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First Friday at the Aud – “An October Retrospective” solo show featuring visual artist Neil Fenton

October 7, 2022 @ 5:00 pm 8:00 pm

Smokebrush Foundation for the Arts in Manitou Springs and the Community Cultural Collective in Colorado Springs present: First Friday, Illuminate City Aud on October 7.

The goal of the Community Cultural Collective is to renovate, restore and revitalize the now 100 year-old City Auditorium in support of a cultural city center affording access to all citizens; that will assure preserving the history and public use of the auditorium for the next 100 years.Smokebrush Foundation for the Arts in Manitou Springs and the Community Cultural Collective in Colorado Springs present: First Friday, Illuminate City Aud on October 7.

First Friday in Downtown features new art, live music, and special events on the first Friday of every month, at dozens of galleries, retailers and nonprofits throughout Downtown Colorado Springs. Smokebrush will feature the work of Neil Fenton for a solo show: An October Retrospective, inside the City Auditorium. 

Neil Fenton’s Bio: “My journey as an artist began as a child in my parents’ pottery studio.  My father would engage and instruct me by squeezing a piece of clay in the cavity of his fist and, upon a moment’s inspection, give it expressions with another quick pinch, poking holes for eyes or embellishing features with a tool.  Often resembling a horse or a duck, or a googly-eyed insect, we called them “squeeze creatures.” I continued to embrace my creativity in both three and two dimensions through my childhood and adolescence, mostly drawing and sculpting silly creatures. I drew frequently and enjoyed creating stories and assumed that comic books and cartooning were my dreams and artistic future.  When I was thirteen years old, I became heavily influenced by the work and friendship of Doug Pedersen and Kelsey Hauk, artists who moved from New Mexico to my remote Colorado hometown of Saguache.  Doug introduced me to the world of oil painting: Van Eyck, Rembrandt, Goya, Velasquez, Vermeer and on…  He had me stretch his canvases while having discussions about everything from Picasso and de Kooning, to mediums and methods.  The work in this show is directly influenced by and a modest tribute and homage to their art and mentorship.  Their work, mostly figures, heads and faces, would begin in a similar manner to my father’s squeeze creatures.  Doug, turning his back to his canvas, would scrawl a mark or two with an oily rag and then work embellishing those marks until it became a masterpiece of emotive expression.  Kelsey’s creations are elegant collages of colorful figures and faces from pieces of discarded and leftover paper, finding recognizable features and forms in randomness and chaos.   

Seeing in something what is not there and elaborating on it has been a part of humanity’s creativity for tens of thousands of years: tracing the forms of rock cave walls with charcoal to make the back of a buffalo rise, finding a piece of driftwood that resembles a deer and carving it to appear more so.  I am intrigued by our imagination’s capacity to create fantastic glimpses of human faces or give meaningful interpretation to the brilliance of nature’s chaos.  I have found that much of my creative process has been to involve “pareidolia,” the term used to describe our brain’s proclivity to recognize familiar shapes in clouds or faces in the leafy darkness of forest trees or faces in everyday objects.  Is this a creative impulse active in our biology or is the mind’s eye and ego relaying a primal rationalization for survival, identification, empathy, hope and fear?”


October 7, 2022
5:00 pm – 8:00 pm
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Illuminate City Aud

Colorado Springs City Auditorium

221 E Kiowa St.
Colorado Springs, CO 80903 United States
View Venue Website

The Colorado Springs Community Cultural Collective believes that we are a diverse community, with a cultural landscape that tells a very rich story with deep roots in the arts. This story, both past and present reflect our times, question our biases and bring us together by creating common ground. We wholeheartedly embrace equal opportunity and full inclusion in the arts for all people, including people of color, of all genders and any gender identity, of every sexual orientation, for people with different abilities, those of every ethnicity, and every opinion.