Skyspace Makes Green Box Arts Festival Bigger Than Ever

The Green Mountain Falls festival features Colorado’s first James Turrell Skyspace, New York’s Ballet Hispánico and over 50 performances, events, classes and camps. Here’s an overview.

Since 2009, Green Box Arts has been fostering an incubator of multidisciplinary visual and performing arts in Green Mountain Falls. And each summer, its flagship Green Box Arts Festival brings world-class installations and performers to town. This year’s festival, June 18 – July 4, is poised to be the biggest ever with performances by New York’s Ballet Hispánico, the unveiling of four outdoor art installations and a momentous grand opening of Colorado’s first Skyspace by the legendary light and space artist James Turrell.

Skyspace will open to visitors on June 18, opening day of the Green Box Arts Festival. The installation is the first Skyspace in Colorado and the first in the world to be carved into the side of a mountain. Green Box’s Skyspace showcases a one-of-a-kind kinetic experience that shifts one’s perception of nature and sky through contemporary light, color and space. Organizers call it “an experiential work of art unlike anywhere else in the world.” Visitors reach the installation by following an inspirational trek up one of two new nature trails through the Red Butte Recreation Area and Town Overlook, with views overlooking Green Mountain Falls’ signature Gazebo Lake Park.

Green Mountain Falls is at the foothills of Pikes Peak - Buffalo Media Gr
Green Mountain Falls is at the foothills of Pikes Peak. Photo courtesy of Buffalo Media Group.

“James Turrell is known for cultivating peaceful and powerful environmental works of art that focus on human perception,” said Christian Keesee, co-founder of Green Box, in a press release. “His Skyspaces may be understood as creative observatories — a combination of architecture, sculpture and atmosphere perfectly positioned in nature.”

The new installation joins an exclusive list of more than 85 Skyspaces the artist has designed and built throughout the world, including in Argentina, Japan, Greece, Norway and Australia. The Skyspace in Green Mountain Falls is one of the few by Turrell that features a retractable roof, providing flexibility in case of inclement weather and the ability to conduct viewings during the day, in addition to the traditional sunrise and sunset shows. Distinctive and rewarding viewing experiences are offered when the roof is both open and closed.

Turrell is known for cultivating peaceful and powerful environmental works of art that focus on human perception. His Skyspaces, with ceiling apertures open to the sky, may be understood as creative observatories — a combination of architecture, sculpture and atmosphere perfectly positioned in nature.

Green Box Executive Director Scott RC Levy described his first experience in a Skyspace as transformative. “Skyspaces are a true representation of art that responds to humanity’s need for wonder, serenity and connection,” Levy said. “There is no way of understanding its impact until you visit one yourself. We hope visitors looking for renewed inspiration and meaningful new perspectives will return to the serenity of Green Mountain Falls to enjoy our Skyspace season after season, year after year.”

Additional Art Installations

In previous years, an outdoor installation or two would be headline-worthy artworks. This year’s Green Box Festival provides three more visual art unveilings. In addition to the Skyspace, the festival’s opening day will also celebrate Communication X9 by Israeli artist Yaacov Agam; Meltwater, by Green Box Artist-in-Residence Michael Krondl; and a new Keith Haring Outdoor Fitness Court.

Communication X9 is a beloved artwork that was displayed for decades on Chicago’s prominent Magnificent Mile. Standing at 43 feet tall, the stainless-steel tower changes appearance as you move around its three sides. Meltwater is a two-dimensional display resulting from a three-step process sourced from regional photographs. And as part of an initiative launched by the National Fitness Campaign, a new Keith Haring Outdoor Fitness Court will be available for free access year-round. This permanent, town-owned feature at Pool Park is designed to activate public spaces by uniting the inspiration of world-class art and life-changing benefits through access to healthy infrastructure.


Ballet Hispánico performance at the Green Box Arts Festival. Photo by Paula Lobo.
Ballet Hispánico perform Línea Recta. Photo by Paula Lobo.

On stage, the festival will include more than 50 performances, events, classes and camps. Dance headliners Ballet Hispánico, a nationally leading Latinx organization from New York City, will take the stage multiple times during the festival. Led by Artistic Director and CEO Eduardo Vilaro, the company is comprised of a group of technically profound artists who embody the complexity of contemporary dance. Fourteen company dancers will perform 18+1 and Línea Recta, works by two highly sought-after choreographers, Annabelle Lopez Ochoa and Gustavo Ramírez Sansano.

During their time in Green Mountain Falls, Ballet Hispánico will also travel throughout Southern Colorado to engage with local communities through free masterclasses, showcasing social dances that have helped make the company famous for 50 years.

Music and Spoken Word

Jessica Fichot & Band. Photo by Nicolas Kaviani.
Jessica Fichot & Band. Photo by Nicolas Kaviani.

The Opening Night Block Party will begin with a new work performed by current Poet Laureate of the Pikes Peak region Ashley Cornelius, followed by a concert with the Tejon Street Corner Thieves.

A second Block Party happens on July 4 and features the vintage group the Denver Dolls and Latin Grammy winner El Twanguero. Other concerts include French Chinese American songwriter and accordionist Jessica Fichot, Sunday Sing-Alongs and new Open Mic Night events where you can show off your music, comedy or dance skills — cabaret style!

Film and Theater

Two outdoor Film Nights will be presented by Rocky Mountain Women’s Film: Los Hermanos and An Evening of Shorts, featuring Gramma & Ginga and My Indiana Muse, plus a work from the critically acclaimed, Colorado Springs-based Youth Documentary Academy.

Fans of live stage productions will enjoy Theatreworks’ two free outdoor performances of an abridged version of Shakespeare’s The Tempest.

Also taking the stage are The Canine Stars, an award-winning stunt dog show featured on America’s Got Talent. And the entire family will enjoy spending the day at the first Puppet Palooza, which includes shows, workshops and a puppet museum.

Classes and Camps

Green Box Arts Festival Camp. Photo courtesy of Tom Kimmell Photography.
Green Box Arts Camp. Photo courtesy of Tom Kimmell Photography.

Popular nature hikes and Astronomy & S’mores sessions return to the festival schedule. So do the always popular ArtDesk Conversations, featuring Colorado-based author, scientist and autism and animal welfare activist Temple Grandin.

Classes, camps and culinary arts are on the agenda as well, ensuring ways for all ages to get creative. Children’s camps for K-12 are presented through the Manitou Springs School District and include Green Box Construction Arts Camp, Green Box Integrated Arts Camp 48-Hour Musical Camp. The Toddler Time series also returns.

Culinary classes include Cocina Corazón’s Tamales and Salsa Making, Apple and Chicken Pot Pies with Lisa Huizenga, Sommelier sessions with Howard Price, and a Scotch on the Rocks event.

Daily yoga classes return, as does Silversmithing 101. Additional visual art classes include Fiber Fusion and Visible Mending, along with more opportunities to get creative, including stand-up comedy, puppet-making and water lantern-making workshops. A special Lantern Launch will close out the festival following the 4th of July Block Party.

For a complete listing of festival events, visit Many events are free, but all require registration.

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Jeremy Jones
Jeremy Jones is Springs’ co-founder, editorial director and chief outdoor officer. He loves building community by telling stories about all the people, places and culture that make Colorado Springs an amazing place to live. And he’s especially stoked when exploring new places in the Springs, Colorado and beyond. Watch for him hiking, running or mountain biking the local trails with his wife and kids.

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