October 2022 | CULTURE | By Rhetta Power | Illustration by Elizabeth White

The annual Pikes Peak Zine Fest showcases the work of local artists through the medium of “zines,” homemade publications usually devoted to specialized subject matter. According to their website, the mission of the PPZF is to “share the joy of expression through self-publishing, promote diversity and inclusion within our community, and support our local artists.”

Jennifer Eltringham, co-organizer of the fest with Kels Choo, told me that the organization was especially excited to be there and share with their community, as it was the PPZF’s first year back in person since 2019.

To fully experience the joys and wonders of the local art fest, I attended the Oct. 1 event with two local artists on the Colorado College campus.

You might recognize their work in the form of crotchet shirts and bags (@crotchetgoodies) or flower inspired CC designs (@kateweissmanart). Olivia Bouthot ’23 and Kate Weissman ’23 are two incredible artistic minds that I am grateful and lucky to know.

Seeing the PPZF through their eyes enlightened me to details I would have missed entirely on my own.

Before entering the fest, Bouthot made me promise to keep them to a spending limit (it was immediately increased upon viewing the selection of art). Both students were excited to see local artists and art, and Bouthot was especially curious to discover if the artists were using analog or digital prints.

Weissman and Bouthot dressed for the occasion, their outfits earning acclaim from most booths we stopped at. Bouthot, fittingly, finished crocheting the bag that would complete their outfit a mere 10 minutes before we arrived at the fest.

Getting to the fest is a slight ordeal, we were guided through the levels of the Pikes Peak Public Library by a friendly librarian. We finally located the fest in an industrial building behind the library. The plain, and frankly boring, energy of the building was antithetical to what it held inside.

Bouthot remarked that they saw “more pride stickers [at the PPZF] than at pride.” Looking out at the artists selling at the PPZF, about half of the sea of heads sported hair in every shade of the rainbow.

The event was conscious of COVID-19, masks were required and provided free-of-charge to patrons. Not a single face appeared unmasked.

As the event always takes place in October, the PPZF has a Halloween theme, their promotional materials include small, animated animals wearing witches’ hats. At the event, staff hosting the PPZF joined in this festive fun by wearing their own star-studded witch hats. Patrons and artists alike seemed excited to be there.

Nico Wilkinson, a local artist selling collections of writings on queer love, told me that they “really admire the work that the organizers are doing to create a space for DIY artists to come together.” Wilkinson also noted that the PPZF is “a supportive community of folks who love each other’s art,” and that “the only downside is that [the PPZF] only happens once a year.”

This sentiment was echoed by Weissman, who smilingly shared that the event is “very sweet.” Bouthot chimed in, describing the event as “enormously friendly!”

Time flew by, Bouthot met their spending limit, and we quickly decided that any additional time spent at the PPZF would directly translate to additional money spent. However, as Libby Lazarra ’23 noted, all money spent is directed to local artists and fundraising efforts, making the indulgence more socially responsible.

On our ride home from the PPZF, Weissman and Bouthot both remarked on how nice it was to see local artists and to receive this reminder of the art presence in the Springs. The radio blared country music, it oddly felt like the perfect Colorado Springs-esque complement to the zine-fest.

The PPZF was simply another reminder to me of how bizarrely complex the Springs is, how there is no predicting what you can find in this amalgam of a place.

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