The Pioneers Museum also features an exhibition called "Looming Large: The Artistic Legacy of Pikes Peak," displaying a remarkable variety of imagery of the broad-shouldered fourteener that resides in the background of this city. The gallery includes Pikes paintings by famous visitors like Thomas Moran and Charles Partridge Adams, well-known pioneer artists such as Charles Craig, and modern locals like impressionist Charles Rockey.
Outside the courthouse, the view of Pikes Peak, framed by El Paso County's modern justice center, may inspire you to stretch your legs a bit. Stop by the Cultural Office of the Pikes Peak Region (behind the giant red paperclips sculpture outside Plaza of the Rockies) to pick up a map of dozens of public-art pieces scattered downtown. Thirteen of these are jury-selected sculptures in the 2009 Art on the Streets program, including those giant paperclips. (Download the map at www.artonthestreets.com.) It's well-worth wandering up North Tejon Street, the city's bustling and pedestrian-friendly main shopping street, to hunt down these artworks.
For now, though, walk four blocks east on Colorado Avenue to find the new home of the Cottonwood Center for the Arts, a vast warren of working artists' studios that opened in April inside a transformed office building. As you wander the halls you'll see work displayed outside artists' studios, and if the doors are open feel free to poke your head inside; you'll often be invited in for a peek at new work or a lecture on brush strokes. On a Thursday morning in midsummer, about half of the Cottonwood Center's 78 studios were open and busy.
Now primed for shopping, head back to the car and get ready for some gallery hopping. Just a few blocks south on East Cimarron Street is Gallery Two-Ten, opened in February 2008 by Marianne Gunter, a longtime Springs art figure. The spacious two-story gallery is dedicated exclusively to contemporary Colorado artists.
For more experimental work, such as an entire exhibition of works created from recycled materials, drive west on Colorado Avenue until you see signs for the Depot Arts District and Smokebrush gallery; take a right at the traffic light (Cimino Street) and park under the railway bridge. Smokebrush's tiny gallery hosts themed exhibits (this month: Greg Block's wacky machines), and next door is the often-interesting Bridge Gallery. Out back you'll find the Watch This Space video and "artformance" venue (http://watchthisspacecos.blogspot.com).
You can finish the day with a stroll in Old Colorado City (www.shopoldcoloradocity.com)—the area's first settlement—which now houses blocks of restaurants, boutiques, jewelers, and galleries. All of the shops are fun to poke through, but don't miss the Hunter-Wolff Gallery (known for fine art from oil to watercolor to bronzes) and the Squash Blossom (offering paintings, furniture, and sculpture, but known for its stunning jewelry). Of course, the best way to enjoy Old Colorado City is on a Friday night, when this little enclave hosts a friendly First Friday art walk from 5 to 8 p.m., April through December. m
Dougald MacDonald is a contributing editor for 5280. He lives and writes in Louisville. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If You Go
For a lively, comprehensive schedule of Colorado Springs-based arts events—as well as theater, festivals, sports, and more—visit www.peakradar.com. All exhibits and galleries listed below are free except for the Fine Arts Center: $15 adults; $12.75 children and seniors.
Fine Arts Center, 30 W. Dale St.; Tue.-Sun. 10-5; www.csfineartscenter.org.
I.D.E.A. Space, Edith Kinney Gaylord Cornerstone Arts Center, 825 N. Cascade Ave.; Tue.-Sat. 12:30-7; www.theideaspace.com.
Nosh, 121 S. Tejon St.; lunch Mon.-Fri. 11-3; www.nosh121.com.
FAC Modern, 121 S. Tejon St.; Mon.-Fri. 10-4, www.csfineartscenter.org.
Pioneers Museum, 215 S. Tejon St.; Tue.-Sat. 10-4; www.springsgov.com/SectionIndex.aspx?SectionID=38.
Van Briggle Pottery and Tile, 1024 S. Tejon St.; Mon.-Sat. 9-5, Sun. 1-5; www.vanbriggle.com.
Cottonwood Center for the Arts, 427 E. Colorado Ave.; Mon.-Fri. 10-6, Sat. 10-2; www.cottonwoodcenterforthearts.com.
Gallery Two-Ten, 210 E. Cimarron St.; Tue.-Sat. 10-6, Sun. 11-4; www.gallerytwo-ten.com.
Smokebrush, 218 W. Colorado Ave.; Mon.-Sat. 12-5; www.smokebrush.org.
The Bridge Gallery, 218 W. Colorado Ave.; Fri.-Sat. 11-5, Sun. 12-3; www.thebridgeartgallery.com.
Hunter-Wolff Gallery, 2510 W. Colorado Ave.; Mon.-Thurs. 10-5, Fri.-Sat. 10-6, Sun. 11-5; www.hunterwolffgallery.com.
The Squash Blossom, 2531 W. Colorado Ave.; Mon.-Sat. 10-5; www.squashblossom.com.
Can't Get Enough Art?
Spend the night in Manitou Springs, about seven miles west of Colorado Springs on Highway 24. The town hosts several galleries, the Commonwheel Artists' Cooperative and Labor Day weekend arts festival (www.commonwheel.com), the Business of Art Center incubator and gallery space (www.thebac.org), and numerous B&Bs and hotels (www.manitousprings.org).