The annual Fine Arts Center Gala opened on a big scale. Make that massive. And neon electric blue.
An evening to celebrate local artists and the community showcased a 17-foot-high "Beach Front" installation with bicycles and "electric jellyfish" floating above the central courtyard at the arts center, secured by steel beams.
It's the dreamwork of Anchorage-based Colorado Springs native and Fountain Valley School graduate Buck Walsky and first was erected at the Burning Man festival in the Nevada desert and at the Anchorage Museum. Even a slight breeze moves its silver bicycle wheels.
The contractor/artist/architect hatched the concept when he installed runway lighting at an airport. He loved the lights stretching toward the horizon and, said the artist, "I like big." And big it is. He hoped to inspire those standing below to admire, question and discuss.
Walsky had family help installing the giant piece just days before the Aug. 19 Gala Celebration Showcasing the Arts, especially sister Tam, a Colorado College graduate whose construction company work has included other large sculptures. This time she was spotted happily using a construction scissor lift for the art and steel.
Buck, Tam, sisters Berta Walsky and Ceil Horowitz and Buck's wife, Agnes, were guests at the gala. This major CC family history also includes Buck and Agnes's CC Tiger Hockey star son Eric Walsky, now playing pro hockey in Switzerland.
"Beach Front" will be in Colorado Springs through year's end and will be the star of a clever winter outdoor Silent Disco where a DJ wirelessly transmits each person's music choice to the headphones worn by dancers. It's "surreal to watch" is the promise.
"Beach Front" was just one of the art delights at this benefit, the first for the alliance at Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center at Colorado College. A catalog of works by 74 local artists, pieces displayed on kiosks at the cocktail reception, showed the selections in the first art show and auction, which creatively replaced a routine silent auction.
With 310 guests, FAC Director Erin Hannan and Colorado College President Jill Tiefenthaler shared enthusiasm for this first year of the 2016 alliance that has seen changes, innovation, growth, new ideas, new programs and a welcoming of the community and its artists. Adding an educational component to the museum, they are "working to make this a national model of distinction," said Tiefenthaler. It adds new dimensions to a strong history that was already in place, they said.
Hannan promised new announcements, and they came days later with reduced admission prices, extended hours, more theater performances and other plans that were part of a community strategic plan.
The gala's Grand Honoree was the Fine Arts Center Foundation, in place since 1996 to manage the center's endowment. It has contributed almost $18 million to the FAC and will remain a separate foundation.
Visiting with guests touring From Rembrandt to Warhol were Morton and Tobia Mower, from whose collection the exhibit was built.
Leading the gala organizers was Advisory Board member Martha Marzolf, and committee members were Lelia Davis, Jennifer Empey, Kate Faricy Maiurro, Sally Hybl, Kristy Kensinger, Anita Lane, Deborah Mahan, Laura Muir-Mellini, Taffy Mulliken, Linda Randono, Allison Sabel-Soteres and Nancy Whitford.
More photos: gazette.com/life/around-town