The Big Red One

Adored and reviled, and sometimes simply made fun of, John McEnroe's “National Velvet,” the drippy, piled-up sculpture installed at the foot of the Central Platte Valley's Highland Pedestrian Bridge, is nothing if not attention-grabbing -- in all its light-up-at-night, bulbous, blood-red splendor. But love it or leave it, Denver Public Art is celebrating it today with the Big Red Street Fair in the iconic sculpture's shadow.

The fun begins at 6 p.m. with various odes to the color red, from red-beer pours courtesy of the Denver Beer Company and a red cocktail by Colt & Gray to appropriately colored cupcakes from Happy Cakes and doughnuts from Voodoo Doughnuts. At seven, a group reading of original haikus inspired by “National Velvet” and written by Denverites will follow; sculptor John McEnroe, who clearly has a sense of humor about the controversy over his work, will be judging the entries. Imagine the metaphors!

“We're looking for creative ways to get people to engage with the program's existing artworks to help celebrate our 25th anniversary,” says Michael Chavez of Denver Public Art. “We thought 'National Velvet' was a good one because of its visibility and its great location for convening a group of people. This is our way of embracing the fact that people do have strong opinions about the piece. “It seems like the people who are opposed are the ones who are very vocal about it, and often, you don’t hear from people who really do like a piece like that. This offers an opportunity to let people express their feelings either way and get beyond whether somebody likes or dislikes something and have a deeper conversation.”

Come down to the Highland Bridge, located at 16th and Platte streets, from 6 to 8 p.m. to participate; admission is free, but advance registration at is requested. Get more information on Facebook.
Thu., Aug. 28, 6-8 p.m., 2014

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Susan Froyd started writing for Westword as the "Thrills" editor in 1992 and never quite left the fold. These days she still freelances for the paper in addition to walking her dogs, enjoying cheap ethnic food and reading voraciously. Sometimes she writes poetry.
Contact: Susan Froyd