#5: Dede LaRue
Sometime in the ‘80s, spray-painted pink flamingos began appearing on the sides of dumpsters and rollaways around Denver, long before the city even imagined it had a graffiti problem. They were left there by Dede LaRue, an artist/troublemaker with a delightful sense of humor. She’s best known now for her sly and lively menagerie of papier-mâché and mixed-media animal sculptures, including the iconic tiger that’s leapt through a glowing hoop at the Mercury Cafe for many years. And her love of animals spills over into other parts of her lifestyle: She's also a dog groomer and runs the local Chinese Crested rescue. How does an artist who operates on pure imagination interact with the rest of the world? With unfettered brio — as evidenced by her answers to the 100CC questionnaire.
Westword: If you could collaborate with anyone in history, who would it be, and why?
Dede LaRue: Three people come to mind — Walt Disney, Salvador Dalí and Alphonse Mucha, one of the founders of the Art Nouveau movement. Not being a big collaborator myself, I'd just love to watch what they come up with! I just learned there is an exhibit currently in San Francisco comparing the works of Dalí and Disney. OMG! That sounds fabulous.
Who in the world is interesting to you right now, and why?
I was going to say politicians, because I'm trying to find someone credible to vote for, but that's too scary right now. So: millennials. I work with some. They're so vibrant and energetic — and they're going to be taking over this big, beautiful, kind of messed-up world someday. Good luck to them.
What's one art trend you want to see die this year?
Too many outdoor “art festivals.” It's overkill. They've become just another entertainment venue. And developers! Please!! Pull back on all these cheap-looking, ugly apartments and condos everywhere. You're ruining Denver and sucking away its very soul.
What's your day job?
I choose to maintain a part-time day job, without which I would probably be a hermit. I work at a vet hospital as a doggie stylist, and get to work hands-on with just about every size and type of dog, sculpting and shaping them, and I get paid well for it. It's just about perfect.
A mystery patron offers you unlimited funds for life. What will you do with it?
I already rescue dogs. I would rescue a whole lot more! I would buy myself a much bigger studio. Do more traveling. I would address in some way the issue of climate change, as it concerns me. And free cupcakes for everybody!
What's the one thing Denver (or Colorado) could do to help the arts?
I walk around and see people walking with their faces in their cell phones, a habit I believe reduces their attention span to that of a parakeet. Look around you! Art is everywhere! Notice it. Talk about it. Go see it. Like it. Don't like it. Just don't ignore it, thn bitch about how we don't have any. The daily newspaper recently dropped the word “art” from the heading of its entertainment section, to “lifestyles.” (Whoa!) Use the word. Art. In a conversation today.
Who is your favorite Colorado Creative?
Ladies Fancywork Society. Love them!
What's on your agenda in the coming year?
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After recovering from a major illness a couple of years ago, I feel great and happy to still be here. I have sculpture commissions to last a year, and would like to get back to painting prairie landscapes in oils that I started doing six years ago and for some reason stopped making. I am behind on my traveling and amateur geologic collecting. Spend time with my family, make a new friend and do a zipline tour someplace.
Who do you think will get noticed in the local arts community in the coming year?
I'm going to be watching with great interest the West Colfax Arts District, which is starting to happen. This is my 'hood, and there is great potential for murals, studios, galleries, events. Lonnie Hanzon, a local guru of the visible, is working with the project. So far, the rapacious developers aren't going there, and having this charmingly still-rather-run-down neighborhood be a local art area would rock. The neighborhood is right for it.