Decades before Katharine Lee Bates penned the famous words of her poem Pikes Peak in 1893, artists working in the European academic traditions were depicting the sublime grandeur of the Pikes Peak region. Colonizers of the Ute, Arapaho, Cheyenne, and other native lands sent tales of the rugged, dramatic scenery of the West back East, compelling artists such as Harvey Otis Young and Hamilton Hamilton to explore as well. The natural landscape of spacious skies, amber waves of grain, and purple mountains majesty of which Bates wrote, and would later become the famous anthem America the Beautiful, provided ample inspiration to late 19th and early 20th century painters. By the early 20th century, Colorado Springs was a popular tourist destination and a celebrated place for healing. Known as “Little London” largely due to significant British financial backing, this nickname also represents a desire for the city to create a cultural landscape mimicking established cosmopolitan cities. The Broadmoor Art Academy was born in 1919 from these expressed ideals and soon attracted students from across the country to immerse themselves in the landscape. The Broadmoor Art Academy shifted in name and facility to the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center in 1936, but the ongoing commitment to art education remained a pillar of the institution. The subsequent years were unprecedented in terms of artistic production. Informed by modernism and abstraction, creatives such as Mary Chenoweth and Robert Motherwell challenged traditional expectations by producing works that were on the leading edge of the contemporary American art scene. A century after the founding of the Broadmoor Art Academy, we celebrate the ingenuity of the artists and patrons who helped to shape the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center at Colorado College into the fine museum, performing arts theatre, and art school it is today. Through these works, created by exceptional visual artists over the course of 100 years, we can witness the dramatic shifts that have occurred in the physical and artistic landscapes of the Pikes Peak region. As Colorado Springs continues to grow, so does the importance of a strong cultural identity. We are proud to have been an early and ongoing participant in this endeavor and strive to embrace the many avenues toward a doubly inclusive and dynamic FAC for all.
Image above: Laura Gilpin, Untitled, Ca. 1936-1938
Presented as part of Pollinate: Biennial Arts Collaboration, exploring the theme of TIME across southern Colorado, April 1-8, 2019. More Info