Art In The City
The arts in the Colorado Springs area are a catalyst for economic vitality.
From the Tri-Lakes area to Teller County, downtown Colorado Springs to Manitou Springs, the arts are alive and well in the Pikes Peak Region thanks to an environment in which artists and their work can thrive.
Andy Vick, the executive director of the Cultural Office of the Pikes Peak Region, admits he inherited a strong foundation and community filled with diverse cultural underpinnings, but it’s taken some very hard work and collaboration to truly bring the arts back into the foreground.
“The arts are an important part of the quality of life for any community,” Vick says. “Oftentimes, we think of the arts as being fun and fluffy, but it has a tangible benefit in economic development, and we are in that rhythm now.”
Vick says the additions of the Ent Center for the Arts at UCCS, more offerings at the Broadmoor World Arena and Pikes Peak Center, and smaller organizations feeling more a part of the community have made the arts stronger as a whole. “No one person can own it,” he says. “That’s the point. We have to put people together who can make key connections, and then we bring focus to it with things like Arts Month.”
Vick is referring to October, which has been dubbed “Arts Month” in the Pikes Peak Region and features activities for community engagement throughout the region, including the City of Fountain, Teller County, Monument, Manitou Springs, and Colorado Springs. A complete list of happenings can be found at PeakRadar.com/ArtsMonth.
Art in the Streets
In some ways, caring for the health of the arts has been taken into the hands of individuals sprinkled throughout our community. Paes164 is a nationally known tattoo artist and muralist whose studio is located in the Knob Hill neighborhood. He took on a project to revitalize the business district along Platte Avenue between Union Boulevard and Circle Drive by joining forces with other artists to paint large-format murals on the sides of buildings. From there, the Knob Hill Urban Arts District was born, and the work of these artists and many more continues to unfold.
“We are trying to shine a light on local culture and incorporate the arts in the process,” Paes164 says. “The businesses have been welcoming of the murals because they are cool public art. We don’t allow anything hateful or controversial, and some pay tribute to our history here.”
Eulalio “Scotch” Alvarez is a muralist based in Manitou Springs, and although he was honored with a third-place finish in the Colorado Springs Arts on the Street competition, he considers himself up and coming. “Street art is unique to city life and urban life,” he says. “It brings joy and color to a neighborhood, and I think people appreciate seeing it every day.”
The Tri-Lakes area is also hopping with the arts thanks to local business owners, such as Jodie Bliss of Bliss Studio & Gallery. Bliss creates hand-forged custom steel work, including sculpture, railings, and gates, but she is also a cheerleader for the arts in her hometown of Monument. She holds workshops at her studio and participates in creating public art for various purposes. The town hosts “Art Hop” every third Thursday from May through September. “Art Hop is our chance to show people the potential the town has while also showcasing artists and their work,” Bliss says. “Then maybe someone comes to the event and they have a dream of opening a bakery and they can see that happening here. We really need to step it up and present our potential.”
The Tri-Lakes area also has its own effort in public art called ARTSites with various sculptures, statues, and other forms of art scattered throughout the community. A map detailing the art pieces and locations can be picked up at retailers in the area or at trilakesviews.org.
Business partners Arley-Rose Torsone and Morgan Calderini are putting Colorado Springs on the map with their internationally acclaimed Ladyfingers Letterpress and retail shop. Torsone marries her whimsical hand-lettering, artwork, and sense of humor with Calderini’s love of the historic method of letterpress printing to create a line of greeting cards that sell in more than 800 locations nationally and internationally, including the United Kingdom, Australia, and Japan.
The business was formed from the two creating their own wedding invitation—a unique, larger-format piece that, through the hand-lettering, design, and letterpress printing, made a huge impression among their friends. Requests began pouring in for custom work and then their line of cards debuted and, before they knew it, the business took off and has been going strong ever since.
Calderini says they’ve also made a niche for themselves by focusing on their own experiences as a gay couple and putting those sentiments into cards that don’t make it to the grocery store. “We focus on current events, timely things, pop culture, TV shows, and LGBT relationships,” she says. “We feel very lucky for how the Colorado Springs community has accepted and supported us.”
It seems there is a lot of support for the arts and budding artists from grassroots efforts to very publicized partnerships. The Machine Shop is a creative co-working space downtown housing four independent businesses including an architecture firm and graphic design studios. But, in an effort to support the arts scene, they dedicated space for an artist in residence to call the Machine Shop home for a three-month stint in order to create some special work that, at the end of the time, could be placed on display for a solo show. Valerie Lloyd is the brains behind the idea. “I think it’s a good pairing to bring in a creative, hands-on artist when the rest of us are staring at computer screens,” she says. “And I wanted to do something to give back to the community.”
Lloyd meets with potential artists to ensure she finds a good fit for the space and work that is worthy of a show at the end of the three months. She also strives to find a good variety, representing all forms of art. “This also gives the artist a place to be downtown,” she says. “I think it’s important for them to be around people because often these artists are isolated in their own homes as their studios.”
On a larger scale, the Ent Center for the Arts is a massive complex located on the UCCS campus that opened in January 2018. The building, made possible in part by major donors, houses four performing arts venues and an art gallery. All of the professional arts programs dubbed “UCCS Presents” including the Artist Series, Theatreworks, and the Galleries of Contemporary Art are now located there as well as academic programs for the visual and performing arts department, including music, theatre, and dance and the UCCS box office facilities.
Drew Martorella, executive director of UCCS Presents, says that, prior to the opening of the building, these functions were scattered all over campus or did not exist at all. “The promise that this building held was to bring the arts under one roof, and it’s been extraordinary for our programs,” he says. “But the fact that it is available and open for the usage by many arts nonprofits is even better because, prior to this, they did not have a home.”
Martorella says partner organizations, such as the Youth Symphony, Chamber Orchestra, and Children’s Chorale have all utilized the new facility, and to date, some 450 events and more than 200,000 people have enjoyed the building. “This building has allowed us to shift into another dimension, and the future looks very bright,” he says.
With so much happening in and around the region with regard to the arts, Vick says we have to keep pushing. “It’s important to children and education that we grow this from the ground up,” he says. “Collectively, we can make our city and region better just by engaging more people in the creative sector.”
FIRST FRIDAY ART WALKSFirst Friday, April through October
Enjoy the free bus that shuttles you from gallery openings, live demos, and special performances in downtown Colorado Springs to Old Colorado City and Manitou Springs. Most galleries are open from 5–8 p.m. For a schedule of bus stop locations, gallery maps, and more, visit PeakRadar.com/FirstFriday.
Downtown Monument Art HopThird Thursday, May through September
Enjoy special events, live music, book signings, and demonstrations in historic downtown Monument (downtownmonument.org).
Front Range Open Studios Tour10 a.m.–5 p.m., Sept. 7 and 8
This free educational arts festival showcases 16 studios and workshops with 22 artists demonstrating their techniques and providing hands-on experiences (frontrangeopenstudios.com).
Artini5:30–8:30 p.m., Sept. 27
October is Arts Month, and Artini is the official kickoff party at The Mining Exchange. This is a free event for anyone 21 and over (PeakRadar.com/artsmonth).
Bliss Studio & Gallery Iron Pour6–10 p.m., Sept. 29
Celebrate Arts Month by pouring hot molten iron into molds you’ve created. Visit forgeyourbliss.com for tickets and registration information.
Pikes Peak Studio Tour10 a.m.–5 p.m., Oct. 19 and 20
See working artists in their studios and learn first-hand about their craft. There will be a variety of artists working in different media, including painters, potters, jewelry designers, and photographers (pikespeakstudiotour.com)
Manitou Paints!10 a.m.–3 p.m., Oct. 21
This free plein air event features artists working outdoors in public spaces around Manitou Springs (ManitouSprings.org/events).
This area is home to more than 50 spaces showcasing artwork in its various forms; here are just a few highlights.
Abigail Kreuser Gallery
opened in February 2011 with a mission of creating a venue for established and up-and-coming local artists. It hosts opening receptions in conjunction with First Friday Art Walks every month from 5 to 9 p.m. This fall, the gallery is featuring artists Erin Jones and Brett Andrus and well as collaborative shows. For more information and to see upcoming openings, visit abigailkreusergallery.com.
features a variety of genres, styles, and media from collectible historic and contemporary fine art to more affordable up-and-coming artists. Located at The Broadmoor, it hosts a wine and art reception every Saturday from 4 to 6 p.m. as well as many special events through the year. Visit BroadmoorGalleries.com to see a list of upcoming events and featured artists.
features local and regional artists and hosts solo shows that rotate every five to six weeks. The gallery’s emphasis is on abstract contemporary and contemporary realism work. Visit g44gallery.com to see the current featured artist and upcoming shows and events.
FEATURED EVENT: August 23–September 28 / Pamela “Raye” Fickes-Miller
As a photographer, Fickes-Miller draws on her experiences from living abroad in Syria, Canada, and France and travels to South America, the Middle East, and Europe to deliver compelling images that capture everyday urban life. She now resides in Colorado, where she continues to develop her work.
FEATURED EVENT: October 4–November 16 / Michelle McMahan
McMahan is an abstract artist using exotic and domestic hardwoods to create assemblage pieces that are unique yet universally appealing. While living in Brazil, she found a sense of purpose by restoring beauty and design to wood that was left to rot. She now resides in the United States and continues to create her art using wood that has been collected over many years and from various locations.
Galleries of Contemporary Art at UCCS
is intended as a social space, presenting exhibitions, lectures, and programs that offer a lens into the world of contemporary visual art. Visit uccspresents.org/experience-art/goca for details on all upcoming events.
FEATURED EVENT: September 5–December 8 / Vadis Turner: Megaliths
Nashville-born Turner is a mixed-media artist who explores the female experience, intergenerational wisdom, rites of passage, and gender roles through the lens of her family history. She creates abstract assemblage artwork coupled with narratives that demonstrate the value of female experiences gleaned from artist-organized intergenerational listening sessions.
houses a diverse collection of work from artists in Colorado and throughout the United States and Mexico. The gallery has several special events and activities planned throughout the fall. Visit hunterwolffgallery.com for the latest information.
FEATURED EVENT: 5–8 p.m., Friday, Oct. 4 / 14th Anniversary Celebration and Artist Opening Featuring Colorado Artist Jennifer Jung
Stop by for refreshments and view Jung’s collection of serene landscapes inspired by some of her favorite hiking spots in the state as well as iconic Colorado destinations. The gallery will also have works from many other artists on display.
is a contemporary art gallery located in downtown Colorado Springs. It is known for featuring emerging artists, and the gallery is also used for non–gallery related events. Visit themodbo.com for more information to see featured artists and future events.