Museum of Contemporary Art/Denver curator Cydney Payton has a love affair with art's cutting edge: Always seeking ways to straddle it, she's continuing that streak with BLOOD: Lines & Connections, an ambitious exhibit of global proportions opening tonight with a reception from 6 to 9 p.m. at the MCA, 1275 19th Street. The exhibit offers Denverites a chance to view works by artists with whom they may not be familiar -- from a Russian expatriate deported for staging a self-crucifixion in Red Square to Germany's Stadtblind group, a collective of urban activists -- and who work in the media of the moment, including video forms and installation-based art. The idea for the show, Payton says, came from her own musings on the state of protest art in general and the artist's role in generating change. Then, while culling works with that concept in mind, she took it a step further: "I wanted to frame that with points of view outside our limited American global view -- to explore sociopolitical, ecological, health and environmental issues from perspectives we often don't experience firsthand in this country. And I thought, what more direct way is there to do that than through artists?" The resulting display, Payton notes, reflects diversity at every turn, but with a world-unifying spirit reflected in the title, based on "the idea of our blood as the unifying principal of what we all have in common.
"It's a word with poignant associations," she notes. And she hopes that poignancy will translate into understanding. With all of the varied works now in place, does Payton think the show succeeds in offering hope to viewers? Yes, she says, the power of art prevails: "It presents a current narrative that can change our hearts and minds."
BLOOD continues through January 4; call 303-298-7554. -- Susan Froyd
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Turnverein turns a corner
For years the Denver Turnverein building, 1570 Clarkson Street, was the social center for Denver's large German immigrant population. Recently, though, the building has begun taking on new life as a cultural hub that draws from many cultures, and an ambitious plan to completely renovate the 1921 structure is under way. Volunteers have been fixing up the building with funding from the Colorado Historical Society. And the Turnverein's two large ballrooms now play host to tango and swing dancers, a fencing club, two choruses and a consortium of dance instructors.
"We're trying to make it so the building can sustain itself with arts and cultural activities," says Caryn Carbonaro, Turnverein treasurer. "We're working with an architectural firm to restore it. It's a stone-by-stone effort."
Not long ago, crews finished painting the building and installing acoustic tiles on the ceiling. To celebrate, the Turnverein will host a Big Band Swing and Jazz Dance Concert today, featuring music by the Colorado Conservatory for the Jazz Arts and Rumble Seat. Dance lessons start at 7:30 p.m., followed by the concert at 8:30 p.m. Tickets are $10; call 303-831-0499 for information. -- Stuart Steers