Off Limits

A brush with fame: In opening arguments in the criminal case resulting from the death of Greg Lopez, defense attorney Walter Gerash compared the artistic aptitude of his client, Peter Schmitz, to that of Picasso and Diego Rivera. But the appraisal of Spicer Breeden's estate offered a more objective view of his talents:

"The artworks consist primarily of works by the noted Bauhaus artist, Herbert Bayer, who is well represented in Colorado due to his connections with the Aspen Institute. Bayer works of the period included here, late 1970s and 1980s, are a focused market and are not generally liquid except through agents. The values given are meant to be conservative and reflect that illiquidity. There are works by two other abstract artists, Jorg Peter Schmitz and Thomas W. Benton. The works of Mr. Schmitz, a contemporary German artist living in Denver, were not found to have support in the marketplace, and the single German auction record found was considered indicative of Fair Market Value. No records were found for the optical lithographic works of Mr. Benton. A Picasso and two Pissarro engravings were inspected related to this estate. They were inspected under glass and considered genuine, partly due to their relatively low value with respect to the artists involved." The Picasso and Pissarro lithographs were valued between $800 and $1,000.

Schmitz did not fare as well. "Galaxy," a 4' x 4' acrylic, signed and dated in 1993, hung in Breeden's dining room; appraisers estimated its value at $300. And a second Schmitz acrylic, the 42" x 30" "Pink Mercedes Convertible" in Breeden's den, rated only $250 as a fair market value--which, as the appraisers defined it, is "the price at which the property would change hands between a willing buyer and a willing seller, neither being under any compulsion to buy or sell and both having reasonable knowledge of relevant facts."

The jury's still out on that.

Trash landing: On Monday, after two controversial decades, the Solar Fountain--better known as the Giant Cup-a-Soup or Chip-and-Dip Bowl--disappeared from that peculiar stretch of park land between the Denver Center for the Performing Arts and Speer Boulevard. Like the park, which was initially envisioned as a grand entrance to the complex, the fountain never worked the way it was designed to. The steaming sculpture was supposed to create rainbows that would charm passersby, but despite the work's impressive pedigree (it was created by Larry Bell and Eric Orr), the most enthusiastic public expressions of affection came from bums who attempted baths in the bowl.

In 1995, looking at a half-million-dollar bill to restore the non-working fountain (much of the repair job necessitated by years of neglect), the city's arts commission voted to "dismantle" it. More accurately, to rip it apart and toss the pieces in a dumpster, as the city did earlier this week. That clears the way for the newly emptied area to become--yes--a sculpture park.

9 lives: It's hardly safe to turn on KUSA-TV these days, for fear one of those treacly promos featuring a younger, fictitious version of a station celeb might induce a sugar overload. What started out charming--one weatherkid in Fifties cowboy gear creating his own blizzard with a flour sifter, another refusing to "come in out of the rain"--took an inane turn with the current series featuring four anchors. For starters, there was Adele Arakawa, shown as a girl getting "the scoop" from a soda jerk (who looks suspiciously like former Westword writer John Ashton). Ward Lucas displayed his penchant for "breaking news" as a kid with bad aim on a paper route. And Paula Woodward went "under cover" early on, in a game of hide-and-seek that shows young Channel 9 viewers what fun it is to hide in trunks. (Hey! Why not an abandoned refrigerator?)

But the real barker depicts young "newshound" Ed Sardella, apparently anticipating the future battle between TV and the dailies by training his puppy to piddle on a newspaper.

And here's another leak: Although the station won't comment officially, the next series--all produced in-house, which means KUSA has no excuse--will feature sports guys. Say, Ron Zapollo displaying an early aptitude for dribbling during toilet training?

The numbers game: Wow! Colorado is really booming. According to a March 3 story in the Rocky Mountain News on "urbanized Aspen," by the year 2000 the combined populations of Pitkin, Eagle and Garfield counties will hit 64 million.

Oh. Never mind. The News, which no longer circulates in much of that area, did a recount and two days later published the correct figure: 64,000.


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