Old Town art scene: What’s so funny? Ask Rick Lewis’ elephants
“Art isn't supposed to be funny.”
So why is Rick Lewis grinning when he says this?
To understand why, all you have to do is look at the Old Colorado City artist's favorite sculptural subjects - jolly elephants. They get him zero respect from critics, but after 30 years creating and selling art in Colorado Springs, he doesn't let it bother him anymore.
“Now when I feel like doing art, I just do it,” Lewis said. “I don't need their appro-val.”
It's not just that the perky pachyderms are consistently his best sellers. He's seen the kinds of “art” that critics sometimes fawn over. When he was at the San Francisco Art Institute, “the guy showing an American flag being walked on was getting A's,” Lewis recalled. “Meanwhile, I'm doing elephants.”
But Lewis is not that easily pigeon-holed, either. As his marketing bio states, his genres include fine art, western art, North American wildlife, animation, counter culture, pop art and neoclassical. Art depicting the Old West is another favorite, including a piece depicting a (serious in this case) gun-toting sheriff.
His shop also offers sculptures and paintings by artists from around the United States.
Lewis' current sculpting project is an eagle in flight, with wings outstretched. He's been working on its detail for several months. The creation wasn't in response to any specific customer demand. He just had an inspiration and started following through on it, he said.
Lewis is a bit of a cheerleader for all of Old Town's art shops. “This is the region's art scene, here in Old Colorado City,” he said, mentioning such places as the Michael Garman Gallery, Pine Creek Art Gallery, Squash Blossom, Arati Artists Gallery and Simpich Character Dolls.
Lewis puts Garman and David Simpich at the top of his list. “I'm proud of them,” he said. “Those guys are real pros.”
Lewis' upbringing was hardly typical for an artist. He grew up on a ranch in the La Junta area. “When I said I wanted to be an artist, I was told, 'Forget it,'” he recalled.
His early career was a horse jockey, riding mounts on tracks in the Arkansas Valley. “I was a late bloomer,” Lewis said. “I was 80 to 90 pounds for about 20 years.”
Eventually, he got the opportunity to go to college in San Francisco, and later he studied in Europe.
Lewis' shop, the Rick Lewis Gallery, has been at 2423 W. Colorado Ave. for two years. He previously had his business in Manitou Springs, but Old Colorado City has “twice as much traffic flow,” he said.
Westside Pioneer article
An “art scene” in Old Colorado City? Before scoffing, consider the various galleries/ studios in the Historic Shopping District on Colorado Avenue between 24th and 27th streets. The Westside Pioneer will be profiling artists from these locales in occasional features over the coming months.