Colorado Springs, CO

Colorado Springs, CO

We went to the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center today.

When we initially arrived at the FAC we found one of the retaining walls had numerous murals. Walking toward the building there are several sculptures installed in the exterior public spaces including a buffalo sculpture of steel, Survivor II; a limestone sculpture of some Indian women, Hopi Basket Dancers; and a very colorful sculpture of a Mexican Hat Dance. There was also a butterfly sculpture that was part of a city-wide exhibition of butterfly sculptures.

The building itself was actually finished in 1936. It is a classic example of art-deco architecture. It is now on the National Register of Historic Places.

This was the first full day of a new exhibit, ‘Trace Elements: Light into Space’ and ‘Places Apart’, installations by James Turrell and Scott Johnson. That particular area of the FAC did not allow photographs. Regardless, we all very much enjoyed the displays. The first one we saw titled ‘The No Plateau.” It consisted of four columns of tinted glass. Each one was about four feet square and about 15 feet tall. There was a space nearly three feet wide which allowed one to walk between the columns. The columns were placed to form a larger square of about 12 feet by 12 feet.

Each of the 16 glass panels were clear at the bottom and became progressively darker as the height increased. The columns did not have a top; instead, there was a light shining straight down in each. At the bottom inside each was a substance that looked like dried and cracked mud. The ambient light in the exhibit room was dimmed considerably. This installation was the only thing in that room.

Because of the lighting and the interior reflectivity of the glass, one could see the reflections of the mud seemingly going on forever. The reflections would change slightly as one walked around or through the installation. We all three thought it was a most interesting and unique piece.

As we left that first exhibition room we entered a very large hall. This hall had three or four pieces, some of which were built directly into the wall. In each case, either the wall or the piece was a brilliant white. Looking straight on at the pieces with spotlights from above, it reminded one of a distant horizon. On the horizon it appeared to be a forest that was lit oddly, maybe due to a white fog. We had never seen anything like it so we decided to inspect them more closely. Each piece had one or more of the “horizons.” The lowest “horizon” in each one was just slightly above my eye level.

If one stood at the end of the wall and looked toward the other end, it appeared there were small “shelves” protruding from the wall. At its widest point the “shelf” ranged from one to three inches wide. If one were to look down the plane of the wall from the ceiling, one would see that the “shelf” emerges from the wall in a very gentle arc and then disappears back into the wall. Each “shelf” is canted up at a slight angle. On top of each “shelf” is a piece of material that looks similar to aluminum foil. It is the light from above reflecting off of the foil that creates the “horizon.” I thought it was a very unique use of light.

When it comes to original works of art, I am sometimes amazed at how artists can dream up such works. I can’t imagine I would have come up with ideas like those described above in a million years. Both of the pieces described above were done by Scott Johnson.

On the ground floor, preparations for a wedding and a reception were under way in the Smith Gallery and the courtyard. The ceremony was set to take place outside. The colors for the wedding were purple and hot pink. It may sound odd but it was really striking.

Somewhere between 2006 and 2008, the FAC hosted an exhibit of glass work by renown artist Dale Chihuly. Some generous patrons purchased several pieces for the FAC. One of the first things we saw on the ground floor were five large Chihuly bowls. They were made between 1992 and 2004. The colors were vivid while some parts were translucent.

The FAC has an extensive collection of Native American clothing, tools, and baskets. The bead work on the various items of clothing is very colorful. The intricacy is amazing.

There was an exhibit in the Loo Gallery I had never seen before, Hispanic Works – Santos and Bultos. Some of the pieces were quite new. For example, my favorite Altar Screen with Bulto was done in 1993. Another example was the Coronation of the Virgin by the Holy Trinity, 1996. Some of the other pieces dated as far back as the early 1700’s. There were two walls that were covered with crucifixes.

One of my favorite paintings is the FAC’s lone Georgia O’Keeffe, Dark Iris No. I. Another of my most favorite items on display is the Orange Hornet Chandelier by Dale Chihuly in the Lane Gallery. It is a very vivid piece. Lastly, another of my favorite works is one that I have associated with the FAC since I was a small child is Trio by Walt Kuhn. I think it just brings back fond memories of my many visits when I was young.

In the courtyard I was able to photograph the mural by Frank Mechau, Wild Horses. To the best of my knowledge that mural has been in place since 1936.

In the main foyer is another Dale Chihuly chandelier. It was made in 2004 of 842 separate glass parts. The chandelier weighs an impressive 2,200 pounds. It certainly does not look like it should weigh that much.

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