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Springs art galleries tour offers the wild, the hidden and the entirely unique 

Art Abounds

click to enlarge Fine Arts Center - EDOUARD DUVAL-CARRIÉ
  • Edouard Duval-Carrié
  • Fine Arts Center
There are too many art galleries to count in the Pikes Peak region, and far too many to list here. Plus, you can find art at every turn, even outside your traditional gallery: Coffee shops and bars host the work of local artists; murals decorate buildings around the region; the Downtown Partnership’s Art on the Streets program sets sculptures around the city’s core; and (unofficially) you can explore some pretty exciting street art sprayed on overpasses. Feeling sensory overload already? Let’s direct your eye to some of our local leaders on the scene.

Naturally, any art lover must stop by the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center at Colorado College (30 W. Dale St.). In 2016, the FAC and Colorado College officially embarked on a merger that has since informed the trajectory of the FAC’s programming. While they’ve always had an eye for diversity, this last season has offered exhibits spanning cultures and styles of art from Haitian to Brazilian, classic to contemporary. The partnership with CC means each exhibit is meant to start conversation and inform education.
And, truly, all of our university-attached institutions are stellar. UCCS’ Galleries of Contemporary Art display thoughtful and unique contemporary works in both the campus gallery at UCCS’ recently opened Ent Center for the Arts (5225 N. Nevada Ave.), and their chic downtown space (121 S. Tejon St.). Look forward to installation art, multimedia exhibits and work by accomplished national and regional artists.
The Pikes Peak Community College Downtown Studio Gallery (100 W. Pikes Peak Ave.) also offers some education with its art. The gallery’s mission is to expose students to exceptional work, and to give them a place to exhibit their own. They also host interdisciplinary performances, art discussions and more.

But the higher-ed galleries aren’t the only big players in town. Cottonwood Center for the Arts (427 E. Colorado Ave.), located just outside the downtown core, boasts nearly 100 studio artists in one building, and guests are welcome to visit, shop and see these artists at work. In addition, they host monthly juried exhibits in their main gallery spaces, displaying art from within and outside their stable.
click to enlarge Art on the Streets
  • Art on the Streets
In the heart of downtown, you’ll find myriad galleries worth peeking into — what feels like one per block, at least. But one must-see destination lies off the main drag, where you might not think to look. “Arts Alley,” the alleyway between Bijou and Kiowa streets on the north and south, and Tejon Street and Cascade Avenue on the east and west, is home to The Modbo (17-C E. Bijou St.) and S.P.Q.R. (17-B E. Bijou St.). The Modbo’s monthly shows are always wild, presenting the work of accomplished local artists like Cymon Padilla and Sean O’Meallie, who are known for pushing boundaries. S.P.Q.R. most frequently displays the work of its owner, Brett Andrus, who also offers art classes in the studio. Bonus 1: Arts Alley’s First Friday parties go until midnight. Bonus 2: Shakespeare in the Alley starts this summer with a production of Twelfth Night.

Also downtown, The Gallery Below (718-B N. Weber St.) has emerged as one of the city’s most progressive galleries. Not only is the artwork constantly rotating and entirely unique, but this hidden gem also offers some impressive and socially conscious programming. In addition to collaborating with Hear Here Poetry for diverse open mics and hosting events like queer film screenings, The Gallery Below consistently gives voice to the marginalized on their walls. A notable exhibit last year, The Thread That Binds Us, presented artwork related to reproductive rights in collaboration with Planned Parenthood.

On your way west out of downtown, we recommend making a special stop in the Depot Arts District right under the Colorado Avenue bridge. Here, you’ll find Kreuser Gallery (218 W. Colorado Ave.), the home of local photographer Abigail Kreuser, who exhibits the work of local artists on a rotating, monthly basis. A happening First Friday destination on its own, Kreuser also shares a building with TwentyOne8 and The Bridge Gallery, which promote great local art in every medium you can imagine. We’re particularly fond of TwentyOne8, a relatively new gallery run by artist Amanda Jean, whose special alcohol inks are always on display alongside works from other local artists.

Continuing on Colorado Avenue into Old Colorado City: True to its name, this cute, classic part of town holds a lot of traditional artwork, but some neat contemporary stuff, too. We always dig the whimsical, interactive environment of Chavez Gallery (25241/2 W. Colorado Ave.), owned by Liese and Kris Chavez. The Squash Blossom (2531 W. Colorado Ave.) specializes in jewelry and unique home décor, and stands out from its fellows with fresh and eclectic pieces, often functional as well as aesthetically interesting.
click to enlarge Chavez Gallery - LIESE CHAVEZ
  • Liese Chavez
  • Chavez Gallery

Farther down the avenue, the artsy will adore Manitou Springs and all it has to offer. Check out The Manitou Art Center (513-515 Manitou Ave.), which, among its variety of rotating exhibits, offers a makerspace and a preschool, and hosts an ongoing First Amendment Gallery for those who wish to exercise their right to free speech in these politically divisive times. More traditional work can be found at Commonwheel Artists Co-op (102 Cañon Ave.), one of the more well-established and interesting of the traditional art galleries around the region. The co-op’s diverse members work in media from mosaic to pottery to painting, and their occasional juried shows offer a chance for non-members to submit their work, making for a nice variety.

Also in Manitou, Green Horse Gallery (729 Manitou Ave.) is practically the definition of eclectic. Raku pottery, wire sculpture and more grace the walls and shelves of this fantastic gift gallery, which includes the work of nearly 50 artists.

While Manitou Springs was once the go-to destination for Third Fridays, the Manitou Springs Creative District will participate in the traditional First starting in April 2018 (barring a few galleries who will participate in both first and third for the time being). The Cultural Office of the Pikes Peak Region’s shuttle bus — which traveled between downtown and OCC on First Fridays last season — will now go all the way to Manitou as well, every month from April to December.
While this accessibility will satisfy the appetite of many an art-lover, one can’t forget the other galleries around town that don’t get the benefit of a shuttle ride — or consistent foot traffic, for that matter.
click to enlarge G44 Gallery - RICK BERRY
  • Rick Berry
  • G44 Gallery

A favorite, G44 Gallery (1785 S. Eighth St.), lies at the tail end of Eighth Street near Sovereignty Wines and the Cheyenne Mountain Library. G44 consistently exhibits some of the most interesting contemporary work around, and offers local and regional art for sale. Don’t let the location fool you — it’s in a world of its own.

Folks in the northeast part of town will be glad to hear there’s an art outlet for them, too, located miles from other galleries in a shopping center that looks more commercial than artistic. Humming Line Gallery (4851 Barnes Road) hosts a huge variety of artists, whose work ranges from glass and wire mobiles and wall-hangings to traditional watercolor, to jewelry and abstract paintings.

Again, we can’t fit in everyone here, so follow the music on First Fridays to any fabulous Springs-area gallery, and check out our event listings for more art to explore.

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