Monumental Art

The Blair-Caldwell Library is ready for its close-up

SAT 4/26

Lest you forget that outgoing Mayor Wellington Webb and his wife, Wilma, are prime movers behind the new Blair-Caldwell African American Research Library, take a look at the mural inside the arched, interior lobby.When the three-story brick library at 2401 Welton Street celebrates its grand opening at ten this morning, one of the most impressive sights will be Oakland painter Yvonne Muinde's mural, a historic tribute to African-Americans in the West. One side of the 26-foot-by-10-foot acrylic-and-oil-on-canvas work features portraits of national figures that Muinde chose when she got the commission; the other side shows a dozen black Coloradans who have contributed to the city, including Rachel Noel, the first black Denver Public Schools boardmember, and the late "Daddy" Bruce Randolph, a legendary restaurateur and donor. These people were suggested by library boardmembers. And yes, the Webbs' likenesses are there, too.

"It's different, but respectful," Muinde says. "I hope the people of Denver like it."

The people of Denver won't know for a while if they'll like another piece of monumental art set for the library: two bronze reliefs -- fifteen feet tall and ten feet wide -- that will anchor the library's exterior. The reliefs, which will depict two facing heads, one male and one female, will be installed sometime next fall.

In the meantime, artist Thomas Jay Warren promises that the finished product will enhance what he calls a beautiful public project. Thomas is now overseeing the labor-intensive processes required to bring his works to completion; the heads will eventually be mounted on a mosaic mountain backdrop. Although Warren is from North Carolina, he chose a Denver foundry to do the casting; he discovered this city's high-quality foundries when he was commissioned to create a Korean War memorial for Atlantic City, New Jersey. As for the design of the heads, he's relying on models and digital re-creations. "These are figures of no individual, but representations," he says.

Still, if you squint, maybe you'll see the Webbs. -- Ernie Tucker

Brides' Maids

Forget yellow tafetta and purple gloves. Denver brides searching for the ideal bridesmaid gown need look no further than Maids by Michelle, the state's only boutique specializing in the item."I listened to so many friends complain that bridesmaid dresses aren't cute," says Michelle Odenbach, owner of the new Cherry Creek North store. "But there are some gorgeous bridesmaid dresses out there -- really."

Odenbach stocks just five lines of sassy frocks: Serafina, Saeyoung Vu Couture, Siri, Jenny Yoo and Amsale. "My designers are all very new and up-and-coming," she says. "Their dresses can definitely be worn again." And what styles are hot these days? "Tea-length strapless and lots of black. But people are still doing a lot of color, especially for outdoor weddings."

Maids by Michelle is at 154 Steele Street; for further information, call 303-355-2698 or visit www.maidsbymichelle.com.-- Julie Dunn

Asian Revision
SAT 4/26

When the Denver Botanic Gardens, 1005 York Street, decides to refurbish its peony garden, the word "revamp" takes on a whole new meaning: This isn't great-auntie's garden anymore. PlantAsiagarden, a trendy Asian-fusion planting, debuts at 10 this morning, just in time for its dozens of wild tulips to unfold. Tulips? Aren't they from Holland? Actually, notes DBG horticulturist Mark Fusco, they were co-opted by the Dutch from their natural habitat, the sprawling steppes of Asia, a biome much like Colorado. The tulips, along with a forest of bamboo, spiky foxtail lilies, startling pasque flowers, delicate jack-in-the-pulpit flowers, rare conifers and maples and those familiar old peonies (in resplendent renewal), are part of the expansive new growth, and they'll be welcomed with performances, activities and talks throughout the weekend. Call 720-865-3500 or log on to www.botanicgardens.org. -- Susan Froyd

Benefit Bash
Rocky and roll
SAT 4/26

Is it really a good idea to ply people with drinks before sending them into a ring to duke it out in oversized boxing gloves? Maybe. The answer may reveal itself when Blues, Booze & Boxingbrings the glorious (and hopefully non-gory) concept to life, all in the name of charity. "It looks really, really silly," says Lara Salazar, a spokesperson for the event. "The gloves are just gigantic." A benefit for the Generations Cancer Foundation that's modeled on the hit affair known as Sushi, Sake and Sumo, tonight's party, from 8 to midnight at the Fillmore Auditorium, 1510 Clarkson Street, will feature boxing matches by Golden Gloves boxers. Spectators will also have the chance to don gloves and challenge a friend to spar.

If it all sounds a little too Rocky-like for you, tasty tidbits from local restaurants, including Strings, Brothers BBQ, the Tavern Uptown and the Melting Pot will be floating around, along with two complimentary Skyy Vodka cocktails per person.

For your listening pleasure, the Fillmore's stage will rock with live music by the Hazel Miller Band, Alive on Arrival featuring Laura Newman and Creighton Holly, and a pair of Blues Brothers impersonators. "It's a lot of high action -- a lot to do and a lot to see," says Salazar.

Tickets, $50 in advance and $65 at the door, can be purchased at most Larimer Square stores, online at www.generationscancerfoundation.org, or by calling 303-592-7660. -- Julie Dunn

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