A century ago, getting ice was a more adventurous activity. In those days, your ice came from frozen lakes, and intrepid explorers were needed to cut, shape and send it where it needed to go. One such location for local ice harvesting was Monument Lake, which for much of the early 1900s collected, stored and shipped ice during the winter months.
“Ice Harvest,” a collection of acrylic blocks that depict the Monument Lake ice harvest from a bygone era, was the first piece for the ARTSites program, now in its 15th year showcasing public art in the Tri-Lakes area.
Sky Hall, president of Tri-Lakes Views, the nonprofit whose 10-person, all volunteer steering committee runs ARTSites, has been there since the beginning. Hall and his wife, both artists, moved to the Monument area 25 years ago from Long Beach, California, and wanted to jump into the arts community with both feet.
“[Tri-Lakes artists] were isolated, they sold their work elsewhere,” says Hall, “We wanted to get involved in this community, talking about arts and how to get more beauty in town.”
Hall, along with a group of Tri-Lakes area residents, met to address what they saw as a lack of local support for the arts and historic preservation, spawning Tri-Lakes Views.
Originally sponsoring an annual indoor art show, Tri-Lakes Views soon switched gears to an annual juried public art exhibition, with “Ice Harvest” being the first. Now, 10 pieces are selected each year, concentrated in Monument and Palmer Lake.
“The main thought was, ‘we don’t see the art. How can we get art in the community that we can see?’” Hall says.
That community focus has paid dividends. Tri-Lakes Views was approached by El Paso County to spearhead a project to place public art in the new roundabout at the intersection of Baptist Road and Old Denver Highway. Entitled “Aspen Grove,” each tree was opened for sponsorship to commemorate a loved one.
Within six weeks, 12 20-foot tall trees had been sponsored, totaling over $40,000.
“There’s room here for that kind of thing, and we now build into our plan how to connect to the community,” Hall says. “Art makes a better community, brings people together, and gives them a better understanding.”
“We want to get people excited, motivated, and not intimidated,” Hall says. “Art always has a response, and more often than not it’s positive.”
Each of the pedestals on which the art is displayed have also been sponsored. In addition to “Ice Harvest” and “Aspen Grove,” there are four permanent pieces in the collection. A sculpture park in front of a District 38 administration building in downtown Monument, where most of the pieces are located.
The 2018-19 edition received 50 applications from all over the country, culminating with 10 entries, Hall says, tying the growth of ARTSites to the longevity of the program and more applicants and the community becoming accustomed to it.
Though Hall says ARTSites remains very much a year-by-year funding project, Tri-Lakes Views has secured $5,000 per year for the next five years from the town of Monument. The money will be used to help attract artists to the program and compete with other areas that have more established funding streams. A $500 stipend will be paid to each artist whose work is selected for ARTSites. All work is for sale, and donations for Tri-Lakes Views are gladly accepted.
Hall also hopes to expand public art to new construction projects in the area, serving as a resource for developers.
“We want businesses to go out and pursue their own art because they want to be a part of this,” He says. “We want to express the value you get from participating in the arts and this organization.”
ARTSites brochures and self-guided tours are available at Monument Town Hall, the Tri-Lakes Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Center and other shops in the area.
“It’s amazing that it’s been 15 years,” Hall said. “I’m very proud of where we’ve come.”
Originally written by Jonathan Toman of the Cultural Office and published in the Colorado Springs Independent Abstractions section on July 19, 2018.