Choices abound to view and purchase works of wonder

Liese Chavez, Pikes Peak Region Art

Photo Courtesy Liese Chavez

Colorado’s rep for outdoors activities captures only part of the picture. Thriving arts communities sprinkle the foothills and mountain valleys of the region. You’ll find everything from high-end painting to quirky crafts to hip printing operations.

Colorado Springs
Galleries are largely clustered around downtown and Old Colorado City. There are many more in each spot than you can visit in a single go, so here’s an outline of what to expect. Plan accordingly, and if you can, pack a bunch in on a First Friday.

Downtown, expect more traditional fare on the main drag of Tejon Street and a greater edge in the alleys and side streets. Sculptures dot the sidewalks thanks to a rigorous annual Art on the Streets program.

In the Bijou Street alley you’ll find the Modbo and S.P.Q.R. (17C and B E. Bijou St., themodbo.wordpress.com), sister galleries run by Brett Andrus and Lauren Ciborowski. The spaces mix industrial and bohemian vibes, so expect a hint of hipster in the art and clientele. The artists that show are up-and-coming, but the talent is already there, which makes the work affordable.

Beneath the Colorado Avenue bridge you’ll find the Depot Arts District, encompassing several galleries that pack a punch. Kreuser Gallery (218 W. Colorado Ave., abigailkreusergallery.com/gallery) is the brainchild of young artist and entrepreneur Abigail Kreuser, who scouts hidden gems in the area. The Commons, AHA, and Bridge galleries are steps away and also worth a visit.

To the south, disguised as an ordinary office building, is Cottonwood Center for the Arts (427 E. Colorado Ave., cottonwoodcenterforthearts.com), a creative complex housing artists’ studios, galleries, classrooms, and a fiber arts enclave known as the Thread Lab.

Just up Cascade Avenue is the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center (4 W. Dale St., csfineartscenter.org), a 77-year-old institution housing one of the finest collections of Southwestern art in the country. Culture yourself among retablos in the Art Deco structure (bonus: the Tactile Gallery, a sculpture exhibit you can touch). Between June 11 and Sept. 18, check out its summer flagship show, All New Women, which juxtaposes the works of Cindy Sherman, John Singer Sargent, and local contemporary artist Sara Ware Howsam.

The area universities boast serious galleries too, open to the public. At Colorado College, the I.D.E.A. Space (825 N. Cascade Ave., theideaspace.com) hosts shows with scientific or historical bents, like spring’s Atomic Landscapes, which delved into the history and implications of atomic test sites and mines in the U.S.

The University of Colorado at Colorado Springs oversees the Galleries of Contemporary Art, with a space downtown (GOCA 121, 121 S. Tejon St., galleryuccs.org) and on campus (GOCA 1420). GOCA’s shows, while always hip and brainy, are just one part of its programming; catch lunchtime dance parties, yoga in the gallery itself, and wine nights.

West Side and beyond
Turning west, Old Colorado City reveals a strip of boutiques, restaurants and galleries (that is, don’t be deceived by the preponderance of T-shirt shops) in warrens of stucco subdivisions and stately brick outlets. Find classic painting, photography and sculpture at Hunter Wolff Gallery (2510 W. Colorado Ave., hunterwolffgallery.com) and funkier goods at 45 Degree Gallery (2528 W. Colorado Ave., 45degreegallery.com).

The Michael Garman Museum & Gallery (2418 W. Colorado Ave., michaelgarman.com) is a big draw; Garman’s signature Western Americana sculpture puts an emphasis on rough edges with charming results. In the same building, travel up to Second Floor Studios for the workspaces of Chris Alvarez, Jana Bussanich, Julie Kirkland and other local talents (thesecondfloorstudios.com).

Chavez Gallery (2616 W. Colorado Ave., chavezartgallery.com), with its buzzer for prizes, art-vending-machine and talented co-owners who entertain visitors with parlor tricks, breaks the gallery mold. Husband-and-wife pair Kris and Liese create with a sense of Edward Gorey-meets-Hans Christian Andersen.

Beyond the west side and downtown, options dwindle, but they remain strong contenders for your time. Looking south, G44 (1785 S. Eighth St., galleryg44.com) is a gem tucked into a shopping center. Owner and curator Gundega Spons routinely books nationally known contemporary artists like Andres Orlowski and Michael Dowling, as well as Colorado Springs stars like Chelsea Boucher and Karen Khoury. Expect to be challenged, and ultimately satisfied.

The Broadmoor Galleries (1 Lake Ave., broadmoorgalleries.com) is a higher-end establishment with more national contemporaries but with a more traditional orientation. Enjoy the expert efforts of artists like Alexandr Onishenko, Robert Moore and Martha Mans.

Further north, catch the university arm of GOCA 1420 (1420 Austin Bluffs Pkwy.) and, to the northwest, the solo gallery of Kathleen McFadden, whose Range Gallery (1485 Garden of the Gods Road, #160, longshotphotography.com) houses her photography. McFadden is a whiz with all manner of camera work, both analog and digital, and her experimental pieces jibe perfectly with gorgeous shots of oak groves, grassy plains and deserted Americana.

Manitou Springs
Quirky is definitely a top-three moniker for Manitou, but the artwork you can find here is primarily utilitarian. That is, ceramics and pottery for daily life, which you can find at spots like the Green Horse Gallery (729 Manitou Ave., greenhorsegallery.com) and legacy shop Commonwheel Artists Co-op (102 Cañon Ave., commonwheel.com). Both places offer wall art, jewelry, glasswork, and funky accent pieces. You can find a similar variety of goods from Mountain Living Studio (741 Manitou Ave., mountainlivingstudio.com) — a two-story affair on a picturesque corner of the main drag — along with gifty items like cards and candles.

The Manitou Art Center (513 Manitou Ave., manitouartcenter.org), a “laboratory for the arts,” is a hands-on enterprise, with studio spaces for working artists, classrooms, galleries, and a “makerspace” with a full metal and wood shop and electronics lab (including a 3D printer) for anyone interested in building stuff. True story.

More stops: Fare Bella Gallery, Tracy Miller Fine Art, Darpino Gallery

Kathleen Fowler, Pikes Peak Region Art

Photo courtesy Kathleen Fowler

Pueblo
There’s an artistic surge happening right now in Pueblo, with a community effort to make the Steel City a cultural destination. You can find amazing street art adorning the historic walls of downtown structures, and galleries displaying cutting-edge work, like Kadoya Gallery (119 Central Plaza, kadoyagallery.com), a must-see for anyone in the area.

Same goes for the Sangre de Cristo Arts Center (210 N. Santa Fe Ave., sdc-arts.org), a lovely museum with several floors of galleries (adding up to 24 exhibits annually, including an Ansel Adams show this summer), an attached performing arts space and the award-winning Buell Children’s Museum.

Elsewhere downtown, stop at LastLeaf Custom Print & Design (213 S. Union Ave., lastleafprinting.com) for dope posters made by the endlessly creative Mathias Valdez.

More stops: The Pueblo Arts Alliance website (puebloarts.org) is great resource for Pueblo gallery listings and upcoming events. Use it to guide your day and hit great locations like the John Deaux Art Gallery, Cup & Bowl Gallery, Steel City Artworks, and Gallery 201.

Salida
Tucked into a lush little valley, Salida plays home to a cache of galleries and working artists, drawn there years ago for the views and affordable living. One of those OGs is Paulette Brodeur, who remains there today with the Brodeur Studio Gallery (222 ½ F St., brodeurart.com). Painting everything from abstracts to landscapes to mixed media works on paper, Brodeur has been dubbed “midwife to the arts in Salida” by the Denver Post.

Three galleries live inside the SteamPlant Event Center (220 W. Sackett Ave., salidasteamplant.com), including one space devoted solely to regional artists, and an outdoor sculpture garden.

For a funkier take, visit Bungled Jungle (132 W. First St., bungledjungle.com), a boutique factory for playful, toothsome beasts made by hand by gallery co-owners Pat Landreth and Suzanne Montano. Find more whimsy at the Green Cat (124 G St., greencat-salida.com), along with glasswork, furniture, and sculpture made by the owners.

More stops: Like Pueblo’s Arts Alliance, Salida Artists is a collective aimed at promoting and organizing the arts community in the town, and it too is a great online source for scouting Salida’s numerous galleries ahead of time
(salidaartists.com).