Off Limits

An Open-and-Shut Case

Denver could be showing another art exhibit the door. Jared Anderson,director of The Assemblyart gallery, has come under fire from the Denver Zoning Department because his monumental sculpture (below) -- it's fifty feet long by fourteen feet high -- could violate a little-known subsection of the city's zoning code that prohibits walls made out of recycled doors. Anderson insists that the work is not a wall, but rather art made out of old doors that just happens to span the back of the gallery's property at 766 Santa Fe Drive, separating it from the trashy alley.

"I didn't think much of it when I built it almost a year ago," Anderson says. "There were always these dirty, creepy guys back there, so I figured I'd create a piece of art that would close in the area and then turn the back into an outdoor film gallery and sculpture garden."

Both neighbors and Denver City Councilwoman Judy Montero have jumped to the sculpture's defense. "Please support leaving the structure in place so that the residents' efforts to beautify their neighborhood are encouraged," Montero wrote in a letter to the Board of Adjustment for Zoning Appeals, which will rule on Anderson's case on February 22.

"The art wall creates an urban garden in an otherwise shady alley," chimed in Pauline Johnson of Newsed, the west-side development agency. "Tear down the art wall and it goes back to being vulnerable to transient loitering and break-ins." Of which there were six last year.

Mommy track: Although Susan Polis Schutz (On the Record, February 10) canceled her speech before the Denver chapter of the National Association of Women Business Owners last week, she didn't leave planners in the lurch. Her son, Jared Polis, chairman of the Colorado Board of Education, wowed the women with an impersonation of his uber-hippie mother, who founded Boulder's Blue Mountain Arts with her husband, Stephen, in the late 1960s. While reading her speech, including such lines as "when I was a little girl," Polis would stand on the right side of the stage; to add his own comments, he'd move to the left (naturally).

"It was fucking hilarious," reports our tipster.

Scene and herd:The tower of the Denver City and County Building suddenly looks like a red-light district, but it's not to welcome All-Star visitors. No, the building is in a state of reddiness to mark February as Heart Awareness Month -- just as it goes blue in September for Prostate Cancer Awareness Month and pink in October for Breast Cancer Awareness Month. The only downside to this show of civic duty is that an employee has to climb the tower and change every gel by hand in order to go with the glow. "We don't have any high-tech technology," says Candice Lothian, facilities manager for Denver's public office buildings.


On the Record

Last spring, Jefferson County insiders paid cyberscourge Mike Zinna the ultimate compliment. They sent him anonymous faxes defaming high-ranking county employees, in the hopes that Zinna would post the rumors on JeffcoExposed.com, the scandal-mongering website he runs out of an airplane hangar with the aid of his German shepherd, Fonzi. The plan backfired. Zinna obtained store videotapes capturing grainy images of the faxers, known as "Pinky T," and outed them as Jefferson County Commissioner Rick Sheehan, his wife, Sheri, and Assistant County Attorney Cynthia Beyer-Ulrich (Alan Prendergast's "Outfaxed," August 5, 2004). Commissioner Sheehan at first denied any knowledge of the scheme, then blamed his wife and other family members for the faxes. Beyer-Ulrich denied sending any faxes, but later resigned in the course of a shakeup of county government. Last week, facing lawsuits and a recall effort over the Pinky T debacle, Sheehan handed in his resignation, too, ending JeffcoExposed's long campaign to have him removed. Off Limits caught up with Zinna for some reflections on the power of the blog.

Q. You were at the Taj Mahal when Rick Sheehan resigned. What was that like?

A. It was a media circus. He showed up about two hours late and hid in a back room. The only time the media got a shot at him was when he was escorted out of the building.

Q. Did you feel any personal sense of satisfaction about him leaving?

A. Not for myself so much, but for the people he hurt recently, the victims of the Pinky T faxes and [county auditor] Susan Johnson. I felt a strong sense of relief and vindication for them.

Q. He insists he didn't send any of the faxes. Do you still believe that's him on the surveillance videotape?

A. I'm absolutely convinced it's him. He says it's not him, but he knows who it is -- and he won't tell us. What are we, in fifth grade? Let's be serious about this. Innocent people don't resign.

Q. Of the eight people on your website's "most wanted" list, seven are gone from county government now. The eighth is a reporter. What do you do for an encore?

A. There's a lot more coming. I'm only one guy and a dog. The corruption in Jefferson County -- and, quite frankly, in local government all over -- is so firmly entrenched that it's going to take guys like me everywhere to pull it out. But I know a lot more than what I've written.

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