Rorschach test 

Your map to our visual arts landscape starts with you

Intrigued by the visual arts, and looking to get pointed in the right direction locally? Try using the art itself as a compass.

Organized loosely by genre, the galleries mentioned here are regional offerings that have consistently impressed, stood the test of time, or both.

That said, they represent just a slice of what the cultural community has to offer. Our website (csindy.com) can help you fish out further destinations, but we recommend finding them for yourself by capitalizing on monthly art walks, where you can hit a bunch of places all at once:

First Fridays: Old Colorado City (April through December), downtown Colorado Springs and Pueblo (both year-round)

Third Fridays: Woodland Park (year-round), Manitou Springs (March through November)

Third Thursdays: Monument (May through September)

Other events pop up, too; Cottonwood Center for the Arts does last Saturdays, for instance. Pick a destination and let the journey begin.

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Stuff You Can't Buy

The handsome gent pictured above comes courtesy of a recent Matt O'Neill show at the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center (30 W. Dale St., csfineartscenter.org), our preeminent local arts institution, whose museum is helmed by curator extraordinaire Blake Milteer. 2015 is the FAC's year of Georgia O'Keeffe, with a blockbuster planned for June.

The galleries at Pikes Peak Community College (goo.gl/uXQ8LD), the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs (galleryuccs.org) and Colorado College (theideaspace.com) are also terrific, showcasing superb student art while also landing professional artists from around the world. All three are free to visit, so there's no excuse to not give them a try. See also: Sangre de Cristo Arts Center (in Pueblo).

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Manitou Springs likes to elevate the oft-mundane — vases, tableware, boxes, etc. — and Commonwheel Artists Co-op (102 Cañon Ave., commonwheel.com) is the first place to go for lovely ceramics and much more from Colorado artists such as Peggy Crago (work pictured). Green Horse Gallery (729 Manitou Ave., greenhorsegallery.com) just up the road is another resource, with lots of fun gifty items as well. Completing the Manitou trifecta is Mountain Living Studio (741 Manitou Ave., mountainlivingstudio.com), where you can find all the above, plus a fun view of the Avenue from the second floor. All three cater to the nonfunctional arts as well. See also: Hunter-Wolff Gallery, 45 Degree Gallery.

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If Western's your taste, no one can top the photography of Kathleen McFadden of Range Gallery (longshotphotography.com). The woman has an eye for Americana and a passion for cameras, meaning lots of images shot with vintage models, as well as those benefiting from advanced technology, such as her panoramic series. McFadden's recently vacated her gallery for "greener pastures"; watch her website for updates.

Boulder Street Gallery (206 N. Tejon St., boulderstreetgallery.com), while offering a variety of genres with monthly displays, is also the de facto home of the Pikes Peak Watercolor Society. Member Myra Patin is the artist behind the crabs below. The Broadmoor Galleries (1 Lake Ave., broadmoorgalleries.com) go high-end, with a variety of works from seriously talented artists, local to international. See also: Arati Artists Gallery, The Michael Garman Museum & Gallery, Secret Window Gallery (Monument).

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You like games, tea from a china pot, and detailed works that transcend fantasy? The husband-and-wife team behind Chavez Gallery (2616 W. Colorado Ave., chavezartgallery.com) will charm you as much with their magic tricks as with their imaginative works.

You prefer a no-frills industrial mood with an ever-changing roster of emerging local artists? The Modbo and S.P.Q.R. (17B and 17C E. Bijou St., themodbo.com) will make you feel like you're in the middle of an arts renaissance in the coolest city in America. Natch.

Also, spots underneath the Colorado Avenue Bridge — the Kreuser, AHA, Commons and Bridge galleries — make up a robust microclimate devoted to local art (like that of Gary Jensen, whose work is pictured), and you literally never know what you'll find. Except that it'll be worth your while. See also: G44 Gallery, Dream Catchers Gallery, Kadoya Gallery (Pueblo).

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From functional to traditional to edgy — these spots are a conglomeration of their collective talents. Brand new to the scene is We Us Our Artist's Market (111 E. Bijou St., goo.gl/8KA9cq), the retail outlet for the Colorado Creators' Guild. There's something for literally every budget. Dave Voth, Tylan Troyer and K8E Orr are a few of the place's growing crew of member artists.

Cottonwood Center for the Arts (427 E. Colorado Ave., cottonwoodcenterforthearts.com) is a converted office building packed full of artists of nearly every age, who work in nearly every medium. Non-Cottonwood artists show there too, like Frank Nemick, whose work is pictured to the left. The Manitou Art Center (513-515 Manitou Ave., Manitou Springs, goo.gl/cbT2yA) also does the multi-use thing, with shows, studios and the Pikes Peak Makerspace area, where you can enroll in workshops and learn to use the 3D printing equipment. See also: Gallery 113, Second Floor Studios, Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts (Palmer Lake).

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Art classes

There's no shortage of places to get your hands dirty in this town, and if that means paint and clay to you, here are some opportunities for arts education.

The Bemis School of Art, attached to the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center (818 Pelham Place, bemisartschool.org), is the best place to start, since it has the widest variety of courses. Its homepage sports a count: 142 classes, 44 instructors and 30 mediums as of press time. Open to all ages, Bemis even offers classes on Adobe Lightroom, art journaling, art history and cartooning and animation.

Cottonwood Center for the Arts (pictured) is another popular and varied resource. Here, you'll find courses devoted to topics like abstract expressionism, as well as beginning guitar. Given that Cottonwood's diverse studio artists often teach, there are tons of possibilities. Check out the drop-in options, too.

The ModboCo School of Art has moved out of Ivywild School and back into the Modbo and S.P.Q.R. galleries, where it's serving up beginner to advanced drawing and painting courses, along with children's classes. They're pretty affordable, and often held at night, making them attractive to lots of working folks.

Other places to try include: Fare Bella Studio & Gallery (14 Ruxton Ave., Manitou Springs, farebellagallery.com), which has long offered watercolor classes, and We Us Our, which has been prepping for classes on topics like glass beading. Concrete Couch (concretecouch.org) is more of a community-building arts entity, but hands-on activities are what it's all about, and are the best way to learn anything.


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