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Mouthing Off

The mural of the story: Dixons is one of the many businesses along the mall featuring holiday window decorations by local artists. Next door, a Tattered Cover window boasts a Tony Ortega assemblage depicting a street scene at the corner of West 33rd Avenue and Tejon Street, complete with a tiny RosaLinda's Mexican Cafe. For more Ortega art, head over to the real RosaLinda's at 2005 West 33rd, where the results of a school project directed by Ortega, including some pieces by the artist himself, hang in one of the dining rooms. These wonderful, colorful works sure beat just another wall covered with pictures of alleged Denver celebrities.

A few true celebrities--although not the sort you'll find up against the wall at Morton's of Chicago (1710 Wynkoop Street)--showed up in person for a final Friday lunch at La Casa de Manuel (2010 Larimer Street), which closed for good Saturday night. Saying adios to the Denver institution were historian Tom Noel, city councilmembers Dennis Gallagher and Hiawatha Davis, and assorted artists, city planners, LoDo denizens and other fans of the green chile the Silva family had served at the site for forty years.

Last month Manuel Silva's month-to-month lease on the storefront was abruptly canceled, giving him only thirty days to get out. Although he hasn't found a new home yet, he's planning to reopen--perhaps even in another Larimer Street storefront. And in the meantime, those great folk-art murals painted more than twenty years ago by Jose Castillo, then a Brown Palace bellman, will go into storage.

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McCormick's Fish House & Bar, at 1659 Wazee, is still wide open for business--but a few days ago, the art vanished from its walls. Particularly notable for its absence was a huge, Victorian-era oil painting of a most attractive satyr surrounded by very naked, appreciative ladies, which gave the popular watering hole the feel of a real Wild West saloon.

Turns out that McCormick's had been paid a visit not by the nudity prudes but by Oxford Hotel owners Dana Crawford and Charles Callaway, who in the early Eighties took a flophouse and restored the Oxford Hotel (1600 17th Street) to its century-old roots as a swank city landmark. Although the paintings actually belong to the hotel, for over a decade they'd hung in McCormick's, which leases its corner space from the Oxford. But they haven't disappeared altogether: Callaway and Crawford have moved the works to the walls of the new hotel banquet area next door--where the grinning satyr makes a stunning introduction to the ballrooms. Similar grins can occasionally be found in the large mirror that now hangs in the painting's former bar-side home.

--Wagner

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