“When a few brave and visionary men determined in 1874 to found a college in the shadow of the Rocky Mountains, Colorado was not yet a state; in fact, it was little more than an inhospitable frontier. Nonetheless, on February 4, 1874 the Board of Trustees adopted a charter establishing “The Colorado College”,” and stating that the Board’s purpose was “to locate and maintain at Colorado Springs under Christian auspices an Institution of Learning on the college or university plan.”
At least that’s what was written in the commencement program when I graduated in 1997.
Now nearly 150 years old, Colorado College is a bastion of liberal arts education just north of downtown Colorado Springs. Within this liberal arts framework is the mandate to “know thyself” and an extension of this self-determined outcome is found in the Colorado College Arts and Crafts Department. Every year, CC opens itself to the holiday season by selling the wares of students, faculty, alumni, support staff and the general public in an Arts and Crafts Show that overtakes the student building, Worner Center at 902 N. Cascade Ave. Not just your average college arts show, the CC Arts and Craft Show is access into the fun world that is Colorado College: a list of the notable alumni finds not just diplomats, Nobel Prize Winners, and scientists, but a distinctive representation in the arts and humanities, from Abigail Washburn to the sculptor of the Sacajawea Gold Dollar to the Chair for the National Endowment for the Humanities.
This year’s addition runs November 30th through December 2nd. The event is a fundraiser for Colorado College’s adjunct Arts and Crafts department. While there is definitely a large amount of pottery, it’s not unusual to find blown glass, home-made blankets, sculpture, paintings, even hand-made clothing. For years I rocked my Andean-made poncho picked up at the ’93 edition of the Arts & Crafts by my future wife. The substantial requirements of the Arts and Crafts Show are that all items be entirely hand-made, nothing pre-fab, and no food or drink wares may be sold or provided.
Now nearly 40 years old, the annual Arts and Crafts show is a great event to hit for an hour or two BEFORE the annual Parade of Lights, which this year is on December 1st at 5:50 pm. Hitting the Arts and Crafts Show around 3:30 or 4 pm not only sets you up on holiday shopping that cannot be found anywhere else, but it gets you prime parking near the Parade route’s beginning.
And as for Doonesbury’s Joanie Caucus? She was a class of ’56 apparently, picked up by Mike Doonesbury on his Call Me When you Find American Road trip in 1972 as he and Mark Slackmeyer motorcycled through the Springs. Gary Trudeau, a Yale Bulldog, himself, created the character, and shared the story at said 1997 Commencement. Her time at CC pre-dates both the Crafts Fair and the Block Plan, but it is rumored that she was both highly accomplished at crocheting woolen hats and making elegant, glazed-serving platters perfect for a holiday feast.