Dec 31, 2007

Bemis: Nurturing Kids' Appetites for Art

We got three-and-a-half pages of Bemis School of Art coverage in the January/February issue of Colorado Springs Style magazine, including five photos, telling the story of how the Bemis School of Art contributes to this community by writer Linda DuVal. Congratulations to Director of Education Tara Thomas, her teachers and staff for all the good work they do for the FAC and our community.

Dec 26, 2007

Ghost of Christmas Present signing off

This past Sunday saw the final performance of A Christmas Carol, at least for this year. And of course on Tuesday it was Christmas Day, and, as you all know the Ghost of Christmas Present's life ends midnight on Christmas Day.

So, it is with a little sadness that I mark the passing of my rendition of the Ghost of Christmas Present. It was a fun role to do, all the way from the first day I put on the stilts and wobbled my way around to the final performance when Scrooge and I took an extra beat at the end of our scene to say a silent goodbye.

Talking of those stilts, you also wouldn't believe the muscles that hurt after wearing them. There were several performances where my legs would be trembling from the effort in standing still as some action happened on some other part of the stage. You don't realize the effort needed until you don this 50lb costume with three layers of padding and then just stand there as the Cratchit's sing their song. At least I never fell down wearing them (which would have been an adventure, let me tell you), although there were a couple of times it was a close shave.

I'd like to thank the wonderful audiences we had throughout the run. Everybody seemed to enjoy it, although I must say it was the kids in the audience that seemed to enjoy it the most. I talked to a few of them after performances and they were fascinated with the whole production, how the smoke worked, how Marley came up out of the floor (and, better, disappeared into it), how the set flew in, and so on. Whenever there's an opportunity for kids to look behind the magic of the theatre, there's always a line of them waiting.

And of course thanks to those fine people at the FAC (you know who you are!) who let us Ghosts write about what was going on with the show. I certainly had fun doing these blog entries.

And with that, see you next time!

Cheers, Julian

Dec 20, 2007

GXP: "'Twas the last week of 'Carol'"

‘Twas the last week of “Carol” and every last soul
Was in full show mentality, ready to roll.
They’d survived fifteen shows, only five more were left
And they certainly planned for the last to be best.

They were gathered on stage: the fruit vendors and merchants,
Poultry sellers and cobblers, housemaids and street urchins,
Here a laundress, a charwoman, stagecoach conductor,
There the odd undertaker or school-house instructor.

There were ghosts of the Past, Present, Future, and Marley
(With his chains you’d have thought he’d come in on a Harley)
The Fezziwigs, young Scrooge, and Tiny Tim, too,
With his parents, the Cratchits, and their lovely brood.

And the prototype Grinch, our own finest of Scrooges,
In this role he could range from King Lear to Three Stooges
There were sixty-four characters, twenty-six players
They’d pulled through on caffeine, chocolate, hugs, and some prayers.

They’d survived the late nights, backstage accidents, too,
Snowy weather and ice and a Scrooge-like review,
But their faces were glowing, their hearts were replete
Knowing well-meaning strangers would fill every seat!

Peace to every heart,

(AKA Amy Brooks)

Dec 17, 2007

2007 Fine Arts Center highlight reel

Check out our 2007 Year-in-Review video, featuring all the highlights of the past year ... the grand opening of our new building, award-winning theatre productions, groundbreaking exhibitions, special guests and more!

Denver Post: Center's treasures revealed

The Fine Arts Center was featured on the front page of the Denver Post A&E section Sunday, complete with four articles and eight photos. About the FAC Permanent Collection, art critic Kyle MacMillan wrote, "The return of a little more than 200 permanent works to public view is among the most exciting aspects of the arts center's newly opened addition ... No comprehensive story of Colorado art, which for much of the 20th century was centered in Colorado Springs, can be told without including selections from the arts center's extensive collection."

"A major boost to those holdings came with the July announcement that 67 paintings from the extraordinary Colorado Springs collection of Katherine and the late Dusty Loo would be given to the institution. A selection of 27 pieces is on view.

"The Loos were highly discriminating in their purchases, managing to find a, if not the, definitive example of virtually every artist represented in their collection."

Center's treasures revealed: Rediscovering the Collection
Curating the Future: What's next for the Fine Arts Center
Miro and Monet: Impressionist and Modern Masters

Impressionist and Modern Masters wallpapers

Have you seen the Impressionist and Modern Masters exhibition at the FAC? If you have, you know that it includes one masterpiece after another. Almost too many. You need to take your time and study each work of art. Until your next visit to the FAC, download a free wallpaper to load on your computer ... Degas, Monet and LeBrun ... for your viewing enjoyment.

Dec 14, 2007

Cheyenne Edition: 'Exhibit ... will make your heart swell'

On Dec. 14, Cheyenne/Woodmen Editon columnist Lisa Matthews wrote of the Impressionist and Modern Masters exhibition:

"The newest exhibit at the Fine Arts Center will make your heart swell with pride. In a word, it is simply, “Wow!” Even the FAC security guards concur, “This is our finest exhibition bar none.” And they should know, it is their job to keep these million-dollar masterpieces safe.

"A painting by Claude Monet first greets you at the entrance. From there, you’ll find works by many of the major artists from the past 300 years including Picasso, Degas, Renoir, Gauguin, Matisse, Pollock and even Georgia O’Keeffe and Wassily Kandinsky. An oversized painting of Marie Antoinette – in its original frame and once hung in the Palace of Versailles – will virtually blow you away.

“I’d expect to be in Paris or New York, okay even Denver to see such works of art,” said one proud attendee. Truly something Colorado Springs has worked hard to achieve. “We’ve transitioned from a place with dust in the corners to something as elegant as this,” said Ann Winslow, a past FAC board of trustee member.

Week Three: Here we go again!

‘Twas week three after op’ning and all of the cast
Was exhausted and weary, their eyes at half-mast
But a feeling was brewing, a sense in the air
That a SaGaJi audience soon would be there.

They’d survived ten performances, ten more to go
With the crew and the costumers, all were in tow
The whole team was regrouping, and stoking their engines
For another attempt at the show, with a vengeance.

The singing and acting and dancing parts, too
Seemed sharper and clearer and easier to do
The effects were lots smoother, things coming together
(Now if only they’d have some good luck with the weather!)

They were psyched, in a word, to go at it again!
To perform for their fam’lies, co-workers, and friends
Now the only thing missing, to make hearts replete
Was a herd of warm bodies, to warm unfilled seats.

Come share in the Christmas fun!

All the best,
GXP (Amy Brooks)

Dec 10, 2007

Nine Denver Post Ovation Award nominations for Into the Woods

The Fine Arts Center Theatre Company's production of 'Into the Woods' was nominated for nine 2007 Denver Post Ovation Awards, including "Best Musical," "Best Ensemble" and "Best Director."

In a May 25, 2007, review entitled, "Colorado Springs troupe's Broadway-worthy musical," Denver Post critic John Moore wrote: "(W)ith its latest big-bang, big-bucks to-do, the FAC again proves that nobody, but nobody, does musicals like they do musicals to our south.”

Out of 154 productions reviewed or observed by Denver Post critics, 'Into the Woods' was the second-most nominated production in the state.

The nominations included:

Best Musical
FAC Theatre Company's Into the Woods

Actor, Musical
Kelly Walters, (The Baker)

Director, Musical
Alan Osburn

Supporting Actress, Musical
Mercedes Perez, (The Witch)
Sally Lewis Hybl, (Cinderella)

FAC Theatre Company's Into the Woods

Best Band
Roberta Jacyshyn

Musical Number
“Opening," Mary Ripper Baker and Roberta Jacyshyn

Set Design
Christopher L. Sheley

Finalists were culled from Colorado productions opening after Jan. 1, 2007, that were either reviewed or observed by Denver Post critics. Winners have been selected by theater critic John Moore and will be published Dec. 30. Readers can go online now and vote for their favorite in major categories for "Readers Choice" selections at

Dec 7, 2007

Ghost: Are you ready for a taste sensation?

A couple of weeks ago, I nipped into Whole Foods on Academy to buy something for dinner. As I wandered around the produce section, I was cornered by one of the produce guys who urged me to try out a slice of apple and a piece of aged Parmigiano Reggiano. He promised a taste sensation, so I did and yes by gum it was delicious. I chatted to him for a little while and throughout he was enthusiastic about this particular combination and about helping customers getting to love it too. So much so that I bought a pound of the apples and some of the cheese, so that my wife could try it too.

This got me thinking about my job as an actor. Through my performance I have to entice you the audience member to enter our made-up world, to suspend your belief, to be entertained, to feel as if you've had the best evening at a theater you've ever had. Anything less and I would be failing you. After all, I and my fellow actors have but 18 chances to woo you with our show. Come the evening of December 23rd, a mere three weeks away, it'll be all over and we'd have lost our chance.

When you come to one of our performances, I'll be there with my plate of apple and cheese slices -- at least in a metaphorical sense -- and inviting you to partake and enjoy the sensation. I am enthusiastic about this show and love becoming the Ghost of Christmas Present.

But, unlike the goods my friend the Whole Foods stacker was showing me, my performance is never quite the same. It's weird: you'd think that now we've rehearsed the heck out of this show, everything would be constant. But no, there are always slight differences in everyone's performance. We're always striving to find something new in the way we perform to make things clearer, to give more depth to the characters, to entertain the audience. So some nights, I look at Scrooge in a different way or at a different place than before or say my line in a slightly different way. Bob Rais, who plays Scrooge, will then play off that, and suddenly there's something more truthful about the relationship between the Ghost and Scrooge, something that will resonate better with the audience. The whole performance becomes heightened.

So are you ready for a taste sensation?

Cheers, Julian
Ghost of Christmas Present

Gazette: New FAC exhibition is 'jaw-dropping'

Fine Arts Center masters the masters
Gazette // Mark Arnest (Dec. 6)

If the sheer size of the Fine Arts Center expansion and its first post-expansion exhibit made a good impression, get ready to be really impressed.

Claude Monet, Edgar Degas, Pablo Picasso, Claude Lorrain: With its jaw-dropping, masterpiece-packed new exhibit “Impressionist and Modern Masters,” the Fine Arts Center solidifies its new position as a major player in the state’s art scene.

Dec 6, 2007

GXP: Ah! The things we do for the theater!

"A Christmas Carol" is officially open, and now the work begins! We made it through opening weekend, and things started to click by the end of the weekend. From Thursday's Preview audience through Sunday's matinee audience, the crowds were gracious and friendly, and seemed to enjoy the show. Some even stood at the end!

I have been brain dead and tired to the bone marrow this week, and I suspect I am not alone. Now we will muster our energy, re-gather our strength, focus our minds, clear our throats, and head into a five-performance weekend of shows. My skin hurts, thinking of all those make-up changes. Friday night, after the show, will be photo call. This will involve full costume and make-up changes, all over again, and photo poses late into the night. (May I confess, that while I am in favor of the creation of a photo archive, photo call night is not my favorite...).

Ah! The things we do for the theater!

We are now hoping for full and enthusiastic houses. The weather seems a little warm yet to feel Christmassy. Maybe our show will help folks along, and give them a touch of Christmas in their hearts to fuel them through the shopping madness. I'm excited to get to it again.

Cheers to all,
GXP (Amy Brooks)

Dec 4, 2007

Words of wisdom from Impressionist and Modern Masters

In preparation for this Friday's Opening Celebration of Impressionist and Modern Masters, the FAC Blog has gathered quotes -- words of wisdom, if you will -- from some of the artists featured in the exhibition.

I choose a block of marble and chop off whatever I don't need.
Auguste Rodin

Art is not what you see, but what you make others see.
Edgar Degas

In art, all who have done something other than their predecessors have merited the epithet of revolutionary; and it is they alone who are masters.
Paul Gauguin

Color is my day-long obsession, joy and torment.
Claude Monet

I do not judge, I only chronicle.
John Singer Sargent

Blessed are they who see beautiful things in humble places where other people see nothing.
Camille Pissarro

I think that if you shake the tree, you ought to be around when the fruit falls to pick it up.
Mary Cassatt

The pain passes, but the beauty remains.
Pierre Auguste Renoir

Everything starts from a dot.
Wassily Kandinsky

All good ideas arrive by chance.
Max Ernst

When you take a flower in your hand and really look at it, it's your world for the moment. I want to give that world to someone else. Most people in the city rush around so, they have no time to look at a flower. I want them to see it whether they want to or not.
Georgia O'Keeffe

There is nothing more difficult for a truly creative painter than to paint a rose, because before he can do so he has first to forget all the roses that were ever painted.
Henri Matisse

New needs need new techniques. And the modern artists have found new ways and new means of making their statements... the modern painter cannot express this age, the airplane, the atom bomb, the radio, in the old forms of the Renaissance or of any other past culture.
Jackson Pollock

Some painters transform the sun into a yellow spot, others transform a yellow spot into the sun.
Pablo Picasso

When I see a head from a great distance, it ceases to be a sphere and becomes an extreme confusion falling down into the abyss.
Alberto Giacometti

I try to apply colors like words that shape poems, like notes that shape music.
Joan Miro