The family’s finally in the car, ready for a day of adventuring in Cheyenne Mountain State Park, one of Colorado’s most magnificent. You head to the visitors center, excited to see what lies within, but it’s pretty ho-hum. Predictable even. Taxidermy animals line the walls, and books on outdoor adventuring line the shelves, the ambiance as a whole feels, well, like any old visitors center would.
Darcy Mount, senior ranger at Cheyenne Mountain State Park, knows the feeling.
Mount began wondering how she could get people inside her visitors center, and landed on a colorful answer with Art in the Park, a rotating gallery space showcasing local talent.
“These artists are here,” Mount says, “and there’s so much nature around Colorado Springs, from the Paint Mines to Pikes Peak.”
In other words, it was a natural fit — pun intended.
Art in the Park made its debut in May 2015 and remains a unique program in the southeast region of the Colorado Parks and Wildlife system. Other than a couple of non-local artists, word-of-mouth, calls-for-submissions and social media has provided a steady stream of local exhibitors, capitalizing on what Mount calls the “thriving” arts community of the Pikes Peak region.
Art in the Park’s only requirement for exhibitors is that the pieces do not depict people, leaving a lot of room for creativity. Exhibits have included mediums ranging from paintings and sculptures to fiber and wood pieces — one of the most popular being paintings of birds done on sheet music.
“We wanted to showcase a different way to look at nature,” Mount says. “A big part of the goal is to inspire people both to recreate and be stewards of nature.”
Now, Mount says, Cheyenne Mountain State park has “all types of people” enjoying the visitors center and the Art in the Park exhibits, highlighting different ideas and what interacting with nature looks like to different people.
“You can be inspired by nature without going outside,” Mount says.
Though the park itself cannot sell the art, artists are allowed to coordinate sales themselves using PayPal. 15-percent of sales goes to Friends of Cheyenne Mountain State Park, who also paid for the changes needed to create the gallery. Artists are not charged to show their work.
Those interested in showing as part of Art in the Park should email Mount at firstname.lastname@example.org. Most shows last two months, but anywhere between one and three months is fine. Individual, pairs, or group shows are also welcomed.
The Cheyenne Mountain State Park Visitor Center is open daily from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. from Oct. 1 to April 1, and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. from May 1 through Sept. 30.
Originally written by Jonathan Toman of the Cultural Office and published in the Colorado Springs Independent Abstractions section on January 5, 2018.