At age 57, Essie Garrett just keeps on going. But even she admits it isn't getting easier: One of Denver's favorite long-distance runners, Garrett's known for her one-woman cross-country fundraising marathons, which cover hundreds of miles, all in the name of one cause or another. One of her pet charities has been the Colorado AIDS Project, but now Garrett, who oversees the receiving department at Emily Griffith Opportunity School, says, "It's time to take care of home." Her latest extended run, which began July 5 in Arnold, Nebraska, with fellow runner Tonya Ciarochi at her side, does, in fact, hit a bit closer to home. It's a fundraiser for EGOS scholarships, and Garrett is hoping to solicit $25,000 in contributions. She's scheduled to arrive back in town, long braids flying behind her, this afternoon at 2 p.m. for a celebration with food and music at the school, 1250 Welton Street. As part of the welcoming pageantry, Garrett says, an international gathering of students studying ESL at Emily Griffith will line 17th Street downtown in a kaleidoscope of multicultural costumes.
Griffith, who founded EGOS in 1916 as a non-traditional working-class school teaching both academic and technical skills to "all who wish to learn," is most definitely the inspiration for Garrett's 310-mile run. "She is one of my greatest heroes, right up there with Aunt Clara Brown, Harriet Tubman and Mother Teresa," Garrett says. "She was a very powerful woman who had visions before her time. I'm just trying to keep Miss Emily's philosophy alive. I love the school. Most people who work at the school love the school."
In that spirit, Garrett and Ciarochi will be pulling a covered wagon and running in period clothing to commemorate Griffith's own journey to Denver in 1895. Amazingly enough, it's not Garrett's first run with old-fashioned baggage. The concept started with one of her CAP runs, in response to society's lack of compassion for people living with HIV/AIDS: "Pulling a wagon symbolized what it's like to carry a load alone," she says.
And, as if the wagon, costume, distance and certain heat weren't enough, Garrett swears she'll sit on a billboard near the school upon her return if donations fall short of the goal. To sweeten the pot, EGOS principal Sharon Robinson says she'll join her. You can help keep them from risking their necks by logging on to www.egos-school.com/egf to download a pledge form or by calling the Emily Griffith Foundation at 303-575-4722. -- Susan Froyd
Junk gets a new life
"People treat their trash like shit," complains Mariah Becerra, theater rat/fashion maven. As a way of correcting that situation, Becerra is bringing trash back in the house. Tonight at 8 p.m. at the Buntport Theater, Rorschach Productions lets fly with Mariah's Trash Fashion Show, an event that chases form and function out the door. Using thirteeen models wearing pretty much what your dad took out to the curb, Becerra will bless the forgotten and uncover the beauty of everyday objects. Her "Funny Money" dress is styled out of game-board bills; another is constructed from a waterbed lining. A dress, hat, evening bag and shawl emerge from the innards of a VHS videotape. Becerra demands that everybody play: You can bring a piece of trash or take one home, build your own trash outfit, or go all out (in?) in a dumpster-diving contest. She is also designing a Smash Room, in which visitors are invited to take a baseball bat to various objects. Another highlight is the "Human Buffet" -- a naked woman in an industrial cooking pot.
But the evening has an educational bent, as well; to that end, there will be a riff by a homeless man and a video installation by artist Ryan Pohanic. "Our country is a disposable, disposing one," says Becerra. "We use something once, then out of sight, out of mind. People and things. I want that to stop." Admission to the theater, at 717 Lipan Street, is $12. Call 720-904-5652 for info. -- Martin McGovern
Tradition is one of baseball's greatest draws; without it, the national pastime would be more like, well, arena football. The tobacco-chewing march of history will come rushing back to you this summer at the Aurora History Museum, 15051 East Alameda Parkway, where local hobbyists Jim and Janie Morrison are showing off the best of their extensive collection of baseball memorabilia. Collecting Baseball is a dirt-stained tribute to the game popularized in the nineteenth century by Abner Doubleday and later polished to a sheen by time and the triumphs of enduring team dynasties and players. And, oh, what treasures the Morrisons share: Among the 200 items on display, there's a jersey signed by legendary New York Giants pitcher Christy Mathewson (one of only two such shirts known to exist in the world), a World Series bat signed by the 1927 "Murderer's Row" Yankees, a five-dollar note autographed by the Baseball Hall of Fame's first crop of inductees, and even a scrap of paper autographed by Joltin' Joe DiMaggio and Marilyn Monroe. In conjunction with the exhibit, the museum will host a family event today from 2 to 3:30 p.m.; admission is $3 to $4. Collecting Baseball stays up through September 21; call 303-739-6660 for information. -- Susan Froyd
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Colorado exhibit opens at Foothills
Don't let the Colorado Art Open, an exhibit featuring works by more than a hundred of Colorado's best and brightest artists, pass you by. If nothing else, consider this: Jurors Ann Daley and Jan Mayer of the Denver Art Museum had to choose 123 pieces by 110 artists from a sea of 1,425 entries by 527 Colorado artists. "I think people will be surprised to see what is in this show," says Kristi Martens, curator at Foothills Art Center in Golden, where the Art Open will be on display. "There is a lot of big art -- big sculptures, big paintings, a lot of really creative mixed-media assemblages."
"It was extremely difficult going through all those slides," Martens says. "We wanted to get a really diverse view of the spectrum, a wide range of mediums and styles -- everything from eleven-foot-tall sculptures to quilts to photography."
The biennial exhibition opens today and will be at Foothills, 809 15th Street in Golden, through August 24. For further information on upcoming Colorado Art Open events, including the Foothills Art Festival on August 2, visit www.foothillsartcenter.org or call 303-279-3922. -- Julie Dunn