After a summer back home in Manhattan, I wasn’t expecting much on my search for street art in Colorado Springs. The amateur art and DIY art that surfaces in New York City is incredible, from illusionary sidewalk murals that have you stumbling away from the torn edge of a caved-in subway tunnel to political graffiti that catches the interest of the New York Times. However, Colorado Springs seems to have a few creative geniuses brewing beneath the surface of a perfunctory first glance, and it’s worth giving the street art a peek.
For example, while it’s still sunny and warm in the Springs and you find yourself itching for a cone from Josh and John’s ice cream parlor, keep an eye out for a striking arrangement of industrial scrap metal across the street.
This statue is titled “Thrust From the Earth,” and was assembled by Steven Huffman from scrap pieces of twisted steel as part of a 16-year-old annual competition developed by Community Ventures Inc. and the Downtown Partnership. This competition, called Art on the Streets, encourages artists to produce public art installations in downtown Colorado Springs, and has inspired some incredible creations.
The winner of the Juror’s award in this year’s competition was “Lacuna” by artist Andrew Tirado, who received a $10,000 cash prize as a reward for his enormous wooden replica of a human hand. Tirado is an art professor at Colorado College.
Another piece of art that I found compelling was not in Colorado Springs, but in Old Colorado City, an area worth the short bike ride or drive. The folks at West Side Tattoo parlor have proved their artistic skills with murals on either side of the building. The most impressive is a painting of Nikolas Tesla. Even with an amazing all-electric car to carry his legacy, Thomas Edison took most of the glory that Tesla deserved for his early technological innovations; in fact, while ConEdison monopolized the electricity needs in the Big Apple, Tesla died as an anonymous homeless pigeon man in New York City (West Side Tattoo pays homage to his beloved pigeons as well). The intelligent ghost of Tesla now lives on in the eyes of his visage in old Colorado City, a place he never could have predicted as a final resting spot.
These are just a few examples of the art that can be found just outside the CC bubble. Just walking down the street, you will see a plethora of interesting statues, graffiti on buildings, and sidewalk art. Don’t underestimate the creative energy both on campus and beyond, so take the time to explore the community, and don’t risk missing out.