Best Of :: Arts & Entertainment
Sometimes Ed Baierlein makes it look almost too easy. Along with his wife, Sallie Diamond, he is the soul and driving force behind Germinal Stage Denver, the city's oldest serious theater company, directing plays he selects and starring in many of them. Baierlein's performing style is so low-key and relaxed that it's easy to miss the skill and authority that shape it. In Habeas Corpus, he played Wicksteed, a doctor disgusted with sex because he's examined so many genitalia. Disgusted, that is, until the nubile, young Felicity swans into his orbit. Baierlein also brought ferocious but carefully repressed depths to the upper-middle-class Tobias of Edward Albee's A Delicate Balance. But it was in Heartbreak House that he showed the passion that animates his work, particularly in the magical scene in which the female protagonist, Ellie, realized her love for him, and he advised her with soul-penetrating sincerity not to marry for money: "You are going to let the fear of poverty govern your life, and your reward will be that you will eat, but you will not live." It was one of those moments that stay with you long after a play's over.
When concert season opens at Red Rocks, the crowds run rampant throughout the tiny burb of Morrison. It's enough to make anyone long for a stiff drink and a classic Americana meal, which is exactly what the Blue Cow provides. Whether you prefer a Bloody Mary, a margarita or a mimosa, the staff can hook it up; they serve everything from Budweiser and Corona to microbrews and Mike's Cranberry Lemonade -- even a martini in a pinch. They also brew the strongest espresso in town, and the soft-serve ice cream and shakes are ideal on a hot summer day. It's the perfect place to nurse away a hangover before the big show -- or to kick-start the next drinking marathon.
The title of Lawrence Argent's sculpture isn't very catchy, and most people will draw a blank when hearing "I See What You Mean," but if we say "The Big Blue Bear" at the Colorado Convention Center, you see what we mean. The piece was an instant hit with the public, and it has become a nationally known icon for Denver. Even the normally artless business boosters hijacked it, sending out a guy in a cheesy blue bear suit to promote the hotel tax during last year's election. For all the love, however, it's the fact that the sculpture is sophisticated, contemporary and by a hometown artist that makes it one of the best things downtown.
In 2003, Carol Dickinson was facing retirement from directing the Foothills Art Center in Golden, and she decided she wanted to leave a lasting monument. A take-charge sort of gal, Dickinson went to the Foothills board and suggested having Texas artist Jesus Moroles create a sculpture garden in his signature minimalist style. (Truth be told, it was more than a suggestion; she presented the idea as a fait accompli.) The board agreed, and Moroles teamed up with architect Ted Shultz and landscape designer Susan Saarinen while Dickinson began cajoling donors for funds. Typically, projects such as this take five years to finish, but Dickinson got it done in just two and half, bringing Golden into the 21st century in the process.
Aurora's partly seedy, partly rebirthed main drag gets extra marks for effort in 2005. Last fall, Longmont artist Mario Miguel Echevarria put up his "Aurora Eterna: A Public Spectacle" mural atop Pasternack's Pawn Shop, shedding brilliant neon lights on a series of stylized symbols of Aurora history. "Aurora Eterna" is the perfect companion to the stretch's other murals (by Jason Needham and Susan Cooper), and it adds a touch of class to the tawdry.