Pink is the new black 

Big-city connection brings Manitou into a can't-miss movement

click to enlarge Tina Siegfried (left, with Brock Lipman and Mary Le Bea) - was able to bring Pink Guns to Southern Colorado - because of her friendship with Nick Conlon. - L'AURA MONTGOMERY
  • L'Aura Montgomery
  • Tina Siegfried (left, with Brock Lipman and Mary Le Bea) was able to bring Pink Guns to Southern Colorado because of her friendship with Nick Conlon.
[Editor's note: Rainy Days address corrected on Dec. 6 at 10:40 a.m.]

Pink guns. Desirable? Not necessarily. Pink gun T-shirts? Now, everyone can get behind those.

At least that's what Chicago native Nick Conlon hopes. Four years ago, while the anti-war artist was reading about genocide happening in Africa, he wanted to do something.

His first thought was to give every African woman and child a pink gun.

"Who would really want to fight with a pink gun? Who would want to fight a pink gun?" Conlon asks. "It would look sort of surreal and silly."

He knew he couldn't pull this off financially, or logistically. And he couldn't go to Africa and physically fight for the women and children who were being raped and brutalized because of their ethnic origin, either. So he decided to use his art to make a statement. He wants people to wear his clothing line, Pink Guns, like a badge of love.

"Clothing, you can sport it, you can show it, [say] 'Listen, this is what I believe in,'" he says.

The 32-year-old isn't new to using art in this way. The first print series he did was called "Blood for Money."

"It was based on the [Iraq] war," he explains. "I started with that line because of the war. ... I started putting my picture with blood and money. I've always been socially conscious and anti-war."

His first-ever T-shirt project was a design for a gay pride festival in West Hollywood. And while his current work is mostly in video and canvas, he's also stepping into political graffiti.

Since 2003, Conlon's gone from giving Pink Guns pieces to friends and family, and talking to them about his concerns on a very personal level, to selling T-shirts, sweatshirts and caps in small boutiques across the country. Buyers can find his line in New York, Miami and Chicago.

And now, Manitou Springs.

A friendship between Conlon and Tina Siegfried, owner of Colachi Arts, brought these products, and a series of original Pink Guns prints, to the contemporary gallery and shop in Manitou. (It was Conlon's idea that Siegfried open the gallery.)

Though Conlon designed the apparel, the shirts and hats sold here are true Colorado originals. Each clothing-line element is silk-screened at Rainy Days Silkscreen Studio in the Depot Arts District.

Like Conlon, Siegfried hopes to make a difference by selling these products; an as-yet-undetermined portion of the proceeds will go to women and children in need in Africa. She believes it's important to keep issues like genocide at the front of people's consciousness.

"The time's right," Siegfried says. "Soon, [there will be] a new ... president. And war is still going on in Iraq. We can't get lax about the ways of the world."

It's that same kind of emotion that pushes Conlon to grow Pink Guns. You'll have to travel to one of those big cities to see his planned couture line, an expensive collection of dresses and skirts. But here, later this winter, you can find a "snow line" that includes snowsuits and caps.

Because messages like this shouldn't be limited to jeans and gym shoes.

Snow bunnies need pink guns, too.

Pink Guns open house and fashion show with Nick Conlon
Colachi Arts, 1107 Manitou Ave., #11, Manitou Springs
Saturday, Dec. 8, 4-9 p.m.; fashion show, 8 p.m.
Free; call 685-1254 for more.

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