There's no Factory and, as yet, no up-and-coming Andy Warhol. But never mind the details: Last Friday, Denver officially launched the newest art-world movement: UNPOP ART.
"It's basically imagery like pop art, but using source material that's unpopular," says Boyd Rice, the local musician and artiste who timed the launch to coincide with the 59th anniversary of Adolf Hitler's suicide. "We try to approach unpopular material in a way that's fun, as a way to transform it. Shaun Partridge does these gigantic Day-Glo portraits of Anne Frank, and they're really fun -- and then you realize, wait a minute, that's a picture of Anne Frank."
And talk about fun: In homage to Pop Art founder Warhol, the new www.unpopart.org website features a photograph of a can of Chef Boyadolf Pastikas in tomato sauce. There's also a stake through the Hamburger Helper hand; a variation on the Apple "Think Different" ad campaign featuring an image of Charles Manson; and a tinted photo of a nude woman on her back with her legs splayed, accompanied by the text "Abandon Hope All Ye Who Enter Here."
Though artists from around the world working in all mediums are expected to join the movement, our own cowtown is the epicenter. Writer Brian Clark moved to Denver to write a book about Boyd, and when he heard his subject talk over ideas with Partridge, he pushed them to create a website and formalize the concepts. "We realize that this is a phenomenon," Boyd says. "But a lot of times you don't recognize a phenomenon until somebody comes up with a catchphrase."
Enter UNPOP ART, bringing absolutely no Warholian glamour along with it. But even though Denver lacks an Edie Sedgwick, and coke hasn't made enough of a comeback to fuel our own version of Studio 54 (besides, there's already a drag club by that name on South Broadway), the founders are hoping that the next Jean-Michel Basquiat or Gerard Malanga may emerge. L.A.-based Feral House publisher Adam Parfrey has signed on -- which is apropos, because his imprint regularly features looks at serial killers, satanists and conspiracy theories -- as have Seattle artist Charles Krafft, who does Delft porcelain work, often of rifles and hand grenades, and Portland author Jim Goad, who wrote The Redneck Manifesto.
"It's the first time that I know of that somebody has consciously sort of marketed an art movement," Rice says. "Brian has brought this sort of corporate strategy to it."
How totally un-Pop.
Enough about art; in Mootown, it's all about sports: Last week, the dailies were vomiting team spirit all over their pages. But now that the Denver Nuggets have once again displayed their general suckitude and the Colorado Avalanche can't decide when to put their golf bags in their cars, how are the papers going to fill that space? No more Carmelo Anthony cutout masks, no more terrifying cornrow sendups of John Hickenlooper and Peter Forsberg. So as a public service, Off Limits offers the following options:
1. The Denver Post should print an outline of the body found on Larry Walker's property, which you can snip out and hide somewhere around your house or yard. When your roommate or spouse or the water meter guy finds it, invite friends over to speculate on what it all means and to discuss whether Walker should have ever been on the Colorado Rockies injured-reserve list, anyway.
2. Forget Carmelo -- Todd Helton's new Bon Scott 'do or Royce Clayton's dreadlocks might look great on your kid! The Rocky Mountain News could print a child-sized facsimile so you can test them out. In fact, that's the least the Rocky should do to get that creepy image of Anabel Bowlen in cornrows out of our heads.
3. Fans are feeling pretty ripped off after buying Clinton Portis jerseys, only to have him traded away by the Denver Broncos. The dailies should do those fans a favor and print up special iron-on patches to cover "Portis" with "Bell," in honor of Tatum Bell, who will wear number 26. When Bell's traded, though, everybody's on their own.
4. Peter Forsberg won't return for another year of thuggery in the NHL, but he'll no doubt be back in Sweden playing for his old team, MoDo. So it's only right that the Denver Newspaper Agency sponsor Swedish rock band The Hellacopters as the new house band at the Larimer Lounge.
5. Since no hockey, football or basketball fan knows that the Colorado Rapids exist, the dailies should devote free ads encouraging English-style soccer violence as a way to draw more interest to the MLS soccer club. Instead of the usual mini-ball giveaway, each fan will get a pack of C batteries, a two-by-four with a nail in it and a 22-ounce bottle of Carlsberg beer.
It's going to be a long, long time before Denver sports fans can taste the tangy essence of victory again; soon we'll re-enter that dark loser age that all of those people with "native" bumper stickers on their cars remember all too well. In the meantime, enjoy the outrageous, full-color, life-sized Earl Boykins poster coming at you in next Sunday's Post.
Making book: On May 11, the fifteen-member Mayor's Task Force on Future Library Funding set up by John Hickenlooper back in March will hold a public hearing on the DPL's funding and administration. We can understand why the public should be concerned that Denver's libraries are closed one day a week, but do we think City Librarian Rick Ashton is making the best argument for his agency when he cites a 38 percent cut in the budget for new books as the reason the library has only 200 copies of The DaVinci Code? The cast of hundreds still on the DPL waiting list for Dan Brown's book should know that the plot is essentially a ripoff of the two-part MacGyver that reran on TV Land last week -- and the TV show included the bonus of star Richard Dean Anderson's most-excellent mullet.
Before Brown, there was Clive Cussler, the onetime Arvada resident who's churned out best-selling adventure after best-selling adventure, all based on the unlikely adventures of his trademarked hero Dirk Pitt. These days, Cussler's churning out legal motions -- specifically, a suit filed in Los Angeles Superior Court back in January to stop Phil Anschutz's filming of a certain "motion picture" based on Cussler's Sahara. (Hubba-hubba photos of star Matthew McConaughey as a shirtless Dirk Pitt, Cussler's alter ego, started appearing in entertainment mags last week -- no complaints here.)
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
But Cussler must not have gotten too up-close and personal with the local gazillionaire when he agreed to option his Pitt novels to one of Anschutz's two movie companies. According to an April 22 Wall Street Journal piece describing Anschutz's interest in films (but not the Cussler case), a plaque on the wall of his Denver headquarters carries a quote from Hunter S. Thompson that calls the movie business "a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There is also a negative side."
And how: A controversial, fictional film about two gay lovers who are reincarnated after they die in the Holocaust was pulled days before its scheduled opening at the United Artists Denver Pavilions Stadium 15. Filmmaker Jorge Ameer says he learned Tuesday that The Singing Forest -- which features male frontal nudity -- was being yanked. The reason? The theater's owner, none other than Phil Anschutz, was upset by the tale.
Paul Serwitz, a Los Angeles-based booker for Regal Entertainment Group, confirms that the longstanding date was canceled but denies any Anschutz involvement. "We learned today that it was an unrated film," he says. "Those are the kind of edgier films that go into art houses. The Denver Pavilions is not an art house." Although Serwitz says it's common for independent filmmakers to forgo the voluntary film-rating system as a cost-saving measure and that Regal does sometimes book those films, the Anschutz-owned company doesn't book them at that location.
Ameer's not buying that explanation, however, especially since the last-second cancellation has cost him and his distribution company a bundle. The film, which premiered last year in Barcelona and has played in New York, Memphis and San Francisco, was slated to close in Fort Lauderdale this week so that the print could come to Denver. Now, not only is the movie off, but so is a benefit planned this Saturday for the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Community Center. "I think this is so hypocritical," Ameer says. "Regal shows R-rated films with full-frontal female nudity."