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New downtown venue introduces unique art series

click to enlarge Thomas McElroy, aka Atomic Elroy, peeking in on the - arts scene. - FILE PHOTO
  • File Photo
  • Thomas McElroy, aka Atomic Elroy, peeking in on the arts scene.

2006 promises to be an active year for the arts scene in Colorado Springs. In addition to the Fine Arts Center's extensive makeover, the highly anticipated Art Wars III and the usual basketload of other fine annual events, this little slice of the Front Range soon will benefit from a regular ARTNIGHT series at WATCH THIS SPACE, a new arts venue located at the former CHAOS Studios downtown.

Curator Rodney "Artstalker" Wood joins former CHAOS mastermind and current WTS artistic director Tom "Atomic" McElroy in the creation of a pioneering program of time-based media and theater. ARTNIGHT focuses on three activities related to film and video, installation and performing arts. Respectively titled SCRUTINIZE, ARTHOUSE and ARTLAB, the art mnage intends to develop a consistent dialogue and forum for unusual arts.

"We're trying a new approach with this format," says McElroy. "Our goal is to bring a level of awareness and participation to the local arts community in a non-threatening, not-so-stuffy manner. We want to transcend the standard, pedantic academic discussion."

McElroy cites Wood's rsum of arts advocacy and service as key to WTS' success.

"He's a great bridge between the art and business worlds," says McElroy.

Wood formerly owned Thunderstruck Gallery and served as executive director of the Business of Art Center in Manitou Springs.

SCRUTINIZE kicks off Jan. 10, with further dates on Feb. 7 and March 14. Expect art salon, slide-slam, lecture and debate formats.

January's premier discussion poses the broad question, "What is art?" Gerry Riggs, retiring director of the Gallery of Contemporary Art at UCCS, will join arts writer and critic Mark Arnest to guide participants in tackling the elusive query.

Echoing the familiar cries of a car salesman, McElroy "guarantees" these art nights "will be unlike anything anyone has previously experienced" -- "money back" if someone finds them stale.

"These are going to be so different from traditional happenings in that there's a little bit of everything: presentation, the visual art element, participation and the live element," McElroy insists.

Many SCRUTINIZE nights will host featured artists and invite critique, and some will use the open-projector format for what has come to be known as slide slam. Unlike poetry slam or emcee battles, slide slam isn't so much verbal assault as two artists popping 35 mm slides into a projector back-to-back, facing off in a politely competitive arts environment.

WTS is a "time-based media gallery," which essentially hints that art, like all things, is susceptible to the laws of physics -- particularly those of time and space. The founders side with a school of thought that acknowledges art as existing in a set time. To truly experience it, one needs to be in the room in which it exists. The overall construction of the art experience thereby becomes not only the creation, but the live presentation and improvised, or real, reaction and promoted dialogue.

-- Matthew Schniper



WATCH THIS SPACE, 802 N. Weber St.

Jan. 10, 7-10 p.m.

Tickets: $5; call 719/634-5429 for more information or visit watchspace.blogspot.com.

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