Dec 26, 2012

Artist Spotlight: Alix Smith

States of Union #3,  c-print, 2009 (source)
Alix Smith (source)

Alix Smith is a photographer, "best known for her ability to create iconic images that defy cliche." Her photos have a theatrical, painterly quality. She has been in solo exhibitions around the world, and reviewed in numerous publications, even listed by Art Review Magazine as one of the best emerging photographers internationally in 2005. She currently lives and works in New York.

Her photo, States of Union #3, is one of three works that writers can choose from to use as inspiration in the Fine Arts Center's Rough Writers script contestRough Writers is a new play festival being put on as part of our 25th anniversary theatre season. This two-week long festival will feature readings of new scripts submitted by playwrights worldwide. Playwrights whose work is included in the festival will have the opportunity to have their script read in front of an audience with a feedback session. A panel of theatre professionals will adjudicate the submissions and the "winning" script will be given a full production during our 2013-2014 season.

Submissions to our festival will be related to artwork being featured in our Museum's 'family' multi-disciplinary exhibits, such as Alix Smith's States of Union #3.

10-minute, one-act and full-length plays and musicals will be accepted. Approximately 12 scripts will be chosen for readings during the festival. Submissions must be received by February 14, 2013. Playwrights will be notified by March 15, 2013.

Dec 19, 2012

"Floyd D. Tunson: Son of Pop" GUEST POST!

Here's a special guest post by Colorado College 3D Arts Shop Supervisor and local artist, Andrew Tirado. Tirado has worked with giants in the art world, such as Chuck Close, and was a student of Floyd D. Tunson at Palmer High. Floyd D. Tunson: Son of Pop is on view through Jan 20. 

Artist Andrew Tirado, working on his latest sculpture. image source

Tunson’s prolific artistry used to astound me.  Now it just ticks me off.

Here's Andrew Tirado wondering "How does Floyd do it!?"
(image source)
I’ve seen the career retrospective, "Floyd D. Tunson: Son of Pop," at the FAC three times and plan to make it back for a few more before it comes down.  The exhibit is stunning in its depth and its breadth, another show ably curated by Blake Milteer and the museum’s indomitable staff.  The work fills the entire second floor of the museum and, seemingly bursting at the seams, overflows in places down to the ground floor.  But beyond the ideas, beyond the evident love of color and form and markmaking, it clearly whispers to me, “Catch me if you can.” And that ticks me off.

Any time a student finds a teacher/mentor, it can have a life-long impact, and that’s just the role Tunson has played in my life.  Although I had been the prototypical “class artist” since I was a wee lad, I leaned toward a career as a writer both prior to having Tunson as my high school art teacher and then again briefly in college after leaving the gravitational pull of his charismatic presence.  In high school, however, as an ever increasing amount of time spent in the art studio would attest, I was primarily focused on art. I blame Tunson for heavily influencing my then newfound focus, and heck, he’s continued to be just as important to me now: he has been one of the few personal sources of artistic inspiration for me in terms of energy, dedication to his craft, and work ethic for nearly thirty years.  But even such genius has its limits and it’s high time for Tunson to take a long, relaxing siesta. 

A picture from Tirado's archives. Floyd D. Tunson was Tirado's art teacher at Palmer High and thought highly of Tirado's work, believing he'd be a big New York artist a couple years out of high school. (image source)
Another photo from Tirado's archives, from his
time as an apprentice for Chuck Close right after
Close suffered a spinal artery collapse (image source).
As if his artistic vigor wasn’t already evident in class, it was confirmed when I first stepped into his live/work space.  Tunson’s Manitou Springs loft brims with evidence of a vital exertion with color, materials, and ideas, from unfinished canvases large and small, to sculptures and silkscreens, to buckets, boxes, and bins full of fodder for his 2D and 3D creations, to the photo darkroom, with its chemical experimentations, to the throng of paintings and sculptures hanging salon style on walls and ceiling.  

Elsewhere, storage rooms are filled with yet more completed work and commonplace materials yet to be transformed into art – seeming endless amounts of both.  I visited Tunson and Flo [his wife] recently and noted with disgust that their loft is just as full of work now, during the retrospective, as it was before – still veritably bursting with yet more pieces not on display in the building.  In protest of this evidence of limitless creativity, I just recently “liked” Tunson’s new Facebook page, solely for the satisfaction of “unliking” it just as it hits its first 1000 likes.  Enough is enough.

It’s not just physical materials that Tunson salvages, but others’ work that he unabashedly steals.  A few years out of college, but well prior to returning to making art myself, I was happily building wood strip canoes, when Tunson visited me as he is wont to do and took an avid interest in their sleek shapes – one of the main reasons I was drawn to making them in the first place.  Only, while mine took months to build, Tunson called one short week later and said he’d made two or three boats – what were to eventually coalesce into the profusion of vessels that constitute his Haitian Dream Boats piece at the Fine Arts Center.  How annoying is that?

Floyd Tunson's Haitian Dream Boats. Image courtsey of the artist

Tunson retired from teaching in 2000, and, not surprisingly to those of us who knew just how much he invested in his teaching and his students, experienced an artistic and depressive slump that lasted through the fall and into the winter months.  One might’ve assumed he’d have been excited to be able to make art without the time and energy constraints that teaching represents, and I’m sure he was.  But it can’t have been easy to leave a profession that he had invested so much of himself into for decades.  Unfortunately, by the late winter of the following year, he was back on his game.  And, what’s worse, it seems he’s only going to keep getting better.

Floyd D. Tunson: Son of Pop
On view through Jan. 20, 2013

Dec 18, 2012

Director Spotlight: A Christmas Story

Scene from the FAC Theatre Company's production of  A Christmas Story. Photo by Jeff Kearney

A Christmas Story is the stage production of the beloved 1983 classic that revolves around a little boy and his quest for a Red Ryder BB Gun, complete with the warnings of adults around him that he’ll “shoot his eye out!”

We sat down with director Joye Cook-Levy, the ringleader behind the Silver Theatre Season’s A Christmas Story production, to ask about the unique process of bringing a timeless movie classic to life on stage.

Is it different directing something based off a classic rather than an ordinary stage play? 

We’re just looking for the funny. It doesn’t feel any different that it’s classic or not. It’s just moment-by-moment kind of work, although there are some very iconic images that we’re paying homage to. We want to make sure that people who come to see the show get to experience those moments.

What would you say makes the stage version different than the movie?

I think the stage version is a lot better than the movie. I hadn’t watched it [A Christmas Story] for a really long time and we were into rehearsals before I went back and watched it. I actually fell asleep watching the movie! It was really slow and you don’t think about it being so slow anymore because rarely do you just sit down and watch that movie. It’s more of a wrap a few gifts and watch the scene where Flick’s tongue is on the pole and then go and cook something and come back and it’s on another section. It didn’t hold my attention the way I remembered.

Whereas the play is a version of the movie, so the episodic nature of it makes it challenging but it keeps it moving and the energy is a lot more comedic in nature than just memoir natured. In the movie it’s much more a really nice memory piece and that’s what the play is too, but the comedic timing is much more important.

So what do you hope that people take away from A Christmas Story?

Have a good time! Everybody should laugh and remember. They might remember their childhoods. They might remember stories that their parents told them. They might remember seeing this movie and reflect on it while they’re watching the play. I just hope that everyone laughs and gets in touch with their own Christmas memories.

How do you deal with the theme of consumerism that’s prevalent throughout the movie/production?

Well the narrator has a lot of commentary about consumerism and he has some big feelings about wishing that his memories weren’t so filled with consumerism. I think it’s a way for us all to laugh at that truth. It’s a truth that we all share except for those rare families that are able to hold on to that nugget of sharing without there being product placement. It gives us permission to laugh at our own “need” for things that comes out at this time of year.

What makes A Christmas Story such a holiday classic?

I think it’s really funny. There’s so much nostalgia, and I think that’s what everybody does during Christmas time. They look back and it’s a reference of a time. It’s that point of reference that makes it a classic. It’s timeless.

And finally, what is your own Red Ryder BB gun?

Director Joey Cook-Levy
I always wanted the Barbie Dream House with three floors and the elevator. I think I asked for it for five years, but never got it. And now my daughter asks for it as well.

This is Cook-Levy’s second production at the Fine Arts Center (she made her FAC directorial debut with the Colorado Premiere of In the Next Room, or the vibrator play) and describes her experiences as great ones, including one of the only drama-free casts that she’s worked with.

A Christmas Story closes this week— be sure not to miss this live stage production of a holiday favorite! It’ll certainly be a lively, memorable and vibrant experience.

Dec 14, 2012

CC at the FAC: a glimpse at what interns do

A volunteer assists with the large scale installation of one panel of the HUMONGOUS Boardman Robinson mural.

Here's a special guest post from the Colorado College museum interns:

Interns Davis Tutt and Abby Stein are putting on the plexiglas vitrine over
fragile Native American artifacts in current exhibition, Honoring a Legacy.
Museum interns are involved with a whole range of different projects at the FAC. Working mostly under the mentorship of Registrar Michael Howell, interns from Colorado College come in throughout the week to work on specific projects or help out wherever needed. We do a little bit of everything, which is unique to small institutions. Although we work with Michael, oftentimes - especially before big exhibition openings, we'll be helping out the curatorial and exhibit preparation staff.

Even when there aren't big exhibitions going up, we are still busy, busy, busy! One of the Registrar's responsibilities is to make condition reports for objects that are loaned to the FAC, as well as objects that are travelling to go on view at other institutions. It is always helpful to have extra hands and eyes when doing condition reports because you have to be careful in recording all the imperfections of a piece -- whether it's a slight chip on a corner of a frame, or a fingernail-sized paint chip. It's important to note these imperfections as there are legal and ethical concerns between lenders and borrowers.

Another plus in working for the museum is you get to meet the artists themselves! We've had numerous Colorado artists exhibit their work in the past year: Terry Maker, Scott Johnson and now Floyd D. Tunson. Sometimes, you're working side-by-side with them to make the exhibition look exactly how the artist and curators want it. 
Katie Smith working with the Colorado College collection
of Native American artifacts.

The hands-on work we get to do as interns at the FAC is another cool feature of this institution. We're not "just interns” at the FAC, there is a strong sense of community with the staff, and they trust you to do really big projects! Handling art is no walk in the park, especially since you're working with one-of-a-kind stuff on a daily basis! 

Museum work is not JUST for the art folk, even though a lot of us are majoring in either Art History or Studio Art. We also have academic interests in History, Philosophy, Political Science, and Museum Studies, just to name a few.

Lila Pickus inspecting a painting coming back from being on loan. 

Jenna Schmidt doing a condition report
on a painting.
Kelly Cheung doing a condition report on a Floyd D.
Tunson multi-media piece, entitled Crate of Paintings 3.Check
it out in the second-floor galleries.
Davis Tutt doing a condition report on Brett Weston photographs.
Katie Smith and Rebecca Simpson working with
Native American textiles from the Colorado College collection.
Abby Stein working with the world-renowned
Native American collection.

Registrar Michael Howell and Davis Tutt arranging paintings in the "rack room." 

Lila Pickus organizing the print collection in the flat-file
storage room.
Abby Stein and Davis Tutt installing a
Native American head dress for one of the
current Permanent Collection exhibitions,
Honoring a Legacy: Selections from the
Taylor Museum Collection of Native
American Works.

Abby Stein, Davis Tutt, and Registrar Michael Howell do a light cleaning of pieces from the Native American collection using special museum-grade brushes. 
Kelly Cheung assembling one of the many pieces
in Floyd D. Tunson's behemoth, ceiling-height
multi-media installation, Hearts and Minds.
Exhibit Preparator Aaron Jakos and Kelly Cheung installing
Untitled 96 for the current exhibition of Manitou Springs artist,
Floyd D. Tunson: Son of Pop.

Remember, the FAC is free to CC students (as well as some other educational institutions -- check with your school for details) and we have PUBLIC FREE DAY every 3rd Tuesday of each month.

Perhaps your next visit will be a little different now that you've seen what goes on behind the scenes! 

Dec 11, 2012

December 2012 Workshops at Bemis

There is still space available in the following workshops at the Bemis School of Art this December! During the winter holidays, considering taking one of these classes or giving them as a gift!

Family Fridays (Ages 5-Adult)
FF4, Dec. 14 6-7:30p | Register Online
$29, $26 FAC Member 

Come on down for an evening of artistic expression together! Enjoy painting, pastels, paper craft and more, each Friday will be a different experience! Advanced registration is required. Specially priced for two participants.

Winter Art Camp (Ages 5-10)
Y9, Dec. 26, 27, 28 9a-12p | Register Online
1 Day | $47, $32 FAC Member
2 Days | $75, $60 FAC Member
3Days | $104, $89 FAC Member

Come in out of the cold and make art! Each day will be a new mixed media adventure in art and creative play. Sign up for one, two or three days. When registering, please include the dates you are requesting.

Holiday Blues Ages 8-15
Y17, Dec. 29 | 1-4p | Register Online     
$51, $36 FAC Member

Looking for something creative to do during winter break? Join us for an afternoon of art making; drawing, painting and more. A visit to the Fine Arts Center galleries will be included for inspiration.
Sat 12/29 1:00-4:00pm 

QUESTIONS? Contact the Bemis School of Art 719.475.2444;

Honoring a Legacy — Chief Mountain of the Blackfoot

Chief Mountain in Glacier National Park, Mont (image source).
Alternate view of Chief Mountain
(image source).
A visit to Glacier National Park in Montana will make obvious the natural beauty of the Rockies (as if living at the foot of Pikes Peak was not enough!). One outstanding feature is Chief Mountain, which stands in stark isolation to its surroundings, much like Pikes.

The Piegan tribe of the Blackfoot Confederacy tells this story of the creation of Chief Mountain to explain its unusual flat top and grooves. Blackfoot, or Siksika, is a blanket term that includes tribes who speak the Blackfoot of Pikuni: North Peigan, South Peigan/Peigan Blackfeet, Kainai and Siksika/Blackfoot people.

The Blackfoot Confederacy is still active in Alberta, Canada and Montana. The Montana reservation is 1,500,000 acres, and is home to 8,500 tribe members.

This story is from Ella E. Clark's anthology of Native American stories: Indian Legends From the Northern RockiesStorytelling in Native American culture relies heavily on oral tradition, so try to tell this story out loud, and see what pops out to you when you share it!

Moccasins (Blackfoot), deerskin, beads, sinew , date unknown.
Many years ago, a young Piegan warrior was noted for his bravery. When he grew older and more experienced in war, he became the war-chief for a large band of Piegan warriors. A little while after he became the war-chief, he fell in love with a girl who was in his tribe, and they got married. He was so in love with her that he took no other wives, and he decided not to go on war parties any more. He and his wife were very happy together; unusually so, and when they had a baby, they were even happier then. Some moons later, a war party that had left his village was almost destroyed by an enemy. Only four men came back to tell the story. 
The war-chief was greatly troubled by this. He saw that if the enemy was not punished, they would raid the Piegan camp. So he gave a big war feast and asked all of the young men of his band to come to it. After they had all eaten their fill, the war-chief arose and said to them in solemn tones: 
"Friends and brothers, you have all heard the story that our four young men have told us. All the others who went out from our camp were killed by the enemy. Only these four have come back to our campfires. Those who were killed were our friends and relatives. We who live must go out on the warpath to avenge the fallen. If we don't, the enemy will think that we are weak and that they can attack us unhurt. Let us not let them attack us here in the camp. I will lead a party on the warpath. Who here will go with me against the enemy that has killed our friends and brothers?" 
Knife sheath (Blackfoot), rawhide, brass, beads, late 1800s.
A party of brave warriors gathered around him, willing to follow their leader. His wife also asked to join the party, but he told her to stay at the camp. "If you go without me," she said, "you will find an empty lodge when you return." The Chief talked to her and calmed her, and finally convinced her to stay with the women and children and old men in the camp at the foot of a high mountain. 
Leading a big war party, the Chief rode out from the village.The Piegans met the enemy and defeated them but their war-chief was killed. Sadly, his followers carried the broken body back to the camp. His wife was crazed with grief. With vacant eyes she wandered everywhere looking for her husband and calling his name. Her friends took care of her, hoping that eventually her mind would become clear again and that she could return to normal life. 
One day, though, they could not find her anywhere in the camp. Searching for her, they saw her high up on the side of the mountain, the tall one above their camp. She had her baby in her arms. The head man of the village sent runners after her, but from the top of the mountain she signaled that they should not try to reach her. All watched in horror as she threw her baby out over the cliff. Then she herself jumped from the mountain to the rocks far, far below. Her people buried the woman and baby there among the rocks. 
They carried the body of the chief to the place and buried him beside them. From that time on, the mountain that towers above the graves was known as Minnow Stahkoo, "the Mountain of the Chief," or "Chief Mountain." If you look closely, even today, you can see on the face of the mountain the figure of a woman with a baby inn her arms, the wife and child of the chief.

On-view in the first-floor galleries

Dec 7, 2012

The FAC Remembers Pearl Harbor

Photograph taken from a Japanese plane during the attack on Pearl Harbor. source

71 years ago, the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on the island of Oahu, Hawaii. We remember those who lost their lives, and are grateful for those who survived.

Shortly after the United States declared war on Japan, the FAC became a safe-keeping repository for art treasures from west coast institutions.

Fear of air destruction prompted collectors and curators to send their masterpieces inland to the FAC in early 1942. Among the 100 valuable works of art on permanent display for the duration of the war were Repentant St. Peter by Goya, Queen Henrietta Maria by Van Dyck, and Mount St. Vicoire by Cézenne.

The Repentant St. Peter, Francisco José de Goya. source

Time magazine features the FAC in an article called “Refugee Art” on Monday, Jan. 19, 1943:

Busiest museum director in the U.S. last week was smiling, 220-lb. Paul Parker, who runs the trim, modern Fine Arts Center Museum in the small (pop. 37,000) Rocky Mountain resort of Colorado Springs. Priceless masterpieces from famous museums all over the U.S. were arriving at his back door by the truckload. Spouting South Dakota cuss words at a crew of workmen, Director Parker carefully unloaded the valuable arrivals, stored them away in a basement maze of gigantic vertical steel racks. By last week the number of arrivals, including top-flight Cézannes, Daumiers, Goyas and Van Dycks, had reached 59, topped an aggregate value of $1,000,000. 

Queen Henriette Mario, Anthony Van Dyck. source

Remote from both eastern and western U.S. seacoasts, sheltered by the loftiest of U.S. mountain ranges, Colorado Springs is one of the least bombable of U.S. cities. Its Fine Art Center, providently built six years ago with lavish backing by Art Patroness Alice Bemis Taylor, contains ample storage space for 2,000 paintings, is honeycombed with strong-walled concrete galleries, corridors and sub-basements. Last week, masterpieces from San Francisco, San Diego and Washington, D.C. were making for that bombproof shelter at the rate of six a day. 

Because paintings deteriorate when stored permanently in dark cellars and storerooms, Director Parker will keep his newly acquired masterpieces rotating through the galleries of his museum. Result: for the duration Colorado Springs art-lovers will see more masterpieces than gallery-goers in many a far larger U.S. city.

Mount St. Victoire, Paul Cézanne. source