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...]

Proud To Be An American

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It all began with a public art tour of Denver. I took the tour the weekend before last, thinking it would be a useful thing to do for an arts editor who's new in town. The tour guide, Rudi Cerri, is Denver's Public Art Administrator. As I found out during the course of conversation in between tour stops on our genteel stroll through downtown Denver on a quiet Sunday morning, Rudi is also a trumpeter with Boba Fett and the Americans. Less than a week later, I found myself playing oboe in a gig with Rudi and his crew. It was one of the most … [Read more...]

Public Art — Beyond Murals and Sculptures

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I took a public art walking tour around Denver recently. The stuff is everywhere. I only saw a tiny fraction of the 350-plus pieces that the City of Denver has sponsored thanks to a special fund that allocates one percent of the cost of all public construction projects to art. And I'm now on an active lookout for more such encounters as I make my way around town. The city has some iconic pieces, such as Lawrence Argent's famous "I See What You Mean" (aka "The Blue Bear"), pictured here in butt view, that peers through the glass of the … [Read more...]

Lookin at Jookin with Fresh Eyes

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On Saturday at the Vail International Dance Festival, I had the bizarre experience of watching a dance performance from two different perspectives at the same time. Before the eyes of around 2,500 people packed into the Ford Amphitheatre and the lawn behind it, the celebrity urban dancer, Lil Buck, was performing one of his intricate Jookin pieces with the members of his dance crew. The mostly white audience was going crazy for the lithe African-American performers as they glided on pointe in their sneakers across the floor like … [Read more...]

When Symphony Orchestras Meet Indie Rockers

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It's quite common these days for orchestras to perform concerts in collaboration with indie rock performers. Classical music organizations consider these kinds of events to be a great way to bring in a younger crowd. For the rock musicians, performing with a symphony creates a certain caché. It occurred to me not for the first time over the weekend while attending a Colorado Music Festival concert at the warm-sounding Chautauqua Auditorium in Boulder that featured the singer-songwriter Joshua Radin, that these endeavors, though laudable, are … [Read more...]

Bluebird, Bikes and Bells

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My attempt to get to grips with the cultural scene of a whole new city is scattershot to say the least. I had delusions of being methodical about it before I came to Denver, but that notion has gone completely out of the window since my attention is -- happily -- being pulled in many different directions. I've decided instead to simply follow my nose. Here are three things I did this weekend which I want to talk about briefly. The first is the two and a half hour cycling tour of downtown Denver that I undertook on Sunday morning. I've … [Read more...]

Underground Music Showcase

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Denver is a fabulous place to be on a warm summer night. I spent quite a bit of time over the weekend exploring the Underground Music Showcase in Denver. What impresses me about this annual music festival, which takes place in the slightly grungy bordering on trendy Baker neighborhood in downtown Denver, is the eclecticism of the offerings. As I wandered around from bar to outdoor stage to street corner to cafe along South Broadway, I heard at least five different musical styles, from transvestite rock involving backing singers dressed in … [Read more...]

How To Make A Papier-Mâché Mask

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Since arriving in Denver, I've been mulling over ideas, both serious and silly, for Colorado Public Radio's multimedia arts coverage. There's been plenty of sober brainstorming in the office with Post-It notes, but some of the most interesting ideas have come from tipsy mind-meandering after-hours with friends. After rum-laced drinks at a Cuban restaurant in the museum district the other night, my friends Becca and Luke and I had a discussion about whether a series of crafty "How To"  guides might lend themselves to the seemingly-unsuitable … [Read more...]

The Hotel Rehearsal

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Alex Schweder describes the "The Hotel Rehearsal," an art installation he created for Denver's Biennial of the Americas, as "the only hotel that travels vertically and horizontally at the same time." That a hotel should travel in any direction gives pause for thought. That this one not only travels across two dimensions but also has to be inflated like an air mattress to function, makes it one of the most fantastical pieces of architectural whimsy that I've yet encountered. Last night, I had the pleasure of obtaining a tour of the Hotel … [Read more...]

Postcard from Flagstaff, AZ

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I am taking a slow, four-day roadtrip with my friend Zach Warren to Denver to start my new life with Colorado Public Radio, where I'll be launching and leading the organization's brand new arts bureau. While en route, I want to briefly mention a quite lovely Americana band that I stumbled across at The Fire Creek Coffee Company and music venue in Flagstaff Arizona last night. (I'm in Santa Fe, New Mexico as I write.) The photo to the left was taken by Zach, who's slightly obsessed with the Hipstamatic app on his iPhone. The band, Blue … [Read more...]

Sayonara Bay Area!

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Besides working on my book, packing up my apartment, and cleaning my oven in preparation for the off to Colorado Thursday next, I’ve managed to squeeze in a few Bay Area cultural adventures over the past few days. California Shakespeare Theater’s production of Romeo & Juliet at the Bruns Amphitheater is like a small megaphone: Minimalist in scale with only seven actors performing multiple roles on the wooden slats of an otherwise bare stage, director Shana Cooper’s take on the classic love tragedy enables the language, passion and violence … [Read more...]

Of Casinos, Cotillions and Opera Choruses

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One of the more surreal evenings I've spent in a good long while happened on Saturday when I went to Central City, CO, an old gold mining town in the Front Range turned gambling hotspot. I was in town to experience opening night of The Central City Opera's 2103 season, which includes The Barber of Seville (which I saw), Ned Rorem's Our Town, and Show Boat (in Denver.) The Central City Opera is a fascinating institution, not least because its perched in the hills at high altitude, which must be tough on the singers. Built in 1878 by Welsh and … [Read more...]