Located in a building built in 1909 and filled with history, the Cortez Cultural Center was founded in 1987. This non-profit organization seeks to provide education, culture, and art programs to the public. It is home to artisans of all sorts including painters, sculptors, poets, archaeologists, and musicians. There are nearly 500 members of the center and 35,000 visitors come to the centers each year. The center hosts lectures, exhibits, art displays and Native American cultural programs. They want to increase understanding in the community and stimulate an interest in local and historical art.
The center is home to a strong outreach program that hosts field trip visits from area schools, as well as a cultural park program and the Hawkins Preserve school. There are also a number of Boy Scout, senior citizen, and general tour groups throughout the year. The video library is a huge draw for visitors and features information from NASA, Colorado history, Native American history, and the Ancient Puebloans.
The center's gift shop is a great place to shop for souvenirs and gifts. Many of the items are available for purchase online. Artwork from Jerry Cohoe, books, CDs, DVD's, handmade crafts, pottery, dolls, and rugs are all popular items. Several items feature the Cultural Center's logo.
Art gallery exhibits feature different exhibits most months. Each spring local schools exhibit the artwork of students. Each month is a different theme including archaeology, juried shows, Native American artwork, miniatures, and shows designed to appeal to summer tourists.
Annual events are held at the center including Arts and Crafts fairs that attract locals and visitors to Cortez. The Annual Ute Mountain-Mesa Verde Birding Festival is held each spring. Bird watchers flock to the area from all over the country or this and the Pueblo-to-Pueblo run.
The center also hosts a variety of classes including Yoga a few times each week, adult drawing, and cultural Friday classes for kids age 11 - 14. There are various lecture series held annually and a schedule is available on the center's website. The program is sponsored and designed by the Mesa Verde National Park, Fort Lewis College, the Anasazi Heritage Center, the Crow Canyon Archaeological Center, the Chaco Culture National Historical Park, and the Aztec Ruins National Monument. The most recent program featured subjects including politics, art, spirituality, healthcare, society, education, and other cultural phenomena.
The annual chili cook-off is held every August and invites folks in the area to submit their meaty best. Participants must prepare two gallons of chili, prepare the meal onsite, and share it with visitors for $1 per cup. Entrants are encouraged to decorate their booths, and their chili will be judged in either the chili con carne, green chili, or salsa categories. Other annual events include the Sweetheart Ball and Art Auction, and the Traders Rendezvous. Cortez Cultural Center offers something for everyone and is a fantastic place to share with your family. Whether you are looking for education, entertainment, or you just want to experience the art of the Rocky Mountain State, pay this center a visit.