Originally published in the Summer + Fall 2020 issue.
October is Arts Month in Colorado’s Front Range and seamlessly offers a taste of the best of art and culture in the area. Presented by the Cultural Office of the Pikes Peak Region, Arts Month kicks off with the First Friday Art Walk in Colorado Springs, Old Colorado City, Manitou Springs and surrounding areas. Galleries will be open from 5 to 9 p.m., where some will offer snacks and beverages to accompany conversations with the featured artists.
Cities and towns across the state, from Boulder to Denver and Colorado Springs to Salida, celebrate the arts all year long, especially from June through November. On September 6, the art community of Manitou Springs will host a day of Plein Air, where artists paint on the streets allowing them the freedom to paint “en plein air,” which is the French expression for “in the open air.” Plein Air is about leaving the four walls of your studio behind and experiencing painting and drawing in the landscape. The practice goes back for centuries but was truly made into an art form by the French Impressionists. Their desire is to paint light and its changing, ephemeral qualities, coupled with a celebration of transportable paint tubes and the box easel — the precursor to the plein air easels of today.
As director of the Manitou Arts Center and the Manitou Creative District, as well as Manitou Springs resident, Natalie Johnson has been a champion of the regional arts for more than 15 years and is coordinating this year’s Plein Air event. She believes that Manitou draws so many artists to the town because of its natural beauty, including Pikes Peak.
“Artists walk outside of their door and are inspired to paint,” Johnson explains. “This a huge reason that Plein Air artists come here, as there are so many amazing opportunities to paint our landscape that are not available to most people across the country and even in the world.”
“I do know that we have a history of Plein Air artists including Ken and Tina Riesterer who own the Green Horse Gallery here in town, who, among others, will be participating this year. My guess is that we will have 20 or more artists, setting up easels all around the town. The renowned, late artist Charles Rockey lived here and painted outdoor landscapes, especially the bridges, creek and summer flowers,” she adds.
Each first week in November, Denver’s vibrant art districts will transform into an art-lover’s frenzy, with more than 300 events located in Denver’s intimate galleries and theaters, landmark museums and one-of-a-kind performing arts venues. The week gives a taste of what Colorado’s lively culture has to offer, and it’s an all-out spectacle that you won’t want to be on the sidelines for. A highlight of the week is on Friday, November 6, ‘Know Your Arts First Friday,’ where creative neighborhoods, such as the Art District on Santa Fe, Belmar Block 7 Art District and Tennyson Street Cultural District, as well as participating galleries, will offer free admission and local art for as low as 52 dollars. Saturday, November 7 is “Saturday Night at the Museums,” where visiting Denver’s premier museums can’t get easier than this. With complimentary shuttle service from museum to museum, free admission and extended hours, the only thing you need to bring is yourself.
For a full schedule of Denver Arts Week, visit denver.org.
Photo courtesy of the Manitou Springs Chamber.