The Sci-Fi Show combines the talents of local writers, artists and performers 

click to enlarge HANNAH MOGHBEL
  • Hannah Moghbel
Local painters Claire Swinford and Brett Andrus remind us that even professional fine artists can be “colossal dorks,” illustrating their point alongside eight other artists, 10 writers and more than 20 performers.

Originally inspired by a desire to illustrate scenes from The Adventure Zone, a Dungeons & Dragons podcast, Swinford and Andrus decided instead to paint the work of local writers, and to get friends in on the fun. The result — an ambitious multimedia exhibition called The Sci-Fi Show — opens at S.P.Q.R. on Sept. 7.

The two started by recruiting writers like Colorado College assistant professor Michael Sawyer and Spirettes member Kellie Palmblad to pen sci-fi short stories. (Full disclosure: Three Indy writers contributed, including myself, Griffin Swartzell and Nico Wilkinson, and Swinford is a former Indy employee.) These stories cover everything from sentient sexbots to government mind control to small Alaskan towns beset by mysterious drones — great material for illustration.

But the vintage pulpy sci-fi novels and movie posters that inspired them, like Conan the Barbarian and Flash Gordon, aren’t typically considered fine art. “What I tried to do with selecting the artists of the show,” Andrus says, “is try to find artists whose work I love, and who don’t necessarily work in a sci-fi manner, with the kind of goal of pissing them off ... [to] push them out of their comfort zone.”
Local artists such as Cymon Padilla, Phil Lear and April Dawes agreed (often enthusiastically) to paint large-scale faux book covers, one for each story.

“As we got the stories in,” Swinford says, explaining the final piece of The Sci-Fi Show puzzle, “it was like ... we really want to give people every chance to engage with this great content, so how can we build in more?”

To make the stories accessible on all levels, the duo found local actors and musicians to record them. Guests can listen to each recording, fully scored by Andrus, on headphones while they peruse the art.

Andrus and Swinford aren’t just excited that they found upwards of 40 dorks to participate in this project, but that they found all of them in Colorado Springs.

“For a city that maybe doesn’t always get top billing for its arts and culture scene,” Swinford says, “this is a reminder that if you want that stuff, you’ve just got to look for it, ’cause it’s there, and it’s powerful, and it’s really cool. From that standpoint, it was just a pleasure to be able to prove it.”


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