From left: Green Mountain Falls Mayor Jane Newberry, Katherine Guthrie, Margaret Peterson, Chris Keesee, Jesse Stroope and Larry Keigwin dig with their shovels at the groundbreaking ceremony for the James Turrell Skyspace on Saturday, April 24.

A world-renowned visual artist will build one of his coveted exhibits in a small, scenic mountain town just a few miles west of Colorado Springs.

Residents of Green Mountain Falls gathered with members of the town’s artistic community early Saturday at a groundbreaking ceremony for a James Turrell Skyspace, which will overlook the town at the top of Red Mountain.

Turrell is an internationally known artist whose work can be seen in multiple countries on several continents. He has built 85 Skyspaces around the world. His Green Mountain Falls project will be the first in Colorado and the first built on the side of a mountain.

A Skyspace is a kind of above-ground observatory, a visually arresting structure “with an aperture in the ceiling open to the sky,” according to the artist’s website. Some Skyspaces are stand-alone structures, while others are blended into existing architecture.

The Green Mountain Falls Skyspace will be the centerpiece of the town’s Green Box Arts Festival, an annual summer event featuring a variety of artistic exhibits and activities including concerts, camps and, this year, performances by New York’s American Ballet Theatre.

“Green Box couldn’t be more pleased to welcome this site-specific Skyspace to the beautiful Green Mountain Falls landscape,” said Green Box Deputy Director Scott Levy. “As it showcases the Colorado sky and seasons, viewers will be enveloped in a rare, personal and rewarding sensory experience.”

“Combining architecture, sculpture and atmosphere, the Turrell Skyspace created specifically for the town of Green Mountain Falls is one of the most important achievements in Green Box history," added Green Box co-founder Christian Keesee.

Turrell’s project promises to be a uniquely Coloradan space, tucked into the side of a mountain 7,800 feet above sea level and composed of stone, wood and other materials unique to the state.

“It means a lot to the town,” said project manager Jesse Stroope. “It will help drive tourism and give the residents another recreational space.”

The town’s 875 residents are fiercely protective of the scenic, natural beauty of the place and would be resistant to any project that might disturb it. But Stroope said the Skyspace will add to the  town’s artistic landscape while preserving much of the bucolic scenery Green Mountain Falls is known for.

“Once people knew we would be protecting the land from other kinds of development, they were on board,” Stroope said.

To the residents of Green Mountain falls, the Skyspace  which Turrell will formally name after its completion  is more than an art exhibit, Stroope said.

“There are only 85 of these in the world,” he said. “To have one in Green Mountain Falls  and the only one in Colorado  is really something that we can be proud of.”

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