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Best of 2007 Image Makers 

click to enlarge Smokebrush Gallery - PHOTO BY BRIENNE BOORTZ
  • Photo by Brienne Boortz
  • Smokebrush Gallery

Alternative Art Show or Event

Place to See Emerging Artists

Smokebrush Gallery

218 W. Colorado Ave., 444-1012

It's a bit interesting that the Smokebrush Gallery has won both these categories for the second straight year. Place to See Emerging Artists, sure, but Alternative Art Show or Event? The gallery isn't really a show or event, per se ... granted, it hosts plenty of shows, but c'mon! Maybe it's just a matter of people wanting to show the place some love. That I can understand. "Smokebrush has built a lot of name recognition and goodwill in the community," says Smokebrush Foundation executive director Josh Kempf. "People see us as kind of a friend, I guess. Their friend in the art world." He laughs as he utters the second part of that statement, but Smokebrush ain't a bad friend to have at all. PF

After-School Hangout

Boulder Street Coffee Roasters

332 N. Tejon St., 577-4291

Iwao Greene sees a problem or two with the more, shall we say, global coffee shops around. "You spend four bucks for a cup of coffee," he says. "Our coffee starts at 75 cents." That's one good reason why Boulder Street's remained the favorite after-school hangout since Greene and his wife took over the business in January. Their laid-back vibe is another. Also demanding mention: free wi-fi, an on-site computer, in-house coffee roasting, and a bevy of fruit juices, Italian sodas and energy drinks. KW

Tourist Destination

Outdoor Place to Pop the Question

Garden of the Gods
click to enlarge Boulder Street Coffee Roasters - PHOTO BY BRIENNE BOORTZ
  • Photo by Brienne Boortz
  • Boulder Street Coffee Roasters

1805 N. 30th St., 634-6666

Bonnie Frum spent her first night in Colorado driving around hopelessly lost. Ironically, she ended up in Garden of the Gods, where she now serves as director of operations. The park enticed Frum initially because, although it's close to the city, Garden of the Gods maintains a tranquility that makes visitors feel far away from urbanization. "We don't realize how lucky we are to have a place like this in the center of town," says Frum. "I can see why it inspires couples." AG

People-Watching Spot

Uncle Wilber Fountain/Acacia Park

115 E. Platte Ave.

Just what is it that people love about the Uncle Wilber Fountain and Acacia Park? We turn to poetry: "We've always had the mountains, We've always had the wilderness, But now we've got a fountain, Known for its Uncle Wilberness." No, we didn't write that. Local poet Bob Wearden did. It's the perfect way to describe the appeal of this whimsical fountain, which resides in the city's oldest park. But Uncle Wilber isn't the only attraction. Even before he arrived, this was the best place in the city for people-watching. This oasis is our ultimate urban space. DA


Ron Mangiarelli

1740 Chapel Hills Drive, 264-5434

Ever bought or sold a house? It's stressful business, getting ready to slap a huge chunk of change down on a property. The assistance you choose makes all the difference. Hearing Colorado native and 10-year Realtor Ron Mangiarelli say, "I love every single day; I've never once woken up and said, 'Oh, I gotta go to work today,'" it's obvious he'd be a good one to have with you at closing. The best way to learn more about this RE/Max agent is to check out his Web site, Featuring two smiling sons in his marketing seems to work pretty well for him. As he says, "I've got two great boys. ... and was taken." KA

Reason to Live in Colorado Springs

The Mountains

Congrats to The Mountains, winner of the Best Reason to Live Here category ever since its inception in 2000. Statuesque, imposing, aesthetically pleasing and a great way to tell which direction you're going, The Mountains are what visitors and residents picture when they think of Colorado Springs. When told of its unparalleled popularity here's what The Mountains had to say: "I won again? Are you serious? Wow, they like me! They really like me! But hey, who am I kidding, I'm the cat's pajamas. I'm all that and a bag of Funyuns. Those other guys aren't even trying. Do you know how long it took me to look this good? See you in the winner's circle again next year! Ha ha!" TT

Cultural Attraction or Museum

Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center
click to enlarge FILE PHOTO
  • File photo

30 W. Dale St., 634-5581

Certainly, it never hurts to open an ambitious $28 million addition to your museum, amid heavy media fanfare and some high-profile events, just before Best Of voting begins. In reality, the FAC never had won the best museum category before (usually the Pioneers Museum had prevailed), though it did have eight first places over the years as best art gallery. Given that the complex does market itself as being a world-class museum, though, and that it hosts other cultural events at its facilities, it fits well into this broader category. Perhaps there isn't a driving force anymore, with Michael De Marsche having left for Armenia, but the FAC still has the momentum and the staff to carry on. RR

Artwork on the Street

Downtown bronze statues

Various locations within Cascade, Nevada and Vermijo avenues and Boulder Street

Remember when you were a kid, and all the cool places to be were usually kinda gross? Like the attic, or the garage? Or, when you were older, the dive bar? Now the hip place to be is downtown, and it's actually really nice, thanks to a wealth of art in the area. With almost 50 public pieces on display, ranging from "Hank" the rodeo cowboy to a bouquet of giant steel flowers, the variety of subjects can't be beat. A special nod goes, as always, to Uncle Wilber, the end of the energetic artsy rainbow. One more note: Since it's all on the street, you don't have to dig deep to see it. EA

Sign of Staying on Target

Twin Buttes

Wind Power Project

Bent County, near Lamar

Colorado is supposed to be using 20 percent renewable energy sources by 2020, remember? The opening this year of Colorado's newest wind farm just increased our state's wind energy-generation capacity by 25 percent, enough to power roughly 22,000 homes. Twin Buttes' 50 new turbines generate clean energy with minimal impact on local ranchers in Bent County. We aren't there yet in terms of giving the finger to carbon-spewing resources, but this small step deserves praise. MS

Apartment Complex

Cascade Park Apartments
click to enlarge FILE PHOTO
  • File photo

624 N. Cascade Ave., 632-2474

Situated just north of downtown in a quiet residential neighborhood, Cascade Park offers renters something different. The complex is made up of two buildings, one a mansion built in 1884 and the other a hotel constructed shortly thereafter. Original stained glass, tapestries and fireplaces and opulent woodwork still remain from the 1930s, when the rooms were converted to apartments. Seventy-seven different floor plans assure occupants that no two residences are the same. Property manager Lisa Vellar is more than happy to show you around, but you better act quick Cascade Park has been close to 100 percent occupied for two years. TT

Realty Company


Multiple locations

RE/Max, local real estate's New York Yankees. The Maxers have national appeal. They're always forces to be reckoned with. They wear pinstripes. (We assume some do, anyway; online photos of their 275 Springs associates reveal a dapper crew.) But even Red Sox fans would be smart to align with RE/Max in this unforgiving market. For the last two years, it's reached a billion dollars in sales volume in Colorado Springs, the only company ever to hit that figure here. Marketing director Brooke Clement chalks up the success to ongoing associate education, often from their own in-house trainer. "We're just constantly staying ahead of the curve." KW

Example of Unintelligent Design

The manhole at Vermijo and Weber

One flip-flop, hours of time and some faith in city government: Indy culture editor Matthew Schniper lost it all when he impertinently stepped on a certain part of the city sidewalk and fell into a manhole. More than a half-dozen correspondences with city officials left us without any new bolts or latches, but with this gem: "The cover is loose fitting, but that is part of the design." KW

Higher Education

University of Colorado

at Colorado Springs

1420 Austin Bluffs Pkwy., 262-3000

click to enlarge Ron Mangiarelli - PHOTO BY L'AURA MONTGOMERY
  • Photo by L'Aura Montgomery
  • Ron Mangiarelli

Look around on the Colorado Springs campus of the University of Colorado, and you'll notice something things are happening. The college on the hill has 7,662 students, about a 2 percent growth from last year. Students are thrilled with the new, state-of-the-art recreation center; faculty members are pleased with the new Dwire Hall. Chancellor Pam Shockley-Zalabak says the college staff is honored to be recognized for "the high quality of the university and its commitment to individual and community success." DA

Movie Theater

Kimball's Twin Peak

115 E. Pikes Peak Ave., 447-1947;

447-1945 (movie line)

Having placed first a whopping 13 out of 14 years, Kimball's Twin Peak still gives locals a venue for first-run independent and foreign films. "We make a major effort to give voice to the more underground and independent movies that would otherwise be neglected in this particular area," manager Andy Rusk says. Thank goodness! Popular with customers is the wine bar now with a full liquor license allowing hardworking folk a chance to take in a flick with their favorite grapes. Wine or not, don't miss having a carton of the oh-so-good-oh-so-bad-for-you buttery popcorn, or, per Rusk, what seems to be the customer favorite, a box of Milk Duds. KA

New Baby

Mahal, the new orangutan at Cheyenne Mountain Zoo

4250 Cheyenne Mountain Zoo Road,


No, we haven't created a category to brag about our own offspring. This award goes to Mahal, the impossibly adorable orangutan born this spring at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo. Since his mom can't care for him, he requires 24-hour-a-day contact from his "staff" of 13 caretakers, who teach him skills like climbing, foraging for food and finding water. He greets his admiring fans each day from noon to 3 p.m. JT

Day Care

Child Nursery Centers
click to enlarge FILE PHOTO
  • File photo

104 E. Rio Grande St., 632-0855

108 Antlers Place, 634-1277

1465 S. Chelton Road, 574-4422

Tuberculosis brought this city many wonderful things, including the Child Nursery Center. The center began 110 years ago, when Alice Bemis Taylor and friends built the original, castle-like building on the corner of Rio Grande and Nevada for the children of tuberculosis sufferers. Today, the center provides preschool education and nutritious meals along with child care, all on a pay scale. Vice president of development Adele Faber says the chef prepares fresh food, never frozen, and the children eat family-style. "It's so cute," she says, "to see the 2- and 3-year-olds passing dishes along the table." FG

Use of Empty Storefronts

Downtown Partnership's "Visually Aesthetic Vacancies"

Various vacant storefronts downtown

Downtown Partnership: 111 S. Tejon St., #309, 886-0088

Mom always said, "When life hands you lemons, make lemonade," and that's what the Downtown Partnership has been doing with an increasing number of empty storefronts. This can-do bunch (with help from the Smokebrush Foundation) has filled deserted, depressing windows downtown with colorful art. Simple, yet brilliant. JT

Person Likely to Leave Us in Their Dust

Michael De Marsche, former FAC president/CEO

Still feeling sour about Michael De Marsche, are we? Because this category is about who is most likely to leave us in their dust, not who already has left us in their dust, Silly. Kudos for voting him the third-place winner in last year's dust-leaving category, though! Right, it was pretty obnoxious for the president/CEO to up and leave for Armenia just days after the Fine Arts Center's goodwill-inducing grand opening. But De Marsche is a businessman, and businessmen make the bucks. He just decided to cash out early. Pout no more, and let us all move on to the next boor on our list. EA

Category We Forgot


Whose art reigns supreme? That's a question to incite more debate than the race to the White House. And it's a question you felt we should be asking, dammit. (To think, last year's winner in this category was Chicken Wings. Does this mean we're advancing as a people?) Anyway, there's a lot of talent out there, and enough candidates to fill a whole issue. So here's your homework for next year: either find the best artist, or become it. EA


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