Mar 18, 2015

Meet Bob and Pat, our March Members of the Month!

Bob Hadley & Pat Topping - Fine Arts Center members for one year

Why did you become a member of the FAC?

Pat: I wanted to be able to visit whenever I wanted, and not rely on the free days so much. I am on a fixed income and it was a stretch to purchase a higher level membership so that Robert could be included. But I have found I come more often and I always feel so relaxed, yet energized, after a visit. 

Bob: It was a gift from my Beautiful Lady…

When did your interest in the arts begin?

Bob: My formal introduction to the arts was in kindergarten. Mrs. Kohlstead tried to expose the class to every aspect of the arts– music, painting and even opera. My grandmother was instrumental in the introduction of opera though. My parents were also a factor. My father played piano and my mother sang with a jazz band during WWII.  

Pat: I think it was in the 7th grade, in art class. I wasn’t very good at anything, but part of the class was art appreciation and history, and our teacher was good at exposing us to different things. I fell in love with Salvador Dali’s work; that dripping clock I understood! His work just somehow resonated. I remember all I asked for that year for Christmas was a book about him. My parents gave me a wonderful coffee-table book about him and his work (I still have it) and that first delight just grew over the years.

What has been one of your favorite plays, classes or exhibits at the FAC?

Pat: Lots of exhibits pop up – the Birger Sandzén exhibit (Sandzén in Colorado, 2011) comes immediately to mind. I love his work, and have been to the Sandzén gallery in Lindsborg, Kansas, twice. But two things that really stand out are the current Continuance exhibit and the play, Chicago (2003), from a few years back. I like industrial art and simply can’t get enough of Chuck and Collins’s exhibit Continuance. That huge circle of light is wondrous (Divided, 2013). I can sit for hours and watch it. I would love to see the FAC purchase some of the exhibit pieces for the permanent collection.  

Bob: Hands down, Continuance: Charles and Collin Parson (2014), the exhibit was awesome. The Artist & Curator Conversation forum (which took place Feb. 7, 2015) with the artists and staff was amazing. To be able to get the thought process and ideas from beginning to end: art in motion, the conception, birth and raising of a baby. I think the forum is essential to understanding and appreciating the artwork.

What is your favorite work of art on display at the FAC right now?

Bob: Collin Parson’s sixteen foot circle (Divided, 2013). When I first viewed it, the room was relatively empty. It gave me, a combat vet with PTSD issues, a sense of peace. When I conveyed this to Collin, it affected him. All I want to say to him is thanks. It is a very powerful, tranquil piece. Art should affect a person and this piece does. I’m grateful to be able to tell him how it affected me at the Artist & Curator Conversation forum hosted at the FAC. I feel that the FAC staff wants the community to really immerse itself in the world of art, not just the displays, but during the social gatherings like the first Saturday Monthly Member Tours, and just being approachable by all. It’s a very welcoming attitude.  

Pat: Besides the Continuance exhibit, one piece I love is the Vance Kirkland (Vibrations of Scarlet on Blue and Green, No. 5, 1969) that is currently on display. I have also been a member of the Kirkland Museum in Denver, and think he is underappreciated.

What else do you like to do for fun in Colorado Springs?

Pat: Besides follow the Broncos and the Avalanche?  Hiking, road trips for any reason but especially to see my grandkids, TheatreWorks, movies, needlepoint and embroidery (I belong to the Embroiders’ Guild of America. For the past 10 years I have enjoyed learning new techniques about fibers, fabric, color and texture, and have started designing some of my own work), playing with my dog (who wants to play Frisbee until my arm falls off), and I read, read, read!  

Bob: We, my lady Pat and I, are members of TheatreWorks, and the Colorado Springs Conservatory’s The Mezzanine. Between those and the FAC we manage to keep busy. We also like to travel, play with our dogs (read kids), restore old cars (works of art in themselves… could be a future exhibit!! Hint, hint), and work on our house.

To hear what else Bob & Pat had to say about the Fine Arts Center, check out the video below!

Feb 3, 2015

Meet our February Member of the Month: Eunice Diaz

Eunice Diaz - Fine Arts Center member for 5 years

Why did you become a member of the FAC? 

Like Pablo Picasso elegantly said: “The purpose of art is washing the dust of daily life off our souls.” I am an art lover and a strong believer in the power of the arts. You see, the arts, both performing and visual, are what makes us most human, most complete as people. I believe that taking time to appreciate this beauty is part of our humanity. By being a member I get free admission to the permanent collections, monthly members-only tours every first Saturday of the month, discounted art classes and discounts on theater tickets… It doesn’t get any better! I get to be part of the cultural vitality of Colorado Springs. There’s a strong relationship between arts and cultural engagement, and I love to be engaged. 

When did your interest in the arts begin?

I have always been very inclined towards the arts. I hold a Bachelor’s degree in Arts, with a concentration in foreign languages. Classes such as Music, and Arts Appreciation were my bread and butter for more than four years. During my junior year of college I participated in an exchange program and got to study French and French Civilization in Paris. While I was there I visited famous, renowned museums such as Le Louvre, Musée d’Orsay and the Picasso Museum. After I graduated college I went to New York as an intern for the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) and completed a six-month internship working in the museum’s library. Currently, I am a docent at the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center, so a few times a month I get to tour and educate people about art. I am also an usher in the theater… Yes, I guess you can call me lucky!

What has been one of your favorite plays, classes or exhibits at the FAC? 

My favorite plays have got to be Mary Poppins and Dracula. Mary Poppins because the performances were simply exquisite; it made me reminisce about my childhood! The actors were so professional, their voices were phenomenal and the whole experience was enriching. Dracula because it was intense, sensual and wonderfully done… Even though it was a highly sexual play, it never felt like a cheap performance. You can truly see the commitment this organization has to the delivery of high-quality material. I am so proud of being a member of such an integral part of this community. I have yet to take an art lesson but that is definitely on my bucket list for this year! 

What is your favorite work of art on display at the FAC right now?

My favorite painting at the Fine Arts Center is a portrait called Portrait of Russell A. Blackman (which unfortunately is not currently on view). It’s an oil on canvas and it portrays a plump, curly-haired blonde boy, son of a renowned Colorado Springs doctor in the 1910s, Dr. Alfred A. Blackman and Gratia R. Blackman. I wrote a paper about this portrait and while doing so, I became fascinated by the history behind the painting. The little boy died of nephritis when he was only 8 years old, and although it is a sad story, it makes me happy to know that back in the good old days, people paid artists to keep the memories of their loved ones alive. I can’t wait to tour this painting so that I can share all the wonderful information I learned about it. 

What else do you like to do for fun in Colorado Springs? 

Dancing is my ultimate fun activity; I also enjoy hiking, visiting other museums and visiting all the many wonderful things Colorado Springs has to offer. Colorado is not only a very cultural place with a plethora of history, but it is also sort of an outdoor playground. Lately, I’ve been trying to visit all the castles I can find around the area. I really enjoyed The Glen Eyre Castle near Garden of the Gods. There are so many outdoor activities to do every weekend; it is a very family-oriented place and I love it. 

To hear what else Eunice had to say about the Fine Arts Center, check out the video below!

Jan 23, 2015

Artists Get Deeper Into CONTINUANCE

Putting Up Risk

This text is excerpted from an informal conversation among artists Charles and Collin Parson, curators Joy Armstrong and Blake Milteer, and led by Colorado Springs-based artist Sean O’Meallie was recorded on November 14, 2014.

Ch: Charles Parson
Co: Collin Parson
S: Sean O’Meallie
J: Joy Armstrong
B: Blake Milteer

S: The conversation we’re having right now comes from a fine tradition. So much great art and many stories have come from people like us gathering and just having conversations and throwing out ideas and having little tugs of war and then responding by going back to their studios and making new work.

Ch: In the spirit of Black Mountain College in North Carolina years ago, and like the cultural luminaries of the mid-20th century, we’re hungry for the dialogue. To me, this hasn’t been just about the orchestration of putting a show up, it’s been a dialogue in which the conversations we’ve had during studio visits and correspondence have continued on a much deeper level — at times even absurdly humorous when we’re doing heavy lifting during installation!

J: Chuck has referred to the exhibition as a “punctuation” — not in the sense of being the end of any particular activity — but rather being a comma in the progression of the artist’s work.

S: Maybe that’s especially true when, as with this exhibition, a lot of the work is built for the first time in the gallery space — so it only takes its first breath in that setting. When I’m doing a large project, I can’t stage it in my studio. Often times, the first time I see it is when it is afforded by a large enough venue. I recently put up a piece and was ecstatic and I just ran around the gallery saying “I can’t believe it worked!” But for you guys, both of these works are the first time you’ve seen them. But have you even really seen your pieces yet?

Ch: Hell no! I’ll recall a moment that will shed some “light” as it were: Collin was about 10 days ahead of me in the installation process due to the sheer nature of our extended responsibilities — our daytime jobs, individual installation requirements, and other expectations. So I walked in and saw that he had finished the first phase of getting his work up. His gallery was already inspiring dialogue after that first week of installation, and I went home very despondent because I couldn’t yet see what mine was going to actually look like. I was suddenly concerned; it wasn’t insecurity, but I was creatively questioning whether my installation was going to be as good as I thought it was supposed to be. That’s unsettling!

Co: Blake, you called that, though. Remember when I got my exhibition up, and you said, “your Dad’s gonna walk in and be proud but immediately start thinking about his piece — how am I going to get it up?” You called it! But I think that comes from getting to know the artist over the past few years.

B: At best, it’s important for these exhibitions to gestate over a number of years. When you get to that point of installation, the process and the relationships become all the more intensive, as it should be. You want to be able to anticipate certain things, some of them from a professional level and some of them from an intuitive level — both of which can only be developed over that duration. Part of it is that you’re going to have those inevitable “uh oh!” moments even right before the opening and everyone has to have the tools and trust to conjure greatness in spite of adversity.

S: There are so many unknowns and so many variables — for artists making the work and for all the people who put up risk. I think everybody here put up risk and took a chance — there’s no way to exactly know the outcome. Like in theatre, you don’t quite know how it’s all going to come together until dress rehearsal. It’s a live thing, an organic thing, and that’s really nice to have, I think, as a gift from the institutional provider — to trust artists. To choose and trust an artist — it’s like describing a balloon, when you don’t quite know the exact shape of the balloon.

J: I think Sean’s theatre comparison is really great. It’s that idea of being able to develop the relationship to the point where you’re comfortable and you trust the people that you’re working with. So when it comes to opening night, it’s not so over-rehearsed that it feels stale. There’s room for spontaneity and room for improvisation because it’s not 100% planned out, giving you the flexibility to play.
Five Spaces/Two Generations and detail 2011
Painted steel, acrylic, stone, glass, and hardware
35 inches high x 192 inches diameter

S: It’s live.

Ch: I love that confidence; it’s got to be there if we’re going to take chances.

Co: I think in his career, (Chuck’s) been around so long that it’s easier to trust an artist of his age (laughs), or of his experience, compared to an artist of my experience. But I think that when you guys came to visit me at Pirate (Contemporary Art gallery, Denver) over and over and over, I would hope you started to have a confidence and trust, right?

J: Blake mentioned intuition, and for me with you, that was there from the beginning. There was never any doubt that you’d be able to do it.

B: All the right ingredients are there, so that trust is in place. With Continuance, that was tested by some big alterations in course along the way with changes in the schedule and in the gallery spaces.

Ch: Looking back now, I like the idea that we had to adapt our definition of the show. Thinking about evolution of the space and the conditions, I remember talking with my friend Fred Ramey about (Olivier) Messiaen, the composer. In a German concentration camp, he wrote a piece of music, “Quartet for the End of Time.” I think it’s one of the most stunning pieces of music ever written and recorded. But it’s written for a violin with three strings because that’s all they had. What he pulled out of those three strings made what he was attempting to say in the piece of music so much more direct and poignant. So what does this present (as an analogy to the exhibition)? It’s that we have to be more attuned to what we’re trying to say and deal with it creatively. What most people would say is …

Co: “… Can’t do it!”

Ch: Yeah, “can’t do it,” and you then (settle for) a more conventional solution like just putting up an existing body of work. Instead, it’s a great opportunity to develop another body of work by extending the timeline a little and articulating the space.

B: Some of the specific changes were that we had to push the show back a year at one point, and had to pretty dramatically change the gallery spaces for each of you.

Untitled (site-specific work from Divided Series) 2014
Wood, color-changing RGB LED's and Arduino controller
192 inches diameter x 4 inches deep

Co: I originally had the lower ceiling gallery, so I would have never been able to do the 16-foot diameter signature piece in the show.

S: And is this your largest piece?

Co: To date, yeah.

S: Wow. I really like that you responded to that opportunity. You saw that you could hike up the scale on this thing. Chuck’s piece is also site-specific. That came to you while in the space, is that right? That’s how you conceived it, in that space?

Ch: Yes. The theme was already developing, but to have the space in that specific room, my first comment to Blake was “I wanna use the (18-foot-high) ceiling by putting nothing up there above human height.” His comment was, “yeah, that’s pretty interesting, let’s explore it.”

S: The negative space?

Ch: Yes, but it’s not just the negative space — it’s that absence. That is what I’m intrigued with in a controlled interior space as opposed to the works I build at a particular exterior location.

S: I think you are both after something quite ephemeral. Whether you intend to or not, it’s a result. Collin’s work is quite atmospheric; it’s light in material and lofted on the wall and enveloping — completely enveloping. It alters the space in an obvious, quickly understood way, while Chuck’s work seems to have this great gravity of material. For me, the apparatus goes away when we’re within the spaces of your work. How important is that to you? Is that something you’re thinking about from the get-go, or is that a product you just discover? Is the apparatus — or the departure from it — the most important thing in the room?

Ch: You’re talking about form and content. You’re talking about that essential attempt to visually enunciate. The read on Collin’s work, and I don’t mean this in a dismissive way, is that there is an immediacy to his work. It’s not just the color, it’s not just the scale, it’s the cycles that are perceived quickly. Mine is the absolute opposite in terms of my attempt to slow time down; it’s as if Collin’s is ice melting and we can watch it melting before our eyes on a hot day. Mine is like marble that is dissolving but over a longer duration of time. There’s an immediacy to his work and there’s a denseness to my work. At times I envy the initial quick response that people give his work, but I realize that the driving forces in my work are the apparatus, the language of the materials, the use of the room, even the title of the work. It’s like when you listen to music and you don’t hear the instruments, you don’t hear the notes. You hear the music. That takes time in the music and it takes time in my art.

Co: When you mean apparatus, it’s the mechanism, right?

S: All the things that take up physical space.

Co: Then I would say yes, I create the apparatus as a mechanism to support the light. If I had my ultimate world, you’d go in there and experience an environment of thick light that you can grab and eat it like an apple. But you can’t do that, because you need these mechanisms. I create an apparatus but it’s less about the object than what (it’s) helping to convey.

Ch: There is light spillover from Collin’s gallery through the portals on each side of my work. When I sat there late on a Sunday night during installation I could see no object in Collin’s gallery, just the sheer light. Then suddenly the light turned a faint turquoise and for a split second echoed (the green tinted plexi) I just spent all day putting up. The joy of interaction! You can’t touch it but that feeling conjured up an awareness of the moment. That moment, for me, is ultimately what I’m looking for in art.

S: Discovering art, happening upon art when you least expect it — it’s a momentary thing, it’s something that you can’t choreograph, it’s something that you just stumble into and realize that you’ve just felt something. Collin’s work pushes and pulls on that a little bit because of the slow cycles of color changes.
Add caption

Ch: The color transitions are perceptible but not predictable. There’s a harmonic rhythm to it.

S: There is a kind of pulsation in your work.

Co: That’s why I use light. It’s not like, say, a red canvas on the wall; light can make that red feel different, feel more alive. I love light — it has a quality that is unknown, but you sense it.

S: Light permeates us — we’re ambient beings. I can make an object but it doesn’t penetrate your body. It registers with your vision and sense of touch, but it doesn’t emit. I think light reaches us in other ways.

S: Backing up to the making of the art itself, here’s something that sticks with me: Carl Reed is one of the longtime instructors here at Colorado College, and he’s a wonderful artist. His work will make you reconsider all of the objects in your world and their relationship to one another. I remember one time on an art discussion panel, Carl said, “good art just needs to happen. It’s not dependent on — should not be dependent on — any kind of other processes; it just needs to happen.” I’m paraphrasing, but this is one of the more truthful things to me as an artist who is putting work in front of people and taking earthly resources and committing them to this kind of intent. I thought it was a very good thing to hear, and a good observation that good art just needs to happen, regardless of the process it takes for it to happen.

Ch: I love reading Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass. He self-published it seven different times before it was picked up. I mean, that pretty-well says that if it needs to be done, do it. I have a protestant work ethic. If it’s that important, you’ll find a way as an artist. The challenge is to make some concessions in materials or in scale, but not to the art’s intention and merit.
Art doesn’t always need a huge audience. I’ll give you a quick illustration: my two sons and I had just installed a work next to the Brooklyn Bridge. We were going to drop-off my truck and trailer at aunt Jean’s house on Long Island, and between she and her husband we could not get clear directions. The truck was pretty big and the trailer was even longer so we parked it in their little suburban neighborhood with meandering little single-lane roads. I knew their house was somewhere nearby, so we (went) walking and suddenly heard Jean’s voice singing. Now this is a woman who had in a previous year performed at the Kennedy Center as a soloist; this is a woman who had just had major public television specials done on her 40th album. We rounded a bend, walked up a little drive, and then figured out we’d come in the back way. She’s on the back porch with no audience except a cat and she is singing for the sheer joy of singing! That’s Carl Reed, in essence, saying it’s gotta be made.

S: There’s that old question of who you make your art for — why do you make art? To be honest, I make art so that I can see it. I need to get something out of me, I need it to be out there in the room and I need it to talk back. So I’m the first audience for the things that I make. For me as a maker, that “live” art moment is when I get the thing up in front of me and I can confront it physically, frontally. That’s the moment when I have to consider it and have to start living with it. I get to respond to it and I’m working in a syntax and a language that is all my own; it’s very unique, but I am the first person who encounters it.

Co: I think that’s not unusual.

S: That’s actually as sincere as I can be. I’m getting something out of me and I have to then live with it and respond to it. Now, one of the wonderful things that happens is that other people respond to it too, in ways that I could never anticipate. So (the art) has a life beyond that moment.
Another aspect is that when I make something, I am also confronted by the idea that it didn’t exist until I made it.

Ch: There’s great satisfaction in making. But then you put ideas — the concept — into (the art). I’ve had times when I’m getting ready to go to bed after supper and I’m so curious about an idea that I go out to the studio in my underwear and find myself two hours later, shivering and still working on something.

Co: It’s a physical need.

Ch: An issue I ran into in academia is that the idea of art as being heroic is obsolete. Well, I think making art is a very heroic activity in today’s culture!

S: And noble.

This artist discussion is an excerpt from the Continuance catalog, available for purchase at Alice's. Food. Art. Coffee.

Jan 16, 2015

Meet our latest Members of the Month: Jimmy & Katelyn Do - Fine Arts Center, members for 2 years

Why did you become a member of the FAC?

Jimmy: Regular visits to the opera, museums, art exhibits, concerts, and galleries, was part of growing up and highly encouraged by my family. I performed in show choir, acted on stage and sang in musicals, played in the orchestra, and appeared in film. These experiences developed a foundation and cultivated my appreciation for the fine arts, which I am now passing onto my daughter. With the family membership plan, we have access to the theater, galleries, and Bemis School of Art. The FAC offers a local home for our artistic inclinations.

Katelyn: I’ve always loved making art and it’s fun. I’m a member of the FAC because I am on the plan with my dad and I take art classes at Bemis.

When did your interest in the arts begin?

Jimmy: Instead of an alarm clock to wake us, my mother played vinyl records of Beethoven’s 5th and Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, regularly turning the volume up to 11 on our monstrous speakers. I remember regular visits to the Getty, Huntington Library, and the Orange County Performing Arts Center. My mother also sent us to art school so we could get some fundamental training in areas such as lighting and composition – these classes were invaluable.

Katelyn: I remember taking several classes at the Bemis School of Art and loving the experience. I especially loved the cooking class. Painting and sculpting were also favorites. I hope to attend another class to learn how to throw pottery, so I can make vases and pots just like the ones on display in the Bemis student gallery.

What has been one of your favorite plays, classes or exhibits at the FAC?

Jimmy: The Wizard of Oz?

Katelyn: …because of the wonderful things he does! ♪♩♬ ♬♫♪

Jimmy: We loved Oz, best show last season. It’s difficult to create and deliver a performance that stands with nostalgia, but Oz did it marvelously and so did Mary Poppins. Halfway through this interview, we attended Poppins – one of the best shows I have ever seen. Words can’t describe the pure joy and excitement I felt watching this performance…well, there is a word (even though the sound of it is something quite atrocious). It was also great to see many familiar faces returning to the stage in Poppins.

Katelyn: I loved the Bemis art classes, especially the painting and cooking classes. Really loved cooking, did I mention that?

Jimmy: A memorable exhibit showcased the work of wounded warriors in the Bemis student gallery. I’m glad to see the FAC provide a safe space to display our military veterans’ talents in their time of healing.

What is your favorite work of art on display at the FAC right now?

Jimmy: There are quite a few. Anish Kapoor, specifically Shadow IV – Orange Plate is quite soothing as I move between meticulous gradients or color. It’s done well. Ahn’s Forked Series #29, is pretty awesome. I could take it in for hours. Sanchez’s pair, San Vato and María, are great takes on the retablo.

Katelyn: Kasahara’s Between the Lines was great during the summer. I really liked the umbrellas. Right now, Collin Parson’s Divided is my favorite. We should sit in front of it for a longer time on our next visit.

Jimmy: Art is enjoyable at any age. You can marvel in the process of
creativity, think deeply about the meanings behind each piece, or just appreciate its beauty. You can do all or none of these. It’s up to you.

What else do you like to do for fun in Colorado Springs?

Katelyn: Camping! Biking! Fishing! Skiing! Playing video games! Does that count?

Jimmy: Colorado is the ultimate outdoor playground. We enjoy staying active during all seasons and love to take in nature in any weather.

Katelyn: …and let our dog swim in the lakes!

Jimmy: This city has a great variety of activities.
We’re members of the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo and visit often. We are regular season ticket holders for AF Academy hockey. Downtown is on the rise and there is always room for work on
this. There are so many things we enjoy about our city it’s difficult to list
them all here. Katelyn: There’s no place like home!

Jan 6, 2015

Eric Bransby gets the attention he so richly deserves

Colorado Public Radio produced a wonderful piece on artist and local living treasure Eric Bransby.

It aired Saturday on NPR's Weekend Edition. An extended version will air on CPR stations (in Denver, Boulder and Pueblo) on Wednesday (1/7/15)  at 6:51a, 8:51a and 5:50p. The segment will be part of a weekly podcast on on Friday. You can see the transcripts and hear the original NPR report here.

Here's a brief tribute to Bransby and his work by FAC Museum Director and Chief Curator Blake Milteer:

Since the 1940s, Eric Bransby has been among America’s most renowned mural painters. Over the course of his esteemed career, Bransby has developed a signature style of traditional Renaissance-based figurative compositions, and has adopted a strong abstract sensibility that allows him to integrate depictions of the human figure with architecturally-based geometric shapes.

As a young artist in the 1930s, ‘40s, and ‘50s, Bransby nurtured his skills studying under renowned American artists Thomas Hart Benton and Josef Albers. Of great significance to the Fine Arts Center’s history is that he also studied under master muralists Boardman Robinson and Jean Charlot at the Fine Arts Center School, where he later taught. His association with these artists in the 1940s represents one of our enduring connections to the FAC's predecessor, the Broadmoor Art Academy.

Bransby became an important muralist and draftsman in his own right, creating permanent works for Kansas State University, the municipal building in Liberty, Missouri, the University of Missouri, Brigham Young University, Colorado College, the Pioneers Museum, and the Air Force Academy among others. In the mid-1980s, Bransby was commissioned to restore the FAC’s badly-damaged façade mural originally painted by Boardman Robinson. Bransby, who still lives and works in Colorado Springs, received the 2007 Pikes Peak Arts Council’s Lifetime Achievement Award. At 98, Bransby continues to create art in his classic realist style and depicts the nobility of human endeavors.

The Fine Arts Center has been privileged to maintain a 70-year relationship with Eric Bransby. The FAC has curated many solo and group exhibitions which included his work, including the major exhibition From Roots to Soaring Visions in 2000-2001, which highlighted both Eric and Mary Ann Bransby's work. In 1985, Bransby skillfully restored Boardman Robinson's mural on the FAC facade, and in 2012, he completed a spectacular mural celebrating the FAC's 75th anniversary. The FAC collection also boasts 1 oil painting, 3 drawings, 4 lithographs, and multiple studies for his 75th anniversary mural. Our painting The Good Book, 1941 is currently on loan to David Cook Gallery, Denver for their exhibition Transcending Figuration: Bransby in Retrospect, which is open through January 31. - FAC Museum Director and Chief Curator Blake Milteer

Dec 23, 2014

A special note about MARY POPPINS

The rave reviews are great. Heaven knows, actors and directors love to please the critics.
But sometimes, it's the comments from the community that touch us the most. Here's a lovely note from a chaperone at Mountain Song Community School whose kids had never before experienced live theatre.
Subject: So amazed, and grateful!
Hi, Scott,

I was blown away by Mary Poppins on Tuesday.  What an incredible, intricate show - full of surprises and delight!!

The fact that you held an entire audience of children and teenagers for nearly three hours is testament enough to the cast, the sets, the blocking, the costumes, the singing, the dancing, the comedic insertions and timing, and the sheer ENTERTAINMENT the show provided.

I had never seen the stage version of Mary Poppins, and I thought it WAY exceeded the film - or at least your version of it did. :)

I loved how the story weaved between the characters' journeys.  We were really rooting for this family to come out of the dumps, wake up to their own lives, and find each other; and yet it was bittersweet to see the charming Mary Poppins complete her task and take to the wind.

By the last song Anything Can Happen, my own heart was soaring and pondering the possibilities for my own life (OK, this is getting sentimental).

I applaud you for bringing this kind of experience to Colorado Springs, and most importantly, to the children of Colorado Springs.  I was so moved and so grateful that these kids are being exposed to something so powerful, delightful and well-executed at their young ages.  I don't think any of us know the potential far-reaching ramifications of this, but I know those ramifications are good.

Thank you, Scott - for doing this work, and for making it possible for the children of Mountain Song to attend.  (I am SO grateful I was able to chaperone!!)

Warm regards,

heather roberts

Dec 12, 2014

Mary Poppins shatters box office records!

The Fine Arts Center's production of Disney's and Cameron Mackintosh's musical Mary Poppins just surpassed every attendance record at the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center, having issued over 7,400 tickets for its four-week run — and the show doesn’t even open until tonight.

“I'm thrilled our audiences can't get enough of that practically perfect nanny” said director Scott RC Levy. “Clearly, the FAC's track-record of high-quality professional theatre productions in combination with the special place in our hearts for this story, has made the level of demand for this production beyond our expectations. ”

Mary Poppins, which today surpassed the previous attendance record, set by the 2012 FAC production of A Christmas Story, might represent the most-attended professional theatrical production in the history of the Pikes Peak region.

The show opens tonight at 7:30 p.m. and runs Thursdays through Sundays, through Jan. 4.

Only 12% of all seats are still available for purchase, mostly for the last weekend.

For tickets and more information, go to or call the
box office at 719-634-5583.

Dec 5, 2014

The advantages of willing your collection to the FAC

Pass on your love of the arts to future generations by including the Fine Arts Center in your will, trust, or estate plans.
We’ve created the Legacy Society to honor and recognize those who love the arts, who understand the cultural importance of the Fine Arts Center, and who want to help ensure the organization’s longevity for years to come.
If you’ve made the decision to name the Fine Arts Center as a beneficiary of your estate, please take a moment to let us know. We have a special gift we would like to send you as an expression of our appreciation. In addition, members of the Fine Arts Center’s Legacy Society will receive invitations to special events, tours, luncheons, and more.
If you haven’t named us in your estate plans but would like to know how simple it is to do so, please feel welcome to contact us by email at, by phone at 719.477.4344, or by writing to Cari Karns at the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center, 30 W. Dale St., Colorado Springs, CO 80903

We're taking our Santos exhibit to more contemporary realms

 Contemporary Santos from the Permanent Collection

The foundation of the Taylor Museum collection is largely rooted in traditional Latin American and Native American works, areas in which Alice Bemis Taylor held a particular interest.  Santos, depictions of saints in both two- and three-dimensional forms, make up a significant percentage of Taylor’s original gift; the Fine Arts Center has maintained this legacy through the ongoing acquisition of these objects over the decades.  This selection represents some of the most recently acquired santos and demonstrates that the art form is very much alive and is both reverential to tradition as well as innovative to appeal to a contemporary audience.  Most of these artists are living santeros/santeras (craftspeople of holy images) and are working in New Mexico or Colorado, many of whom are nationally collected and renowned for their award-winning work. 
Moya: Alterscreen

The stunning straw appliqué work of artists such as Jean Anaya Moya continues a centuries-old European tradition that was introduced to New Mexico and flourished in the late-17th through the mid-19th centuries.  Often called “poor man’s gold,” the technique was developed to mimic marquetry, a form of decorating wooden items, typically with inlaid wood, ivory, shell, or gold.  

Tapia: Would Christ Make the Six-O’Clock News?
Although it was considered a lost art form at the end of the 19th century, it perpetuated at the Pueblo of Santa Ana and made a dramatic resurgence through support from the WPA and the 1956 revival of the Spanish Market in Santa Fe.  Jean Anaya Moya’s continuation of this form of art begins with many traditional materials but then combines modern materials such as acrylic paint and commercial glues and varnish.  She states that her designs are “traditional Hispanic religious images with a contemporary twist… it is extremely important to create art that people can relate to.”  She continues, saying that “some change is always good as long as we never forget how we evolved.”

Luis Tapia, a Santa Fe native, began carving santos in 1970 and “looks for the nourishment of blending tradition with contemporary culture so that the tradition may continue to grow and flourish.”  He has made a place for himself in the mainstream contemporary art world; although his bold colors and updated themes may break from strict tradition, it is with no intention to disrespect or satirize traditional forms.  The popularity of Tapia’s work is a testament to the artist’s belief that it is his responsibility to create new forms rather than copy the old, stating, “I am the tradition.”  Tapia received a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts in 1980 and has shown his work in such notable venues as the Houston Museum of Fine Arts, the Corcoran Gallery, and the Museum of International Folk Art, and he is represented in the collections of the Smithsonian Institution, the National Museum of American Art, and the Los Angeles Craft and Folk Art Museum.

Ortega: The Bishop
Husband and wife team Eulogio and Zoraida Ortega began making santos later in life, in 1975, after Eulogio had already served in the army and worked as a school principal and Zoraida retired from teaching.  Eulogio had originally studied art education and had received a master’s degree in painting and sculpture, so woodcarving came naturally and he found the history of the craft fascinating.  His first piece was a bulto of San Rafael that he decided to carve after he read about a statue by the great santero José Rafael Aragon that had been stolen from a chapel in Chimayo.  Although the sculpture was recovered before Ortega could complete a replacement, the artist was already committed to pursuing the craft.  His wife Zoraida, an award-winning weaver, would become his collaborator and the painter of Eulogio’s carvings, as well as painting her own retablos.  The couple’s work is nationally known and collected by both private individuals and museums and has been featured in many Southwestern art books and periodicals.  Perhaps their best known and most revered work is the Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe Chapel, constructed by the couple as a testament of faith after Zoraida’s battle with cancer.  The chapel, located in Velarde, NM, brings visitors from around the world for its beauty and for healing. 

Harris: Las Vegas, NM
Renowned photographer Alex Harris is represented in collections of institutions such as the J. Paul Getty Museum, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and the Metropolitan Museum and has been awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship and has been a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize.  The founder of the Center for Documentary Photography and Documentary Studies at Duke University spent six years from 1972 – 1978 living in and photographing villages in northern New Mexico, resulting in perhaps his best known work, Red White Blue and God Bless You, published in 1992.  The image on display is from this series of 45 photographs and offers an intimate glimpse into the co-existence of secular and sacred culture in the lives of his adopted community. 

December Members of the Month:      


Tim & Diana Rupinski

Fine Arts Center members for 8 years

Why did you become a member of the FAC?

    We relocated to Colorado Springs in 1987 having vacationed here in 1984. Colorado offers beautiful scenery and great outdoor activities like skiing, hiking and biking. With children in Junior and Senior High Schools, we integrated into the community and discovered amazing attractions such as the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, Colorado Springs Symphony, Pioneers Museum, Colorado College, and the Fine Arts Center (FAC). We visited the FAC about six times a year, for many years; mostly on free days. About 13 years ago, we bought FAC tickets to a Reverend Billy C. Wirtz performance (possibly the best honky-tonk singer and piano player you have ever heard). Then we started to attend FAC stage plays. The personal touch and intimacy of the FAC rivaled big city venues. We then explored the benefits of FAC membership. Not restricted to any days, we could visit when we wanted, exchange play tickets, do-again viewing of exhibitions, and free parking. Our membership costs us less than a one-seat Broncos game ticket and is a gift to us and our granddaughter that gives back all year.
What is your favorite work of art on display at the FAC right now?

This is certainty a tough question. A favorite of ours is a bronze sculpture in the tactile gallery, Wish I Could That. It reminds us of the joys of youth and of our granddaughter’s enormous possibilities as she grows into an adult. The FAC’s Chihuly and Santos collections should be acclaimed nationwide. We also enjoyed the Floyd Tunson exhibition, Floyd D. Tunson: Son of Pop (2013), which included portraits, sculptures, and the wooden Haitian Dream Boats. The FAC store should sell items unique to the museum based on the Center’s collections.

What has been one of your favorite plays, classes or exhibits at the FAC?

Your theater is a hidden treasure, and producer Scott Levy, sparkling. Each year the FAC offers four to five plays in a season subscription. At around $20 a ticket it sure beats a Big Mac meal. Each season we average four of five performances, which we really enjoy. Some of our favorites were Neil Simon’s trilogy of Brighton Beach Memoirs (2007), Jean Sheppard’s A Christmas Story (2012) (from his book titled Wanda Hickie’s Golden Night of Memories and Other Disasters, how can we not laugh at ourselves growing up?), and A Christmas Carol (2008) with Colorado Springs’ own Sally Hybl and her children (the last time we saw Sally was in Chicago, a great production but a dark play). Then there was Sweeney Todd (2010), certainty dark but the best staged play this side of a Broadway small theater. Oh, let’s not forget Into the Woods (2007), awesome; and last year’s Rupinski Award – Agnes of God (2014), a truly remarkable and powerful performance.

What do you do for fun in Colorado Springs?

We are retired and able to enjoy each day to its fullest. Colorado College is another hidden treasure. The Music (Michael and Susan Grace, and Daniel Brink) and English (Steven Hayward) Departments sponsor almost daily free events, from student and faculty mini-concerts at Packard Hall to visiting authors at Gates Common Room. As almost natives we can’t help being outdoors. We ski, bike, hike, skate, walk trails, and enjoy limitless blue sky days. Hobbies include crafting, woodworking, sewing, and volunteering at Cheyenne Mountain State Park.

Other thoughts…

In August 2000, we were flying on Delta from Regan via Atlanta to Colorado Springs. It was 95 degrees in DC and 101 in Atlanta with 100% humidity. Exiting the aircraft in Atlanta, we were greeted by a young girl in a red jacket, sweating profusely. “Where are you going?” she asked, “Can I direct you?” We answered, Colorado Springs, we live there. “Oh, oh,” she replied, “I wish I could live there too!” Living here means being part of the greater community. We encourage anyone who has not experienced the FAC to come down and browse. If you like, join and participate in the wide variety of opportunities that lift the spirit.

Nov 17, 2014

Make a difference: Support the arts in your community

Dear FAC fan, visitor, patron,
You participate in and support arts and culture in our community. You know and appreciate the power they can have in creating a vibrant and thriving city. As the CEO of your Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center, like you, I believe arts and culture are fundamental to a healthy and flourishing community, and I am asking for your help.

My first week on the job I met with four families whose kids had participated in our Youth Documentary Film Academy, an exciting collaborative effort between the FAC, filmmaker Tom Shepard, and other community members. Parents from each of these families thanked me for helping their child find a passion. They wanted me to know that their children had a newly-found confidence and vitality developed through the artistic expression of their stories, some of which were difficult and painful. I was amazed at the talent of these young artists and the emotive power of their films.

As a testament to the power of this program, one of these kids, Bailey Francisco, was honored in October as this year's Rising Star at the Pikes Peak Arts Council Awards!

We want to open doors of artistic expression and experience for many more in our community. We want to do more innovative programs. Unfortunately, we don’t have sufficient resources. We can only do so with your support.

Across the country, organizations like ours receive substantial portions of their funding from government sources. Last year, we received less than 1% of our funding from any public sources. That means we are uniquely and totally dependent on the generosity of individuals like you who agree that it is vital for the health of our city to have a thriving and accessible arts community.

Our Board of Trustees believes in the Fine Arts Center so strongly that they have pledged more than $100,000 of their own resources this year to our cause. And now they are issuing a challenge to the community to match that amount in our year-end campaign.

Please consider giving generously. As you reflect on your charitable giving for the year, I ask you to move the Fine Arts Center higher up on your list of priorities. Your tax-deductible gift will support our programs for at-risk youth, for children from under-resourced communities who lack arts education in their schools, and for military personnel participating in our Military Artistic Healing programs. Your gift buys art supplies and theater make-up and pays for great art exhibitions that we bring to town. And during this year-end season, you can answer the challenge from our committed Board of Trustees with your own valuable donation.

Arts and culture are good for the soul. For the soul of the individual and for the soul of the community. Join us in creating a vibrant and healthy city. Help us reach more young people like Bailey with the power and joy of art. I look forward to seeing you soon, and often, at your Fine Arts Center!
All the best,
Why the arts pay
1. True prosperity . . . The arts are fundamental to our humanity. They ennoble, inspire us and build bridges among different cultures.
2. Improved academic performance . . . Students with an education rich in the arts have higher GPAs and standardized test scores, lower drop-out rates, and better attitudes about community service.
3. Arts are an Industry . . . Nonprofit arts organizations generate $135 billion in economic activity annually, supporting 4.1 million jobs and generating $22.3 billion in government revenue.
4. Arts are good for local merchants . . . The typical arts attendee spends $24.60 per person, per event, not including the cost of admission on items such as meals, parking, and babysitters.
5. Arts are the cornerstone of tourism . . . Arts travelers are ideal tourists—they stay longer and spend more.
6. Arts are an export industry . . . U.S. exports of arts goods (e.g., movies, paintings, jewelry) grew to $64 billion in 2010, while imports were just $23 billion—a $41 billion arts trade surplus in 2010.
7. Building the 21st Century workforce . . . Creativity is among the top 5 applied skills sought by business leaders.
8. Healthcare . . . Nearly one-half of the nation’s healthcare institutions provide arts programming for patients, families, and even staff.
9. Stronger communities . . . A high concentration of the arts in a city leads to higher civic engagement, more social cohesion, higher child welfare, and lower poverty rates.
10. Creative Industries . . . 905,689 businesses in the U.S. involved in the creation or distribution of the arts that employ 3.4 million people.

SOURCE: "Top 10 Reasons to Support the Arts," 2014, Randy Cohen, Americans for the Arts

David Dahlin | President & CEO

Nov 12, 2014

FAC By the Numbers

Top 10 reasons Insert Card Final.pdf

Oct 29, 2014

Youth Documentary Academy Premieres Students' Films at FAC

In 2013 documentary filmmaker Tom Shepard returned home to ColoradoSprings and founded the Youth Documentary Academy (YDA) at the Fine Art Center's Bemis School of Art. The program provides a small class of local teenagers with the knowledge, skill, and equipment required to create documentary films. Shepard also brought in Coloradan filmmakers Suzan Beraza and Aaron Burns to help teach students about film techniques and equipment.
When their training is completed, the YDA students have been free to tell the non-fiction story of their choosing. The students were encouraged to pick a topic important to them and to tell the story in a personal way. The various topics of their films include the local music scene, self-expression through street art, time spent at the bug museum, the effects of PTSD on family life, the experiences of a transgender person, and violence against/self-defense of women.

The world premiere of the completed, student-made documentaries is Wednesday, Nov. 5 at 7pm in the main theater of the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center. Take a look at the trailer below.

Youth Documentary Academy Trailer from Tom Shepard on Vimeo.

Oct 17, 2014

Art Therapy: Alleviating Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

EDITOR'S NOTE: The FAC's Bemis School of Art and AspenPointe have collaborated on the class Military Artistic Healing for Active Duty and Veterans and now have added the new class, Military Artistic Healing/Parent and Child. Clearly, the issue of PTSD is an important one to us and our community. In that spirit, we offer this article, written for us by a reporter for VA Home Loan Centers.

Having served at Vicksburg, Chattanooga, Atlanta, Bull Run and Shiloh, General William Tecumseh Sherman was arguably more familiar with the horrors of war than any other American who has lived before or since his military service came to a close. In reflecting on his Civil War service, Sherman famously and with elegant simplicity stated “war is hell.” A sentiment echoed by countless individuals who have been subjected to military combat.  Although the vast majority of Americans cannot and will not ever have the first hand experience to understand the physiological and psychological ramifications of battle, looking at the current rate of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder among veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan draws a vivid picture of just how distressing wartime is.

According to Face the Facts USA, one out of every five veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars have been diagnosed with PTSD.  That number amounts to roughly 300,000 military members.  Nearly one American solider commits suicide per day, veterans who only make up nine percent of the entire population account for 20 percent of all suicides in the United States.  The number of veterans with undiagnosed PTSD is potentially inordinately high. Walter Reed Army Institute researcher Gary Wynn projects the number of those suffering from PTSD to be closer to 60 percent than 20 percent. 

The Washington Times survey of military spouses supported this claim, with polled spouses estimating the number of untreated PTSD sufferers also being near 60 percent.   
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder occurs after an individual undergoes intense trauma. The disorder brings about situational avoidance, severe anxiety, feelings described as being “frozen in time,” repeatedly reliving the experience and a sense of hopelessness.  A correlation between the disorder and depression, alcohol and drug abuse, unemployment and suicide has been well documented. 

 Healthcare costs associated with treating veterans with PTSD have exceeded $2 billion. On average, the cost of treatment per veteran is $8,300 annually. According to the Defense Department, treatment only works for about half of those receiving, far short of the department’s goal of an 80 - 90 percent rate.  Not to mention the estimated 40 percent of undiagnosed veterans who are not involved in any capacity of treatment. It is worth asking, how does the rate of PTSD influence veteran rates of unemployment and homelessness? Numerous issues are stifling the transition from active duty to civilian for many.

Art therapy may be the key to successfully overcoming PTSD.  Studies have previously been conducted on the benefits of Art Therapy, however very little research has been done concerning its usage in treating American veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.  Art therapy has been shown to help guide clarity in thought by taking an individual’s mind off of the event, aid in expressing feelings, promote communication and dialogue between patient and mental health professional, enhance social skills and relieve stress.  The Art Therapy: Journal of the American Art Therapy Association highlights a study conducted at a children’s psych center in the Bronx which demonstrated a reduction of PTSD symptoms in teenagers through arts and crafts based activities. Furthermore, Rebekah Chilcote described the benefits of art therapy on children in the same journal, when discussing how victims of the 2004 Sri Lankan tsunami positively reacted to this form of care.

Recent research conducted by Cheryl Miller of Concordia University’s department of Creative Arts and Therapies allowed a window into the rewards of therapeutic art on combat veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan.  Canadian combat veterans between 28 and 56 suffering from depression, insomnia, anxiety and suicidal ideation were followed over a period of time in which they attended art therapy sessions twice a week. Using charcoal, markers, collage materials, paint and clay, the group reported an evoking of positive feelings, increased empathy, externalized emotions and an overall reduction of symptoms.  Miller has gone on record saying “Art therapy is considered a mind-body intervention that can influence physiological and psychological symptoms. The experience of expressing oneself creatively can reawaken positive emotions and address symptoms of emotional numbing in individuals with PTSD.”

Last year, a VA Medical Center in Kansas City began offering art classes; veterans who took advantage of the classes similarly reported positive outcomes, with 20 exhibiting their art at the VA Center.

While the full scope of how many veterans are currently suffering from PTSD and how effective art therapy can be as a widespread cure for the disorder is unknown, enough information exists to dictate the VA aggressively pursue this as a more accessible treatment option. The status quo is not working, and all viable options need to be explored.
-Noah Perkins,