Colorado College's Coburn Gallery, on the main floor of the Worner Center at Cascade and Cache La Poudre, is a tiny space -- so small that it scarcely deserves the title of "gallery." Medium-sized classroom maybe, or even very large coat closet -- anyway, size is not everything, since the Coburn has, over the past few years, hosted some of the most interesting shows around.
The current exhibition of works by Ethan Jackson, titled Noble Souls Abhor Wrongdoing, is no exception. It consists of a dozen or so digitally manipulated quasi-photographic images, based upon stills from old Western movies, upon which text, both in English and Arabic, from a book of Arabic language instruction, has been superimposed. The images are large (say 25 inches by 40 inches or so), and strange/familiar. I saw them without knowing anything about their origin, and I thought that they must be scenes from Central Asia, or from the Empty Quarter. Were those horsemen in native dress, or a caravan, or... ? The images, which seemed clearly defined across the room, dissolved into misty swirls of color and discrete, jagged dots as I approached. The horsemen disappeared, replaced by the inane linearity of an earnest textbook. Want to learn to pronounce a common Arabic sound? Say "Loch," and then try to say "Loch" backward.
From a distance, beauty. Close up, chaos given order and form by the well-meaning idiocy of a didactic schoolbook. These images, based on a vanished Hollywood's notion of the American frontier, are uncomfortably relevant to us today. As Jackson says, "There is an aspect of this heritage that lives today in the ongoing paranoia and xenophobia of Americans against Islamic people." It's impossible to look at these huge prints, which appear to convey so much information, and in fact convey none, without thinking of our ongoing war in Afghanistan. Realizing, after spending half an hour at the show, that what I thought I was seeing (scenes in Central Asia) wasn't there at all -- well, it was sobering. Made me wonder whether George W., Rummy, Colin & the gang know what the hell they're doing.
Politics aside, content aside, these are extraordinarily beautiful works of art. They have a wonderful dreamlike quality -- not Sound of Music, Robin Williams-in-the-afterlife dreamy, but edgy and a little disturbing. What are these horsemen, these canyons, these vanishing landscapes that never come together, never make sense, and are never quite still?
Looking at them, you get a sense of vast possibilities of computer-aided photographic compositions. Over a century ago, William Henry Jackson, using the bulky, recalcitrant and unforgiving photographic apparatus of the day, created arguably the finest American photograph -- "Rockwood in the Canyon of the Rio de las Animas." You've seen it reproduced; a train, seen from below, threads its way along tracks laid halfway up the side of a canyon -- it's as strange, unexpected and mysterious as Ethan Jackson's digitally manipulated images at the Coburn. May the latter Jackson have a career as productive, inventive and satisfying as that of his illustrious predecessor, and may he use available technology as effectively!
And by the evidence on the walls of the Coburn Gallery, he's well on his way.
- John Hazelhurst
Yes, we really went and did it. After a lot of paperwork, we were finally granted the power to decide which days actually exist and which are worthless posers, and eradicated those sub-level, non-participatory calendar dates. So from here on out, when planning your week, you're going to have to make sure to read Livelong Days before committing (to anything, really), as the day you chose for your appointments may have been already been canceled. You simply never know.
Actually, we've revamped the Feature Formerly Known as Seven Days in order to thoroughly turn you on to only the best in local events. Instead of a day-by-day format, we'll pick out the tastiest morsels of this week's area entertainment, regardless of date, and give you all the details. We do all the work, and all you do is party.
Now, this does mean that we might not present an event for every single day of the week. Never fear -- you've always got The Listings. If you're a social butterfly with a manic desire to go out every single night of your life, The Listings is still the most comprehensive guide to local goings-on in Colorado Springs, and will never let you down or leave you lonely. If your dance card doesn't get filled here, check out Listings.
At last count, there were four local upcoming productions of A Christmas Carol, and Lord knows how many in Denver and its borderlands. All of ours look pretty good, especially TheatreWorks installment of the Dickensian classic. The ever-wonderful Bob Pinney returns in his role as Ebenezer Scrooge, only this year he's joined by actor Charles Berendt, who plays everybody else in the famous holiday story. The guy's got to cover dozens of characters to match Pinney's crotchety presence. The play begins tonight at 7:30 in Dwire Theatre at UCCS, 1420 Austin Bluffs Parkway, and runs through Dec. 24. Tickets are $16 to $18, with $5 student rush tickets available 15 minute before the show. Call 262-3232.
The Colorado College drama and dance department has also added their thoughts to Tiny Tim, Marley, Fred and the gang, via set and light design by Donna Arnink, costumes by Gypsy Ames and direction from professor Tom Lindblade. The CC performance also opens this evening at 8 p.m. in Armstrong Theater, and runs through Saturday. Tickets run from $2 to $5. Call 389-6607.
Also at Colorado College tonight is poet and lesbian activist Minnie Bruce Pratt. Pratt will read from her works including Crime Against Nature and her latest, Walking Back Up Depot Street. The talk begins at 8 p.m. in the Max Kade Theatre, on the third floor of Armstrong Hall, above the Christmas festivities. It's free. Call 389-6501 for more.
Something about the holidays makes massive groups of people want to get together and sing -- sing like the wind. The Colorado Springs Chorale, for example, is fully prepared to give it their all, right from the diaphragm, during Deck the Hall, the annual holiday concert at 7:30 tonight at the Pikes Peak Center, 190 S. Cascade Ave. The Children's Chorale will also make a special appearance. See page 37 for more.
Pauline Oliveros, mother of modern meditational music, teaches her experimental ways to the students at CC, and then asks them to perform with her tonight at 7:30 in Packard Hall, on the southwest corner of Cascade and Cache La Poudre. Oliveros' performance with the college chamber chorus, Myriad, is free. Call 389-6545 for more.
They're Pops, they're on ice, they're Pops On Ice at the World Arena. $19.50 to $64.50 will get you in at 2 p.m. or 7 p.m. Call 576-2626.
Tonight's your last night to catch The Importance of Being Earnest performed by the PPCC Masquers at the Centennial Campus of Pikes Peak Community College, 5675 S. Academy Blvd. The dialogue, written by Oscar Wilde, is some of the most brilliant stage writing ever produced. Tickets run $5 to $10. Call 540-7418. Show starts at 8.
The new theater in Manitou is being christened tonight with a '60s and '70s Revival with kickass local bands Peace Sign and Boomer Box. The show is at the new BAC Manitou Art Theater, next door to the Business of Art Center at 515 Manitou Ave. The old carriage house has been remodeled by the artists' non-profit and, from here on out, will be hosting all sorts of events -- from music to dance to juggling. Tickets to the 7 p.m. concert are $12.50 in advance, $15 at the door. Call the BAC at 685-1861 for details.
Chabad-Lubavich of Southern Colorado is holding a huge Hanukkah celebration tonight beginning at 7 at the Citadel Mall near the food court. Just look for the seven-foot-tall menorah or sniff out the latkes. Chocolate gelt will be available for all. For details about this event or any of the other Hanukkah-related happenings, call 634-2345.
Yet another delightful show has opened at the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center. Ann Cunningham's Giricoccola: An Italian Fairy Tale consists of a series of slate panels, with carved and applied figures, recounting the tale of Giricoccola, one of many variants of Cinderella. The artwork is meant to be enjoyed by folks who are visually impaired; to that end, it's accompanied by Braille labels and an audio narrative. And, mirabile dictu, we're encouraged to touch the art.
Cunningham's work is marvelously tactile. Her superbly crafted panels offer a wonderful variety of surfaces; slightly grainy slate, cool, polished marble, rippling bronze, slick gold leaf -- find out for yourself! The exhibition is paired with a variety of selections from the Tactile Gallery; a spiky ceramic fish, a massive sculptured bear, sssome kinda carved, coiled, marble, sssnake -- again, see (and touch!) for yourself. After all, sculpture cries out to be touched, as does most craft-based art. Few museums permit visitors to touch anything, so having an entire touchable gallery is liberating, even mildly transgressive.
- John Hazelhurst