Choreographer Victor Ayers

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My first involvement with the FAC was in 2000 when I made my FAC debut as “The Yellow Brick Road” in The Wiz. I’ve been told that this production was part of the road that led to the Youth Rep. Theater. My next venture at the FAC was in 2004 when I performed in Sweet Charity. Many years past after that and I was ecstatic to return to my home theater this past year but not as a performer but as a choreographer!

My experiences at the FAC both as a performer and part of production staff have been outstanding learning opportunities. When I was younger and performing at the FAC, the theater was not only my home but also my own personal playground. I gained the knowledge of working in a professional atmosphere and the discipline that is needed when working with other artists. The FAC was my gateway into the world of theater that I now call home.

I believe the best and most amazing change I’ve seen the arts make in others was within my cast for Hairspray. When we started rehearsals I had a mix of levels as far as dancing ability. I had some that hadn’t danced before at all. With that said you can imagine some faces when we started “You Can’t Stop the Beat” that first day of dance rehearsals. I think it was a combination of hard work, determination, and high expectations that gave the cast the confidence they needed to not only pull off the movement but smash it!

 I believe they would agree that it made the countless hours of meticulous rehearsal and their many moments of frustration worth it.

 I would say that having the arts in my life has been more than life changing. The arts are not a simple choice as some may think; it is a calling. With that said I couldn’t imagine my life without it. The theater/dance gives me the space and sanctuary that I need to fully express myself. It is my emotional ventilation system. So much so that when I am having a tough day, I go in the studio and just dance out my worry and my pain and whatever else has affected me that day. By the time I walk back into the “real world” I feel prepared to take on anything that comes my way.


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Mari Sinton Martinez and Kate Faricy at the FAC’s Black & White Ball.
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Mari Sinton Martinez and Kate Faricy at the FAC’s Black & White Ball.


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It’s a magical place that manages to be a relevant, constant and consistent source for fresh, interesting and compelling entertainment.

Kate Faricy, is a member of the Fine Arts Center’s Board of Trustees and served as the chair of the 2012 Season Opening Gala. She led a creative team at Vladimir Jones to partnered with the FAC during the 2007 renovation and expansion.

Community Leader Marnie Wilson

My husband and I moved to the Springs from New York City 10 years ago. Initially we lamented the lack of “great culture” here in the Springs. Over the past few years our appreciation for the FAC has just continued to grow exponentially and I have to say that I think you are now knocking it out of the park in every way.

From the quality and frequent rotation of outstanding exhibits, phenomenal educational programming for our youth, the depth, breadth and enthusiasm of all your docents and volunteers, everything about Bemis being near perfection, the professionalism of all the theatre performances, the exterior beauty and creativity - there truly is something for everyone at FAC!

We live on a very tight budget but because of the quality of the FAC programs we choose to spend some of our limited disposable income on a Contributing Membership and so greatly appreciate the opportunity to visit reciprocal museums when we have the opportunity. We find this aspect of our membership to be an incredible “bang for our buck.”

Last year I served as a chaperone for a fourth-grade field trip and was staggered by the capital allocated to the students on the tour. At each station so many knowledgeable and engaging docents and speakers were made available to the kids and so many resources to engage them tangibly that I just couldn’t believe it! I have never experienced this anywhere, not even in New York City where I used to accompany school-aged kids on special tours. 

And I have to give a shout-out to your docents especially. Some of the docents elsewhere tend to be a bit, shall we say “merriment challenged,” and can intimidate the children and the adults a little bit. So hats off to you for corralling the nicest and most fun docents in town! 

The FAC is great culture, and a priceless crown jewel to boot.


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I believe that art stretches me, even when I didn’t necessarily want to be stretched, or thought I needed stretching.

Norm Renaud, FAC Member and Docent

Principal Kathy Stults

Kathy Stults with students

We have data that indicates a decrease in negative conduct reports and increase in attendance rates for students that receive art instruction from Bemis.  Students who have not been successful in the classroom are being very successful at Bemis.  I have watched students blossom with excitement and enthusiasm when they return to school after Bemis. It is apparent, as they display the art in the hallways, how proud they are of their accomplishments.

This partnership with the FAC has given our students a creative and emotional outlet they cannot find in a typical classroom.  For most of these students, this is an opportunity to express themselves in a form that is neither verbal nor written as they usually struggle in these areas.  They display a sense of pride and accomplishment. 

We are very aware of the research that shows this modality of instruction and its impact on brain development.  The experience is very therapeutic and often extracts more emotional and behavioral information than directed therapy sessions.  Many of the Bemis Instructors have a unique way of understanding the perspectives of these young people.  They are able to present the art lessons and incorporate their own life experiences and life stages.  The students can really relate to this form of instruction.

Student Feedback

  • ·         “I enjoy going to Bemis because it teaches me new art skills to apply to my work at school.  I enjoy art because it allows me to express my feelings.” 
  • ·         “It has given me more ways to express my emotions. It has given me more skill to help me with my life and hopefully give me new opportunities to exceed in my academic life.  Bemis has been the best thing ever for me! It will also help expand my job skills.”  

After all of these years when I am frequently visited by past students, they almost always thank me for the Bemis experience. 


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Students engage and dig deeper with art while on a docent-lead tour of the FAC’s art galleries.
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Students engage and dig deeper with art while on a docent-lead tour of the FAC’s art galleries.


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My children and I have been frequent visitors to the FAC. Now grown and in their 40’s, I am a proud mother of four creative adults—all artists in different ways!

Merr Shearn

For the past five years, Merr Shearn has been integrating art into the various disciplines at North Middle School, introducing art into math, science, language arts, and foreign languages. As part of a grant Shearn has worked with the FAC on a unique institutional membership for the middle school students, faculty, staff, and parents, paid for by the grant.

Board Member Kate Faricy

"Trio" by Walt KuhnI am continually surprised by the FAC. Every time I go, I discover something new. It’s a magical place that somehow manages to be a relevant, constant and consistent source for fresh, interesting and compelling entertainment. 

The FAC is one of the first places I bring out-of-towners.  They can’t believe a city our size has such a world-class arts organization, and more so that it wasn’t on their radar before! They are mesmerized by our Chihuly collection. Then have déjà vu while looking at “Trio” by Walt Kuhn, sure they’ve seen it somewhere before.  The FAC is so potent with the unexpected — there’s something intriguing around every corner — and I love seeing first timers take it all in and their inability to stop chatting about it afterward.

As a mother of young children, I see firsthand on a daily basis how the arts make a difference in our personal lives and our community. My toddlers learn so much about the world around them — but more importantly, about themselves —through the arts. The arts are helping them to express their ideas and emotions in a positive and safe way, to explore the spectrum of “what if…”, to solve problems, to interact with others, to pursue things they’re curious about, and so much more. The arts will have a lasting impact on how they interpret things – how they think, process, plan, act — for the rest of their lives. The arts nurture their imaginations, and it’s their little imaginations and the imaginations of other kids that will lead our community, country and world someday. It’s these imaginations that will know how to create something out of nothing, which only the arts can teach.


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“Being involved at the Bemis School of Art gave me the sense of encouragement that by training in my craft, I could develop art that one day could be inspirational to the world.” – Clifton Johnson


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Care provider Rebekah Shardy

Rebekah Shardy is the manager of volunteer services at Odyssey Hospice. In June of 2012, the FAC  and Odyssey partnered on a free art therapy program for children who had recently lost a loved one. Sixteen children, ages 4-16, participated in the bereavement program, creating collage-covered Memory Books and discussed its content with an art therapist from AspenPointe. The program was called Expressive Arts for Young Healing Hearts.

Bemis School of Art instructor Anne Roe led a meditation to enable children and volunteers to tap into the sense of personal wholeness that survives grief; she showed us how to draw this symbol of wholeness as a Mandala for the front of our Memory Books. The image she gave for our art and our hearts was one of being a strong tree with deep roots that stretched into the earth and above to the clouds, connecting each of us with all that is. The sense of inner strength, resilience and being a part of a whole was a powerful experience for many of us, and offered our children the knowledge that they are never alone.  

One small and troubled little boy was very angry in his grief and refused to take up a colored marker to create his name tag for the day. By the end of the workshop, he was excitedly pointing out copies of photos of father – who died at war – to paste into his Memory Book. The army social worker told me two weeks later that he joined their activities with a renewed outgoing spirit. I believe the catharsis and peer support of the Expressive Arts For Young Healing Hearts made a healing difference for him.

For me it confirms the power of creativity in finding our own answers as human beings. Art is a natural instinct that helps us discover our own resources of wisdom and humanity, compassion and courage.


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The Bemis School of Art offers courses for students of all ages and skill levels – from two-year-olds, to novice artists, to college vocational art students and retirees. Since its beginnings in 1919, Bemis has inspired and instructed thousands of aspiring artists in a motivational and supportive environment.
Please help make a difference! DONATE NOW Have the arts made a difference in your life? SHARE YOUR STORY

The Bemis School of Art offers courses for students of all ages and skill levels – from two-year-olds, to novice artists, to college vocational art students and retirees. Since its beginnings in 1919, Bemis has inspired and instructed thousands of aspiring artists in a motivational and supportive environment.


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Artist Trevor Thomas

My first involvement with the Fine Arts Center was through the Bemis School of Art. In grade school I use to leave class three hours early on Wednesday afternoons so that I could take art classes at Bemis. It was the highlight of my week.

"Elise Palmer" John Singer SargentThe portrait of Elsie Palmer had a strong impact on me the first time I gazed upon it. This portrait made me realize that art has a powerful communicative power that has no bounds. I’ve grown up studying John Singer Sargent and here before me is a painting by the master with a direct and intimate connection to my community. Not to mention it is a knock out piece of painting.

In Sweden, I participated in an exhibition that focused on recognizing and connecting with a refugee community through art. The artwork that I created focused on a small tight knit family, When the family head saw my artwork, which also was a gift to him, he said, “Today when I came here, I was so sad. You changed my day with your art. Thank you.”

I will always cherish this memory.

Trevor Thomas with Eric Bransby and museum director Blake Milteer

My work with Eric Bransby has transformed how I see the function of art in society. As a mural painter, art has a social obligation to recognize the history and people that make our community such a wonderful place to live. As Eric would say, “Not all art has to be gloom and doom. Art can and should attempt to pick people up and affirm that there is a lot of good in this world.”

Art is more than just pretty pictures. Art is a visual communication tool, and in a world that is increasingly dominated by visual media its integral role in society cannot be dismissed.


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