SaGaJi Theater

Though I've been there a zillion times, the majestic Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center never ceases to impress me. The 1936 building, by New Mexico's John Gaw Meem, is done in cast concrete trimmed out in aluminum and shiny black aggregate and combines the attributes of traditional pueblo style with the then-newfangled art deco.

As I walked up to the magnificent pile on a beautiful fall afternoon recently, I couldn't help but remember that this place was almost destroyed a few years ago, when former director David Turner and long-gone donor Diane Sykes wanted to slam a huge addition against the grand front entrance. That bad idea fell apart and ultimately led to Turner and Sykes's leaving not just the CSFAC, but the state. Good riddance to them!

The whole episode left a bad taste in my mouth regarding any changes at the CSFAC, which is why I walked with trepidation as I approached the newly redone theater. One of the finest interiors in the Mountain Time Zone, the building is an ovoid-shaped house with cushion corners and is lined with fancy wood paneling divided by decorative aluminum bands. It also features a trio of out-of-this-world aluminum bas-reliefs by Denver's Arnold Ronnebeck, as well as Meem's heart-stopping glass-and-aluminum chandelier. As I walked out onto the stage with ace public-relations flack Madeleine Faber Mellini, I breathed a sigh of relief: All of the theater's gorgeous details have survived the rehab intact.


Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center

The project was headed up by Denver's David Owen Tryba Architects and includes new carpeting, new upholstery, a good cleaning, the all-but-invisible installation of state-of-the-art lighting by Barbizon Light of the Rockies, and an advanced sound system by Audio Analysts. It was paid for by a gift from longtime CSFAC supporter Timothy C. Hoiles and has been renamed the SaGaJi Theater in honor of his daughters, Sarah, Gail and Jill.

The spiffed-up venue is open for theater and film events only; otherwise, you'll have to sweet-talk a guard to let you in to see it.


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