Primary possibility, lost art, immigration

Filed under: News |

I received an invitation from gubernatorial hopeful Marc Holtzman to attend a campaign breakfast at Giuseppe’s the other day – so I did what any good reporter would do, and made a mad dash for the free food.
Holtzman’s a smart guy – he’s perfectly aware that the seven-candidate race for the Republican Congressional District 5 nomination will ensure a heavy turnout in El Paso County at primary time.
As arguably the more conservative of the two Republican candidates for governor, he hopes to gain primary support from our local right-wingers.
And maybe he will. But there’s also a possibility that he’ll get a nice little pop from … Democrats!
How so? If you’re a Democrat, or an Independent, you know that whoever wins the Republican congressional primary is a virtual lock to win the general election – we are, after all, one of the five most conservative congressional districts in the country.
So if you want to have any say in the real election, you’d better re-register as a Republican. If a few thousand Dems/Indies do so, they could swing the CD 5 election.
And while they’re at it, they could impact the gubernatorial race as well.
Based on conversations with my Democrat friends, I suspect that a substantial majority will vote for Holtzman, not Bob Beauprez. Democrats see Beauprez as more electable than Holtzman, and more tied to the Republican establishment.
So, by voting for Holtzman, they get a guy who they think their guy (Bill Ritter) can beat, or, if Holtzman wins, a maverick governor who owes nothing to the Republican power brokers.
Either way, it’s a better deal. But are the Dems capable of gaming the system?
P.T. Barnum once remarked that no one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American people … and similarly, few Republicans have lost elections by underestimating the guile of their Democratic opposition.
Meanwhile, I spent some time chatting with Susan Edmondson, the executive director of the Bee Vradenburg Foundation.
The foundation’s mission is to “… invest in the excellence, innovation and sustainability of the arts in the Pikes Peak Region.”
And while the arts may be thriving here in many respects, we have, Susan notes, some problems.
You can’t have an arts community without artists – and many of our best artists are packing up and leaving town.
We’ve lost Su and Tracy Felix (Denver), Andrea Modica (East Coast), and Elaine Bean will soon be headed for Baltimore.
There’s a common thread in their departures. Simply put, there’s no local market for serious contemporary art.
To the extent that Springs residents collect art, they seem to prefer the predictable mediocrity of the canvases that are mass produced in Chinese “art factories.”
So, our serious artists do what any sensible businessperson would do – go to cities where they can sell their work. Fine for them, but it does put a serious crimp in our efforts to attract members of the so-called “creative class” to our fair city.
Here’s a suggestion: go to those Friday night gallery openings at any of a half dozen downtown venues. Look at the art on display, and if you like it, buy it.
During the last 20 years, I’ve managed to buy paintings by three artists – Tracy Felix, Don Coen and Clark Richert – before their prices soared into the stratosphere, as well as dozens of pleasing works by folks who never quite made the big time.
I don’t know what the internal rate of return might be on my collecting endeavors, but I’ve had fun, profited modestly and lived with wonderful art.
Finally, ever notice the black basalt cone just east of Interstate 25 near Walsenburg?
It looks like a volcano, but it’s an isolated igneous intrusion, a product of the vast tectonic upheavals that produced the Spanish Peaks.
A rugged incongruity in the surrounding grasslands, it reminds us that our world is not as peaceful and serene as we may imagine.
It’s called the Huerfano (“Orphan”) Butte, so named by the Hispanic settlers who first came to the area in the 1750s.
A century later, the surrounding country was dotted with farms and homesteads, as the citizens of New Spain made their way slowly north.
Watching the thousands of white-clad marchers seeking their share of the American Dream last week in Denver, I wondered what the Hispanos who lived at the base of the Huerfano Butte thought of the waves of Anglos who came to southern Colorado in the 19th century.
Were they, like us, apprehensive, fearful and uncertain? Did they sense that the new immigrants carried with them the seeds of irreversible change, and that nothing would ever again be quite the same?
The vast migrations of our time may seem troubling and disruptive, but let’s try to look at them as we look at new technologies.
Digital cameras may have destroyed the film industry, but only by creating a new, infinitely more vigorous business model. And the energetic new migrants may bring change to our culture, to our businesses and to our politics, but I suspect that many of the changes will be positive.
And who knows … maybe, a few years hence, they’ll be voting to re-elect Gov. Holtzman.
John Hazlehurst can be reached at or 634-3223.