If the overarching Colorado arts scene is like an awesome picture of a unicorn galloping across a rainbow -- and we're going to go ahead and say that it is -- then Dana Cain is like the glitter: essential. A tireless arts cheerleader and all around rolling snowball of enthusiasm, Cain has planned literally dozens of events great and small for 20 years running, and is gearing up to put on her biggest show yet, the first-ever Denver County Fair, a straight-up arts and weirdness bonanza that happens in July.
Besides the fact that Cain's our cover girl this week, her centrality to the scene makes her an ideal candidate to kick off our 100 Colorado Creatives series, where we'll spotlight 100 people over the course of the next year who make our state a little more fabulous. We caught up with Cain to talk about big eyes, buttloads of money and being a protoceratops.
Westword: If you could collaborate with anyone in history, who would it be, and why? Dana Cain: P.T. Barnum. I idolize him! I wish he was working with Tracy Weil and I on the Denver County Fair. Can you imagine what ideas and hoopla and insane buzz he would create? He is actually credited with inventing pop culture! And he has Denver ties -- he used to stash his circus here in the summer in an area still known as the Barnum neighborhood. He was the greatest event-promoting genius of all time.
WW: Who in the world is interesting to you right now, and why? DC: I have a massive crush on all four guys in The Big Bang Theory. I know they're fictional, but science nerds just thrill me to no end. I am also completely infatuated with our president, and I'm interested in everything he does. Barack is changing the world, and changing our circumstances and our environment. He has such a huge job, and I think he can do amazing things for us -- and the world. Philosophically, he and I are completely aligned, and I can't wait to see what he's going to do next.
WW: What's one art trend you want to see die this year? DC: Big eyes. Seriously. It was great in the '60s, when Margaret Keane did it, but... still?
WW: A mystery patron offers you unlimited funds for life. What will you do with it? DC: OMG. Three huge master plans come to mind.
1. Buy a huge building in the Art District on Santa Fe. Overhaul it into a fantastic art museum space and call it the Cain Museum. Then I could spend thousands each month at the local galleries and not worry about wall space. The Museum could house most of my collection, and I could have special rooms where I could invite my favorite artists to show. I could also hire folks to run the museum and staff it and give tours. And everyone would get information and brochures on art collecting and why they should do it, with maps of the local galleries, et cetera.
2. Buy a big patch of land and create a place that's like a cross between a resort, a theme park, a hippie commune and a retirement village, like the Denver Modernism Show expanded to a place where you can vacation for a week -- or actually live. It'd be like a Disneyland, only themed out with mid-century decade cool stuff, with tons of themed restaurants, huge entertainment venues, live music, apartments, themed hotel rooms -- like a huge enveloping time-warp of mid-century cool. Maybe we'd call it The Time Tunnel. And then we'd franchise them to other states. Retirement villages are getting to be super popular, now that all of us boomers are growing up.
3. Set up a foundation to give out buttloads of money to Denver creatives -- through grants and scholarships and gifts. Pour massive amounts of cash into the local creative community. You did say "unlimited funds," right?
WW: What's the one thing Denver (or Colorado) could better do to help the arts? DC: The city of Denver is so, SO pro-arts. We are all very lucky to live where we do. Even though their budgets have been cut to the bone, groups like DOCA and Create Denver come up with such creative and great ways to help promote the city's artistic communities. And we have the SCFD -- which is the envy of all other cities. It actually pumps tons of cash into our creative non-profit groups.
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What more can they do? I'd like to see more local art in the Denver Art Museum. I'd like to see the Biennial focus more on art and less on politics. I'd like to see more government-funded studio spaces for artists. Maybe have incentives for local business and corporations to buy local art -- like tax breaks or something?
WW: What type of dinosaur are you? DC: You know, my eBay handle used to be Danasaurus. I also collect Dinosaurs and have written a book on Dinosaur collectibles! I'd probably be a Protoceratops. Like a Triceratops, but with more curves and less sharp points. Short and plump, nice and friendly.
Throughout the year, we'll be turning the spotlight on 100 superstars in Denver's rich artistic community. Watch for the next installment on Show and Tell -- and go to the 100 Colorado Creatives archive to catch up.
Who rocks YOUR world locally? Do you have a suggestion for a Colorado Creative? Leave it in the comments section below.