Visual Arts

Five things you didn't know about the art at Denver International Airport

There are secrets behind the public art pieces at Denver International Airport -- and it's not what conspiracy theorists would have you believe. We checked in with DIA Exhibitions Coordinator Tim Vacca and Public Art Program Coordinator Mandy Renaud, and discovered there's a method to all the madness. Keep reading for five things you didn't know about the art at DIA.

See also: DIA now has "Dog Deity" -- "Blucifer" be damned!

5) The Gargoyles are watching Terry Allen's "Notre Denver" -- the two gargoyle statues situated in the baggage claim areas -- was put in place to watch over travelers, and ensure the safe arrival of baggage. That's clear. What's more mysterious is the plaque at the base of each piece, which describes the statue as being "roughly the size of a fifth-grade-boy."

4) Planes with a destination Just as Allen's gargoyles keep watch over travelers' baggage, the 140 giant paper airplanes suspended from the ceiling outside the train were created by sculptor Patty Ortiz to guide arriving passengers safely to the main terminal.

3) Sound Art

The series of tones, melodies and messages that accompany the DIA train is actually an art piece by Jim Green. "Train Call" was designed to add a human element to the travel experience, interspersing local celebrity voices -- including those of Mayor Michael Hancock and 9 News anchor Adele Arakawa -- with the playful, child-like melodies of traditional folk songs.

2) 5,280 rotations Did you think the propellers on the walls of the train tunnel were placed randomly? Think again. There are exactly 5,280 spinning propellers throughout the train ride, signifying each foot leading to Denver's legendary elevation. The piece is known as "Kinetic Air Light Curtain," and is the brainchild of Antonette Rosato and William Maxwell.

1) You're reading Leo Tanguma's murals wrong

A favorite hunk of evidence for DIA conspiracy theorists, Leo Tanguma's two wall-sized murals seem to indicate a sense of destruction and decay, with the typical right-to-left read conveying children lost to an ambiguous figure of evil, or dying for reasons evidently related to their race or culture. But according to Vacca and Renaud, the murals are meant to be read from small canvas to large canvas, regardless of side placement. The infamous "Children of the World Dream of Peace," for example, actually illustrates the downfall of the vague, warhead-like figure, and portrays an optimism for future peace amongst all people. Likewise, "In Peace and Harmony with Nature" tells the story of the rebirth of the natural world, and the resurrection of those lost when humanity loses its connection with the natural world. For such a doomsday-obsessed artist, Tanguma seems pretty upbeat when it comes to the future of the global community.

Find out more about the art at DIA at

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Caleb Williams