Thursday, August 23, 2018

Colorado Springs Comic Con draws big names in 2018

Posted By on Thu, Aug 23, 2018 at 9:15 AM

Colorado Springs Comic Con, Aug. 24, 3-9 p.m., Aug. 25, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., Aug. 26, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Chapel Hills Mall Event Center, cscomiccon.com. - COURTESY ALTERED REALITY ENTERTAINMENT
  • Courtesy Altered Reality Entertainment
  • Colorado Springs Comic Con, Aug. 24, 3-9 p.m., Aug. 25, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., Aug. 26, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Chapel Hills Mall Event Center, cscomiccon.com.
Colorado Springs Comic Con is still a young event, but it has provided a few fun weekends for local comic/sci-fi/gaming geeks, and brought scores of celebrities to the area. Actors, writers, comic artists and more attend this annual celebration of all things nerdy, including some big names in 2018. Get autographs and photo ops with Natalia Tena (Harry Potter, Game of Thrones), Billy Boyd (Lord of the Rings), Khary Payton (The Walking Dead) and plenty more; browse vendor booths offering everything from art to collectibles and logo-emblazoned merchandise; attend panels hosted by your favorite stars; enter a cosplay contest to show off your favorite costume; find love at Geek Speed Dating; and bring the kids for plentiful family activities. Fandom has no age limit, after all (though the Saturday night after-party does. Party responsibly, nerds.)
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Friday, August 17, 2018

Strut your nerdiness and cosplay at this open mic and haiku battle

Posted By on Fri, Aug 17, 2018 at 1:00 AM

This is Colorado Springs: Nerd Open Mic and Haiku Battle, Aug. 17, 6:30 p.m., KaPow Comics & Coffee, 4239 N. Nevada Ave., free, tinyurl.com/NerdOpenMic.
  • This is Colorado Springs: Nerd Open Mic and Haiku Battle, Aug. 17, 6:30 p.m., KaPow Comics & Coffee, 4239 N. Nevada Ave., free, tinyurl.com/NerdOpenMic.
How nerdy are you? We all may dress up as our favorite superheroes or Harry Potter characters from time to time, but it takes a next-level nerd to write poetry about their favorite pieces of pop culture. Luckily, plenty such poets call Colorado Springs home. Friday, locals will take the mic to perform their own geeky verse, and all are welcome to join in on the fun. The event will start with a workshop hosted by superstar Colorado poet Ashley Cornelius, followed by an open mic with Michael Ferguson (aka Skillzilla). At the end of the evening, stick around for a haiku battle hosted by Chris Beasley. That’s right, nothing nerdier than poetry geeks who can construct haiku out of thin air. To top it all off, there’ll be a costume contest, so get cosplaying!
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Thursday, August 16, 2018

Paper Tigers screening offers an intimate look at schools addressing unhealthy and destructive behaviors

Posted By on Thu, Aug 16, 2018 at 1:00 AM

Paper Tigers, Aug. 16, 5:30-8 p.m., InfoZone Theater at Rawlings Public Library, 100 E. Abriendo Ave., Pueblo, free, RSVP requested, tinyurl.com/PaperTigersPueblo.
  • Paper Tigers, Aug. 16, 5:30-8 p.m., InfoZone Theater at Rawlings Public Library, 100 E. Abriendo Ave., Pueblo, free, RSVP requested, tinyurl.com/PaperTigersPueblo.
Kids and teens face more challenges than many adults realize, and some youths start life by pushing a rock uphill, facing childhood issues that change the course of the rest of their lives. Lincoln Alternative High School in Walla Walla, Washington (a last-chance school for kids on the verge of dropping out), has increased graduation rates fivefold and dramatically reduced student fights, simply by addressing the traumas and personal/family issues that often drive kids toward unhealthy and destructive behaviors. Science teacher Erik Gordon says: “The behavior isn’t the kid. The behavior is a symptom of what’s going on in their life.” This intimate documentary follows five troubled teens at Lincoln Alternative, and provides an inside look at the methods used by teachers and staff to ensure that they address problems like addiction, violence and depression in a sustainable, healthy way. Afterward, stick around for an eye-opening panel discussion about the film and our own educational communities.
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Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Local musicians to perform within LeAnna Tuff exhibit in Cottonwood Center for the Arts gallery space

Posted By on Tue, Aug 14, 2018 at 11:55 AM

"Passion Unleashed" from A Peek Behind the Curtain - LEANNA TUFF
  • LeAnna Tuff
  • "Passion Unleashed" from A Peek Behind the Curtain
In conjunction with Cottonwood Center for the Arts' current exhibit of paintings by LeAnna Tuff, A Peek Behind the Curtain, local musicians will perform two concerts of beloved tunes from opera and musicals on Aug. 18 and 19.

The artist’s husband Peter Tuff, executive director of the Colorado Springs Chorale, will join mezzo-soprano Jennifer DeDominici, soprano Kate Adam Johnson, tenor Todd Teske and pianist Daniel Brink in the center’s main gallery space.

Currently on display in that space, A Peek Behind the Curtain represents a departure from LeAnna Tuff’s usual photorealistic portraiture, and “celebrates the wonder of being transported to other times and places through a story, a song or dance, or a costume.”

Peter Tuff says: “I’m excited to perform with these wonderful artists in the gallery where LeAnna’s paintings capture so much of the emotion that we singers experience, and her exhibition of costumed performers will be the perfect backdrop for these concerts.”

Tickets to the performances will be $10 for students with ID, and $20 for the general public.

See below for more about each musician from the Tuffs' press release:

Kate Adam Johnson, soprano has an extensive repertoire of stage and concert works, and she has appeared with Opera Theatre of the Rockies as Nedda in Leoncavallo’s Pagliacci, the Countess in The Marriage of Figaro, the title role in Lehar’s The Merry Widow and more. Kate has appeared as a soloist with the Greeley Philharmonic, Chamber Orchestra of the Springs, Colorado Springs Symphony, MacLaren Quartet, Colorado Springs Chorale, Larimer Chorale, Soli Deo Gloria, Colorado College, First United Methodist Church, and Parish House Baroque. She has a Master of Music degree from the University of Northern Colorado and she currently serves as Catholic Music Director of the U.S. Air Force Academy Cadet Chapel. and her trumpet player husband have two sons.

Jennifer DeDominici, mezzo-soprano has been seen performing here in Colorado Springs as Mary Poppins, Maria in The Sound of Music, Carmen, Judy in 9 to 5, Sarah Brown in Guys and Dolls, Grace in Annie, Emperor Joseph II in Amadeus, Dorabella in Cosi fan tutte, Hansel, Rosina in Il barbiere di Siviglia, Angelina in La Cenerentola, and Mrs. Jones in Street Scene. She has worked with the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center at Colorado College, Opera Theatre of the Rockies, Colorado Springs Philharmonic, Chamber Orchestra of the Springs, and Theatreworks. She is the new principal voice instructor at Colorado College.

Todd Teske, tenor recently performed works by Monteverdi, Bach, and Handel with the Baroque Chamber Orchestra of Colorado, the Colorado Bach Ensemble, and with the Seicento Baroque Ensemble. Todd can be heard soloing in the Hollywood movie A Remarkable Life. With Conspirare, he recorded The Sacred Spirit of Russia (Harmonia Mundi), which garnered a 2014 Grammy for Best Choral Performance. He made his Kennedy Center solo debut in Hand¬el’s LÁllegro, Il Penseroso ed Il Moderato for the Mark Morris Dance Group. His European opera debut was at Giessen Stadttheater in Germany performing the title roles in Milhaud’s Le Pauvre Matelot and in the world premiere of Jean Francaix’s Le Diable Boiteux. Todd will soon appear in the world premiere of the opera Locust by Anne M. Guzzo.

Peter Tuff, baritone has been described as “an outstanding singer” (Salzburger Nachrichten) and “impressive…strong and commanding” (San Francisco Examiner). Peter has performed over 30 leading roles and dozens of supporting roles in opera, operetta, and musical theater in a career spanning thirty years on three continents. Colorado Springs audiences are familiar with Peter’s performances with Opera Theatre of the Rockies (The Mikado, Carmen, Pagliacci, La Cenerentola), and with the Colorado Springs Philharmonic (Carmina Burana, Beethoven’s 9th, Copland’s Old American Songs), and with Chamber Orchestra of the Springs (Beethoven’s 9th). He serves as executive director of the Colorado Springs Chorale.

Daniel Brink, pianist is well known as a teacher, vocal coach, collaborative artist, and adjudicator throughout the Front Range of Colorado. Dan is in his 20th season as Music Director and Principal Coach/Accompanist with Opera Theatre of the Rockies. He has been a member of the music faculty of Colorado College since 1987 and has taught on the faculty of the Colorado College Vocal Arts Festival since its inception. He is also Principal Accompanist for the Colorado Springs Chorale. He is a gifted arranger whose works have been performed extensively. Dan has degrees from University of Southern Colorado and a Master of Music from the University of Colorado at Boulder. 

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Sunday, August 12, 2018

Rocky Mountain Women's Film Institute hosts rooftop film screening of Three Identical Strangers

Posted By on Sun, Aug 12, 2018 at 2:48 PM

threeidentical3.jpg

The Rocky Mountain Women’s Film Institute may be best known for its massive, annual Film Festival (occurring in 2018 on Nov. 9-11), but this dedicated local organization hosts film screenings and special events of all kinds throughout the year. One new event, Rooftop Cinema, comes thanks to RMWFI's partnership with 333 ECO, a cool, new apartment building.

As it sounds, Rooftop Cinema is a film screening event, held at dusk on the roof of these downtown apartments (333 E. Colorado Ave.).

RMWFI’s next Rooftop Cinema, (Aug. 18), will present Three Identical Strangers, a documentary film about identical triplets who were separated at birth and coincidentally managed to find each other in adulthood. But in spite of the feel-good beginning of the triplets' stories, the reason for their separation comes to light, and the truth has some disturbing repercussions.

The film has been critically acclaimed, and Peter Howell of the Toronto Star called it: "A documentary with a story so outlandish it might well have been rejected by a Hollywood studio had a screenwriter pitched it as the basis of a fictional movie."

Tickets to Rooftop Cinema include food and drinks provided by El Taco Rey, La'au's Taco Shop, Pikes Peak Lemonade Company and more to be announced. There will also be live music by Ryan Flores before the screening.

Insiders say tickets are going fast, so folks are encouraged to register right away.

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Thursday, August 9, 2018

Millibo's Circus of the Night returns with the "sexiest date night of the summer"

Posted By and on Thu, Aug 9, 2018 at 1:00 AM

Circus of the Night: Cocobanana - Fridays and Saturdays, 9 p.m., through Aug. 25, Millibo Art - Theatre, 1626 S. Tejon St., $25, themat.org. - MILLIBO ART THEATRE
  • Millibo Art Theatre
  • Circus of the Night: CocobananaFridays and Saturdays, 9 p.m., through Aug. 25, Millibo Art Theatre, 1626 S. Tejon St., $25, themat.org.
The Millibo Art Theatre’s ever-popular Circus of the Night has returned, this time with a Brazilian theme. Hosted by Babette Matdiva and Hannah Rockey as “dueling Carmen Mirandas,” this cabaret promises irrepressible comedy alongside impressive (and tantalizing) performances of all kinds. Enjoy Elizabeth Fluharty’s incredible aerial silks, “Super” Dave Hale’s acrobatics and physical comedy, music by vocal powerhouse Miriam Roth, Samba dance by the fabulous Nina Born and plenty of juggling, tumbling and more from some of the MAT’s superstar performers. The MAT calls this the “sexiest date night of the summer,” and considering it reportedly features a new burlesque act from elder dancers Gertrude Tigerheart and Vivian Volcano, we can bet that it probably will be. 
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Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Paint out invites everyone to paint en plein air

Posted By on Wed, Aug 8, 2018 at 1:00 AM

2018 Paint Out, Aug. 9, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., UCCS Heller Center for the Arts and Humanities, 1250 N. Campus Heights, free, uccs.edu. - KAREN STORM
  • Karen Storm
  • 2018 Paint Out, Aug. 9, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., UCCS Heller Center for the Arts and Humanities, 1250 N. Campus Heights, free, uccs.edu.
Because it sounds fancy, the term “en plein air” might put off beginning or amateur painters. But the only requirement for painting en plein air is to be outside, and to take inspiration from the natural world as you paint. That means the Heller Center’s Paint Out is a perfect opportunity for artists of all levels to leave the studio and take advantage of the nice weather while we have it. This free event welcomes artists to explore the 36-acre property with their easels, canvases and palettes, but offers some structure around the practice, too. Beginning with coffee and bagels, and including lunch in the afternoon with wine and cheese in the evening, artists will start the day by setting a goal or intention for their work. Featured artist Karen Storm, who will lead the group critique at the end of the day, says: “It [the intention] could be as specific as gathering color notes, expressing the light, playing with edges, or capturing shapes … among other things. Or the intention could simply be to revel in the beauty of nature and express it joyfully! The critique then becomes a thought-provoking dialogue about the fulfillment of the intention, which is unique to each painter.”
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Friday, August 3, 2018

The Unsteady Hand hosts benefit concert for new Parkinson's art program

Posted By on Fri, Aug 3, 2018 at 3:25 PM

Parkinson's Disease is predicted to affect 1 million people in the U.S. by 2020. - CHINNAPONG / SHUTTERSTOCK.COM
  • Chinnapong / Shutterstock.com
  • Parkinson's Disease is predicted to affect 1 million people in the U.S. by 2020.

The Unsteady Hand, a new artist collective here in Colorado Springs, hopes to provide a space for people with Parkinson’s Disease and friends and family to explore artistic creation with guidance from local artists.

According to their website: “It is not uncommon for People with Parkinson’s (PWP) to become disengaged and isolated from their community. The explanations for separation can be physical, emotional or a combination of the two. We do everything we can to get through this mess called Parkinson’s as a community... a collective. The Unsteady Hand engages/re-engages fellow ‘Parkinsonians’ with the power of art and creativity.”

In advance of The Unsteady Hand’s first creative lab, the organization will host a benefit concert on Aug. 4.

Featuring Juannah, local pop-jazz-folk duo, the concert is free to attend, but organizers have asked for donations, 100 percent of which will fund upcoming programs.

According to the Parkinson’s foundation, the disease affects more than 10 million people worldwide, and can cause tremors, rigid limbs, and trouble walking or balancing, among other variable symptoms.

Hence, the title of the concert “Shake, Rattle, Be Whole,” which speaks to the truth of any disease, affliction or disability — it neither defines nor invalidates a person.

The concert will be held at Art 111, a downtown gallery currently exhibiting “Freedom,” featuring more than 20 artists interpreting the theme of freedom in diverse media.

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Thursday, August 2, 2018

Artist Joshua Coates proves anything can be art with Gallery Below show

Posted By on Thu, Aug 2, 2018 at 1:00 AM

The Weird and Wonderful World of Joshua Coates - Opening reception, Aug. 3, 6-9 p.m., on display through Aug. 31, The Gallery Below, 718-B N. Weber St., facebook.com/thegallerybelow. - JOSHUA COATES
  • Joshua Coates
  • The Weird and Wonderful World of Joshua CoatesOpening reception, Aug. 3, 6-9 p.m., on display through Aug. 31, The Gallery Below, 718-B N. Weber St., facebook.com/thegallerybelow.
Well, this is certainly something weird and wonderful. The eclectic artwork of Colorado Springs artist Joshua Coates draws inspiration from myriad sources, including “Salvador Dali and the surrealists, Andy Warhol and the Pop Art Movement, sustainability, psychedelic art, Toy Story, cartoons, comic books, mythology, dreams, drag queens” and more, all presented with a touch of camp. While his artistic focus was once traditional painting, in the last two years he has branched out into creating unique sculptural pieces with found objects, combining them with aspects of traditional art like hand-sculpting and painting. “A core tenet of his artistic beliefs,” reads his artist statement, “is that art is for everyone, and anything can be art.”
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Wednesday, August 1, 2018

TheatreWorks condenses the best of Shakespeare into one three-man show

Posted By on Wed, Aug 1, 2018 at 1:00 AM

The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged) - Aug. 2, 7 p.m., various dates through Aug. 25, Rock Ledge Ranch Historic Site,  3105 Gateway Road, $38.50, free for UCCS students, theatreworkscs.org. - ISAIAH DOWNING
  • Isaiah Downing
  • The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged) Aug. 2, 7 p.m., various dates through Aug. 25, Rock Ledge Ranch Historic Site, 3105 Gateway Road, $38.50, free for UCCS students, theatreworkscs.org.
Each year, UCCS’ professional theater company TheatreWorks stages a Shakespeare classic at Rock Ledge Ranch, kind of a “Shakespeare in the Park” situation with a gorgeous setting and of course that delightfully high TheatreWorks production value. This year, they’re pulling double duty and not only staging the classic tale of Macbeth, but also a wildly popular and hysterical farce: The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged). As it says on the tin, this play manages to condense all 37 of The Bard’s works into less than two hours of fast-paced theater, with only three actors scripted for countless roles, making rapid costume switches and overall delighting audiences. Be prepared for a tiny bit of audience participation, and come back to the ranch for a more traditional play in Macbeth, running through Aug. 26.
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Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Funky Little Theater Company closes "Season of the Female Playwright" with Body Awareness, Spectrum

Posted By on Wed, Jul 25, 2018 at 1:00 AM

Body Awareness, Thurs., July 26, 7 p.m., Sat., July 28, 7 p.m. and Sun., July 29, 2 p.m.; Spectrum: LGBTQIA+, Fri., July 27, 7 p.m. and Sat. July 28, 2 p.m.; $15-$19. Funky Little Theater Company, 1367 Pecan St., 425-9509, chris@funkylittletheater.org, funkylittletheater.org. - JIM ROOT
  • Jim Root
  • Body Awareness, Thurs., July 26, 7 p.m., Sat., July 28, 7 p.m. and Sun., July 29, 2 p.m.; Spectrum: LGBTQIA+, Fri., July 27, 7 p.m. and Sat. July 28, 2 p.m.; $15-$19. Funky Little Theater Company, 1367 Pecan St., 425-9509, chris@funkylittletheater.org, funkylittletheater.org.
The aptly named “Season of the Female Playwright” is closing fast and strong at the Funky Little Theater Company as they present the final weekend of Annie Baker’s one-act play, Body Awareness. The play follows Phyllis, a psychology professor, as she attempts to organize a body awareness week on her college campus and navigates her fascinating family relationships. Speaking of awesome ladies, want to find the works of even more female playwrights like Annie Baker, all conveniently located in one spot and all showcasing their work in one event? Funky Little Theater Company is delivering that, too. Catch the one-act play festival Spectrum: LGBTQIA+, featuring eight plays, all written by women. Spectrum tackles a variety of topics, presenting each entire story from start to finish in a single act. 
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Friday, July 20, 2018

Photo, Fiber, Silver displays the diverse talents of three local artists

Posted By on Fri, Jul 20, 2018 at 1:00 AM

Photo, Fiber, Silver, Opening reception, July 20, 5-8 p.m., on display through Aug. 13, Commonwheel Artists Co-op, 102 Cañon Ave., Manitou Springs, commonwheel.com. - BRIANNA RIZZI
  • Brianna Rizzi
  • Photo, Fiber, Silver, Opening reception, July 20, 5-8 p.m., on display through Aug. 13, Commonwheel Artists Co-op, 102 Cañon Ave., Manitou Springs, commonwheel.com.
In this multimedia show, three Colorado artists bring their work to Manitou Springs: Brianna Rizzi, Diane DelDuca and Suzi Popkess. All three have dabbled in various mediums from clay to watercolor to oil painting, but they’ve found their passions and specialties in three diverse forms of art work. Rizzi, who owns a gallery in Pueblo, likes to tell stories through her photography. DelDuca, inspired by her beloved alpacas, spins her own yarn and uses it in 3D needle-felted animal portraits. Popkess creates silver jewelry in a traditional Southwest style, using semi-precious Southwestern stones like turquoise and onyx. At Friday’s opening reception, you can meet the artists and take a look at a snapshot of the diverse talents to be found in Colorado. 
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Thursday, July 19, 2018

ARTSites public art program celebrates 15th year in Monument

Posted By on Thu, Jul 19, 2018 at 1:00 AM

click image "Low Polly Heart/Ride," by Mathew Duffy from Washington D.C., is part of the 2018-19 ARTSites exhibition. - JONATHAN TOMAN
  • Jonathan Toman
  • "Low Polly Heart/Ride," by Mathew Duffy from Washington D.C., is part of the 2018-19 ARTSites exhibition.
A century ago, getting ice was a more adventurous activity. In those days, your ice came from frozen lakes, and intrepid explorers were needed to cut, shape and send it where it needed to go. One such location for local ice harvesting was Monument Lake, which for much of the early 1900s collected, stored and shipped ice during the winter months.

Ice Harvest,” a collection of acrylic blocks that depict the Monument Lake ice harvest from a bygone era, was the first piece for the ARTSites program, now in its 15th year showcasing public art in the Tri-Lakes area.

Sky Hall, president of Tri-Lakes Views, the nonprofit whose 10-person, all volunteer steering committee runs ARTSites, has been there since the beginning. Hall and his wife, both artists, moved to the Monument area 25 years ago from Long Beach, California, and wanted to jump into the arts community with both feet.

“[Tri-Lakes artists] were isolated, they sold their work elsewhere," says Hall, "We wanted to get involved in this community, talking about arts and how to get more beauty in town.”

Hall, along with a group of Tri-Lakes area residents, met to address what they saw as a lack of local support for the arts and historic preservation, spawning Tri-Lakes Views.

Originally sponsoring an annual indoor art show, Tri-Lakes Views soon switched gears to an annual juried public art exhibition, with “Ice Harvest” being the first. Now, 10 pieces are selected each year, concentrated in Monument and Palmer Lake.

“The main thought was, ‘we don’t see the art. How can we get art in the community that we can see?’” Hall says.
click image Sky Hall, president of Tri-Lakes Views, stands with "Space Moon," one of the 2018-19 public art pieces that is part of ARTSites. "Space Moon" is by Reven Marie Swanson, who is from Denver. - JONATHAN TOMAN
  • Jonathan Toman
  • Sky Hall, president of Tri-Lakes Views, stands with "Space Moon," one of the 2018-19 public art pieces that is part of ARTSites. "Space Moon" is by Reven Marie Swanson, who is from Denver.
That community focus has paid dividends. Tri-Lakes Views was approached by El Paso County to spearhead a project to place public art in the new roundabout at the intersection of Baptist Road and Old Denver Highway. Entitled “Aspen Grove,” each tree was opened for sponsorship to commemorate a loved one.

Within six weeks, 12 20-foot tall trees had been sponsored, totaling over $40,000.

“There’s room here for that kind of thing, and we now build into our plan how to connect to the community,” Hall says. “Art makes a better community, brings people together, and gives them a better understanding.”

“We want to get people excited, motivated, and not intimidated,” Hall says. “Art always has a response, and more often than not it’s positive.”

Each of the pedestals on which the art is displayed have also been sponsored. In addition to “Ice Harvest” and “Aspen Grove,” there are four permanent pieces in the collection. A sculpture park in front of a District 38 administration building in downtown Monument, where most of the pieces are located.

The 2018-19 edition received 50 applications from all over the country, culminating with 10 entries, Hall says, tying the growth of ARTSites to the longevity of the program and more applicants and the community becoming accustomed to it.

Though Hall says ARTSites remains very much a year-by-year funding project, Tri-Lakes Views has secured $5,000 per year for the next five years from the town of Monument. The money will be used to help attract artists to the program and compete with other areas that have more established funding streams. A $500 stipend will be paid to each artist whose work is selected for ARTSites. All work is for sale, and donations for Tri-Lakes Views are gladly accepted.

Hall also hopes to expand public art to new construction projects in the area, serving as a resource for developers.

“We want businesses to go out and pursue their own art because they want to be a part of this,” He says. “We want to express the value you get from participating in the arts and this organization.”

ARTSites brochures and self-guided tours are available at Monument Town Hall, the Tri-Lakes Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Center and other shops in the area.

“It’s amazing that it’s been 15 years,” Hall said. “I’m very proud of where we’ve come.”

Jonathan Toman serves as the Peak Radar Manager for the Cultural Office of the Pikes Peak Region. PeakRadar.com connects you to over 4,000 local events, 450 creative groups, & 350 artists — all in one beautiful website for the Pikes Peak region. Jonathan can be reached at jonathan@culturaloffice.org.

Click here for this month’s events. To sign up for the Peak Radar weekly e-blast, click here.
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Wednesday, July 18, 2018

CinemAddicts' Anderson Cowan brings Groupers film to Colorado Springs for private screening

Posted By on Wed, Jul 18, 2018 at 12:44 PM

A still from the film Groupers, written and directed by Anderson Cowan.
  • A still from the film Groupers, written and directed by Anderson Cowan.

Anderson Cowan
, one of the voices of the podcast CinemAddicts and a filmmaker himself, has always dreamed of making a full-length feature film. Now, with Groupers, that dream has finally come to fruition.

“I’ve written a number of scripts,” Cowan says, “however this idea kind of came up, the absurdity of it all ... [and] was the cheapest script I had written, by far and away.”

It presented a good opportunity for a first-time feature filmmaker with a small budget. Now, less than two years after beginning fundraising, Groupers is complete, and Cowan has been holding private screenings in select cities. Colorado Springs is next on the list.


Groupers tells the story of a grad student who kidnaps a couple of teen homophobes who, the audience learns, have mercilessly bullied her gay brother. She straps them together in the bottom of an empty pool and conducts an experiment. If they believe being gay is a choice, they can simply choose to become attracted to each other, and she’ll let them go.

A Chinese finger trap-like contraption is involved, to, ah, study their reactions.

“I’ve always appreciated independent movies, because they’re the kind of movies Hollywood wouldn’t have the guts to make, a lot of the time. And the choices that a Hollywood studio would shy away from,” Cowan says. “And Groupers is definitely rife with choices Hollywood would shy away from.”

The subject matter is not Cowan’s only unique choice in this film. He also chose to tell the story through the perspectives of five different characters, who each bring their own opinions to this absurd situation. The five-part narrative doesn’t result in a clean, clear, moralistic tale, but something a little messier. The message, Cowan says: “Everyone’s kind of full of shit, and everyone believes they’re right.”

Groupers can’t be called a thriller or a comedy, strictly, but it still contains elements of both. Cowan says: “One of the challenges as a singular filmmaker ... was explaining everyone else I brought in to help create the vision that it wasn’t going to be goofy. We were never going to admit to the audience that it’s a comedy. But there are plenty of things in there that are totally ridiculous and absurd that I would find funny. “

Still, Cowan recognizes that he had to “tread lightly” with some of this subject matter, especially as a straight man tackling homophobia as a theme. “I felt guilty throughout writing this, “ he says, “especially when I started casting it, about being a straight white male. I asked myself this numerous times: ‘who am I to tell this story about homophobia and homosexuality and what it means, and bullying and all that when I’m straight?’”

But he made sure to get feedback on the script from multiple gay collaborators, and said he made the changes suggested to him when it came to writing the two gay characters in the film.

One of them, he says (character name omitted due to spoilers), might cause some blowback, because he set out to make this character “kind of a colossal prick. If I didn’t, it would’ve been preachy.” He wanted to avoid making this character a victim, so anticipates that the only people to object to his characterization may be those hoping for a sympathetic survivor of bullying, rather than the character Cowan has created.

But Springs audiences can judge for themselves on July 28 at the local private screening, held at the Lon Chaney Theatre. Cowan will be on-hand to discuss the film and answer questions.

Should you miss that screening, there will be one in Denver at the Alamo Drafthouse the following day.

See the teaser trailer below:

Groupers Teaser #1 from Anderson Cowan on Vimeo.

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Tigers Be Still brings a lighthearted tone to loss, mental illness and recovery at SET

Posted By on Wed, Jul 18, 2018 at 9:36 AM

Tigers Be Still, Thursdays-Saturdays, 7:30 p.m., and Sundays, 4 p.m., through Aug. 5, Springs Ensemble Theatre, 1903 E. Cache La Poudre St., $15, springsensembletheatre.org. - MATT RADCLIFFE
  • Matt Radcliffe
  • Tigers Be Still, Thursdays-Saturdays, 7:30 p.m., and Sundays, 4 p.m., through Aug. 5, Springs Ensemble Theatre, 1903 E. Cache La Poudre St., $15, springsensembletheatre.org.
A comedy about depression may seem counterintuitive or incongruent, but Tigers Be Still, a comedy by TV writer Kim Rosenstock (New Girl, GLOW) tackles the subject of loss, mental illness and recovery with a hopeful and lighthearted tone that just kind of works. The story follows Sherry, a recently graduated art therapist who has finally (after a long depressive slump) gotten her first job, teaching art at a middle school and taking on the principal’s son as her first art therapy client. But his personal problems aren’t the only ones Sherry has to deal with. Her sister Grace got dumped by a cheating fiancé, her mother hasn’t left her room in months, the school principal is dealing poorly with the loss of his wife, and meanwhile, a tiger has escaped from the zoo. Everyone’s understandably a little on edge.

Jodi Papproth, director of Springs Ensemble Theatre’s upcoming production of Tigers Be Still, says the tiger functions as a metaphor for the characters’ various troubles. “It’s that feeling of at any moment you’re dealing with this mental illness and things are going well, and then it just comes out and pounces, and you don’t know sometimes why, or what’s going to trigger it, or when,” she says.

Using curtains designed to look like pages of Sherry’s journal to separate the play’s many settings, SET’s staging frames the events of the play in a sort of retrospect. It’s meant to feel like Sherry’s reflection on what happened, rather than a straight telling of what is happening. It’s this reflective element that helps the play maintain its light tone, as it’s obvious from Sherry’s fourth-wall-breaking asides that, spoiler alert, everyone does make it through the ordeal okay.

Though depression is a tough topic to treat delicately, one cast member who has suffered from mental illness says the format and tone of Tigers Be Still mirrors the experience well. “She says that the whole play kind of feels like one of those rides,” Papproth says, “where you have up days and down.” According to Papproth, the cast and crew had many discussions about mental illness throughout the production process, with each of them bringing their own experiences to the story, and therefore the characters they play. “You can’t really go through theater without walking in someone else’s shoes and thinking about their experiences,” Papproth says, adding that the show itself is a form of art therapy, like its main character’s profession.

And, hopefully, it will provide a little art therapy for audiences. “[Rosenstock] is not trying to solve the world’s problems or anything like that,” Papproth says. “She’s just showing one tiny little story about this family, two families actually, and how they overlap and help each other.”
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