pieces shown at the exhibit was a large sculpture of a dead bee by Phelps himself.

So where did all this money for the arts come from? It’s quite a remarkable story. The Fund for the Arts was founded by PPCF in 2005 after local philanthropists Carl and Edith Ellyas left their estate to the Foundation in order to better fund the arts.

Edith Ellyas was born in 1923, and barely saved her own life and the life of her young daughter by escaping from Germany after the death of her husband during the second World War. They fled to Poland where, tragically, Edith’s daughter passed away after she was taken to a hospital that burned down that same night. After having lost both her husband and daughter to the miseries of war, Edith made her way to the United States, eventually settling here in Colorado Springs. Edith and her second husband, Carl, were both passionate about the arts.

“This year our top nine projects are all really dynamic and exciting opportunities for these artists to scale their work to a larger presence in our region,” said Seals “Across the top nine, you'll see that all of the projects build something new or something great into something bigger to amplify local art.”

While voting on the Peak Arts Prize website, folks can also donate independently to projects that inspire them
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Wednesday, March 4, 2020

David Siegel on learning, listening and supporting local arts

Posted By on Wed, Mar 4, 2020 at 1:00 AM

COS Creatives: David Siegel, March 11, 4:30-6 p.m. • SCP Hotel, 2850 S. Circle Drive, Tickets: $25, includes appetizers and drinks, csindy.com/events - JESSICA KUHN
  • Jessica Kuhn
  • COS Creatives: David Siegel, March 11, 4:30-6 p.m. • SCP Hotel, 2850 S. Circle Drive, Tickets: $25, includes appetizers and drinks, csindy.com/events

One beautiful thing that unites so many creatives here in the Pikes Peak region: If it seems there aren’t enough local opportunities in the arts, folks don’t just give up and leave. They stick around, and they work to turn this into the vibrant, creative community they want to see. Such was the path taken by David Siegel, who was only 23 when he became executive director of the Bee Vradenburg Foundation in 2013.

In this position, he has helped the foundation distribute funds to arts organizations, while working to connect the community with creative pursuits and creative solutions to problems.
In addition to that and the various boards and committees to which he lends his talents, Siegel also serves as the music adviser for the annual Green Box Arts Festival in Green Mountain Falls, just up the pass from his hometown of Manitou Springs.

Of course, those outside the business of art world may recognize him also as a six-year member of Grass It Up, a local bluegrass band where he rips a mean fiddle alongside bandmates David Jeffrey, Shannon Carr, Jon Bross and Jim Marsh.

Siegel will be joining us onstage March 11 at COS Creatives, a new event series that brings the arts community together to talk about creativity, connection and our vision for the region’s arts. In advance of the event, we caught up with Siegel to give our readers a taste of what to expect.

Indy: I’d like to start at the beginning. What drew you to music?
David Siegel:
What drew me to music I think is the same thing that draws many people to music; I went to a concert. I think it was a Colorado Springs Symphony concert, and I couldn’t have cared less about the music. I was fascinated by the way — so when you hold a violin in rest position, you clamp it under your arm, sort of like a chicken wing. I think I must have been like 3½ or 4. And I thought that was the coolest thing ever, and I wanted a violin to clamp under my arm like a chicken wing. I couldn’t care less about playing. So I don’t know, I think there was something in the back of my mind going on. I really was interested in music. But that was the thing that pushed me over the edge and made me say, ‘I want to play violin.’

So it was violin from the very start?
It was violin from the start. And I was a Suzuki student [a method of learning that builds musical skills alongside the development of language]. So I played classical, Suzuki violin till I was, I think, probably 10 or 12. And I showed up at the Colorado Springs Conservatory thinking I was going to sign up for a string quartet class. The string quartet wasn’t meeting that day, but the jazz band was. And so they said, ‘Oh, maybe David can play in the jazz band.’ I loved it immediately.
I’m not a great reader. And so that also extends to reading music. I mean, I can. I read music all the time just fine. But as a 10 or 12 year old, I would play the wrong note or mismatch notes and I couldn’t really care less about what this classical piece of music was actually supposed to sound like. If it sounded OK to me, I was cool with that... and the ability to use the instrument to say things that I had in my mind but couldn’t necessarily say through classical music was so liberating. …

So it’s not fair to say you made a “change” because you still play many different genres, but how did you end up playing bluegrass?
It was totally backwards. I went to college thinking I wanted to be a jazz violinist. And I’m really glad that I did because it teaches you to say so many different things. And because there’s not a terribly rich history of jazz violin, there’s not like a particular style that you’re expected to adopt. I really started playing bluegrass, as I said, totally backwards and late in life. ...
When I really started playing bluegrass, I was at MeadowGrass [Music Festival] at La Foret [Conference & Retreat Center] in Black Forest. And Jim Marsh, who’s the banjo player in Grass It Up was there, and we were standing in the meadow. And I think I just said like, ‘Hey, I’d love to jam with you guys at some point.’ And he said, ‘Great come to rehearsal tonight.’ And so I showed up at rehearsal and just sort of kept showing up. And they haven’t kicked me out yet.
I come to bluegrass very differently. Like I come at it as a jazz player. So I am not a technical, like, traditional school of fiddling, but I’ve kind of adopted bluegrass to jazz technique and classical technique, and it just so happens that that fits really well with David Jeffrey’s songwriting and the sound of that band.
How would you say that being a musician — but also having this really awesome experience with the band — has influenced your professional life with Bee Vradenburg and Green Box and the like?
I pinch myself all the time because I get paid to think about how to make the arts community successful and how to support that arts community through advocacy and funding as part of my day job, and then at night I get to be part of that arts community and create as part of that arts community. So, just on a personal level, I’m so lucky. I give a ton of credit to the Bee Vradenburg Foundation trustees. ... When I applied, I was really clear like, ‘I am both an administrator and an artist.’ And I give them a ton of credit for saying, ‘We are an arts foundation, and how great that our executive director can be — is — an artist himself?’
And what we do at the Bee Vradenburg Foundation is so broad and genre-agnostic, so in some ways it’s two different skill sets. At the same time … one of the skills that you get from music is learning how to listen. And so much of my job now is really deeply listening to artists in the community about what it takes to take their creativity to the next level, and listening and then understanding what the foundation can do to support that work. Listening to city leaders and people that speak at park board meetings and understanding how arts and culture and creativity can augment the work that they’re already doing.

You know, there’s such a stigma out there that you’ll never be able to make a career in the arts. Did you ever worry there wouldn’t be a career out there for your passions? And on that note, any advice for creatives, kids who might be put down by the idea that the arts aren’t a ‘real job’?
I have no advice for kids. I have advice for the society that tells kids that there is not a career in the arts. I think that’s totally — you probably can’t print this — but that’s totally bullshit.

We can absolutely print that. May I?

Go for it. What we hear all the time from employers is we want a talented, creative workforce. And particularly as the economy changes, and as technology becomes more prevalent, the thing that sets humans apart from AI is creativity. And so being creative and having that creativity instilled in you at a young age is the most valuable thing you can do for your career. And it’s up to you then to use that creativity to be creative about how you implement your art form and how you monetize your art form. But creativity is the most valuable professional asset that you can acquire.

What else should our readers know about you before the event?
I would just say, I am a product of this arts community and I am really grateful for that. I grew up attending the Colorado Springs Conservatory and was a student at the Youth Symphony. And then I felt like there wasn’t a future for me in Colorado Springs at that time, and the arts weren’t prioritized in a way that I saw a future. I went to New York City and was immediately turned off by this refrain that if it doesn’t happen in New York City or L.A., it doesn’t matter artistically. Immediately my brain said ‘No! There’s great stuff in Colorado!’ And so it’s just such a privilege to get to support and advocate for all of the great work that’s happening here. And then at the same time, you know, get to make music and be creative with the people that make this region and this state so colorful.

And you get to tuck your violin under your arm like a chicken wing! What could be better?
Exactly.

Editor’s note: This interview has been edited for clarity and length.
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Friday, January 17, 2020

Expanded Peak Arts Prize returns to amplify local art

Posted By on Fri, Jan 17, 2020 at 1:24 PM

What do welding workshops, chamber music and an art exhibit about bees all have in common?

They’re all local art projects funded by Peak Arts Prize, which returns for its third year in 2020 with a revamped format and added funding. The goal of the program, run by the Cultural Office of the Pikes Peak Region and powered by The Fund for the Arts, a fund of the Pikes Peak Community Foundation (PPCF), is to amplify local arts to new audiences.

After a two-year trial period, during which Peak Arts Prize attracted 77 applications and awarded six grants, the program now offers $22,500 spread across three categories and a new “People’s Choice” award:
  • Large Organizations: $10,000 grant
  • Small Organizations: $7,500 grant
  • Individual Artists: $4,000 grant
  • People’s Choice: $1,000 grant
Angela Seals, Deputy Director of the Cultural Office, manages the program. She’s excited about the added funding and the potential that comes with it.

“Applicants can think bigger about what would be transformative in their art; it can fuel a bigger leap for them,” she says. “With bigger grants, the ideas will have to be bigger, and I hope more people will go for it.”

For the Pikes Peak Community Foundation, expanding Peak Arts Prize funding deepens the connection with the Cultural Office and helps to expand the Fund for the Arts to a greater audience.

“Increasing the investment in the Peaks Arts Prize will allow for a broader, more diverse applicant pool and reward artists for their time and vision of their project,” says PPCF Director of Community Impact Mina Liebert.

click image The Unsteady Hand, the 2019 small organization grantee, expanded 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.
  • The Unsteady Hand, the 2019 small organization grantee, expanded 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.

Structurally, the program now separates the judging and public vote components. A panel of expert judges will select the grantees and two honorable mentions in each category. These nine will advance to the People’s Choice round, where the public will choose the recipient of the $1,000. Additionally, community members can now independently donate to finalists directly from the ballot.

Seals and Liebert say the adjustments retain the strengths of both grant making and public engagement, deepening and expanding the impact of the program.

“With the addition of the People’s Choice Award, the public will learn more about the artists and have the ability to donate to their project if they wish, elevating charitable giving across our community,” Liebert says.

Seals calls the added funding a vote of confidence from the Pikes Peak Community Foundation.

“They recognized the strength and thoughtfulness of the first two years of the program and the quality of the art that has come from the six grants so far.”

Seals says the three categories, along with the eligibility of for-profit organizations, help ensure the diversity of the arts community is represented.

“Arts organizations can see themselves alongside others and part of the same arts scene,” Seals says. “They can know and celebrate each other, which is much more exciting than staying in your own lane.”

Jasmine Dillavou’s “100 Potions for Puerto Rico” project received the 2018 individual artist grant, spreading awareness about the forgotten history of Puerto Rico and the tragedy of Hurricane Maria.

“I think the project was fresh because it highlighted a marginalized community,” Dillavou says. “It uplifted my voice as a woman of color artist, a voice that is often misrepresented or not present at all in the Colorado Springs art scene.”

Peak Arts Prize administrator Angela Seals presents Jasmine Dillavou with the 2018 individual artist grant. Dillavou's project, called "100 Potions for Puerto Rico," spread awareness about the forgotten history of Puerto Rico and the tragedy of Hurricane Maria. Dillavou’s project incorporated 10 potion sculptures made by Puerto Ricans living on the island, and her exhibit and artist talks at Kreuser Gallery in fall 2018 expanded her local and national visibility.
  • Peak Arts Prize administrator Angela Seals presents Jasmine Dillavou with the 2018 individual artist grant. Dillavou's project, called "100 Potions for Puerto Rico," spread awareness about the forgotten history of Puerto Rico and the tragedy of Hurricane Maria. Dillavou’s project incorporated 10 potion sculptures made by Puerto Ricans living on the island, and her exhibit and artist talks at Kreuser Gallery in fall 2018 expanded her local and national visibility.

Seals says the program has encouraged many applications from organizations and artists new to the Cultural Office — particularly small organizations and individual artists. So far, those categories have composed 79 percent of the applications.

“Representing the community more truthfully means expanding beyond only the usual suspects,” she says. “And that leads to raising the visibility of new creatives who are part of the story but haven’t been represented alongside our well-known artistic leaders.”

The prompt for applicants remains the same: Propose a project that will amplify your art and expand it to an audience new to you. It can be for an existing program, but reaching a new audience is a key component — 40 percent of the judging is based on community reach. Ideally, the project reaches a new audience that the artist then retains.

Jodie Bliss, whose Bliss Studio & Gallery received the 2019 large organization grant for welding and iron pour workshops, saw that audience expansion make a direct impact.

“It was a super fresh concept to do the workshops, and involve the community in work being done at my studio to this extent,” Bliss says. “It is something that I would not have considered before, but because of the grant I have grown a whole new branch of my business.”

“That way it’s not just a one-off that reaches the same audience and nothing changes,” Seals adds. “It forces even the strong folks to reach beyond and see potential in short and long term.”

click image 2019 large organization award-winner Bliss Studio & Gallery presented welding and iron pour workshops to introduce new local audiences to ironworking and spark conversations about empathy. Participants collectively created a public art sculpture, led by Jodie Bliss and her team, culminating at the second annual Bliss Studio Iron Pour in Monument.
  • 2019 large organization award-winner Bliss Studio & Gallery presented welding and iron pour workshops to introduce new local audiences to ironworking and spark conversations about empathy. Participants collectively created a public art sculpture, led by Jodie Bliss and her team, culminating at the second annual Bliss Studio Iron Pour in Monument.

Seals says mechanisms like Peak Arts Prize are critical to create growth in an arts community.

“Our job is to build bridges. Artists don’t need us to tell them what to make and audiences don’t need us to tell them what’s good,” she says. “If you can get them together in formats or spaces where they can really connect with each other, they make the fireworks themselves.

“Those bridges — all they do is empower.”

Peak Arts Prize Key Dates
  • Application Window Closes: Feb. 6 at noon
  • People’s Choice Voting: Feb. 25 to March 10 at noon
  • Winners Announced: March 11
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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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Wednesday, November 20, 2019

TikTok gets upgraded from music video app to national security threat

Posted By on Wed, Nov 20, 2019 at 1:00 AM

It seems innocuous enough, but data from some apps in the hands of global rivals could be a national security nightmare. - ASCANNIO / SHUTTERSTOCK.COM
  • Ascannio / Shutterstock.com
  • It seems innocuous enough, but data from some apps in the hands of global rivals could be a national security nightmare.

We can always blame it on Ke$ha.

Ten years ago, the dance-pop diva released her debut single “TiK ToK,” a 120 beats-per-minute ode to party-girl debauchery that went 18-times platinum and launched countless parody videos, some of which have themselves racked up more than a million views. As internet music memes go, it all seemed so harmless at the time.

Who would have guessed back then the dire consequences of Ke$ha’s actions? Like those butterflies in the Amazonian rainforest who keep flapping their wings and causing deadly hurricanes half a world away — or that anonymous whistleblower responsible for the greatest witch hunt in the history of the United States — Ke$ha set in motion a chain of untraceable events that has resulted in a far more menacing, but no less oddly spelled, viral phenomenon, one that’s now being identified by the U.S. government as a potential threat to national security.

In the two years since TikTok was unleashed by the Beijing-based tech developer ByteDance, the music video sharing app has recruited more than a billion active users. Together, this unwitting community of comrades has produced an endless stream of homemade short-form videos, in which they dance, lip-sync and perform comic stunts in hopes of achieving 15 seconds of fame in today’s increasingly competitive economy of affirmation. Is it a coincidence that a cover of Ke$sha’s original “TiK ToK,” performed by the J-Pop band Perfume, was among the app’s first videos to go viral?

“If you don’t know what TikTok is, you should,” warned Josh Hawley, R-Missouri, chair of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime and Terrorism, earlier this month. “A company compromised by the Chinese Communist Party knows where your children are, knows what they look like, what their voices sound like, what they’re watching, and what they share with each other.”

While Hawley’s statement makes no mention of their souls, it goes without saying that the Chinese Communist Party will stop at nothing.

TikTok, which was initially marketed as Music.ly, is also being taken on by the record industry’s three biggest labels; Universal, Warner and Sony Music are all demanding that the company increase its payments for those catchy 15-second samples.

ByteDance’s counter-argument is that TikTok should not be required to pay as much as Spotify and other dedicated music-streaming services. In an interview with Bloomberg, Head of Global Music Business Development Todd Schefflin also played up the platform’s ability to help recording artists go viral: “A short video on TikTok,” he maintained, “can become a valuable promotional tool for artists to grow their fan bases and build awareness for new work.”

An oft-cited example is “Old Town Road,” the genuinely annoying collaboration between Lil Nas X and Billy Ray Cyrus that, in just a matter of weeks, went from TikTok meme to a record-breaking 19-week run at the No. 1 spot on the Billboard singles chart.
Who would have guessed the dire consequences of Ke$ha’s actions? click to tweet

Would the world really be that much better a place without it? Undoubtedly. But the same could be said for Nickelback’s “Next Contestant,” Mia Khalifa’s “iLOVEFRIDAY” and numerous other songs that TikTok users have rescued from the dustbins of history.

Meanwhile, numerous pop stars are creating their own TikTok channels, including Miley Cyrus, Ed Sheeran, Cardi B, Nick Jonas, Nicki Minaj, Post Malone and, of course, Britney Spears. Needless to say, Ke$ha is also among them.

Epitaph Records’ Brett Gurewitz, a longtime member of the band Bad Religion, is characteristically gloomy about TikTok’s use-value. “It’s what we saw with Chuck Berry getting a Cadillac instead of royalties,” the indie label owner recently told Pitchfork. “It doesn’t really matter if it’s vinyl or an app, every time there’s a new way of doing music, the creators always get screwed.”

Meanwhile, back in our nation’s capital, The Washington Post has created its own TikTok account, which is intended to “showcase the action inside the newsroom,” but mostly demonstrates how slowly 15 seconds can pass. Daily posts have included a reporter trying to leave her desk at 5, another staffer walking down the hall wearing a jacket with a colorful tiger embroidered on the back, and the news team discussing The Bachelorette. Also, a hamster.

As for the national security investigation itself, things aren’t going too well. Last week, TikTok took a page from the Trump playbook by declining a request to appear before Hawley’s subcommittee. Unlike our commander-in-chief, they did so politely, claiming to need more than a week to provide “a witness who would be able to contribute to a substantive discussion.”

Hawley and his colleagues retaliated by holding a hearing without them, leaving an empty chair at the witness table to underscore the company’s flagrant disregard for the rule of law.
“They should have been here today,” declared the no-nonsense chairman, demanding that TikTok must appear before his committee, under oath, “to tell the truth about their company, about its ambitions, and what they’re doing with our data.”

After all, there’s no shortage of other data-mining services right here in the U.S., all of them dedicated to fostering better decision-making, increased productivity, reduced costs and improved customer service.

Likewise, there are plenty of TikTok alternatives, from Instagram to YouTube, where dogs can wear scrunchies, Britney Spears can contemplate global warming, and Chipotle can strive to make singing tortilla chips go viral. At a time when America is doing everything it can to halt the spread of communism, it’s the right thing to do.
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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.   
artsmonth_logo_highest_res_png.png


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
artpop.jpg

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.

zine.jpeg
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
arcadia.jpeg

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
trailer.jpg

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.

face_vocal_band.jpeg
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
poetry_719.png

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
singing_day.jpeg

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
fannie_mae.jpg

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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