The skies were gray, unusual for Colorado Springs, but tonight would be full of color and imagination and culture. A light early Spring mist had fallen in the day, but it lifted, leaving the city with a glittery glint fitting for the occasion. On the First Friday of every month, April through December, Colorado Springs shows its truest, most creative self with First Friday Art Walks. And this Friday, Rob and Erica plan to take it all in, from Downtown Colorado Springs, to Old Colorado City, to Manitou Springs and back on the free First Friday Shuttle.
4:32pm A cool breeze suggests warm drinks, so Erica and Rob stop in at Story Coffee for a chai and a latte before making the short walk to Gallery 113. The Gallery is all smiles and warmth and welcome; the gallery’s president Karen Standridge gives a glowing intro to the Art Walk, the contagion of her excitement ushers the couple to the first shuttle stop to catch a ride to the next gallery.
5:15pm. The bus arrives at the shuttle stop, a bright red ride to carry the couple through Downtown to the Fine Arts Center and Plaza of the Rockies. “It’s Only a Paper Moon” sings from the shuttle, an impromptu recital from the bus’s Art Advocate host Max Ferguson. The First Friday Shuttle is not simply a go-between, it is itself an integral part of the evening. A turn to the West, and a sharp right under the Colorado Ave bridge, and the couple arrives at a hidden art spot: an urban-industrial oasis harbored under huge cement pillars of the overpass, the Art Depot Galleries.
Laurel Justice is here tonight, opening her show at the Kreuser Gallery, a bright and intimate space shaped to give the art first chair. Erica and Rob are at once drawn in by Laurel’s paintings; the rich movement against rigid right angles, yellows, blues, browns with intrusions of red, and ocean green invites them into a contemplative moment.
5:50pm. Back on the bus, this time with host Mickey Burdick citing lines from Hamlet as the shuttle continues down Colorado Ave to its stop near the Chavez Gallery. The haunting-beautiful chant of a violin and guitar roll from the doorway to the space—the world music of Roma Ransom completes the atmosphere created by the Narrative Surrealism of Liese and Kris Chavez. Emotive music under emotion-filled art.
Rob and Erica catch the 6:30pm shuttle to Manitou Springs. Peter Tuff, opera singer, is their latest shuttle host, “and more joyfully!” he serenades as the bus rolls on. At the Clock Tower stop, they take a break to take it all in, to take a breather, to grab a moment to themselves. The architectural whimsy, the layers of paint and patina, the stories this place has seen, all provide the perfect backdrop to lock this evening in their memory before they are boarding the shuttle to ride back to Downtown Colorado Springs.
7:10pm. They make it in time for their reservation at IV by Brother Luck, reflecting on their favorite art pieces over Skuna Bay Salmon and Colorado Lamb Chop. Dinner over, they duck into Roosters, push the cherry blossom on the brick wall at the back and a hidden door opens on Japanese cocktail bliss. After a quick oshibori, Rob and Erica close their evening with a Central Park Samurai and a Lavish, both Japanese-inspired cocktails full of creative surprise.
The First Friday Shuttle is a free service provided by the Cultural Office of the Pikes Peak Region, connecting the Colorado Certified Creative Districts of Downtown Colorado Springs and Manitou Springs with Historic Old Colorado City.