The lot at the corner of Tenth Avenue and Osage Street is about to blossom. But it won't be an array of flowers that sprouts today. Instead, the west-side neighbors who wanted to fill the site with all the color and flavor of an international marketplace will get their wish: From 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., the Osage Mercado will become a reality, offering a festive blend of farmers' market, live entertainment and community services.
This exotic flower has been germinating for a long time. "This is a vision the community has had for a number of years," says Hi Howard, program officer at the Piton Foundation. "The first feasibility study was actually conducted over twenty years ago. The stars are aligning a little differently, allowing us to move forward and in a more permanent fashion."
Volunteers from organizations in the Baker, La Alma-Lincoln and Sun Valley neighborhoods helped bring Osage to fruition. They've been joined by the Regional Transportation District, Denver Housing and Neighborhood Development, the Piton Foundation, Making Connection-Denver and the University of Denver's Daniels College of Business Support in helping the market to finally find fertile ground.
The Osage Mercado bloomed for one weekend last August, and the community devoured the folkloric cornucopia. Organizers discovered that an inviting public market with a distinctive flair is exactly what Denverites need. "This vision is bigger than the standard farmers' market," explains Howard. "It's a multicultural initiative that is driven and led by a multicultural community."
That's why there will be everything from mariachi bands to dance troupes and touring artists performing. The gathering will be held monthly, on the first Sunday of every month through October, and will highlight a different culture from within the community each time.
Organizers hope Osage will become a bridge between members of the community; they believe it will give the west side spirit and soul. "We want the flavor, color and textures of other successful markets across the country -- that's what makes this type of market interesting," says Howard. "We want the Osage Mercado to be accessible to all cultures and incomes. That kind of diversity is certainly worth celebrating."
For more information, visit www.denvergov.org/mercado or call 303-825-6246, ext. 328. -- Kity Ironton
Santa Fe galleries embrace Saturdays
Expand your artistic horizons at today's premiere Second Saturday on Santa Fe, a free afternoon of gallery strolling, artist demonstrations and open studios in the Santa Fe Arts District. "We get tons of people down here on First Fridays, but that is more of a social event. With this, we're hoping to attract a different crowd -- more families," says Lin Clark, owner of the gallery 825 Art, which will host an oil-painting demonstration by artist Joan Rossberg. "We thought this would be a more informative setting, give people a chance to really check out the art and interact with the artists. We want to take the intimidation out of going to a gallery."
Every second Saturday from now through August, the street will also bustle from 1 to 4 p.m. with kids' arts-and-crafts stations, face painting, live music and more.
"I think it's going to be a great way to get more people down here and to show our solidarity as an arts district," says Gloria Schoch, spokeswoman for the Museo de las Américas, which will feature artist Gabriela Jaramillo.
The Santa Fe Arts District includes twenty galleries between West Fifth and West Tenth avenues on Santa Fe Drive. Area maps are available in all galleries; for more information, call 303-571-4401 or 303-534-1979. -- Julie Dunn
Spare change sure does add up. With a few pennies donated here, a few there, west Denver's Raleigh Pharmacy and its customers have given nearly $2,000 to their neighborhood school, Colfax Elementary, over the past two years. Today, the pharmacy's operators are stepping up their commitment with the first annual Copper for Colfax Elementary 5K Walk/Run and Craft Fair.
"We're shooting to raise $10,000," says spokeswoman Miranda Ward. "We want to be able to do something that has a school-wide impact -- maybe set up a small computer lab or buy more books for the library."
The race will start at 9 a.m. at the boathouse at Sloan's Lake. Entry fees are $15 for seniors and kids seventeen and younger, $20 for adults, with an extra $5 charge on race day. Participants can register in advance at www.active.com. A free craft fair featuring over a dozen artisans and vendors will follow the race and continue until 4 p.m.
"Many of these kids have shoes that don't fit right; a lot of them don't even have a roof over their heads," says Ward. "Every little bit of money does make a difference."
For information, call Raleigh Pharmacy at 303-573-5601. -- Julie Dunn
Plume's merchandise tickles
The slogan for Plume is "Gifts that tickle your fancy." Naturally, it's hard to walk out of the eclectic shop empty-handed. The small South Broadway store with a strong Asian influence is jam-packed with chopsticks, candles, picture frames, bath salts, vases and stationery. Purses are a top seller here, from classic Parisian leather handbags to funkier, locally made versions composed of Capri Sun juice pouches and bottle caps. Open almost a year, Plume also stocks a variety of unique light fixtures -- Chinese paper lanterns and twisted-metal flower-shaped coverings -- along with beaded and sterling-silver jewelry.
"My focus is on accessories and gifts that are fun, functional and affordable," says owner Kerry McCullough, who creates custom floral pieces for weddings and events. "I'd call the overall theme retro-Asian chic. I buy for the people in the neighborhood."
And true to its namesake, the two-room boutique sells black bra-and-panty sets decorated with feathers; the lingerie is created by McCullough. "They are the perfect bridal-shower gift," she says. "I love feathers; I use a lot of them in my flower arrangements."
Plume is located at 66 South Broadway. Call the store at 303-807-2541. -- Julie Dunn