Hold The Front Page

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Yesterday afternoon, I received a press release with the words "Breaking News" at the top of it. Had there been a huge explosion at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts? Were priceless works of French art stolen from the Denver Art Museum just days before the opening of the big Passport to Paris exhibition on Sunday? No. It was a press release for an exhibition of glass art by Dale Chihuly that's opening at the Denver Botanic Gardens next June. Not only does this appear to be a fraudulent use of the term "Breaking News," but it also … [Read more...]

Colorado Springs!

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It's easy -- and lazy -- to think that all of the cultural stuff worth mentioning in Colorado takes place in Denver and nearby Boulder. Certainly, I've been running around these cities over the past couple of overly busy and therefore sadly blogless weeks experiencing arts happenings as diverse as Eve Ensler's Body of Work, Wonderbound's A Gothic Folktale, The Catamounts' Failure a Love Story, the Beyond Blue exhibition of 25 years of Denver public art, The Narrators' monthly storytelling session and so on and so on and so on. Biggest … [Read more...]

Comparisons

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I had two more first time arts experiences this weekend that reminded me of my arts-going life in the Bay Area. One might question the validity of my comparison-making on the basis of an inaugural visit, but I think there's also a case to be made to share initial thoughts. My impressions will no doubt evolve as I get to know these organizations better. On Saturday, I made my inaugural visit to the University of Colorado's Denver's Newman Center for the Arts. In as much as Newman Center Presents is a university-based presenting organization, … [Read more...]

Come On Denver!

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If I have to listen to another person in this city apologize for the cultural paucity of "this dusty old cow town" and claim that Denver's art scene is "worthless compared with London/San Francisco/New York/Paris/Los Angeles etc" I think I am going to lose my mind. There's enough interesting stuff going on  to keep people of all kinds of cultural tastes - from the arch conservative to the uber experimental -- occupied many times over every night of the week. And like any other city with a vibrant arts scene, the ratio of ill-conceived to … [Read more...]

A Week of Firsts

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I've been so busy, that I haven't managed to put down a thing in writing about some of the cultural activities that I've been up in and around Denver in a week. And as I look back over the last seven days, it looks like it's been a week of "first time" experiences for me. 1. Frightened Rabbit, Local Natives and The National at Red Rocks: My first Red Rocks concert experience. By the light of a full September moon. The sound for Frightened Rabbit (the band I most wanted to see) was terrible. But otherwise a grand experience. I wonder if Red … [Read more...]

Enough With The Anniversaries

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As I sat in the Colorado Public Radio performance studio last week listening to the luminous young pianist and composer Conrad Tao talking about how much he loves playing the music of Benjamin Britten, especially in light of the fact that 2013 is "a Britten year," a thought about the off-hand way he expressed the composer's anniversary gave me pause for thought. No one in the classical music realm bats an eyelid when people speak of it being "a Britten/Wagner/Verdi etc year." But if you think about it, the phrase is slightly ridiculous and … [Read more...]

An Arts Desk In The Flood

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When I was a rookie arts journalist, Ray Sokolov, the then Arts & Leisure section editor of The Wall Street Journal, jokingly complained to me about how weird it feels being an arts editor in a busy newsroom during a major event, when everyone but he is rushing around covering a disaster, war or other breaking news of serious import, while he sits there overseeing the coverage of things like dining out and the opera. "No one ever asks me my opinion about Iraq," I remember Ray grumbling as I chatted with him about an assignment he was … [Read more...]

Surprises

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Perhaps it's something about being in a new city, or maybe Denver is just a place where amazing cultural surprises lurk around every corner. But I feel like my days here have been full of unexpected, delightful encounters with art. The latest two instances of this that I'd like to report on in brief are as follows: 1) The Red Rocks Amphitheatre, one of the world's great outdoor performance venues, is transformed by day into a hangout for tourists and a parcours for athletes. When I was out there late morning a few days ago with some friends … [Read more...]

On Legacy Choreography

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A question raised from the evening I spent with the Colorado Ballet. The Denver-based company performed a mixed program last night at the Arvada Center Outdoor Amphitheater, which swung between classical pas de deux from Gisele and Don Quixote, and contemporary ballet pieces, including a setting for two dancers of Adele's "Fire to the Rain" by choreographer Sandra Brown and a tango-infused triptych choreographed by Lorita Travaglia to music by Astor Piazzolla. As I watched the performance, it struck me that ballet companies as a whole are … [Read more...]

Clyfford Still and Baseball

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The Clyfford Still Museum in Denver is developing unusual ways to engage its community -- ways that stretch the subject matter of the institution as a center devoted to the life and work of a single artist -- in somewhat far-fetched but nevertheless lively directions. For instance, last night, the museum invited members to a baseball game at Coors Field. The reason? Still was a big baseball fan. The photo hear is of the artist attending a game. The museum also has a baseball mitt owned by Still in its collection. I attended the game, a … [Read more...]

The Ladies Fancywork Society meets The Denver Art Museum

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Quite a few of the larger cities in the United Sates have their resident "knitting bombers" -- that is, groups of hipsters who love to knit/crochet and spend time adorning various urban landmarks with bits of colorful wool. But it's not often the case that such a group will be embraced by major cultural institutions. In Denver, however, the needle wielding divas of the anachronistically-named Ladies Fancywork Society were up bright and early this morning adorning one side of the city's premiere arts institution, the Denver Art Museum, with … [Read more...]

Hello…and Goodbye

It's been a week of beginnings and endings on the theatre front here in Denver. On the one hand, I witnessed the start of the national tour of Peter and the Starcatcher, an event which was pretty joyful and made me feel good (for once) about the state of commercial theatre in this country. On the other hand, I experienced the demise of a small theatre company that's been producing shows in Denver for 40 years. Watching Germinal Stage's production of Peter Handke's Offending the Audience was both poignant and torturous. First, a few words … [Read more...]