Art on the Streets - CSPM

Art on the Streets

From Artist Gregg Deal: “Much of my work deals with Indigenous issues, protest and representation, occupying space in ways that are simultaneously beautiful, unexpected and difficult. My desire with this project was to create something that is undeniably Indigenous, but something that can belong to the city of Colorado Springs as well. This mural raises questions about the inherent invisibility of Indigenous people, specifically referencing the abnormally high rate at which Indigenous women, girls and two-spirit individuals go missing or are murdered. This is an issue in El Paso County and around the nation. With this portrait of my oldest daughter, I hope to move the viewer and open up dialogue within the local community.

– From the CSPM Curator of History

In the 1990s Colorado Springs was facing an urban growth crisis. The city’s geographic expansion was decentralizing the population, leading some to fear a future “Sprawlarodo Springs”, a city of subdivisions connected by nothing but strip malls. This brought about a fear in many that not only would the city’s population lose a sense of community, but also that the regions cultural heritage would soon be nonexistent. Judy Noyes, co-owner of the Chinook Bookshop, spearheaded a plan to address this issue. Noyes wanted to make the downtown area a cultural center, rather than just simply a retail district. The end result of this thinking would be Art on the Streets.

Planning began in 1997 and it would take 2 years for Art on the Streets to materialize. While residents were in favor of improvements, funding was a constant concern. Noyes, Chair of the Community Ventures Board of the Downtown Partnership, offered a solution. Artists would loan their work to the city for one year and have them displayed downtown. A single piece would be purchased and added to the City’s permanent collection of outdoor sculpture. This system was very appealing for three reasons. It allowed artists to get their name, and work, displayed to the public, it kept initial investments low, and it guaranteed a steady, if slow, increase in the number of city-owned public artworks. The first year of Art on the Streets, 1999, featured 20 separate sculptures displayed on downtown streets. The winner was Richard Jagoda’s bison, Bison Americanus which still sits in the median of Pikes Peak Avenue.

Art on the Streets has continued every year, consistently exposing Colorado Springs residents to new creative and thought-provoking artworks. Featured artists have come from all over the world, from Italy to South Korea, but also include local artists from all across the Front Range. Sculptures range from pieces inspired by Colorado Springs’ heritage to interpretive metal forms. Art is a central part of a city’s culture. Not only does it serve an aesthetic purpose, beautifying downtown, but it also has a social value. Pieces such as Nikki Pike’s WE or Gregg Deal’s Take Back The Power inspire conversations about topics relevant to the Colorado Springs citizens. Art on the Streets has ensured that downtown Colorado Springs has remained culturally relevant and engaged, now and in the future.

Generously Submitted by Patrick Lee, CSPM Museum Technician

Collection Gallery

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