Best Of » Arts & Entertainment

Best of Art and Entertainment: Life's Pleasures


Best Pre-Entertainment Entertainment
Air Force Academy Flyovers

Despite the throng of fans, Falcon Stadium seems eerily silent before jets come streaking across the sky from the southern horizon, seemingly close enough to touch. And just as quickly as they arrive, the planes are gone, climbing up into the wild blue, leaving a wake of violent noise.

The "flyover" has long been a tradition unique to the service academies. Boisterous, intimidating and sleek, it underscores the might of the Air Force and, by extension, its athletes. It serves as a fundamental reminder that students at these academies are being prepared for careers not taught in other universities.

In the wake of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon, it's unknown when pre-Air Force football game flyovers will be continued, but this much is known -- they will return.

And the shows will be much the same. F-15s, F-16s and A-10s will still close in fast. The crowd will look on in awe -- as usual -- but perhaps with a new appreciation. Then they'll look down at the players in blue and silver on the field, and at the cadets in the stands, and think: They may soon trade the innocence of adolescence and sheltered life of academia for the call of battle ... and some may not return. -- bw

Best Movie Theater

Readers' Poll Winner
Kimball's Twin Peak Theater
115 E. Pikes Peak Ave., 447-1945

If movie theaters are the temples of the secular age -- the carriers of our common cultural narratives -- shouldn't they look at least somewhat classy? Shouldn't we honor them by surrounding them with good architecture, public art, and an ice-cream store? When you emerge from them, shouldn't you be greeted by inviting green benches and strolling diners? Shouldn't you be able to buy local beer there, or for that matter, any beer? Shouldn't there be a convenient quarter machine with Hot Tamales right in the entrance, so you can snack during the movie even if you're almost broke? Above all, shouldn't they show inventive, challenging movies like Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Amores Perros and Memento? After a scare last year in which Kimball's nearly closed, Independent readers have again voiced their gratitude for its persistent charms: Thanks for stickin' around, guys. -- pw

Best Venue to Hear Live Music

Readers' Poll Winner
Colorado Music Hall
2475 E. Pikes Peak Ave., 447-9797

In its lifetime, the Colorado Music Hall has been a church, a movie theater and home to the now-defunct annual Fetish Ball. But its latest purpose in life, that of a venue for live music, seems to suit it best.

OK, so cosmetically the venue is still trapped somewhere around 1981. Outside the place is all concrete and painted tan. Inside, there is old, thinning carpet, goldish wallpaper, velvety furnishings and a bar that clearly used to be a concession stand.

But damn they've been getting some good shows. And cheesy interior aside, it's a good venue for live shows. The stage is roomy, dance space is ample, the domed ceiling allows for great acoustics, and the performance space is round, so there is not a bad seat in the house. Plus there is never a line for the bathroom.

With no buffer between the stage and the dance floor, it's one of the few places left where you can actually dance your ass off and get sprayed by the sweat of the band at the same time. And that, my friends, is what live shows are all about. -- sb

Best New Addition to the A&E Scene
Acoustic Coffee Lounge
5152 Centennial Blvd. 268-9951

If this town's art scene has one thing going for it, it's Jamie and Jason Spears. The level of passion, skill and creativity with which they run their business, Acoustic Coffee Lounge, makes for a potent infusion into the Springs' often-stale cultural palette. ACL is wholly devoted to providing a place where people can listen to diverse, talented live musicians, view ever-changing art exhibitions, participate in interactive painting endeavors, and most importantly, drink and eat like kings (the coffee lounge sports a full bar and an array of interesting good-for-you food).

On Mondays, the open mike provides endless hours of hilarity and slam poetry, and on weekends the venue is often standing room only, packed with those in search of a satisfyingly urban night out. The Spears are constantly thinking about new ways to improve the arts scene, be it through giving good bands a leg up or expanding their own business, and Colorado Springs has benefited greatly. If more cultural movers and shakers learn from the Spears' good works, our A&E scene may one day reach its heretofore untapped potential. -- ks

Best Laundromat Art
The Coin-Op Laundry
521 Manitou Ave., Manitou Springs

It's a simple reminder: Please don't dye in our machines. The sign hangs over your head as you wash, rinse, dry and fold at the Manitou Coin-Op laundromat. But it's the artwork that's all Manitou -- a psychedelic day-glo pink, orange and yellow rendering of a woman's shapely legs sticking straight up from a washing machine, apparently on spin cycle. Only in Manitou ... -- ks

Best Theatre Company

Readers' Poll Winner
UCCS TheatreWorks

You've gotta hand it to UCCS -- its TheatreWorks program is the most consistently high-quality theater group in town, attracting such far-flung names as actor Danny Glover and Shakespeare expert Stephen Booth to their ranks as they put out the good stuff with solid production values, strong acting and veteran direction. Last year's South America-tinged Twelfth Night, with Jerome Davis in the lead, beat the socks off Boulder's Colorado Shakespeare Festival version. And after this year's challenging production of the Bard's All's Well that Ends Well, plus Andrew Shue's hilarious The Foreigner, Independent readers have declared their unbending allegiance to our little West End. Coming up are works by Brecht, Dickens, Twain and more -- oh joy! Don't forget -- if you're hungry for more, you can travel to London with TheatreWorks for an experienced tour through the real West End. -- pw

Best Dance/Music Collaboration
Colorado Jazz Dance Company's spring concert

with the Colorado Springs Conservatory

The evening would have been memorable even without the company of its special guests, students from the Colorado Springs Conservatory. In March, the Colorado Jazz Dance Company presented its spring concert, an evening jam-packed with 19 -- yes, nineteen -- stylish dances, a majority choreographed by artistic director Zetta Alderman. These works alone would have satisfied the audience -- the choreography, the execution, even the costumes were quite polished -- but apparently, Alderman is an ambitious sort. Seven students from the Colorado Springs Conservatory performed skits and songs throughout the evening, serving as a sort of palette cleanser for the eyes and ears, and they joined the CJDC for a couple scenes from The Chorus Line. It must have been a nightmare to juggle all those rising stars, but the rewards of this collaboration were certain: one singular sensation ... -- tp

Best Post Office Art
West End Station
204 S. 25th St.

Depression-era public art programs coincided with the heyday of Colorado Springs' art school, the Broadmoor Art Academy: Its students and teachers painted murals in federal buildings nationwide. For Manitou's post office mural competition, my father, Archie Musick, depicted the legend of Manitou's springs: "the God Manitou in a fit of rage clubbing a quarrelsome chief." His frieze of Indian-trapper life across the bottom of the submitted sketch was so popular with "the brass in Washington ... they told me to dump the main design and blow up the frieze to fill the entire space." Painted when many federal murals were nationalistic -- just months after Pearl Harbor -- this mural's ambiguity and unusual dry-pigment/glaze technique are distinctive. "Hunters Red and White" embodies some historical suggestions from his friend, author Frank Waters -- Manitou's first cabin, explorers Pike and Fremont -- but mostly Archie's own inspiration from fantasy, pictographs, artist friends (including Japanese-American artists sheltering here), and the beloved local rocky landscape. -- pm

p.s. Colorado Springs' downtown post office mural panels, "Indian Fight" and "The Corral," painted in 1936 by Frank Mechau, somehow ended up in the Denver Federal Center.

Best Festival

Readers' Poll Winner

mid-June, downtown

When Freud said, "Happiness is in contrast," what he meant to say was, "You can't eat funnel cake every day -- just once a year. Otherwise it will lose its gratifying allure, and besides you would be shamefully obese and would curse the funnel cake rather than love it." As far as I'm concerned, my next Funnel Cake Day will be the next SpringSpree, the annual festival that is fast becoming a fixture in the downtown scene. Not only can you find dozens of stands selling nothing good for you -- it's also the best time of the year to run into friends you haven't talked to in months. This year I cruised around in the sun, ducked into Jose's with two amigas for a margarita, and listened to a great garage band playing Hendrix covers at the corner of Tejon and Pikes Peak. Now that I think of it, maybe we could do this twice a year. -- pw

Best Way to Earn Respect
The handling of WestFest
Michael Martin Murphy was essentially run out of the high country for various and sundry offenses, and when his WestFest was booked at the Pioneers Museum, some pessimists among us simply sat on their heels and waited for the singing cowboy to lose a stirrup.

They're still waiting. The two-day festival of Western music, art and culture sailed through its first Colorado Springs incarnation with only the blazing July heat to cause discomfort.

Bands this town would never have seen (Del McCoury and BR549), and some we already have (Junior Brown, Pure Prairie League), performed crystal-clear sets, and then mingled with the crowd after the show.

Most impressive, however, was the cleanup crew, who picked up every bit of trash before it even hit the ground. Come Monday morning, it was like WestFest had never existed. We welcome it back next year. -- ks

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