Reinventing our cultural landscape 

As David Turner and the board of the Fine Arts Center begin making preliminary decisions for the design of the new FAC gallery space, and the City of Colorado Springs ponders the fate of Starr Kempf's sculptures, it's time to consider the cultural future of our fair hamlet in purely economic terms.

According to the March 16 edition of The Denver Post, the spectacular new 146,000 square-foot addition to the Denver Art Museum will "bring anywhere from 155,000 to 260,000 new tourists to Denver annually, pumping somewhere between $20 million to more than $100 million into the local economy."

If the majority of these tourists are "cultural tourists," as the Post article asserts, the FAC and the City of Colorado Springs might want to start thinking about ways to lure those tourists down from Denver to drop a few of those millions. And, we should be able to offer them something other than the tired postcard face of the Garden of the Gods.

Here are my suggestions:

1) As I said last week, the City should seriously consider purchasing at least three replicas of Starr Kempf's monumental kinetic wind sculptures. His daughter Lottie Kempf invited me to tour their house in Cheyenne Canyon -- where the sculptures are displayed, at least for now -- this past Sunday. What struck me even more than the sculptures themselves were the people who were there admiring them: a WWII veteran, an older woman from Austria, a young couple, an older well-to-do couple, ranchers, children, etc. The appeal of the sculptures is universal and would be an even bigger draw if replicas were located in Confluence Park in the center of town.

2) The new wing of the FAC should be a landmark, architectural monument. Though John Gaw Meem's original building is an absolute local treasure, we don't need any more gray modern buildings in this town. Take a look at Bilbao, Spain and the way Frank Gehry's gorgeous new brushed steel Guggenheim Museum has completely transformed both the identity and the economy of Bilbao.

Instead, Turner and the FAC should demand a truly innovative design from architects Gwathmey-Siegel and Gensler. Many of their projects are featured at their Web site, www.gwathmey-siegel.com, and the majority of their architecture is extremely conservative, often quite office parklike, and sometimes downright boring.

This city deserves something brash and exciting that will be as much of a draw on the outside as it hopes to be inside.

Meanwhile, music entrepreneur Jason Spears, owner of the Acoustic Coffee Lounge, told the Independent that he hopes to have his new club and restaurant at the corner of Colorado Avenue and Tejon Street (in the old Art Hardware building) operational by mid-August of this year. The 700- to 800-person capacity club hopes to bring great big-name acts to the area as well as provide a regular venue for great local talent.

A capacity crowd of eight (guess I missed the Friday night sell-out) sat at attention Saturday night at Chaos Studios while Atomic Elroy delivered a riveting Taoist art bout between himself and two black-and-white dummies, or something. It got a little out of control when he began vomiting on several naked dwarves and wildly defacing kittens ... (just kidding). But seriously folks, what ever happened to all that '70s performance art involving naked people, bodily fluids and kittens?

Music pick of the week: ultra-talented local rapper Revanon will be headlining at Industrial Nation Friday, March 29. Tickets are $5, and it's all ages. Doors open at 8 p.m.


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