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UCCS Galleries of Contemporary Art (GOCA) launched in 1980, now marking 40 years in 2020. Our flagship site is at the Ent Center for the Arts, with a downtown satellite gallery.

What makes GOCA stand out among other regional visual arts institutions is simple: while traditional museums seek to connect people with art, GOCA strives to create meaningful experiences with contemporary culture and connect people to each other through art. Supporting artists and creation of new works is a core part of the curatorial vision for both spaces and the public sculpture program.



  • The Marie Walsh Sharpe Gallery of Contemporary Art opened in 2018 as part of the Ent Center for the Arts complex.

    Designed as a completely flexible and transformable museum-standard exhibition space, this 2,500 square foot white cube gallery is equipped with state-of-the-art humidity control and security. A major new public sculpture program – Art WithOut Limits – opened along with the gallery, featuring outstanding sculptural works by both contemporary and historically significant artists such as Linda Fleming, Starr Kempf, Cannupa Hanska Luger, Jon Geiger/Black Cube, Craig Colorusso, Bill Burgess and Shared Studios’ Portal Project. GOCA produces original exhibitions with a strong focus on supporting a diverse range of artists in creation of new works and experimentation and integrated with an undergraduate museum education and arts administration training program.

    GOCA is honored to have our gallery specially named after Marie Walsh Sharpe. Read more about her legacy and impact below.

  • Our satellite gallery

    In 2010, GOCA opened a satellite gallery thanks to the generosity of Nor’wood who donate the space rental and support the role of GOCA and UCCS in our community. Located in the heart of downtown Colorado Springs, GOCA Downtown continues to anchor the First Friday Art Walk and is known for a history of world-class exhibitions and creative events that highlight local, regional, national and international art and artists. GOCA Downtown quickly became the nexus for experiences that brought people together and challenged visitors to dig deep and take a chance on often experimental, always high level art and artists. Since its founding and especially in the past decade, GOCA has been recognized by the community – university and greater Pikes Peak region audiences - as a vital cultural and educational asset. In 2019, GOCA invited the UCCS Visual and Performing Arts Department to help create a Learning Laboratory program that intersects contemporary art, experimentation, students and professional artists, academic and professional internships, as well as faculty and classes realizing creative projects. In the first year, a lively swap meet, a multitude of multi-media performances, professional and student exhibitions, artist workshops and talks, and more took place.


The impetus for starting GOCA goes back to the 1970's when the library at UCCS was the main exhibition space on campus. Many of the works shown at the library were by artists associated with the Broadmoor Art Academy. Between 1979 and 1981, $400,000 was raised through private benefactors and contributors to build an art gallery and support areas linked to the art curriculum. The first exhibit took place in November of 1980. The gallery originally served as a campus-based laboratory for exhibitions and studies in gallery management.

Since its establishment, the gallery has continued to complement the academic program, but the mission has expanded to include the community at-large. GOCA closed it’s landmark site in late 2017 in Centennial Hall to open a new site at the Ent Center for the Arts in January, 2018. GOCA Downtown, a UCCS satellite in downtown Colorado Springs opened in 2010 and is known as a premiere destination for arts lovers every First Friday. In the past 10 years, GOCA Downtown tracked nearly 150,000 visitors to its spaces and programs. GOCA’s new Ent Center location tracked nearly 200,000 visitors in the first two years of operation.


Marie Walsh Sharpe was a Gibson girl, grew up on an Iowa farm, attended Parson’s School of Design, had her iconic portrait painted by artist Ivan Albright, grew up to be a world-traveler, and single-handedly founded one of the most vital art foundations in U.S. history out of Colorado Springs, Colorado. GOCA is honored to have our newest space at the Ent Center for the Arts bear her name, thanks to a major gift from the Marie Walsh Sharpe Art Foundation.  

Upon her death, Marie Walsh Sharpe’s estate became a foundation that went on to cultivate emerging, critically lauded artists in New York and talented, young high school-aged artists in Colorado. Joyce Robinson, who helped found the Bemis School of Art at the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center, directed the program and set the vision and direction for it after her death. Artists including Chuck Close, Tara Donovan, Philip Pearlstein, and Janet Fish and Robert Storr shaped and directed the program with Robinson in New York starting in the mid-1980s through the venerable Marie Walsh Sharpe Art Foundation Space Program (now named the Sharpe Walentas Studio Program which continues to award rent-free non-living studio space to visual artists for year-long residencies, selected from a competitive pool of applicants by a professional jury). Artists flew into Colorado in the summers to teach high school juniors who were admitted to the annual rigorous, competitive seminar program.  The legacy of the foundation’s contributions to contemporary art is hard to quantify in its immensity.  

It is a great honor to continue the legacy of Marie Walsh Sharpe, Joyce Robinson, and the contributing artists’ vision through this gift. Following the death of the Program Director and Foundation President Joyce Robinson in 2015, Foundation advisors decided to disband the Foundation to expand existing fine arts programs, ultimately creating a $1 million gift to UCCS. Half of the gift was put towards the fund for the Ent Center for the Arts, and half towards a first-ever endowment for the UCCS Galleries of Contemporary Art program. As we move into a new era for the arts in Colorado Springs and at GOCA, we have the support of an everlasting fund to make possible independently produced exhibits and programs.