Arts Month 2021 will have something for everyone

Ellie Myers 

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     Colorado has finally begun to shift palettes from the greens, yellows and light blues of summer days to the reds, oranges, yellows and midnight blues of autumn’s early sunset. It comes as no surprise that such a pivotal change of season brings new inspiration to artists, and with it arrives Arts Month in Colorado Springs.  

     This October, Colorado Springs will be packed with ways for the community to celebrate the arts in all forms through events such as galleries, festivals and performances overseen by the Cultural Office of the Pikes Peak Region.  

     According to Jonathan Toman, Peak Radar manager at the Cultural Office, October has been the National Arts and Humanities Month since 1993. It creates opportunities for local artists to showcase their abilities and increase arts awareness.   

     “There are almost 200 local events that are part of Arts Month this year, so there’s plenty to choose from,” Toman said. “The goal is for everyone to have one new cultural experience with family or friends this October!” 

     Toman, a UCCS alumnus, highlighted several events happening on campus that are free to UCCS students: Theatreworks presents dark comedy “Witch” at the Dusty Loo Bon Vivant Theater, and the Heller Center hosts VAPA’s “The Campfire: A Gathering of Humanity,” both until Oct. 10.  

     The university is also home to several visiting art exhibits. “High + Low: D. Dominick Lombardi Retrospective” is showing at the Marie Walsh Sharpe Gallery of Contemporary Art at the Ent Center until Dec. 12.  

     Additionally, GOCA Downtown is hosting the gallery “Undesirable Plants Declare: A Participatory Public Review” by the artist group Environmental Performance Agency, a discussion of what plants are considered “undesirable” in Colorado Springs, throughout October. 

     The Cultural Office dedicates each week in October to a different branch of the arts: Week 1 (Oct. 3-9) is Visual and Culinary Arts Week; Week 2 (Oct. 10-16) is Theater and Film Week; Week 3 (Oct. 17 -23) is Poetry, Prose and Comedy Week; and Week 4 (Oct. 24-30) is Music and Dance Week.  

     The Cultural Office website is promoting events that serve a variety of interests. For theatergoers, the Fine Arts Museum will perform “Guadalupe in the Guest Room,” the heartfelt story of a woman and her son-in-law learning to connect across a language barrier.  

     For writers, the Poetry719 Festival holds poetry readings, workshops, open mics and more, both virtually and in person Oct. 20-24. For visual artists, the galleries in Manitou, Old Colorado City and downtown Colorado Springs will have their doors wide open.  

     For film buffs, festivals return, including the Indie Film Festival through Oct. 10 and “Return of the Spirit,” which will be held virtually this year. There is even the Cosplay and Anime Mini-Film Festival on Oct. 16 at Rainy Day Anime. For musicians, live concerts and jam sessions abound across town.  

          For those who want to get more involved with the community, Arts Month activities are opportunities to not only have a taste of what artists have to offer, but also a new and exciting way to spend time together, according to Toman. 

     Along with shows, galleries and festivals, he recommended a few local spots for an arts night out, such as CO.A.T.I. Uprise downtown, which will be hosting events from blues jam sessions to movie nights all month long. 

     He also suggested the Springs Art and Seek on Oct. 9 as a group outing, in which artists hide their work throughout the city for scavenger hunters to find.  

     While these events are designed for a good time, Toman says the benefits of Arts Month stretch beyond just enjoyment: “Arts Month more broadly speaking helps to illustrate the ways the arts are and can be leveraged to positively address issues of economic development, education, cultural tourism and quality of life.” 

     If you want an easy way to broaden your experience and enjoy some art, all the events above and many more can be found at the ArtsOctober website.  

An arts info center downtown. Photo by Megan Moen.