GWS Center for the Arts finds temporary home |

GWS Center for the Arts finds temporary home

Bella Barnum Collier's level three and four hip hop class at the Masonic Lodge.
Chelsea Self / Post Independent |

The Glenwood Springs Center for the Arts barely missed a beat after a downpour flooded its main gallery space.

A week after the floor was declared unfit for dance class, students were back at it — in Glenwood Springs Masonic Lodge.

According to center director Christina Brusig, the space was one of several offered by the community and the one that best filled the need.

”This is awesome,” she said. “It’s like the perfect space for us — the wood floor, the size, the accessibility … the students love it. They’ve been dancing with columns in the way, and now they get to turn and leap and dance big.”

It was a quick move, with a tour Monday and preparation Tuesday, with some assistance from the city of Glenwood hauling mirrors and ballet bars.

“I finally slept last night,” Brusig said. “We’re extremely grateful to the Masons. I hope we will help bring attention to the fact that this really is a wonderful space.”

Perhaps best known for hosting the first couple seasons of the Glenwood Springs Vaudeville Revue, the 90-year-old lodge sits at the corner of Ninth and Colorado and has a history of opening its doors in times of need. It temporarily housed the local Salvation Army when its lease expired, found use as a school gymnasium with the elementary school remodeled in the ‘80s, and was one of several buildings used for classes when the middle school was condemned in the ‘60s.

“This space was built as a community center,” explained lodge secretary and property manager Wayne Horack. “The government didn’t do it back then, so we did.”

The Masons don’t plan to charge for the space. Local membership is down from 170 in the ‘30s to around 45 today, so there’s plenty of room. Special events also are on hold with renovations planned for late summer.

The center’s dance classes will likely use the main floor Monday through Thursday until the end of July. Other arts courses will continue in unaffected rooms of the main Glenwood Springs Center for the Arts building on Sixth Street as well as the small annex downtown.

The situation does mean a halt to gallery displays and the gift shop featuring community artists.

“The gift shop is a major loss. More than 50 local artists found a home there,” Brusig said.

Although she’s sad to see the Summer of Jazz retrospective exhibit cut short, she admits that with Fermentation Fest, the Fourth of July and Summer of Music all in the works, she doesn’t mind one less thing to worry about.

“We’re doing so much else that I’m OK taking a little break from the gallery,” she said.

Moreover, the current plan is only a temporary fix.

“We won’t be able to be in there while they’re ripping the floor out, but we still don’t know when that is,” Brusig said.

With that in mind, Brusig is making the former Glenwood Springs Library building the Center for the Arts’ temporary home, with the possibility of it becoming something more.

“Even before the flood, we had a coalition trying to make it an arts space,” she observed. “We need additional space. We need a building that is well maintained and we’d love a downtown presence.”

As for the current building, a former hydroelectric plant owned by the city and registered as a historic place, there’s still a lot up in the air. It’s unclear how much of the damage was caused by the flood and how much was preexisting and how much it will cost to repair.

“I love the old building, but is it our ideal home?” Brusig queried. “I guess we’ll find out.”

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