A New Art Installation At Green Mountain Falls Will Bring A ‘Creative Observatory’ To The Trail

Courtesy of Tom Kimmell Photography
Workers recently broke ground in Green Mountain Falls on a new permanent installation from light and space artist James Turrell. April 2021.

A new immersive art installation is coming to Green Mountain Falls about 10 miles west of Colorado Springs. Construction began recently for artist James Turrell’s first Skyspace in Colorado. 

Once open, visitors will follow a third-of-a-mile-long trail through the forest to reach what’s described as a "creative observatory," which will combine architecture featuring a ceiling aperture open to the sky with specialized digital lighting to create a dynamic atmosphere. 

Christian Keesee leads the Historic Green Mountain Falls Foundation, the organization behind the project. He said people sitting inside the Skyspace beneath the aperture will have the opportunity to look at the world in a different way and the experience depends on what each individual is open to. 

“When people go in, they can explore, they can breathe, they can unwind, they can discover,” he said. “We don't have enough opportunities to do that it seems like these days.”

Keesee co-founded the Green Box Arts Festival in Green Mountain Falls with Larry Keigwin. Together they came up with the idea of bringing a Skyspace to the community.

Each of Turrell’s 85 Skyspaces around the world are different depending on where they’re located, Keigwin said. Yet, they have a common theme.

“They give you a close up and a focused view of the sky. That changes your perception and encourages you to take a breath, and to take a break,” Keigwin said.

“You are looking at you looking," Turrell said on his website. "What is important to me is to create an experience of wordless thought.”

The Skyspace aperture is open to the elements, but unlike others that are located in urban areas, this one will be covered at night to keep out any wildlife.

Project manager Jesse Stroope said visitors will be able to make the trip to the Skyspace into a one-mile loop hike that starts in town. It’ll offer a kind pilgrimage, he said, one where the viewer might wonder what the big deal is and what experiences or feelings it might evoke. 

“You're in nature and it’s raw, and in entering the space that I think will be a little unexpected, and will catch you off guard," Stroope said. "I really think it's the experience of getting there, and ... it's understanding the why, once you've gone.” 

Stroope said he’s been working on this project for some two years, including acquiring the property and getting it annexed by Green Mountain Falls. 

But more challenging, he said, is planning construction without disturbing the area around the installation, since it’s “located on the side of a mountain ... Bringing in electricity is going to be tricky and (the project) has us thinking of ways that we can pump concrete for 500 yards so that we don't get a truck near the actual installation site.”

This permanent installation will be built with native stone and wood and made ADA accessible. It’s expected to open later this summer as part of the Green Box Arts Festival.