Wine Punts Gives New Life

Story by: Amanda Luciano

Photos by: Tanya Martineau


That bottle of wine you finished at a Colorado Springs restaurant this weekend could be a sipping glass in Dubai within a few weeks. Not as an amalgamation with dozens of other bottles melted together in a recycling plant and reformed again inside a glass factory. No, your actual wine bottle—simply and elegantly relieved of its top third, toasted for endurance, boxed, and sent straight away to its new home.

Wine Punts, founded in 2006 in Colorado Springs, has simplified the recycling process while creating something distinct and beautiful. The company gets its name from the inverse indentation on the bottom of traditional wine bottles. The company started when Joe Saliba needed a project for a class at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs. His wife’s grandfather had come home from a ski trip in Utah, where he saw drinking glasses made from the bottoms of wine bottles. Joe bought a kit and made one himself. “I remember having it in my hands and thinking, ‘People will probably buy this,’ ” he said.

Joe created a website. It wasn’t an elaborate site, but somehow, people found it. Joe quickly had to find a way to make the glasses faster. “My dad is really good with his hands, and he knows tools,” Joe said. His father, also named Joe Saliba, set up a shop in his Westside garage, and the two made glasses from recycled bottles and shipped them out.

The business has tripled in production every year since. Daily shipments go all over the world—some to individuals and many to wholesale accounts with retailers like Williams-Sonoma and Tommy Bahama. All of the bottles still come from local restaurants, from which they’re collected weekly. The products—which have expanded beyond drinking glasses to include items like candles, wind chimes, and pendant lights—are appealing to two customers: People and businesses who appreciate the environmental impact of creative recycling efforts, as well as wine-lovers who love the idea of using wine bottles for other uses.

Wine Punts moved into a lofty warehouse on the southwest side of downtown Colorado Springs about 5 years ago. Joe’s father tinkers with bottles, perfecting some of the new items Wine Punts recently added to its website. He also transforms wine bottle tops into wind chimes, candle holders, and growing bottles for herbs. Jacob Ellis—a former co-worker in the oil and gas industry and long-time fly-fishing buddy of Joe—is managing the business operations.

What doesn’t become a salable product is always recycled, but the company is working hard to find ways to use every part of the bottle. The crew of 8 employees now makes sea glass and coasters from compressed wine bottle tops. “We’re recycling hundreds of thousands of bottles,” Ellis said. “It’s fascinating to think of where they came from and where they’ll end up.”

30 W. Las Vegas St.

Colorado Springs, CO 80903



Evidence Jewelry

Story by Kaitlin Boyer

Photos by: Becca Simonds


Jewelry maker and designer Katie McGinnis lives in a second-story flat in downtown Florence, Colorado. Upon entering her apartment, the unassuming quaintness of the town outside suddenly disappears, and one is taken into what feels like a chic, artsy loft in New York City. This loft is where Katie’s ideas and art are made into tangible pieces. Katie’s company, Evidence Jewelry, is handcrafted not only to tell a story, but also demonstrate personal character and grit. By using a combination of vintage and organic materials, Evidence defies conventional jewelry design by offering a medieval elegance and an archaic core.

Katie’s subtle southern drawl, sleek black hair, perfectly placed tattoos, and dark attire implies that perhaps she isn’t from the arid town of Florence. Yet after her parents moved from North Carolina to open an antique store in Florence, Katie followed shortly and immediately fell in love with Colorado. “Just seeing the mountains and having that big openness was so inspiring to me,” Katie reminisced.

Prior to her move, Katie attended school at Fashion Institute of Technology in New York for apparel design, but quickly learned that sewing was not her forte. “My bubble was burst creatively, and I didn’t know what I was going to do in life,” Katie explained. “Out of creative boredom, I just started making my own stuff because I couldn’t find anything that I really wanted.”

Soon after Katie started designing, making, and wearing her own jewelry, people began to take notice, and the orders started coming in. Fast-forward almost 7 years, and her Evidence collections are thriving, not limited to a specific crowed. “My customer base is really what stands out as different from other jewelry lines,” Katie described. “Going into it, I really thought it would be a younger, trendier crowd, and really it’s kind of all over the place. From the little old grandma to the gothic girl, the high fashion girls to the chic, classy ones.”

The handcrafting process for Katie is perhaps as unique as her clients. Straying away from mass production, Katie takes pride in the importance of each piece being made with originality. “It goes back to the initial inspiration for the line: It’s just the older ways of making jewelry, the way the Romans did it, how medieval things were made as far as casting and things like that. It will take longer for me to do it, but will still give things a one-of-a kind feel,” Katie said.

Using mixed metals, brass, antique stones, sand casting, and a chemical aging process, the Evidence pieces are made to look “a little bit like you’ve dug them out of the dirt and found some awesome treasure,” as Katie described them. Her intentions for the appearance of the line are well executed. Each piece has the look and character of surviving centuries, subtly tarnished with layers of an unknown past.

 As Evidence Jewelry continues to grow, Katie has taken on a rebranding process to simplify the line and make it more cohesive to incoming additions. “Once I would think I was done with the line, another piece would pop into my head, so it’s one continuous big line for me,” she explained. Aiming on keeping her Etsy clients and boutique wholesalers priority, Katie is working daily and building a surplus so she can one day expand the business. “Every year, it’s going into more boutiques, and now that my parents have closed their store here, I have more time on my hands to just completely dedicate my life to doing that,” Katie said.

Katie’s jewelry is evidence in itself that a bright future awaits this young maker. With a magazine-worthy workspace for creating and the support from her family, Katie will undoubtedly capture an era of time that is unknown to others—collectively embellishing the story that is her art.

Evidence Jewelry




An Inside Look With Copilot Creative

Words by: Teryn O’Brien

Photos by: Teryn O’Brien



Think about one of your favorite businesses. When you walk into their store or go to their website, what are the reasons you like it? What is the vibe, the atmosphere, the general feel that makes you personally want to associate with this particular company? These are the questions that CoPilot Creative, a branding and design studio located in Colorado Springs, asks every day. While most aren’t necessarily thinking about the why behind brands and businesses, it’s CoPilot’s job to know what makes a company stick in the minds of the people.

CoPilot Creative was founded in Colorado Springs over 40 years ago. Its latest owners, Austin Buck and Thomas Eisenbeis, were both employed by CoPilot Creative before purchasing the company in 2010.  Austin is the art director and designer, responsible for the thoughtful look of everything CoPilot creates—from graphic design on paper to web layouts.  Tommy, as the web developer, takes the web design from a flat environment and programs it into an interactive format in a variety of platforms: online design, apps, desktops, and mobile devices.

The Importance of Branding

According to CoPilot Creative, without the direction of good branding, people don’t know how to process information about a company. “We are all flooded with brand impressions every single day,” explained Austin. “If you can’t parse that information with a good identity or a consistency, then a company can become washed into the marketing masses not leaving a lasting impression.”

Good branding helps people form an emotional tie to a brand and feel secure. “Once you get that emotional connection, people are naturally going to talk about it,” said Austin. “A well-packaged brand helps people know exactly what to expect from a certain company.”

A perfect brand is different for every single client, and CoPilot works hard to help a company speak in their unique voice. As Tommy put it, “You wouldn’t want to have a brand that looks awesome, but does not convey anything about the company that you just developed it for.” That’s why the branding process is so important: It helps a company communicate exactly who they are and what they want.  CoPilot works closely with each of their clients in order to implement the company vision into everything visually created for an individual business.  

Branding & Design Process

So what does the branding and design process look like? CoPilot Creative walked Colorado Collective through an inside look of how they work with clients to represent a brand well.  Every client is different, however, CoPilot recently collaborated with Iron Bird Brewing Company, and they decided to use this brewery as an example of what the process often looks like for a company that wants to use their marketing and branding services.   

1. Relationship Building Through Initial Meeting(s)

A set of meetings helps CoPilot figure out exactly what a client needs. During the beginning stage, it’s all about developing a relationship and strategic listening. “We talk to our client extensively prior to developing anything,” emphasized Tommy. Clients will often fill out a creative brief before the initial meetings to help brainstorm what it is they’re looking for, giving the client some helpful structure in how to communicate.
In Iron Bird’s case, the brewery wasn’t open yet, so the business owners (Aaron Celusta and Mike Centanne) were coming into CoPilot to receive help with initial identity and branding development. CoPilot was able to hear the background story of how the two met and their past individual accomplishments. “Mike has had like four or five different companies. He’s a do-it-yourselfer,” said Austin. “And Aaron flies airplanes. So we aligned really well to their stories and the craft of it.” Learning as much as they could about the clients helped them really connect with what Iron Bird Brewery would be all about.

2. Creative Brainstorming

Once the initial meeting(s) takes place the internal creative brainstorming begins. An element of this creative process is what CoPilot calls a “mood board”. This is where CoPilot and the client pull imagery they really like that might fit with their brand. They will also develop key words and phrases that help Austin and Thomas understand the look and vibe they’re going for with their business. CoPilot Creative does their part in pulling ideas and concepts for what they think the client wants from their vast storage of creative knowledge and collected information during the “get to know you” stage. “We share visuals paired with words and when the ideas cross, we know where to go,” said Austin.

For some of their visual brainstorming, Iron Bird’s owners brought in old Russian propaganda posters that were black and red. Just two colors. Immediately, Austin and Tommy began to get the feel for the visual elements what Iron Bird was wanting. While they created the “mood” for the brand, they incorporated elements that were evoked from the material Iron Bird provided: raw, simple, and strong.

3. Logo & Brand Guide

After the mood boarding is approved, Austin will start conceptualizing designs. He will come up with several visual ideas, and then CoPilot Creative will reveal the ideas to the client. Usually, the logo is the first piece to build in the initial conceptualization, as a logo will be one of the most impactful defining elements of a brand. For Iron Bird, Austin presented three different visual ideas to the owners. “By the time they left the meeting, they had chosen a logo,” Austin said. “And then everything just kind of fell into place.”

Once the logo is in place, an entire brand guide for the company is developed. Fonts and colors are selected to create parameters for future marketing material, print work, or web changes. This brand guide includes fitting imagery, slogans, shapes, etc.—anything pertaining to the brand. It’s given to the client for independent use so that they know exactly what to use to keep all visuals clean and consistent. Initially, Iron Bird didn’t want any color, and so the logo was black and white to represent that raw, simple, strong feeling that the owners wanted. “When we developed sub brands, that’s when we started to bring in colors, “ said Austin. “They’re all very muted tones to go with that aged, kind of printing process they initially attached to.” This color scheme was intentionally incorporated into all aspects of the brand guide for Iron Bird.

4. Developing a Visual Package

From the brand guide and logo, a client might need business cards, a website, t-shirts, etc. CoPilot takes the initial brand guide and designs all sorts of print and web pieces to go with the overarching brand for a company. Having an in-house developer like Tommy is something most design companies don’t have, which makes CoPilot Creative that much more effective and flexible as they collaborate between the initial visual designs and translating that onto the web. CoPilot Creative can create all marketing collateral, online or offline, large or small. CoPilot developed all of the beer tap handles for the Iron Bird Brewery. They helped design the menu and t-shirts, and they also made fun, promotional wooden nickels for the initial launch of the brewery. All of it was in an effort to make Iron Bird a brewery that people emotionally connected with. “It’s a brewery, and everybody loves breweries,” said Austin. “But we do all have our favorites. So we wanted to create an environment that’s cool to hang out in. The look is super consistent, and customers really want to wear that bird and associate with that brand.”


CoPilot Creative
Located in The Machine Shop

4 S Wahsatch Ave, Suite 120
Colorado Springs, CO 80903


The Story and Scents of Cafe Earth

Story by: Susan Fletcher

Photos by: Tessa Harvey

Café Earth, a new line of natural home fragrances and body products, was born out of Erica Buelow’s years of experience as an interior designer, small business owner, and her own spiritual journey. To Erica, Café Earth is the culmination of a professional and personal journey to return to natural simplicity. “Our bodies are so calloused and covered up with synthetics, we don’t really know how we feel,” she said. “Going back to the gifts we receive from the earth, there’s so many resources that can be gathered respectfully and responsibly. They can be regrown and were given to us as a gift to be used in a responsible way.”

These lessons have been years in the making. Hailing from Florida, Erica recalls a story her mother told about giving her a dollhouse at the age of 3. Instead of playing with the dolls, Erica intently and constantly rearranged all of the furniture in the dollhouse, foreshadowing her future career. At 16, Erica moved to Chattanooga, Tennessee, and studied interior design at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.

Erica’s interior design program emphasized the psychology of people in their environment and how aesthetics make people feel. “That helped me learn how to connect with people when I’m dealing with such a personal part of their life—which is their home,” she explained. She earned her undergraduate degree in interior design and her graduate degree in business management. During her 9 years in Tennessee, Erica worked for multiple companies—including Yessicks, a large design firm in the Southeast.

Several life-changing events sent Erica on a soul-searching journey to reshape her future. In early 2001, she left Tennessee, traveling with her Great Dane Sidney on a circuitous route through Montana, Washington, and California, trying to find the next steps in life. Over the 2001 holidays, a connection in Denver invited her to Colorado and offered to let her stay in a downtown loft to give her time to figure things out.  

Erica arrived in Denver in 2002—in the midst of an economically and emotionally low point in her life and alone in an unfamiliar state. “I woke up one morning crying, and I started praying because I didn’t know what else to do or where to go,” Erica recalled. The answer was just around the corner. That same afternoon, she got a phone call for a job interview at Homestead House Furniture for a sales position. At the interview, the company surprised her by offering her the job of Design Manager instead, which was a much better fit for Erica’s personality. Erica was delighted. “It was an answer to prayer. I dove into the job and loved it.”

On a whim, she moved to Colorado Springs in 2003 and quickly procured a job at Arvada Hardwood. She did design work for John Laing Homes, Pulte, and other local builders. During one particular design appointment, she met the man who would become her future husband. Things seemed to be truly coming together, and Erica decided it was time to fulfill a long-time dream of opening her own retail store with design services.

In November 2011, Erica opened her store Earthen Artisan House in Old Colorado City. She featured local artisans, merchandise from American-made companies, and custom furniture. However, the dream of a storefront was not to last. After 2 ½ years, she decided to close the store, realizing that retail was changing and interior design jobs were paying the bills rather than the storefront. Erica had several loyal, supportive customers, but took note that many others admired the store as inspiration for their own projects, rather than actually purchasing things from her. Unfortunately, simply inspiring others didn’t pay the bills.

Although this seeming failure of a dream might’ve disheartened her, Erica doesn’t see it that way. “Effortless success has made it easy to take people’s ideas and call them our own,” she explained. “It may appear complimentary, but it’s sad. We all do it. There’s work and effort in being original and authentic.” The inherent demands of a small business owner convinced her that it was time to step away. After closing the store, Erica felt like God was telling her to let go of her pride, to focus on her relationship with Him, and to remember to “seek Him first, and everything else will be provided.” During this time, she learned how to balance life, working through her sense of failure and loss.


In the months to follow, Erica returned to an aspect of her original business plan for Earthen Artisan House—an aspect that had long been in her heart: Café Earth, a line of natural body products and home fragrances. “If something has been put in your heart to do, I think it’s important to follow that,” she said. Her first Café Earth products launched in November 2015, which are candles and lip balm. All of her candles are comprised of sustainably processed, 100% Kosher soy wax, with 100% cotton wicks designed to burn cleanly. The lip balms are all natural and scented with essential oils. Erica has plans to introduce scented wax blocks, all natural shave bars for men and women, lotions, soaps, and essential oil roller balls and sprays.

Café Earth merchandise includes three collections: Roots, Reminisce, and Elemental. The names of her individual products are as evocative as the names of her collections. “I’m a very imaginative person,” Erica said. “I love my solitude and sit with my thoughts for hours, and that’s where I create.” Erica imagines a title for her newest scents before she even begins to experiment with combinations of oils to make them. For instance, in her Roots line, which is targeted to men, Erica thought of the names—Cut Lumber, Tamped Tobacco, Worn Leather, and Smoking Gun—then went about mixing fragrances to match what she imagined those scents to be. The Reminisce line features products that invoke the feeling of fall and winter, with spicy and comforting candle scents, such as Cider by the Fire and Snowy Mountain. Her Elemental line features herbal and citrus notes that evoke springtime, like Lavender Mint and Neroli Lime.

For the future, Erica plans to launch four more lines: Lux, coconut based products for mature skin; Nectar, based on honey and beeswax; Sentient, a vegan line; and Café, a line of candles that smell like you could eat them. For now, Erica is starting small, testing the markets, and letting her products develop a life of their own.

Whereas Erica relied on her years of education and experience in her interior design business, she is enjoying learning an entirely new field as she creates her Café Earth merchandise. “It’s completely different from anything I’ve ever done. I get to be creative, but it’s scientific. There’s different math and chemistry and all these fun things that I’m learning to explore…I’m learning as I go, and I’m loving every piece of it.”

Erica encourages her fellow entrepreneurs and business owners to be authentic and courageous in pursuing their original ideas. “Make sure what you are doing is authentic to you. If it is not, you’ll lose passion. Learn you can’t do it all on your own and surround yourself with people you trust. Be willing to accept constructive criticism.” From the wisdom she has learned on her professional and spiritual journey, Erica advised: “It’s not all about me. It’s not all about my ideas or what I want the picture to look like. It’s about who I am serving. If you are not serving someone, you’re just serving yourself.”

Erica is enjoying the new lifestyle that her business offers, the creative process involved in Café Earth, and the opportunities she has to connect with the community again. “I’m happy,” she says, “I love life right now and am grateful. If anything, Café Earth has been a journey to get back to simplicity, back to nature, and the good of the Earth—the gifts we receive daily.”


Customers can purchase Café Earth products online at, and also at Camino Massage Therapy, Tattered to Treasured, Rich Designs Home, and Vie Boutique Downtown in Colorado Springs, CO, as well as Mountain Made in Salida, CO.


Behind the Counter

Patterns are all around us. Repeating mailboxes, old rugged brick walls, pairs of shoes on people waiting in line for lunch. Patterns of “ordinary” things often get passed over, because they’re an all too familiar sight. But what happens when we search out beauty in ordinary patterns?

Kate’s passion for patterns led her to notice one forming in downtown Colorado Springs. Often when you walk into a shop, one of the first things you see is a counter. Counters are usually a flat plane separating the business from its patrons, but it’s what’s behind them that is interesting. The people and things behind the counter can give you an interesting glimpse into a different world, and the pattern that it forms is beautiful—if you take time to see it.


—Kate Doerksen, Owner of Kate Creative Photography & Design


Echo Architecture Creates Noise in Colorado Springs

Words: Meagan Thomas

Photos: Tanya Martineau

When Ryan Lloyd, founder of Echo Architecture, moved with his wife and son from Portland to Colorado Springs, he wasn’t planning to open his own architecture firm. He just wanted to live in a safe, friendly community with good schools for his son to attend. Luckily for the Colorado Springs community, a series of random events and a lot of what Ryan thinks is fate led him to start Echo Architecture - forever changing the design landscape in Colorado Springs.

Making Colorado Springs Home

Ryan spent most of his childhood growing up in the Rocky Mountains, and he knew he wanted to eventually plant his roots in the state. He moved to Fort Collins when he was nine, went to college in Golden and Boulder and lived in Fort Collins for a few more years before finally heading to Portland. When Ryan and his wife first moved to Portland, they planned to be there for graduate school. What started out as a few years in Oregon turned into 10. There they bought a house, had babies and worked, but when Ryan’s son was getting ready to start kindergarten, the issue of moving back to Colorado came to the forefront. From there, fate took the reins.

“Within a few days, an old professor from (Colorado University) called me and offered me a job,” Ryan said. It sounded like an interesting job, and after mentioning to a neighbor that he might be selling his house, another neighbor came over the following day and made an offer to buy it. With a job offer in Denver and an offer on the house, Ryan knew it was too good to pass up. Soon, he and his wife flew to Denver to begin house hunting. But It didn’t take long for them to realize they didn’t want to move to Denver.

“We wanted to be in the mountains, be in the sun, [be where there’s] better schools, and Denver didn’t have any of those things,” Ryan said. “So through a series of strange events and a lot of prayer - and just rash decisions - we moved to Colorado Springs.” Taking a leap fully on faith, with no job, no house and really no good reason, the Lloyd family just went for it and decided to call Colorado Springs their new home. Little did they know the risk of moving here would work out in their favor - as well as the rest of the city’s - as Ryan began designing many of Colorado Springs’ new and popular establishments.

“We really felt like we were supposed to come to Colorado Springs, and it was just part of that journey,” he said.


Finding Architecture

Ryan’s road to becoming an architect wasn’t a straight one. He’d considered architecture when he was a kid, but as he got older he never thought of it as an actual option for a career path. In high school, he was good at math and science and decided that he’d go to college to become an engineer. He only applied to one school, Colorado School of Mines, and was accepted. “In hindsight, I’m blown away I didn’t have a fallback [school],” Ryan said. Within a few weeks of attending Mines, he realized engineering wasn’t what he wanted to do with his life, and that’s when architecture popped into his mind again. He applied to the University of Colorado and got in. After finishing his freshman year at Mines, he transferred to Boulder. There, he instantly felt he was in the right place.

“The architecture school was super heavy on studio and design studio courses,” Ryan said. “I really applied myself for the first time ever in school and just loved it and did pretty well at it and never looked back.” While living in Portland, Ryan worked for Surround Architecture, Inc. That’s when Ryan said he felt he had his first big architecture victory while helping to design a mortgage lender’s office. The client had access to free wood, so they built the inside out of stacked two-by-fours. The exposed, heavy timber utilized outdoor aspects of the region, and Ryan combined them with the existing building to make everything blend into one beautiful space.

"[Surround Architecture] let me run with it, and it just turned out really great,” he said.


Founding Echo

Ryan’s time at Surround continued to fuel his passion and knowledge of design, which helped him to land a job in Colorado Springs in September 2008 with BVH Architects. Unfortunately, his career with the firm was cut short because of the economic hardship facing many companies that year. In February 2009, just days after Ryan and his wife put an offer in to buy a house, BVH announced that it would be closing its Colorado Springs office, still staying in business in other areas. Thinking on his feet, Ryan found a way to secure his future in architecture in the city. “Being a firm that was staying in business, they couldn’t just shut down and tell all their Colorado clients ‘sorry,’ so I talked them into hiring me as a co-architect to work as a consultant to finish all their projects in Colorado,” he explained.

In April 2009, just a couple of months after the announcement to close the Colorado Springs BVH office was announced, Echo Architecture was born. Being able to start one’s own company and be one’s own boss sounds appealing, but it’s also terrifying. Ryan had only been in Colorado Springs for four months and didn’t have any billed work, didn’t know anybody or have his own clients. He had nothing to put on his website because he hadn’t done anything in Colorado. Add that to the fact that he’d never run a business, and it was a lot to handle. In a smart move by Ryan, he wrote all of the company’s furniture, computers and software codebooks into his severance package.

“I had no startup cost and a solid year of built-in work in Colorado for them under my own name, so that was huge,” Ryan said.”That alleviated a lot of my fears because I basically had a great job for a year.” As Ryan worked on the former BVH projects, he began to build his Colorado Springs portfolio, and soon enough he found more clients. Word spread about his business because of Ryan’s commitment to every single project. “I think the thing that is different about what I do and what Echo Architecture does [is that] we try,” Ryan said. “Every project that comes in we push to produce the best product we can for the budget - to be innovative, be fresh and do something new and exciting.”

Ryan has observed a lot of architects or companies who do the bare minimum, get a permit and are done. At Echo, the company uses its design services to go above and beyond for every client. Two big parts of being an exceptional architect is forming a strong relationship with the client and understanding how surroundings can play into the space being designed. “I try very hard to form a relationship with my client and actually listen to them and hear what they’re saying and take their personality and apply that to the design,” Ryan said.

Ryan also allows the building to inform himself or the client. He uses the outdoors - views, where the sun sits, wind and even foot traffic - to build a design based off of the environment. He likes to use raw materials such as wood, concrete and steel rather than paint or distress it. His designs tend to have a “green” component, and while it’s intentional, designing in an eco-friendly manner isn’t something out of the norm for certain projects: It’s an important part of all well-designed buildings. “I try to specialize in good architecture, and [being green] is a huge component of that,” Ryan said. “If it’s not sustainable and it doesn’t take advantage of natural light and wind, and the energy that’s free, or views or space - it’s all tied together.”


Inspiring Change

Echo Architecture’s mission to make every project the best it can be is slowly changing from making every project the best it can be to making Colorado Springs the best it can be. In the beginning, Ryan took 100 percent of the jobs that came to him, but now he’s able to choose and be sure that the client and location are a good fit, which really makes a difference in the effect his projects can make on the community.

Ryan’s recent project for a local nonprofit, The Dream Center of Colorado Springs, turned a former rundown apartment complex into a space for homeless mothers to live. The metaphor of rehabilitating a building that was on its last leg into a beautiful, state of the art building for women who are also trying to turn around their own lives isn’t lost on him. “When you go in, you don’t feel like you’re in subsidized housing. You feel like you’d want to live there,” he said. “We wanted to not only provide them with a place to stay, but we wanted to give them dignity - and we can do that through design.”

The power of design is important to Ryan, and although some of his projects help the needy, he also hopes to use the power of design to change some of the lifestyle in Colorado Springs. A good example of this is with his work on Wild Goose Meeting House. It’s a project he’s proud of - not just because it turned out well for the client - but because it’s providing a place that downtown Colorado Springs didn’t have previously. He hopes to continue to be a part of more projects like this. “Our built environment should match our natural environment,” Ryan said. “We have the best climate ever; We have Garden of the Gods, we have Pikes Peak, we have Red Rock Canyon, and it’s perfect. Geographically, we couldn’t be in a better spot. And then you look at our built environment and it’s the worst … so we should match our natural environment.”

Through design, he’s beginning to inspire change in the Colorado Springs community, and he hopes that the value on design is felt in the city.

However, Ryan believes that changes to the culture of Colorado Springs really comes down to to planning more than architecture. The public will and political will for things like better public transportation, making the town more bicycle and pedestrian friendly and changes in zoning for certain areas is what’s going to make a difference in for many residents of the city. As these changes begin to occur, the city can move forward in other areas. The grassroots movement of craft coffee, craft beer and local food and goods is one of those areas that is growing quickly, and many of Ryan’s clients are a part of it. He is excited about projects like the expansion of Iron Bird Brewing and the rehab of Lincoln Elementary as a concept similar to Ivywild School. He likes that he gets to think of places he likes to go, help recreate them and then visit them again and again.

“So often people say, ‘This doesn’t look like it should be in Colorado Springs, it’s way too cool.’ I totally appreciate that, but I also want people to stop saying that, because we deserve the coolest things ever,” Ryan said.


4 S Wahsatch Ave.,  #120

Colorado Springs, CO 80903


GOCA: Cultivating Colorado Springs’ Diverse Arts & Culture Legacy

Words: Kate Perdoni

Photos: Becca Simonds

Nudging its audience to lead more imaginative lives through sensory experiences, sparking dialogue and affecting positive change in communities through art - here lies the trifecta of the University of Colorado Colorado Springs’ Galleries of Contemporary Art. Commonly referred to as GOCA, the name populates two fully-realized, multi-media gallery spaces within the city: One on the UCCS campus, the other in the heart of downtown.

Leading up to the formation of GOCA in 1981, current GOCA Director and Curator Daisy McGowan stated there were a number of art exhibits on the UCCS campus, mainly housed in the library. In the late 70’s and early 80’s, a group of private citizens rallied around the funding and building of a new contemporary art space - a feat Daisy labels “quite remarkable.” GOCA1420, named for its address on Austin Bluffs Parkway, was then built within the newly constructed UCCS science building. The 2,600 square foot, central campus space includes classrooms and space to accommodate “a wide range of exhibits that could be envisioned in 1981,” Daisy said. Daisy acknowledged that the unexpected location has lent itself to the interdisciplinary slant of GOCA’s exhibitions over the years.

Attracting artists that can fulfill the large scale, Daisy says exhibits in GOCA1420 have ranged from a survey of works to a single project taking over with a massive installation. “You ask artists, ‘What can you do with this?’ and their eyes just light up,” Daisy said.

Shows ultimately take root in bringing artists as a resource for students and faculty. Exhibits frequently connect with a faculty member - such as coursework, or a special program created around a connecting exhibit, or a symposia organized to build off a show. The classroom atmosphere supports UCCS’ interdisciplinary Visual and Performance Arts major, involving theater, dance, music, film, visual art, art history and museum studies.

“Academic art museums and galleries have a very interesting role,” Daisy said. “They serve the campus, but they really need to serve the community as well. We started to bring internationally and nationally known professional artists to the campus from day one as a resource for the faculty and students and also for the community.”

As part of a curriculum of immersion, students take classes within GOCA’s walls, learn about gallery management and operations through staffing the space and work alongside global artists to install shows. “We have at our core education,” Daisy said. “Everything we do, whether it’s targeted specifically at UCCS students - such as a students-only exhibit preview - or if it’s lifelong learning outside of the school, is really that core belief that the arts can teach just about anything.”

This philosophy includes experimentation and release from more common forms of academic knowledge, allowing the space to be overtaken by unique experiences. Exercises in analysis and truth-seeking in the college venue encourage dialogue and connect the audience with organic emotion, allowing the community to broach difficult topics with an air of interactivity and introspection. It’s an educational model that has followed GOCA to its downtown location and beyond.

“If you tell people, ‘We want to have a conversation about the nuclear legacy of Japan and we’re going to have a lecture,’ a lot of people will just shut down,” Daisy said, referencing Eiko Otake and William Johnston’s “A Body in Fukushima,” which opened in 2014. Much of the artists’ work centered around the grief of natural disasters and historical legacies, including a post-nuclear world, told through movement and performance as well as elements of video and photography. Otake worked with students for the entirety of the semester. The exhibit itself “engaged with the community in a way that I don’t think I’ve ever seen,” Daisy described.

Underscoring the importance of a call-and-response from the community to determine gallery trajectory included the acquisition of a secondary gallery space, GOCA121. The downtown gallery, also named for its address (121 S. Tejon Street), began in 2010 as a partnership between Nor’wood (the landlord for Plaza of the Rockies) and UCCS.

Daisy said the Colorado Springs Fine Art Center built out the downtown space now inhabited by GOCA 121 during a campus remodel. When the art center’s renovation completed, the space was offered to UCCS, who seized the opportunity to offer a centrally located, satellite gallery. “The downtown space over the last five years has been incredibly dynamic for us to build audience and connect in different ways,” Daisy said, noting GOCA now runs the majority of its public programs from this metropolitan center.

Creating and cultivating a meaningful visitor experience at either location includes working with artists to decide which physical space their work will inhabit. Dais said by encompassing several separate rooms at GOCA 121 they’ve really pushed the limits of what the space can do. “We’ve had everything from a 500-pound drawing machine suspended from the ceiling, to a ceramic car installation with hundreds of hood ornaments in the front space, cramming it so full,” Daisy said. “We've had a sand installation on the floor. We once collected styrofoam for a year.” Artist Michael Salter’s iconic Styrobot installation, which GOCA literature depicts as a ceiling-grazing robot in lotus position, was one of these.

“It takes hundreds of hours to realize these projects,” Daisy said. “But ultimately with both spaces, the exhibit design is as much an art form as the art itself. We really try to balance the desire to have something that visually just wows you when you walk in with finding a way to engage you and bring you deeper and deeper into the work.” The minds bringing cutting-edge culture to Colorado Springs must draw from some reputable forces themselves. “We’re culture vultures!” Daisy laughed.

Her inspirations come from traveling and casting a wide net to infiltrate and connect with artists’ networks statewide and beyond. “There’s such an attitude of sharing in the arts - of being mutually excited and wanting to help other artists and support them,” she said. “It’s so wonderful to be doing that for a living.”

Asked if there’s a certain feeling she gets with the knowledge that something is going to resound with the community, Daisy answers to the affirmative. “Yes,” she said. “It’s hard to anticipate completely. When I’m researching an artist or a topic, there’s so much delight in me, and I just want to share that.” 

“And that’s really infectious,” added Nicole Anthony, the GOCA Community Cultivation Director. “If you’re genuinely excited about something, and you’re your most authentic self when promoting, designing, curating and presenting it, I feel like that’s very transparent, and people gravitate toward that.”

GOCA’s love of community and connectivity has led to creating space for a number of local emerging artists. Ultimately, the spaces are best activated when programs surrounding other local culture are involved: Dance, poetry, spoken word, performance, food, wine, an array of speakers and lots of music are go-to forces known to grace the halls of both GOCA spaces. Pairing arts programs with local makers and crafters, including food movements, breweries and coffee roasters, enhance the gallery-goer’s experience and leads to what Nicole says is a lot of nerding out. “Take BRILLIANT, for example,” Nicole described. “Light installations by Colorado Springs artists, dance performance by dancers living in Colorado Springs, whiskey and gin tastings by Colorado Springs distilleries - it’s one night that celebrates our local community's exceptional creative capacities. We really strive to connect with as many aspects of our creative community making in Colorado Springs as possible.”

Exhibitor and Gallery Assistant Caitlin Goebel, labeled a “Bright Young Thing” in GOCA121’s 2015 exhibit celebrating homegrown Colorado talent, has been involved with GOCA since 2012. As a student at UCCS, Daisy sought Caitlin out for a student position. “People often speak about how hard it is to get noticed in the Arts or to move into a larger city with a more serious audience,” Caitlin said. “Exhibiting at GOCA has allowed me to meet so many intelligent and well-respected artists and curators in the region … Now I'm looking forward to collaborations and exhibits that I don't know would have happened otherwise, or at least not in the same way.”

Emphasizing city-wide collaborations, bringing artists in residence for longer stretches and continuing to welcome artists from around the world to engage meaningfully remain at the forefront of upcoming events.

“It’s about quality, not quantity,” Anthony noted.

Daisy said that there is less of an emphasis on statistics and how many students are involved and instead they focus on a deeper engagement.

“It’s not just about doubling our programs or tripling our numbers,” Daisy said. “Instead, we talk about building our tribe.”

When asked what it is about Colorado Springs’ arts community that makes this approach work, Daisy said it is the diversity.

“I grew up on the west coast, and we all sort of agreed that we thought the same things,” she said. “Our audience here is diverse, and it’s a challenging audience. But there’s a very old history here of arts and culture, and a lot of people don’t know about that history. There is a very strong core community of people who want these experiences, who seek them out.”

Nicole also added that the arts community in Colorado Springs is very open and supportive and wants more from them.

“That’s a wonderful place to be in,” Nicole said, “because it gives us a space to create and explore and see how the community responds.” There are also challenges in a diverse audience, requiring dexterity. Daisy pointed out that for our community specifically, it’s important to try to connect to the community in many different ways. “Ultimately, if they have those great experiences with what you’re bringing to them, they’ll come back and take risks; and that’s what we want to support,” she said.

Daisy also sees an opportunity in inclusiveness - in stripping the elitism from the world of fine art.

“Museums are trying more and more to be public spaces. Audiences don’t want an ivory tower experience, such as, ‘Here’s this knowledge, and we’ll bestow it down to you from up on high,’” she explained. “Audiences want to bring their kids to things. They want experiences they can share with their community and to have that feeling of genuine community.” By giving patrons a chance to sample and survey local offerings through programs including pot politics, fermented foods, pop culture, comic books and even goat cheese, Daisy says the point is to honor knowledge that’s not just coming out of an academic source or coming from a sanctified museum.

In 2016, GOCA will collaborate with eight local organizations for POLLIN8ATE, including Idea Space, Pikes Peak Community College, Manitou Arts Center, Mountain Fold Books, the Colorado Springs Philharmonic, the Fine Arts Center, Colorado Springs Dance Theater and the City of Pueblo. This city-wide arts collaboration will focus on various aspects of the theme “energy”.

“I’m really looking forward to some stellar experiences born from so many creative minds working together,” Nicole said.

Meanwhile, in 2018, GOCA 1421 will relocate to the new Ent Center for the Arts, alongside TheatreWorks. This new center will include a 750-seat performance space, a 225-seat concert recital hall, a large ensemble rehearsal space, educational spaces and an outdoor sculpture garden with grounds meant to be used for events - all tucked into a hillside under Pulpit Rock with stunning visual scenery.



University of Colorado at Colorado Springs

1420 Austin Bluffs Pkwy

Colorado Springs, CO 80918


Plaza of the Rockies

121 S. Tejon, Suite 100

Colorado Springs, CO 80903


A Complex Craft: Justice Snow’s of Aspen

Words: Mundi Ross

Photos: Tanya Martineau

Justice Snow’s Restaurant and Bar has become an Aspen staple. It’s both both hip and rooted in history - not to mention the bar has the largest cocktail selection in North America. The restaurant concept is the brainchild of Michele Kiley, and at one point the name was highly controversial.

“I think it wasn’t a popular name at first, primarily because it was hard to understand and say,” Michele said. “But it’s actually a historical reference. We wanted the naming of the space to be historically relevant. I discovered these old headlines, and one read ‘A Bad Day in Justice Snow’s Court.’ I thought, ‘how interesting that we had a Justice of the Peace named Snow,’ and our current economy is predicated on snow. So for me there was no other naming choice.”

Justice Snow’s is part of the Wheeler Opera House building built in 1889, and entering it feels like a classy boudoir of dark woods, leathered upholstery and textured wallpaper.  The local young and hip are seated at the bar where everyone knows everyone, but at further glance around the space, there is a mixed demographic. Michele is aware of the aging population in Aspen and is intentional to be inviting to all by making sure that Justice Snow’s is grounded in community and all things to all people.

One of the ways Michele is creating community is through her version of the turn-of-the-century salon. Three times a week she has carved out time for creative outlets in both performance art and music. Justice Snow’s recently launched a program called writ - largely based on The Moth Radio Hour series on National Public Radio - which gives locals the opportunity to share their story. The programming has been impactful, but Michele doesn’t ever want it to take away from what Justice Snow’s essentially is: A restaurant and bar that values great food and drink.

Really, Justice Snow’s shouldn’t worry about its food and drink being forgotten. The restaurant is known far and wide for its 200 plus cocktail menu. The sizeable number of drinks wasn’t something the restaurant originally set out to do, but its original head bartender, Joshua Smith, was inspired and created them, so the cocktails are now a part of Justice Snow’s legacy. Sam Gemus, the present head bartender extraordinaire, is more than willing to to talk about the hand-crafted cocktails that Joshua created.

“Joshua was such a brilliant man who was given the permission to make a bar program he always dreamed of making, so we continue on,” Sam said. “I asked him before he moved away to San Francisco why he never wanted to downsize and his response to me was simple: ‘Cause I liked it.’ ”

Sam is a Detroit native who eventually made his way to the Aspen snow and never looked back. He always wanted to get into bartending, and three years ago was given the opportunity. He started out at Hotel Jerome, eventually landing a gig at Justice Snow’s. He and the other bartenders on staff are making a name for themselves in mixology by winning awards and accolades. The bar was voted one of Food & Wine’s Best New Bars in America in 2014.

Justice Snow’s prides itself on doing its best to source what it can locally. All the syrups are made in house, many of the herbs and garnishes are from local farms and gardens and whenever possible, Justice Snow’s uses Colorado spirits.

“Some of the garnishes you see here come from the sweetest man who delivers in return for a [Pabst Blue Ribbon], and if he drives, we give him five bucks,” Sam said.

Jacob Johnson, another bartender who comes from a farming background, talks passionately about using local ingredients.

“The florals and herbs used as muddlers or garnishes take the cocktail to a whole new level,” Jacob said. “The subtle intricacies of the fresh ingredients allow us to explore different ways to use them in a cocktail that are unique and not readily available to everyone.”

For example, Josh said the bitterness of fresh cilantro will add some depth and complexity to a cocktail, whereas mass-produced cilantro will not allow us to achieve this flavor. Even the use of hawthorn berry, which tastes like a combination of passionfruit, peach and lemon flavour creates an intense addition to a drink.

“[There’s] immediate flavor as it hits your tongue, so I don’t have to add lemon to the cocktail, because the berry does it for me,” Josh said.

The aroma and flavor of the cocktails created behind the bar force one to slowly sip and savor it like an elegant dessert. Clearly, spending even a short afternoon in Justice Snow’s reveals it to be one of the best bars in Aspen. If anyone ever walks in overwhelmed by the cocktail menu, they can ask Sam or anyone else behind the bar for the Dealer’s Choice. This allows someone to circle different attributes he or she is looking for in a cocktail and the bartender will create something special. But if you want to skip the menu and drink like a local, a favorite is the PDA. Whatever one ends up ordering - sweet or spicy, bold or bubbly - it will not disappoint.

Contact Info: