This city-sponsored wheat-paste exhibit came down a little too fast

Wheat-pasting is supposed to be an ephemeral art form, but not nearly as temporary as it was for Denver Arts & Venues, which posted photography by seven artists on the side of a parking structure at 13th and Champa streets a few weeks ago — only to have it mistakenly taken down by a cleanup crew working for the Denver Performing Arts Complex, which owns the building.

"Unfortunately, word didn't get around to everybody," says Rudi Cerri, the public-art program administrator for Arts & Venues, who was working in conjunction with Mark Sink, the organizer of Month of Photography in Denver this month. "They were just doing their job. I'm sure they felt bad afterward."

Anti-graffiti crews routinely remove graffiti, wheat paste and other forms of unsanctioned art or vandalism from public and private buildings in Denver. In this case, however, the artwork was sanctioned and done in conjunction with the city itself, which put the pieces back up last week and hyped them in the Arts & Venues newsletter touting MOP.

In addition to being a feature of MOP, the poster-sized works are part of an international art effort called "The Big Picture," which takes the work of artists from around the world and pastes them up in different cities. "It's an exchange of images. It's a very cool idea," Cerri says. Denver's display includes work by artists from Germany, Georgia and Italy, along with that of four locals.

Now that the misunderstanding has been cleared up, Cerri promises that the images will stay up for a few weeks. "Wheat paste is white flour, sugar and water, so they will last about a month — maybe two, depending on the weather conditions — before they start deteriorating," he explains. "And that's half the fun — watching them fall apart."

Just not before they're supposed to.

Rock and roll: And speaking of inclement weather, the Weather Channel's new Colorado-based show, Prospectors, may leave you breathless. Or at least the publicity for it will:

"Just like their predecessors 150 years ago, the small, ragtag gang in 'Prospectors' has one goal: find their fortune," reads the cable channel's description of the series, which debuts on March 26. "Based in Colorado, they brave the continent's most extreme mountain environments in search of the planet's most precious gems, such as topaz, aquamarine and rhodochrosite. Rarer than diamonds, more valuable than gold and far more difficult to mine, one of these fist-sized gems can bring $3 million or more. The prospectors use picks, sledgehammers and dynamite to send Volkswagen-sized boulders spinning out of control down the 60 percent grade mountainside."

Some of the action takes place near the top of 14,276-foot Mount Antero, where the five groups the show follows are digging for aquamarine. Prospectors was shot at several other locations around the state, including the much more placid Weld County, but Antero makes the show, says Steve Brancato, one of its stars, who's already a local celebrity rockhound. "The other locales are all gorgeous, but Antero is by far the most dramatic," says Brancato, who digs full-time during the summer at his claim, camping at 11,800 feet and working through lightning storms and frigid temperatures and even dodging "guys with guns looking to steal from you. We are all risking our lives for a 'what if.' Most people can't handle those conditions." In 2005, Brancato dug out the largest single specimen of aquamarine ever discovered in North America.

Filmed by Denver-based High Noon Entertainment, the show — which will air nationally — resembles the Discovery Channel's Gold Rush, which tracks the exploits of down-on- their-luck gold hunters in Alaska and has become a ratings winner. "Prospectors should be competitive with those other treasure-hunting shows," Brancato says. "Honestly, I've been a 'kill your TV' guy for two decades...but I've seen the first two episodes, and when we were shooting it, I knew we had something good. There's a payout at the end of every episode, different people, different story arcs."

 
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