Denver's iconic James Dean mural is coming down

James Dean lived fast and died young, and the same will soon be true of a mural of the Rebel Without a Cause actor, which has graced the side of the Video One building at 1301 East Colfax Avenue since 1995. Created by artist Jae Choe, the huge, illuminated mural depicts Dean in a classic pose, leaning against a motorcycle. Over the years, it's been updated and retouched a couple of times, once to add the downtown Denver skyline in the background.

But Video One owner Richard Bunch sold the building on May 1 to the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Community Center of Colorado, a nonprofit that provides support and advocacy services. And the GLBT center won't be needing Dean's services. "It is a very cool mural. Obviously, it's an icon. We even refer to the building as the James Dean building," says spokeswoman Heather Draper. But even so, she adds, "James Dean is coming down. He's not part of our renovation plans. I know a lot of people are disappointed. With the design we came up with, it just didn't fit...even though James Dean is a fine gay icon, as well."

The mural will be replaced by windows and community-center signage. A clerk at Video One, which relocated to a smaller location across the street, is already mourning the loss. "It makes people sad," he says. "We'll be sorry to see it go."

Choe, who moved to New Jersey three years ago, agrees that "it's a little bit sad," but adds, "It's the owner's choice. I just work for them." Choe is currently painting a replica of the artwork from the Sistine Chapel on a laundromat in Clifton, New Jersey. "That's what I do, man," he concludes.

Damned if you do, damned if you don't: That was the moral for Sam Taylor's BBQ, which served up an entirely meatless menu — entirely vegan, in fact — at last Saturday's Pretenders concert at the Botanic Gardens Chatfield location.

The BBQ was staged by Pretenders frontwoman, longtime vegan and PETA supporter Chrissie Hynde and a Canadian company called Gardein, which makes meatless alternatives to burgers, hot dogs, kabobs and other lip-smacking animal products. Gardein has recruited BBQ restaurants around the country to try their stuff in what is either the dumbest or most brilliant marketing concept ever. "Most people hang up the phone when I call," laughs Gardein spokesman Jeff Friedrich.

At Hynde's request, the Gardens had forsworn its typical grilling and most other meat products that night. "She thanked the facility and the audience for not grilling," says Gardens spokesman Will Jones. But she hadn't realized that Sam Taylor's well-labeled barbecue truck was serving her pet product, and she cursed it from the stage as it drove away. "The paraphrases I heard were the opposite of 'Wow, I love barbecue. I wish I could get me a sandwich,'" Jones says diplomatically. "It was sentiments of displeasure."

"It was actually quite funny," says Paul Kelly, director of operations at Sam Taylor's, who explains that the restaurant cooked all of the food in a separate, unused (and, as yet, meat-free) kitchen at its new Xpress location, which opens September 1 at 4666 South Yosemite in Greenwood Village. "You might be surprised, but we serve quite a few vegans, who get our side dishes or salads," he notes. In fact, Sam Taylor's will be adding Gardein's products to its menu sometime in the next two to three weeks (for more on that, read our Cafe Society blog at westword.com).

"I am a huge Pretenders fan," Kelly adds, "and if Chrissie ever wants to come in, we'll make dinner for her."

 
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