Two years ago, Museum of Contemporary Art/Denver boss Cydney Payton carried the Colorado art world on her shoulders when she single-handedly curated MCA's biennial exhibition. This year, the curator is renowned London-based writer/artist/gallery owner Kenny Schachter, who drew talent from a range of Western states, not just Colorado. It's a whole new perspective for viewers to interpret.
But Payton isn't giving up too many details about the touted show, 2005 Biennial Blow Out: Beyond Comfort, Beyond Representation!, which is opening tonight in a shroud of mystery. "It's fun to be curious about it," Payton says. "You can look at it from so many different perspectives: Who's included. Who's not. Does it really reflect what going on in the art world? The real opportunity is to argue that point: Biennials are not definitive, they're clearly snapshots in that they represent a particular moment in time."
Payton thinks Schachter's ten artist choices provide just such a look: "It reflects the global art world's sensibility and themes. But it also has a romantic side, a re-enchantment with landscape and individuality. It might not be the most historical perspective, but it's definitely a fresh one."
The biennial opens this evening with a reception from 6 to 9 p.m. at MCA, 1275 19th Street, and runs through September 25; admission to the party is $5, and museum members are free. Call 303-298-7554 or visit www.mcartdenver.org for details. -- Susan Froyd
Vietnam was an ugly time in American history, which is precisely why we should remember it. Engraved on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., are the names of the 58,000 American servicemen and women who died or were listed as missing in Vietnam. Those who knew one of the 916 Colorado casualties can commemorate their loved ones today, tomorrow and Sunday, when a three-quarter-scale replica of the memorial takes up residence at the Olinger Hampden Gardens Mortuary & Cemetery, 8600 East Hampden Avenue.
"It's still a very emotional experience for a lot of the people who come," says Glen Gerberg, communications manager for üli Creative, which helped bring the monument to Denver. Many visitors like to make rubbings of the names.
Admission to the Dignity Memorial Vietnam Wall Experience is free, and it's open around-the-clock. But don't plan for any quiet contemplation on Saturday morning: At 10 a.m., Black Hawk helicopters will fly over the wall, and skydivers bearing a forty foot-by-sixty foot American flag will plummet through the air.
For more information, visit www.vietnamwallexperi ence.com or call 303-771-4636. -- Amber Taufen
A Bug's Life
For my tenth birthday party, I went to Skate City, where I threw up chocolate cake after doing too many twirls on my rollerskates. The Butterfly Pavilion's tenth birthday promises to be much less messy. Today, curators are celebrating a decade of teaching Coloradans about their invertebrate friends by hosting Insectival from noon to 4 p.m. at the museum, 6252 West 104th Avenue, Westminster. The party includes an Insect Olympics, where you can race against a flea or cockroach, a bug safari and the Denver Museum of Nature & Science's spider survey; the more adventurous can nibble chocolate buggy snacks. Insectival is free with the regular Pavilion admission, $4.95-$7.95. For more information, call 303-469-5441 or visit www.butterflies.org. -- Amelia Langer
Bang a Drum
Get spicy at the Black Arts Festival.
The Boogaloo Celebration Parade. Hip-hop, reggae, jazz, blues, soul and gospel. Dancing. Food. Shopping.
Any one of these should be enough to get my lazy butt off the couch and down to Sonny Lawson Field, 2300 Welton Street. But with them all rolled into one at the Black Arts Festival, I definitely have no excuse.
"It's really a vehicle for the presentation of the rich African-American culture," says Angelia McGowan, media relations associate for the festival, which is one of the top five in the nation, regularly pulling in 200,000 people over one weekend. McGowan attributes the event's success to its audience. "They fuel it," she says. "They keep coming because they want to see it."
What I want to see are local and national dance companies perform step, drum and drill routines; three stages of music; the marketplace with its Caribbean, African and African-American goods; the visual arts pavilion; and the community mural, to which everyone is invited to contribute. Then there's the Boogaloo Celebration Parade tomorrow at 5 p.m. And even though it's summer, I might even take in some of the educational exhibits presented by a range of museums, galleries and historical and cultural groups.
Entrance is a dollar, and the fair runs from noon to 7 p.m. today; 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday, and 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Sunday. For more information, visit www.denbaf.org or call 303-860-0040. -- Amber Taufen