Families are such powerful subjects in art. Take any image of Abraham and Isaac for the high drama, or some Dutch Baroque-period works for serenity. Both situations are gripping, at least in their own way.
But what about families of today? They certainly look different now, with same-sex couples, more single parents and the like.
That's the aim behind the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center's next multidisciplinary show, Families, which kicks off Feb. 23. Like Conflict | Resolution and NASA | Art: 50 Years of Exploration before it, Families will encompass the museum, the theater and the Bemis School of Art.
The museum has scheduled A Family Affair: Selections from the Progressive Art Collection and Mother: Photographs by Carol S. Dass. The former is a multimedia exhibit from the insurance corporation, which has accrued more than 7,800 pieces since it started collecting contemporary art in 1974. Mother, meanwhile, is a series of pictures taken by local artist Dass, as she grows to experience her mother as a person beyond "that role of the woman who carried me in her womb, raised me the best that she could, and will in many ways continue to view me as a child regardless of my age."
Over on the theater side, the FAC will produce Other Desert Cities, a new play that follows a fictitious, semi-famous Palm Springs family about to unravel when one daughter brings home her draft of a tell-all memoir. Other Desert Cities was nominated for five Tony Awards and a Pulitzer Prize in 2012. This show will be the Colorado premiere of the play.
As part of its second-stage season (a handful of plays and events held in the Music Room upstairs), the FAC will also put on Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Musical, an all-ages musical about a trip to the laundromat that goes terribly wrong. (For those of you who've ever lost a beloved toy, you know what I mean.) It's based on the award-winning children's book by Mo Willems (a big-time Emmy winner), who helped convert it to the stage with Grammy-winning composer Michael Silversher.
Come April, the second-stage season will also bring about Rough Writers: A New Play Fest. For this, the FAC put out a call for scripts that respond to one of three works in the Families exhibits. About 12 chosen submissions — which can be 10 minutes, or one act, or a full full-length play or musical — will then be read to the audience for feedback, and then those will be judged by "a panel of theatre professionals" which will decide on a winning script to be fully staged in the FAC's big theater next season.
By the way, you can still submit a script; entries are due Feb. 14.
Ormao Dance Company will also perform an original piece for the FAC from April 12 through 14, and the Story Project will hold a session based on the idea of contemporary family struggles April 5.
Lastly, Bemis has scheduled a full slate of classes for all ages, from kids museum tours to a wine and watercolor course.