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Last year, Art on the Streets, a program of the Colorado Springs Downtown Partnership, celebrated its 20th anniversary — two decades of filling the downtown core with unique, diverse and intriguing sculptural public art. This program has decorated downtown with plentiful iconic pieces: the beautiful metal deer sculpture at the intersection of Cascade and Colorado Avenues; the striking octopus mermaid on the roof of the Springs’ traffic building; and the interactive musical butter churn on Kiowa Street — just to name a few.
Taking its milestone anniversary as a challenge to grow and evolve, Art on the Streets has decided to diversify even further. As most pieces in the 2018-19 exhibit have been removed (though one piece has been purchased for the program and three others will remain on display), new art has been erected in their place, including, for the first time, six murals.
Director of Urban Engagement for the Downtown Partnership, Claire Swinford, says that previous years’ exhibits have really “pushed the needle” as far as taste-making here in the Springs. They’ve elevated the profile of sculpture artists locally, nationally and internationally, and ensured compensation for those artists.
“We thought, ‘Okay, there’s some really exciting work being made by muralists, let’s see what we can do to bring up the local standard there as well,’” Swinford says. She adds that this isn’t to devalue the work of muralists in other parts of town, such as the Knobhill Urban Arts District, nor to claim that the Springs is lacking in quality local murals. “Certainly, we’ve got a freakin’ El Mac on the side of a warehouse downtown! Like, we’re not walking into a blank canvas, as it were. But we did feel that we could bring in some new supporters and some new interests by making it part of our program.”
Among these new murals, you’ll find works by locals such as Colorado Springs powerhouse Cymon Padilla, whose mural now graces the south exterior wall of The Perk Downtown; plus Eulalio Alvarez, also known as SCOTCH!, from Manitou Springs, whose work you can now see on a west-facing wall of the vacant building just north of our Indy office, on South Nevada Avenue, between Cucharras Street and Vermijo Avenue.
Perhaps one of the most interesting concepts: a mural made not from paint or vinyl, but from pavement reflectors. New York City-based artist James Long will create a Fibonacci spiral on a retaining wall along Pikes Peak Avenue. “So the mural will appear and disappear, and appear to shimmer as light passes over at night,” Swinford says.
Add onto these talented artists six sculptors from all over the country, and Swinford says this promises to be AOTS’ most diverse exhibit yet, not just from a style and medium perspective, but from the perspective of gender balance and ethnicity, as well.
This summer, download a map or an audio walking tour from DowntownCS.com/AOTS, and enjoy the unique array of public art on display.