The Denver County Fair Arts Pavilion: All Colorado, all the time! Here's what you'll see

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What can you expect in the Denver County's Fair's landmark Arts Pavilion? Not even pavilion manager (and official fair poster artist) Mark Penner-Howell knows for certain at this juncture, at least as far as the big juried show is concerned, but there are at least 400 entries to pick through when they start coming in tomorrow afternoon. That means there's going to be something for everyone -- from cowboy art to modern assemblage -- going up on the 700 linear feet of wall space allotted. A better picture of Colorado's diverse art milieu couldn't be found anywhere.

"We'll have lots of mixed media and assemblage, and more than 100 paintings and 100 photos," Penner-Howell says of the show. "We do have one video artist, but there's no crazy performance or big installation art; it's mostly stuff that sits on a wall. We'll try to find a way for all the stuff to coexist in a semi-rational way, but it's going to be wacky and, hopefully, a good representation of what's out there." And the individual competition ring, where ribbons will be handed out throughout the fair in sixteen media categories, will be a real proving ground, he adds: "Some of the judges are curators from the Denver Art Museum {other members of the arts community, including photographer Mark Sink and CVA director Jennifer Garner, are also involved in the judging}. How often does someone from the Denver Art Museum walk into your little Santa Fe Drive gallery? They are almost forced to look at your work, here."

In his mind, the Arts Pavilion is just one cog in a brilliant machine. And a lot of people, artists included, are waiting to see what happens this year before jumping in for the next one. But Penner-Howell is totally in tune with the fair's vision for creating something different that people haven't seen before. "I think it's all shaping up to be a really successful thing," he predicts. "Some groups are going completely out of their way to create an impression, and it's going to be lots of fun -- even the people who come to the fair will be participating in the making and the cultural identity of the thing. Everybody will be contributing to it. The whole city is coming together to create this. This is a scene we're all making up together."

Also in the Arts Pavilion, you'll find artist displays and booths with art for sale; visit the Denver County Fair July 28 through 31 at the National Western Complex. Go to the website for a complete schedule of events and competitions.

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