By Julianne G. Crane
Writer’s Note: During the COVID-19 pandemic, I am highlighting places that can be safely experienced from the road or in an outdoor public space such as a park or college campus. If you know of cities with outstanding public art collections, or unique places, please let me know so I can feature them.
“Art on the Streets” in Colorado Springs, Colo., “celebrates the power of art in public places,” while turning the downtown streets into a free year-round outdoor sculpture (and mural) gallery. Since 1998, more than 300 artworks have been exhibited and the Downtown district is now home to more than 50 permanent works.
Art on the Streets is a program of Colorado Springs Downtown Ventures and is funded through donations, not tax dollars.
One extremely popular acquisition is “Iscariot” created by Fort Collins, Colo, artist Trace O’Connor in 2018 from 4,200 pounds of recycled materials including galvanized steel light poles, sprinkler piping, mechanical tubing, plate steel and electrical conduit. She is perched on top of a Downtown building ready to take flight.
“Her quasi-mermaid lines are both figurative and abstract, recognizable and alien, having suddenly found impetus to take flight from a perch and swoop gracefully from her recent stance. She is frozen in time just before reaching maximum speed on the upswing into thin air,” according to information from Art on the Streets.
“Take Back the Power”
Muralist Gregg Deal, of Peyton, Colo., states that much of his work deals with Indigenous issues, protest and representation, occupying space in ways that are simultaneously beautiful, unexpected and difficult.
“My desire with this project was to create something that is undeniably Indigenous, but something that can belong to the city of Colorado Springs as well,” says Deal in his artist statement. “This mural raises questions about the inherent invisibility of Indigenous people, specifically referencing the abnormally high rate at which Indigenous women, girls and two-spirit individuals go missing or are murdered. This is an issue in El Paso County and around the nation. With this portrait of my oldest daughter, I hope to move the viewer and open up dialogue within the local community.”
Painter Mono Sourcil of Montréal, Canada, transformed a building front with a latex and aerosol mural.
Located across from the Pikes Peak Community College Creative Commons, “The Crowd” is “an accumulation of characters, in a cartoon style, to represent the multiculturalism specific to cosmopolitan cities,” states the artist.
“Being a muralist from a metropolis, my daily experience is defined by dense, diversified crowds at gatherings like cultural events and festivals. In my designs, I use the coexistence of human beings and fantastical creatures to celebrate the positive things we associate with crowded places, such as cultural hybridization, progress and social inclusion.”
“The Whirlwind Juniper”
Sculptor Tom Benedict, of Three Forks, Mont., says that “The Whirlwind Juniper” is “made from what remained of a long-dead ancient twisted juniper tree. In life, this tree likely lived for well over 500 years before eventually falling to the same elements of nature which caused it to twist and contour.
“Working with this as my medium,” he continued in his artist statement, “I have carved away the exterior of weathered wood exposing the tree’s core. Sculpting with the grain of the wood, I exaggerate and deepen the natural features of the piece, ending by using a torch to increase visual contrast.”
For more information
To help you navigate the 22nd annual Art on the Streets from your vehicle, a free Otocast mobile app is available to hear commentary from the artists. Download the GPS-based app Otocast via ITUNES or GOOGLE PLAY and learn about Colorado Springs’ permanent collection of public art.
Or if you wish just look at a map, DOWNLOAD A MAP of locations for the 2020 exhibit.
For information on Downtown parking, click here.