The Center Will Not Hold

Denver's on an artistic collision course this weekend.

Hot DAM is right! The Civic Center will be the center of lots of civic activities this weekend, with two Columbus-related parades on a collision course with the crowds expected for the debut of the new addition to the Denver Art Museum, which opens to the hoi polloi at 10 a.m. Saturday. That's when the traditional Columbus Day Parade sets off from Colfax Avenue and Court Place -- after assembling along 14th Avenue, just a block north of the Frederic C. Hamilton Building. And that's not all! When the hipsterati arrive for the DAM's artiest party on Friday night, they'll run smack into the remains of the Four Directions March, sponsored by the American Indian Movement of Colorado and the Transform Columbus Day Alliance, with marchers converging at 6 p.m. at Veterans Park, right across Broadway.

Since Civic Center Park is a city park, it's under an 11 p.m. curfew, and the Denver Police Department enthusiastically enforces the ban on overnighters (as Amy Haimerl discovered when she tried to spend 24 hours in the park for "Civic Duty," published in the June 15 issue, and was shooed away by Officer Friendly). But Veterans Park is a state park, which means the Colorado State Patrol will have the honor of keeping order there, according to DPD spokesman Sonny Jackson.

"Denver's aware of everything that's going on," Jackson says. "We'll assist." And not just with Columbus Day events, but with Race for the Cure on Sunday and a Broncos home game Monday night. "We've geared up for a long weekend."

Artists painted the town Monday.
Artists painted the town Monday.

The DPD got some practice with wayward marchers this past Monday night, when Think Tank Denver offered its own parade heading off in four directions. Using Dazzle, the club at 930 Lincoln Street that hosts the First Monday Art Talk every month, as a starting point, artist/ curator/host Eric Matelski sent four parades of people through the Golden Triangle, each group armed with a map, musical instruments (pots and pans, mostly) and a gallon of washable tempera paint (red, yellow, blue or green). The four squads blazed artistic trails through the Golden Triangle/DAM neighborhoods, then wound up in front of the Central Public Library, where Think Tank has a show of local artists. And that's where the Green Group met up with the law.

"We were the last group to leave Dazzle," remembers Matelski. "We had Chris Lawhead, a saxophone player, and were probably the loudest group. We went to Sherman, by the Capitol and the Colorado History Museum, then to the library." But at Broadway and 13th Avenue, two DPD squad cars "cut us off on our path," and then the officers told the marchers that they could be cited for disturbance and destruction of property. "But basically," Matelski points out (as he did to the cops), "we just left trails through the whole Golden Triangle district." Washable trails.

The officers must have been art lovers, because they let the Greenies go -- to cheers and jeers from the three other groups assembled in front of the library, all captured on film by videographers from the Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design. Matelski's hoping to turn the video into a podcast; in the meantime, the paths will remain until at least the next rain, and maps of the artistic routes are available at Dazzle. "It's basically showing our support for the DAM, as well as the unity of all the artists in Denver," says Matelski.

Think Tank Denver is the brainchild of Rodney Wallace, an artist who started planning an appropriate welcome for the DAM's new wing back in late 2002. "Those who visit Denver to see a magnificent new building by a premier world architect should additionally be compelled by the vibrancy throughout the rest of the artistic community to visit the galleries and open studios," he explains.

And so far, it's working. "It's off the charts, phenomenal," Wallace gushes.

Signs of the times: Henderson is a zero-tolerance town, judging from the response after two girls' restrooms at Prairie View High School (home of the Thunderhawks) were tagged with the words "PVHS the next Columbine." Coming two days after the tragedy at Platte Canyon High School and just after the shooting at a Wisconsin school, the graffiti sent chills through the kids -- and sent principal Chris Rugg into action. On Monday, he sent a reassuring letter to parents -- and also suggested they cough up the culprit.

Denver's big department store changed its name just in time. Unless you're shopping for your fall wardrobe as a congressional page (and don't forget the big-boy boxers if you're going to be working with a boozing Florida representative), wouldn't you rather walk into a Macy's than a Foley's?

Scene and herd: Speaking of Columbus Day, out-of-the-headlines nutty professor Ward Churchill, Glenn Morris and a few colleagues were spotted at breakfast last Wednesday at Racine's -- conveniently close to the Columbus Day parade grounds. A more august group gathered over green chile at La Fiesta the next day. Was that Gary Hart? wondered one Fiesta fan of a particularly distinguished diner.

Close, but no burrito. It was Colorado Supreme Court Justice Michael Bender, lunching with fellow justices Nancy Rice, Gregory Hobbs and Chief Justice Mary Mullarkey. "They come all the time," says Ron Herrera, son of the longtime owner.

Good decision.

 
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