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Arts and Entertainment

Ignacio arts center reaches for the sky

Towering walls, trusses take shape in heart of downtown
From left, Tony Blevins of IDR Contracting, Dancing Spirit executive director Kasey Correia, volunteer Tammie Winterhawk, adult pottery teacher Shawna Hein and Todd Gaver of Clearheart Designs stand inside the new Dancing Spirit Center for the Arts that is under construction on Goddard Avenue in Ignacio on Friday, Feb. 16. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald)

IGNACIO – Visitors unfamiliar with the town of Ignacio may feel like they stepped back in time as they drive along Goddard Avenue, the town’s main thoroughfare.

Single-story buildings made of adobe, wood and brick line both sides of the drag. While some structures have been renovated and refreshed over the decades, others bear the marks of time, with cracks and weathered facades.

Dancing Spirt Community Arts Center funders

Colorado Gives

Gates Family Foundation

Colorado Housing Collection

Boettcher Foundation

Impact Development Fund

Renaissance Charitable Foundation

Southwest Community Foundation

Helen Frankenthaler Climate Initiative

Durango Area Tourism


Colorado Creative Industries

First Southwest Bank

Town of Ignacio

Individual community donors

As Ignacio's economy has flourished, more modern structures like a grocery store, public library and buildings constructed by the Southern Ute Indian Tribe have blended with traditional Southwestern architecture, enriching the town's diverse architectural narrative.

The latest addition to this evolving tapestry is the beginnings of a 4,000-square-foot arts center anchored in the heart of downtown Ignacio at 465 Goddard Ave., across from the library and less than a block from Farmers Fresh Market.

The center, with an estimated price tag of $2 million, which includes the property, represents a significant undertaking for Dancing Spirit Community Arts Center, a small nonprofit working to weave arts and culture into the fabric of Ignacio’s identity.

“It’s going to elevate our community. It’s a big ‘toochie’ deal,” said Dancing Spirit executive director Kasey Correia, using a word she plugs in when other words escape her.

Not only will it be a gathering place for the community, but it will bring artists and others who appreciate the arts to town from surrounding communities, including Durango, she said.

Kasey Correia, executive director of Dancing Spirit, and Todd Gaver, of Clearheart Designs, hold up a drawing of the new Dancing Spirit Center for the Arts on Friday, Feb. 16. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald)

Dancing Spirit began in 2010 as an artists co-op. Since then, it has moved several times, always with an eye on finding a permanent home. Its current location is at the Blue Gallery and the ELHI center, a former elementary school that has been converted into office space and an education and community center.

Dancing Spirit held a half-dozen fundraisers, applied for about two dozen grants and solicited donations from community members until it raised enough money to purchase a prime piece of real estate in the center of town in early 2022.

The nonprofit held a ceremonial groundbreaking in April 2022 and officially broke ground in June 2023, but it had to shut down construction for several months for a code review and to raise additional funds.

Tony Blevins of IDR Contracting, the general contractor of the new Dancing Spirit Center for the Arts, talks about the construction of the project on Goddard Avenue in Ignacio on Friday, Feb. 16. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald)
The new Dancing Spirit Center for the Arts, seen here on Friday, Feb. 16, is under construction on Goddard Avenue in Ignacio. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald)

Construction resumed this year with framing and trusses being raised. For the first time, community members are seeing Correia’s dream for an arts center become a reality.

“There’s definitely a lot of people stopping to look at the building as construction continues,” said Ignacio town manager Mark Garcia. “It’s a pretty exciting project.”

The town assisted the nonprofit with landing a $150,000 Rural Economic Development Initiative grant from the state of Colorado. The town also waived 50% of the cost of fees for building permits and connecting to utilities, Garcia said.

“We’re just trying to facilitate their project and see it move along,” he said. “… Hats off to Kasey and her board for raising the funds and keeping the vision alive and moving forward. We're anxious to see it open and be part of our downtown.”

The center will have a modern, artsy look. It is a single-story structure, but it will be one of the tallest buildings in town with a maximum height of nearly 34 feet. By comparison, the height limit in downtown Ignacio is 35 feet.

“It’s kind of weird when you see the walls go up,” Correia said. “You’re like, ‘Oh my god, this thing is gigantic.’”

An artist rendering of the Dancing Spirit Center for the Arts under development at 465 Goddard Ave. in Ignacio. (Courtesy of Dancing Spirit)

The outside facade will feature an accent wall and barrel-covered entry that starts wide and narrows as it arches over the front entry. South-facing windows will allow sunlight to beam into the roomy center.

Upon entering the building, guests walk into a 1,000-square-foot gallery with vaulted ceilings, where local artists will display their works and, on special occasions, play music. The center plans to hold themed art openings on the first Friday of every month, where artists and community members can gather to socialize and “rub elbows,” Correia said.

“Artists can have a place – whether you’re professional or just beginning – to enter things into an art exhibit,” she said. “Those items can be for sale – or not.”

Moving further into the center, guests will walk past administrative offices for the nonprofit’s two paid staff members, including Correia. A little further back is a mixed-use space where a variety of art classes will be taught.

The new Dancing Spirit Center for the Arts on Friday, Feb. 16, is under construction on Goddard Avenue in Ignacio. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald)
The new Dancing Spirit Center for the Arts, seen here on Friday, Feb. 16, is under construction on Goddard Avenue in Ignacio. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald)

The high, south-facing windows will have curtains that can be controlled remotely, and a projection screen can be lowered from the ceiling to host movie nights or planetarium talks.

All the way in the back will be a potter’s studio and a room with a potter’s kiln. Welding classes for artistic projects will take place behind the building.

Correia said the arts are a form of expression that can help people communicate personal struggles like divorce, alcoholism or mental illness. They can help an entire community confront and heal from historical traumas, like racism or the wrongs wrought by Indian boarding schools, she said.

“Big things can happen in a little town,” she said.


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