Along with its reputation as a sweet spot for tourists and an auspicious place to heal from illness, the landscape of Colorado Springs was a beacon for artists in the early 20th century.
The Broadmoor Art Academy, founded in 1919, was created to capture the zeitgeist of the time, and soon students from around the country came to the region to study. The art academy morphed into the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center in 1936, though the mission of art education remained the same.
The new exhibit “O Beautiful! Shifting Landscapes of the Pikes Peak Region” highlights the works of some artists who came to the area around the time of the Broadmoor Art Academy, and it reflects the shifts in the region’s physical and artistic landscapes. It opens Saturday at Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center at Colorado College and is the precursor to the FAC’s 100th anniversary year, which kicks off with a free celebration Jan. 26.
“We’re striving to tell the story of art production in the Pikes Peak region,” said Joy Armstrong, FAC’s curator of modern and contemporary art, “and how those artists and that vision influenced the development of the academy and transition in the FAC years, and about midcentury artists working here following the academy.”
The show will feature 80 works, including about 60 paintings by artists such as Mary Chenoweth, Robert Motherwell and Francis Drexel Smith, collated from the museum’s collection and six private local collections. Some of the paintings will be familiar to viewers, though some haven’t been seen since the FAC’s renovation and expansion in 2007.
Broadmoor Art Academy brought together artists from around the world, creating an art colony of sorts. It helped solidify the vision of the city’s founders, the Palmers and Penroses, who saw the Springs as a city with the potential to be a cultural cosmopolitan center.
“It was establishing a cultural community that was traditional in the sense of learning these formal techniques in depicting figure and landscape,” said Armstrong. “Beyond that, it provided a foundation for artists who would continue to come here and thrive here, whether they were brought here because of the landscape and traditional training or not, but who found themselves in a unique place where our cultural identity as a city began to evolve in a unique sort of way.”
JENNIFER MULSON, THE GAZETTE, 636-0270, JEN.MULSON@GAZETTE.COM