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Gazette’s 2012 Best of the Springs winners

Congrats to all of the award-winners from the Gazette’s Best of the Springs issue that was unveiled last night at the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center. Hope you had a chance to stop by …

GOLD                    Best Museum                     Fine Arts Center

It was neck-and-neck with the Pioneers Museum this year, but the FAC — and museum director Blake Milteer’s often-inspired programming — won again. As always, Milteer’s genius lies in his keen sense of balance: international names with regional up-and-comers, the historical with the contemporary, out-and-out beautiful with the head-scratching curious. He’s ambitious as well: His summer exhibition of South African artist William Kentridge, who also saw a Museum of Modern Art retrospective earlier that year, was a coup for the museum and the city.

GOLD                    Best Exhibit                        Sandzén in Colorado

It was impossible not to fall in love with this sprawling exhibit of Post-Impressionist Birger Sandzén’swork, the largest ever seen in Colorado. His way with color, texture and an almost poetic sense of place created exquisite picture postcards that were so vibrant they seemed to shimmer in the frame.

GOLD                    Public Art                            FAC Sculpture Garden
The museum and theater are big draws to the FAC, but you don’t have to go inside to get a little culture. There’s a lot to look at, including “Portal,” one of several works by local artist Christopher Weed, “Fiesta Dancers,” a larger-than-life-size work by internationally known artist Luis Jimenez, and above the entrance, Boardman Robinson’s gorgeous deco mural.

GOLD                    Best Musical                      Assassins

Since taking the position last summer, director of performing arts Scott RC Levy has blazed new programming trails at the Fine Arts Center. This problematic Stephen Sondheim musical kicked off his first season with flawless production values, layered acting and voices to envy.

BRONZE               Best Musical                      A Year with Frog & Toad

BRONZE               Best Actress                       Sally Hybl (The Women)

BRONZE               Best Gallery                       Fine Arts Center

EXPERT PICK       Restaurant Encore           Café 36

Garden of the Gods Gourmet is back, managing this elegant art deco café and serving dishes that are nearly works of art. Try the gourmet steak quesadillas.

And from the Denver weekly entertainment publication, Westword

GOLD                    Best Historic Show          Sandzén in Colorado

For decades during the first half of the twentieth century, Birger Sandzén, a Swedish painter based in Kansas, spent his summers in Colorado recording the celebrity scenery in photos, drawings and, most famously, paintings. His signature style — characterized by wild flourishes of brushwork carried out in cotton-candy shades of thick paint — created a bridge linking post-impressionism to abstract expressionism, and in the process brought that heroic moment in the development of modernism right to our front door. Taking advantage of the fact that the Sandzén Memorial Gallery in Kansas was closed for remodeling, Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center museum director Blake Milteer organized Sandzén in Colorado, using pieces from the Kansas facility, along with loans from important Colorado-based collections, to put together the largest show ever devoted to Sandzén.