Commonwheel Artists Co-op is more than just a gallery offering more than 30 local artists' work. It's a group of friends working together and sharing a space.

While the majority of the 39-year-old Manitou Springs co-op features an expansive collection of art of many mediums, a small space nestled in the back of the shop is curated around a theme. For example, the previous show, "Kiss the Flame," featured only pottery fired in a wood kiln.

The new show, "Critters in the Garden," opens with a reception 5 to 9 p.m. Friday.

Artist Lynn Lee came up with the idea because she creates botanic illustrations, colorful drawings of various bugs and plants.

"I'm fascinated by the relationship between plants, flowers, trees, shrubs and the insects that pollinate them," she says.

Lee invited five other artists to bring their work to the garden-themed show, which will run through Aug. 12. Not all five of these artists are members of Commonwheel, though.

"I like to do gallery shows where I bring in people from outside of the shop because they bring in different clientele," Lee says. "That brings in a different variety of people."

The work of Commonwheel artist Sabine Wachsappears in "Critters in the Garden." Wachs creates stained glass, in which she incorporates other materials such as agates, crystals, glass globs, bevels and copper.

She says all of her art is inspired by nature, which is why she was interested in participating in "Critters."

"In this particular show, we focus on the close-up look of the garden and little creatures in the garden," she says. "I thought it was a great idea because it translates really well into glass."

Wachs thinks all guests will enjoy "Critters in the Garden."

"I think it will be a very interesting show because everybody shows a different aspect of the theme," she says. "They will just have fun with it. It's very enjoyable and it's nice to take a piece of nature home with you."

"critters in the garden"

When: 5-9 p.m. Friday, through Aug. 12

Where: Commonwheel Artists Co-Op, 102 Canon Ave., Manitou Springs

Admission: Free; 685-1008, www.common