The Pikes Peak Arts Festival has been a highlight of summers in Colorado Springs for nine years. After the Waldo Canyon fire forced a cancellation last summer, the festival is ready to pick up where it left off.
The time around, however, the longtime festival director Marica Hefti has been replaced by Lara Garritano.
"She (Marica) is sort of the heart and soul of the arts fest," says Garritano, who is also the creative district manager at the Downtown Partnership. "She started it downtown because she felt like there was a need for artists to exhibit and sell their work in a festival setting."
Garritano says Hefti joked that she originally intended to organize the festival for only five years, but she didn't hand over the reins until after she met Garritano when they served on a public arts commission in 2009.
"It was just time to bring in some fresh ideas, fresh blood," Hefti says. "Maybe if I wouldn't have met her and seen her work with the public arts commission, maybe I would still run it."
This year, Garritano has expanded on Hefti's legacy while adding elements, including a New Artists Program, which offered free booths to four artists who had never shown in a festival before.
Under Hefti, the arts fest grew each year. This year the trend continues. Garritano says the number of applications increased almost 100 percent. The festival will see 105 unique artists, 28 of whom are local and 38 of whom have shown at the arts fest in previous years.
Garritano says she is expecting as many as 30,000 visitors this year.
Besides visual art, the festival includes musical performances, art demonstrations, and food from local vendors, all at the festival's location in America the Beautiful Park.
Here we talk to three of this year's artists about their influences and their drive to make art.
Medium: Wood, especially material harvested from the Waldo Canyon burn scar.
Price range: $20-$800
Years at the arts fest: Zero
Galleries: Staggs Lumber Inc., 2700 Robinson St.
If you could meet any artist, living or dead, who would it be and why? Artus Van Briggle. He's a local guy, and he did make it big. There are millions of artists who never really made it, but to take art and to make it mainstream where you can turn it into a real business, I think is extraordinary.
Who are your influences? My mom. When I was a little boy she provided guidance to me artistically. She fostered it and put me in some art courses. I found some people on YouTube that I'm now close friends with. Through the Internet I'm now collaborating and talking with metal artists and other artists around the world.
What drives you to make art? I never really knew that a guy like me could reach out and inspire so many others. With over 6.000 people a day watching our videos on YouTube, I know I have a unique ability to not only inspire others but teach others and share what I'm doing with the world.
Medium: Clay pottery; dishware, lamps, vases, teapots
Years at the arts fest: Nine
Price range: Typically $25-$40, but some work priced as much as $500
Galleries: Bella Art and Frame, Monument; Hunter-Wolff Gallery. Previously, a personal gallery in Westcliffe.
If you could meet any artist, living or dead, who would it be and why? Eric Bransby He's 93 years old now. I've gotten to know him very well. He's connected with the Fine Arts Center and used to be a professor at that Kansas Art Institute. He's been a good one to talk to and inspire me.
Who are your influences? Don Reitz, who was a professor in Wisconsin, and Paul Soldner from Aspen, who passed away.
What drives you to make art? Just the fact that with clay it's so diverse. You can do anything with it and that's what keeps me interested. I've always had the energy, ever since I picked up clay when I was 18 years old.
Medium: Mixed media. Mostly jewelry using recycled glass or beads and oxidized wire.
Price range: $24-$150
Years at the arts fest: Zero; McCasland is part of the New Artist Program
Galleries: Poor Richards Bookstore, About Face Boutique
If you could meet any artist, living or dead, who would it be and why? I would say someone like Andy Goldsworthy. He's an artist who goes out in nature and creates temporary sculptures.
Who are your influences? I tend to absorb anything and everything around me.
My strongest influence is being outdoors and observing nature and recording my reactions.
What drives you to make art? Expression is the need of my soul. For the longest time I tried to do the responsible thing and do a real job and then I decided my heart is in creating things. Working with my hands is what I'm most passionate about.
PIKES PEAK ARTS FEST
Where: America the Beautiful Park, 126 Cimino Drive
When: 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Friday-Sunday, July 5-7
Tickets: Free; firstname.lastname@example.org