New public murals cause the wrong kind of awe

In addition to facing both criminal and ethics investigations into his alleged misuse of public dollars, Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler has spent months responding to criticism that he intimidated and suppressed voters with his anti-fraud crusade.

As part of his office's effort to prevent illegal votes from being cast, Gessler identified thousands of individuals who successfully registered to vote but could in fact be non-citizens. In August, he sent letters to those people asking them to prove that they are citizens or otherwise remove themselves from the voter rolls.

Now that the election is over, Gessler's office is sharing a letter from a Canadian immigrant to the Denver Elections Division; his staff says the note illustrates how non-citizen residents could accidentally sign up to vote.

Here's the text of the October 31 letter:

"Dear Ms. Johnson:

"I am returning the enclosed Voter Registration Information card, and request that my name be removed from the rolls, because I am a Canadian citizen, and not eligible to vote in an election in the United States.

"I was approached by a voter registration volunteer at a mall recently, and she informed me that as a legal resident of Colorado, having lived here for many years, I was eligible to vote in local elections but not national ones. I was sure she was wrong, but at her insistence, I filled out a brief application, which she described as merely a request that would answer my doubts one way or the other. I did check the box stating I was not a citizen, and expected to hear further (that I was not eligible), but instead received the enclosed card.

"I regret any inconvenience to your or your staff. I do wish that volunteers would be properly trained, and hope that this person did not obtain more signed requests due to this misinformation on her part."

The mural of the story: Be careful messing with a beloved public mural — even if the public doesn't realize they love the thing until it disappears. People are still complaining that when the Video One Building at 1301 East Colfax Avenue was sold to the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Community Center of Colorado a few years ago, the center wiped out artist Jae Choe's, huge, illuminated mural of downtown Denver with James Dean and his motorcycle in the foreground.

Last week, it was Johnny Cash's turn. The portrait of the Man in Black that had been painted by Tommy Nahulu, a longtime booster of the local music scene, on the eastern wall of the former home of Bender's Tavern at 314 East 13th Avenue suddenly morphed into Jerry Garcia, in honor of the space's new status as the new home of Quixote's True Blue.

But after numerous people complained about the painting — and the fact that Garcia seemed to have sprouted from Cash's forehead — the wall suddenly went black, and artist Kenneth Hughes returned to the drawing board.

The furor reached Nahulu in Hawaii, where he now lives. "I can't help but see this as anything other than someone drawing a Salvador Dali mustache on picture of a face," he writes. "The intent may have been more of a creative challenge, but still one I would have passed on, respectfully."

Which local murals would you pass on? The flowers on the side of Pasquini's, at 777 East 17th Avenue? Which would you miss if they were gone? E-mail nominations for the art you love or loathe to

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