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Joy in Mudville

Bright spots in a down-and-dirty campaign season.

"It changed my life," she says. "I care even more deeply than I did before about what happens to Denver. There are a lot of good people running for office. A lot of good people who work for the city, for the media. A lot of great people who want to have a voice and make it heard any way they can. That's why representative government is important."

And why it can be heartbreaking. In the days leading up to the vote, Scott says, "I would wake up worrying about the other candidates, worrying about people who had invested so much time and effort and money into being able to serve their city. What happens to them after they lose?"

But no matter who wins the District 9 seat, the Baker neighborhood scored a victory. Even as Scott was campaigning, the Denver Landmark Commission did what council had refused to do -- its job -- and insisted that the developer replace its high-rise plan with something compatible with the historic neighborhood. Instead, the project was dropped altogether, right into the trash where it belonged.

Barb Scott's tossed her signs, too, but not the memories of her campaign. "Almost 700 people could see that I had something to give, and they voted to allow me the chance to give it," she wrote her supporters. "No matter what I choose to do now, I know I will have the courage to do it. That is the aftermath."

And her consolation prize.


Look Out Below!

The long-promised Luis Jimenez "Mustang" isn't the only piece of art that's missing in action at Denver International Airport ("Go Figure," May 8). Last year, artist Patty Ortiz was told she'd have to move half a dozen of the sculptural airplanes from "Experimental Aviation," her fleet that soars above the train's terminal exit up to the baggage-retrieval level. Why? Because the art interfered with that big, four-color photograph of Mayor Wellington Webb that now welcomes travelers to Denver.

"In 1991," according to DIA's Web site, www.flydenver.com, "Mayor Wellington E. Webb created an ordinance that would ensure continued funding and implementation of art for public spaces." Under the 1 Percent for Art program, DIA integrated 26 permanent works "into its unique architecture." Permanent, that is, until they get in the way of Webb's grinning mug. Then they're sent into dry dock.

The banished planes have been in storage, awaiting word from Ortiz on where -- and if -- they can be repositioned. "That kind of piece has to do with the space," Ortiz says. "It was so site-specific, and this really changes it....Maybe I can put them in front of Webb's face."

But she'll have to move fast. Webb will be out of office -- and presumably off DIA's walls -- in two months. And while mayoral frontrunner John Hickenlooper argues that the city needs to do a better job of marketing itself at DIA, flooding the facility with photographic displays of the city's attractions, he doesn't consider his own face one of those attractions, according to his spokeswoman.

While Ortiz's planes are in limbo, Concourse C is about to take off with its own aeronautic display: a Learjet donated by the late Bill Daniels. And what does a zillionaire's private plane have to do with "Interior Garden," Michael Singer's massive installation in the center of that concourse? Nothing -- except that the Learjet may distract travelers from the wreck that "Interior Garden" has unintentionally become. The piece, like Ortiz's, one of the 26 originally commissioned for the airport, was designed to look like an overgrown ruin -- but irrigation problems have killed off most of the foliage. In a reprise of the lesson learned when the terminal's "Mountain Mirage" fountain started dripping into the train area below, the city has discovered that it's not wise to put a water feature over electrical wires.

The airport plans to repair "Interior Garden" some day -- but not any day soon, according to Cara Roberts, director of the Mayor's Office of Art, Culture & Film. "Not until we get out of this budget crunch," she says. "Drought has hit everywhere."

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