Charles H. Rockey died on June 16, at 87 years of age. The news was shared thousands of times via social media in the hours and days that followed, posts marked with teary-eyed emojis, and comments of love and appreciation from near and far.
Known affectionately as “Rockey” around the town in which he loved to live for nearly a half-century, Manitou Springs, Colo., the painter, poet and former art teacher is remembered by generations of former students and adoring locals.
He also is remembered by generations of travelers to Manitou Springs as a welcoming wizard of light, creativity and love who lived and worked in a distinctive blue, three-story building on Cañon Avenue.
Rockey has been called the Godfather of the Manitou Springs arts scene. He painted nearly a 1,000 plein air paintings around the town since he moved to it from Colorado Springs in the early 1970s.
“When people look at my Manitou paintings,” Rockey once wrote, “I want them to say, ‘Oh, yeah, that’s my street.’ But I also want them to say, ‘You know, I never thought of my street as an artistic scene before.’
“I hope my work makes them see how their own streets, towns and lives have beauty and interest. Also, though, I want them to experience the love I felt while painting mine.”