Alright, alright, we know every mid-sized city in the U.S. likes to brag about how it’s an up-and-coming artistic hotspot, but in the case of Colorado Springs? We really are booming. Between the vibrant Downtown Creative District, Old Colorado City, our neighboring towns of Manitou Springs and Monument, and those who work outside established creative zones, our area boasts hundreds of fine artists and craftspeople.
This holiday season, if you’re shopping for something unique and hand-crafted, you have no shortage of options to explore. In fact, since you might be so paralyzed by the sheer glut of art available to you, we’ve whittled down some surefire safe bets for places to pick up the perfect piece of artwork on your shopping list — whether that means jewelry, pottery, paintings or even tickets to stage shows.
Say you’re not sure if you’re looking for something artsier or craftier? Shop a huge selection of both at Commonwheel Artists Co-op (102 Cañon Ave., Manitou Springs) this month. Its annual Holiday Market (through Dec. 30) brings together co-op members and artists from outside. You’ll find traditional holiday gifts like ornaments by the likes of ceramic artist Deborah Hager, plus soap and body products offered by regional vendors such as High Country Skincare, alongside fine art running the gamut from mosaic to paintings, from photography to sculpture. Commonwheel’s marketing manager Juanita Canzoneri says the gallery strives to keep all prices below $100, so you won’t break the bank.
Speaking of variety, we’d be remiss not to mention one of our favorite annual exhibitions and sales: the annual Small Works show (Dec. 6-Jan. 3), co-presented by The Modbo and S.P.Q.R. Artspace. Modbo owner Lauren Ciborowski estimates that most works will be priced between $20 and $300. (See p. 43 for more info.)
Then there’s Gallery G44 (1785 S. Eighth St., Suite A), which will once again offer its annual Holiday Show through Dec. 22. Here, you’ll find the playful and exuberant sculpture work of local eccentric Sean O’Meallie, the fascinating layered paint constructions of Karen Khoury, and the intricate textile and mixed-media work of Cass Mullane — plus more than 50 other artists. Owner Gundega Stevens says prices run anywhere from $4 to $3,000, with most pieces falling between $200 and $500.
That’s the stuff that’s up throughout the month, but ‘tis the season, too, for holiday gift and craft fairs. Here are two that we’re looking forward to.
First off, we love everything underground, eclectic and off the rails — meaning we love graffiti artist Jantzen Peake, who has joined with a cohort of other locals to put on a group art show and market at The Perk Downtown (Dec. 6, 7:30-10 p.m.). Works will be priced between $10 and $100, and Peake expects a variety of mediums.Look out for abstract and contemporary art, and works influenced by pop culture, like cartoon-inspired art by Tokka, clothing by Richard Arnot of Edifice Clothing, and of course graffiti art by Peake himself.
This same weekend, Colorado College will once again host its annual Arts and Crafts Sale (Dec. 6, 4-8 p.m., and Dec. 7-8, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.), a juried market with original works by more than 80 local artists and many Colorado College students, who bring fresh work to the table. Here’s your chance to jump in on the ground floor and patronize the next big name in Etsy handcrafting or fine contemporary art.
Of course, art doesn’t only exist on the wall or on a pedestal. If that special someone on your list enjoys a good stage show now and again, look no further than the Springs’ local theaters. Take your darling on a date to the Millibo Art Theatre’s annual holiday cabaret, Yule Be Naughty Too (Dec. 12-22), which features local circus acts, physical comedy, aerial acrobatics and sweet and sultry music to put you in the holiday spirit. Wanna entertain the kiddos? Look instead to the MAT’s Dances with Trolls, a family holiday show about Princess Snowflakey’s adventure with a crew of naughty holiday trolls.
Meanwhile, over at the Ent Center for the Arts, you can give the gift of a spirited cultural experience with A Celtic Family Christmas (Dec. 18, 7 p.m.), a concert of award-winning fiddlers Natalie MacMaster, Donnell Leahy, and their children. Should you wish for a little less sweetness in your holiday, Funky Little Theater Company will be putting on the irreverent Southern Christmas comedy, A Doublewide, Texas Christmas (Dec. 6-21).
Still not seeing the perfect gift? Check out our art exhibit and stage listings in our calendar section on p. 44. Trust us, the Springs’ art community has you covered 100 times over this holiday season.