Colorado Springs artist creates secret garden in new exhibit | Arts & Entertainment

What lurks below a thriving garden might be even more beautiful.

Liz McCombs has spent months building a secret garden in her studio. What has emerged are ceramic and mixed-media humanlike sculptures all caught in the mysterious process of metamorphosis. Greenery sprouts up out of curled-up human figures; rootlike vegetables have grown heads sporting full lips and round eyes; and femalelike figures are given tangled roots for legs while lush gardens push up out of their skulls.


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Her pieces start with kiln-fired ceramic to which she adds recycled materials, such as wood, bark and pieces of glass.

“A key element of the show was transformation from one thing to something else,” says the longtime Colorado Springs artist. “In the garden you have birth, death, one thing nourishing something else, all things that make life life. I incorporate those ideas into each of the pieces. Each one has a unique story. They all fall under the overreaching idea of transition.”

“Secret Garden” is open now at Bridge Gallery. You can see the show from noon to 3 p.m. Saturdays through October. McCombs also will be working in the gallery throughout the month. Also on display will be a series of Halloween-inspired pieces, some influenced by the Day of the Dead Mexican holiday.

McCombs, an avid gardener, has always been fascinated by the cycle of life under the surface, and in this case, the garden. A simple seed is planted, watered and nourished with loving care and attention. How will that seed grow? What will it become? The possibilities are endless.

“It’s like the acorn turning into an oak tree,” she says. “I like the revealed and concealed idea. There are secrets inside all things and if given the right nutrients and space and time to grow, anything can happen.”

And how might that apply to human life? Very much the same. To grow, one must allow for new paths and new ideas to take root, which means others must die to make room. There’s a natural letting go that we can either nurture or resist.

As you might guess, McCombs is in favor of weeding out the old to make room for the new. It’s a theme that winds through her life. She eschews the idea of planning out what your life should look like, and instead allowing for the magic of the unknown to flow through.

“Unfortunately, when you have an idea in your mind of what you should be or what your life should be, you don’t leave any room for the possibility of anything greater than that dream,” she says. “If you think ‘If I have this then I’ll be happy’ is so limiting. We never know what’s out there and could be greater than anything you imagined.”

McCombs was a maker practically right out of the womb, she says. Recently, her mother found old pieces of her art labeled “Liz, age 4.” And even in

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Garden of the Gods receives donation for park advancement | Colorado Springs News

Improvements to the Garden of the Gods are on the horizon after the park received a hefty donation earlier in September, a city news release announced Wednesday.

The Garden of the Gods Foundation, a local nonprofit that oversees the betterment of the park by collecting money and distributing it to support the park’s needs, gave $367,826 to enhance public safety, visitor experience and restroom construction.

“This is such a great example of community organizations working together toward a common goal, which in this case, is enhancing and protecting Garden of the Gods Park for the enjoyment of generations to come,” Karen Palus, Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services director, said in the release.

A chunk of the donation, $102,000, will go toward the park ranger program such as staff salaries, John Stark, the parks manager said.

Park rangers are key to protecting the park and its environmental philosophy, Stark said, as well as providing educational programming and services for visitors.

Another portion of the donation will go toward restroom construction within the park, Stark said, although more fundraising is needed before construction can begin.

A bulk of funding came from the Garden of the Gods Visitor & Nature Center, including money generated from the park gift shop and café, Stark said.

The visitors center was shut down from mid-March through May because of the coronavirus pandemic, but reopened to the public in June.

Despite the temporary closure, the nonprofit was still able to give back.

“We’re really fortunate to have the relationships with the Garden of the Gods Foundation,” Stark said. “They’re just such wonderful partners for the city.”

 

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Bancroft Park’s self-cleaning restrooms a finalist in bathroom competition | Colorado Springs News

The TikTok-famous, $300,000 self-cleaning public restrooms in Old Colorado City’s Bancroft Park are once again gaining attention after placing as a finalist in America’s Best Restroom contest.

Among 10 finalists, The Bancroft Park bathrooms includes ADA-compliant options, lights that indicate stall availability and hand-wave activated appliances. Plus, park maintenance is alerted by an app when supplies are running low. But above all, the bathrooms are automatically self-cleaned after every 30 uses.


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Not only are the restrooms tidy, the doors open with the push of a button. But be ready — once you enter you have 10 minutes to do your business before the door starts a final countdown and automatically opens.

Other finalists in the competition include restrooms across the country at hotels, airports, and restaurants. 


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“As the COVID-19 pandemic has brought the importance of clean restrooms to the forefront, we’re proud to spotlight these unique and well-maintained restrooms that provide comfortable spaces for guests,” Sean Mulcahey, marketing manger of Cintas, the competition’s organizer, said.

The competition’s winner, which will be decided by a public vote at www.bestrestroom.com/us, will receive a Cintas UltraClean restroom service and $2,500 in cleaning services from Cintas.


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Colorado Springs’ Garden Ranch YMCA closing permanently, a casualty of COVID-19 | Colorado Springs News

The Garden Ranch Y in central Colorado Springs is shutting its doors for good, a permanent end to what once was believed would be a brief adjustment because of the coronavirus.

The facility announced what it thought would be a temporary closure in mid-March at the start of the pandemic. But after months of shutdown, the region’s YMCA leadership decided to close it because of the financial burden it posed, YMCA spokeswoman Theresa Johnson said.

“Unfortunately, like many other organizations, we took a hit,” Johnson said.

The Garden Ranch YMCA was in a tough financial spot before the pandemic, struggling with low membership and unable to locate $10-$12 million needed to renovate and upgrade the 38-year-old building.


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Some renovations had been done to the swimming pool last year, Johnson said, but the Y also required complete upgrades to its rooms, restrooms and other amenities.

And with just 970 memberships, the facility was well below the 3,000 typically needed to run a facility of comparable size, Brian Risley, the nonprofit’s metro board chairman, said in a video about the closing.

The COVID-19 shutdown proved to be the breaking point.

To keep other facilities in the region thriving, the closing was the right step for the nonprofit, said YMCA of the Pikes Peak Region President and CEO Boyd Williams.

“This is a difficult decision, but it’s my responsibility as the CEO to ensure the longevity of this association,” Williams said in the video. “Our Y has been through a lot since 1878, and we’re going to continue to serve the needs … but that will come with change.”

The building opened in 1984 and included a swimming pool, racquetball courts and a gymnasium, alongside other typical YMCA features like multipurpose and locker rooms, Johnson said. It also offered classes and was the site of birthday parties, much like other YMCA facilities in the region.

Johnson said she wasn’t sure why membership at the Garden Ranch location had fallen over the years, but speculated the city’s eastward growth may be one reason.

“The middle of town has shifted and we’re moving east,” Johnson said. “There’s a lot of housing around the Garden Ranch facility and not a lot of room for new family growth.”

Williams and Johnson encouraged the Garden Ranch facility’s current members to join other Ys in the area with similar amenities and services, including the Briargate branch.

The Garden Ranch property will be sold and the revenue will be used to support capital improvements at other locations, Johnson said.

Some of the improvements on the organization’s horizon include building a new downtown Y facility at the corner of North Nevada and East Platte avenues that will include multiple stories of affordable housing, in addition to a full recreation center in the bottom of the building.

The Garden Ranch Y will

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Bancroft Park becomes finalist in bathroom competition | Colorado Springs News

The TikTok-famous, $300,000 self-cleaning public restrooms in Old Colorado City’s Bancroft Park are once again gaining attention after placing as a finalist in America’s Best Restroom contest.

Among 10 finalists, The Bancroft Park bathrooms includes ADA-compliant options, lights that indicate stall availability and hand-wave activated appliances. Plus, park maintenance is alerted by an app when supplies are running low. But above all, the bathrooms are automatically self-cleaned after every 30 uses.


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Not only are the restrooms tidy, the doors open with the push of a button. But be ready — once you enter you have 10 minutes to do your business before the door starts a final countdown and automatically opens.

Other finalists in the competition include restrooms across the country at hotels, airports, and restaurants. 


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“As the COVID-19 pandemic has brought the importance of clean restrooms to the forefront, we’re proud to spotlight these unique and well-maintained restrooms that provide comfortable spaces for guests,” Sean Mulcahey, marketing manger of Cintas, the competition’s organizer, said.

The competition’s winner, which will be decided by a public vote at www.bestrestroom.com/us, will receive a Cintas UltraClean restroom service and $2,500 in cleaning services from Cintas.


Colorado Springs installing new meters downtown where parking had been free

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Beer Garden at Highland Springs Ranch & Inn