Pueblo, CO’s New Arts District
Pueblo's many arts attractions have long added splashes of creativity and color to the local landscape, but the city's new state-designated “Creative Corridor” connects those dots.
While the Sangre de Cristo Arts Center has been around since 1972, more and more arts-based businesses and galleries continue opening here. For example, in late 2012, Gregory Howell opened Kadoya Gallery in the flatiron building downtown and recently founded The Shoe Factory, an arts nonprofit offering studio space.
These are just two among dozens of galleries, studios and other arts-based businesses planning lots of events monthly. Pueblo also nabbed one of two Governor's Art Awards, which commended the city for leveraging the arts to revitalize their community.
“People are sometimes surprised at how Pueblo has put money into our arts presence,” says Susan Fries, executive director of the Creative Corridor and Pueblo Arts Alliance, the nonprofit organization that administers the Corridor and promotes events for artists and arts organizations. “Pueblo hit the trifecta: We received the Governor’s Art Award, formed the Creative Corridor and hosted the 2013 Colorado Creative Industries Summit.”
Pueblo Brings Art To All
Fries says the city’s three historic centers – Mesa Junction, Downtown Main Street, and Union Avenue Historic District – are all within the Creative Corridor, a partnership of the Pueblo Arts Alliance (formerly the Pueblo Performing Arts Guild), the Pueblo Urban Renewal Authority and City of Pueblo. Businesses and galleries in the centers work together on some events while hosting others individually to reflect their distinct characters.
One of the most popular events is First Friday Art Walks that bring hundreds of people into all three historic centers. Street Beats features musicians, dancers and other street performers who demonstrate their skills. The VanGO art shuttle takes patrons to galleries and shops, many of which offer free refreshments, live entertainment and demonstrations.
Cup and Bowl ceramic art studio and gallery has participated in the monthly art walks since opening in 2010. While the business offers classes, studio space and a gallery, its dramatic, 1800-degree “raku” pottery firings on First Fridays have made it a destination for Puebloans and visitors.
“We give people an opportunity to be creative and to be a part of the arts,” says Linda Cates, a co-owner of Cup and Bowl. “It’s been amazing to see the cooperation and support from studios and businesses in all three areas of town.”
Pueblo’s artists also say they feel this encouragement.
"Supporting local arts is good for the community and for the economy,” says Maureen Keenan-Mason, a painter, writer and ceramics artist.
Convergence of Fine Art and Street Art
Pueblo residents see a rise in public arts expression, too.
The Pueblo Levee Mural Project began in the 1970’s and is in the Guinness Book of World Records as the longest continuous outdoor painting.
Now, more murals are being painted throughout the Creative Corridor, including a project of the 2013 Leadership Pueblo class, located on the Colorado Bluesky Enterprises building.
You'll also see public art installations all around downtown as part of Art & Soul, Pueblo's Street Gallery. Sculptures stay on display for about a year, and most are for sale (look closely for pricing).
Meanwhile, the new ARTery walk in downtown Pueblo, launched in 2013, combines fitness, fundraising and the work of local street artists to raise both awareness and money for the American Heart Association.
“We’re creating a destination,” Howell says. “It’s all about bringing artists to the community and bringing community to artists.”
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