Go big, go bold and "Light the Drake."

That's the idea of one arts enthusiast who wants to drape the Martin Drake Power Plant stacks and steam plume in colored LED lights, creating a cultural icon for Colorado Springs.

But Andy Vick isn't alone. When he made his pitch Wednesday, Colorado Springs Utilities board members waxed enthusiastic.

And because they also make up the City Council, the proposal by Vick - and his big committee of co-cultural conspirators - got the green light to pursue grants.

If timing really is everything, then Vick, executive director of the Cultural Office of the Pikes Peak Region, couldn't have timed it better.

The power plant, which many residents view as smoke-belching blight, will be the backdrop for the new Olympic Museum. Bathed in artistic lighting, it could enhance the scene.

"The Drake" also sits at what's being built as a rather elegant interchange at Interstate 25 and Cimarron Street. "And what better, more stimulating way to get people right off the highway?" Vick asked.

Plus, the city is under new leadership still basking in a honeymoon glow. And now comes Vick, ready to convert the coal-fired plant into a beautiful beacon for the downtown they're working to revitalize.

"To me, this is a WOW!" exulted City Council President Merv Bennett. "This is just so innovative and so exciting, and I do believe it would turn something completely around. And you're right, the timing couldn't be better. It'll have my full support."

"I, too, think it's a great idea," said Councilman Don Knight. "If Drake stays, we've got to find some way to put lipstick on that baby."

Council President Pro Tem Jill Gaebler and Councilmen Tom Strand, Bill Murray and Keith King echoed the enthusiasm.

And while the pairing of a utility and arts organization might seem incongruous, Utilities CEO Jerry Forte was open-minded and encouraging from the start, said Vick, who thanked Forte and his staff.

Vick said he got the idea from Bethlehem, Pa., where old steel stacks were converted into a lighted backdrop for a community development project.

The local plan calls for changeable LED lighting controlled remotely - red and blue, perhaps, for the Fourth of July. "Or orange and blue if the Broncos go to the Super Bowl," Vick said.

Overtures will be made to ArtPlace America, a 10-year collaboration of foundations, federal agencies and financial institutions that provide grants of $50,000 to $500,000 to support "creative placemaking," he said.

The project would "elevate our brand as a vibrant arts community," promote tourism and downtown and provide opportunities for local contractors, Vick said.

And if The Drake gets lit, it will indeed "put lipstick on that baby."

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