John Sayles's elaborate political fable Silver City was less than boffo at the box office, and its cautions about the corruption of the electoral process didn't fly with a weary public amid the bloodiest, most divisive election-year brawl America had experienced since 1968. But this dark comedy about the nitwit machinations of a fictional Colorado gubernatorial candidate gave Sayles plenty of opportunity to train his cameras on Denver. The City and County Building, the Oxford Hotel, Union Station, early morning at a bar on the seedy end of Larimer Street, even the interior of the Westword office on Broadway all have cameos. Want to catch another glimpse of our dusty cowtown? Get thee to the video store, pardner.

The Colorado Convention Center has bigger fins than a '57 DeSoto and is lit up like a laundromat at night. So it can be hard to notice the fabulous rusted-steel sculpture sitting out front, "Indeterminate Line," by international art star Bernar Venet, that's situated on the lawn along Speer Boulevard at the Stout Street tunnel. It's a large, elegant twenty-ton scribble depicting an oval that's been rendered organic and geometric at the same time. Venet, who was born in France, has lived for decades in New York, and his work has been installed throughout Europe and the United States. We're lucky to have "Indeterminate Line," one of the best outdoor sculptures in the city.

Last August, Mayor John Hickenlooper got everyone's attention with the announcement that the City of Denver had agreed to receive the paintings and drawings in the estate of abstract-expressionist master Clyfford Still. The multimillion-dollar gift from the estate's trustees was made in exchange for a promise that the city would build a museum to display the collection. So far, no architect has been selected to design the building, nor has a site been picked out. But fundraising is well apace, and Dean Sobel, former head of the Aspen Art Museum, has been hired as director. Sounds like a wish is rapidly becoming a promise.

The beleaguered and financially strapped Museo de las Américas has been rudderless since founder José Aguayo stepped down a few years ago. But hope for a turnaround spiked late last year, when Patty Ortiz was brought on as director. Ortiz spent five dedicated years at the Museum of Contemporary Art/Denver, but no one could blame her for seizing the chance to guide the Museo. So far, her best idea has been to integrate pieces by Hispanic artists from Colorado into visiting shows. For example, Ortiz supplemented the current exhibition about Mexican artist David Alfaro Siqueiros with a small sampling of works by local muralists. Such an inclusive approach signals great things for the newly energized Museo.

With all the creepy stuff on display at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science, including mummies, Quest for Immortality was guaranteed to bring in the crowds. And it did. Tens of thousands marched through the blockbuster collection of ancient Egyptian tomb art during its several-month-long run. The show, sponsored by the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., was filled with magnificent objects that were to die for. The ancient Egyptians created these articles as part of an elaborate scheme to attain eternal life. It looks like it worked, because thousands of years later, their artifacts made up one of the best shows in Denver.

Last summer, Dianne Vanderlip, head of the Modern and Contemporary department at the Denver Art Museum, put together scene Colorado / sin Colorado, an exhibition devoted to the work of some of the state's top artists. Drawn from the DAM's permanent collection, the show focused on mid-career talents as opposed to emerging ones. Vanderlip displayed no aesthetic agenda in her selections, which incorporated a wide variety of styles: Offerings ranged from representational imagery by Matt O'Neill to minimalism by David Yust. Scene Colorado also had the bittersweet distinction of being the DAM's last contemporary exhibit until the museum's new building is finished next year.

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It started as a museum devoted to the work of a single artist, Vance Kirkland, but the Kirkland Museum has expanded its collecting scope greatly over the years, and now has an exhaustive collection of decorative art on display. Kirkland director Hugh Grant has also avidly sought out artworks by other Colorado artists, making the Kirkland the only institution in the state to focus on locals. The museum currently houses examples by nearly 200 artists who worked in Colorado, including recently acquired pieces by Chuck Parson, Edward Marecak and Mel Strawn. The fact that most area museums all but ignore homegrown talent makes the Kirkland even more vital.

As a curator, Cydney Payton is at her best when dealing with art she really loves, which is why Dots, Blobs and Angels was so darned spectacular. Payton's a fan of John David Rigsby's work, and it's easy to see why. The quality of the paintings, sculptures and drawings that made up this stirring retrospective at the Museum of Contemporary Art/Denver was first-rate. The show followed Rigsby's career, which he began as a sharecropper's son scrounging for materials in Alabama in the '30s, through his impoverished existence in Houston at the end of his life, when he once again had no money for supplies. In between, he hit heights of fame and success. But whether in good times or bad, he always created something wonderful. Dots, Blobs and Angels demonstrated that Rigsby was a groundbreaker -- not just once, but over and over again.

Emerson Woelffer: Life in the Abstract, at the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center, wasn't large, but it was definitely grand. Woelffer, one of the best of a generation of abstract expressionists working in southern Colorado in the '50s, is mostly remembered instead as a Los Angeles artist. When he lived here, he was director of the now-defunct-but-then-famous Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center's art school. Hunter Frost, a friend and former student of Woelffer's, curated this gorgeous show and also wrote its catalogue. Frost's selections reveal that Woelffer did some of the finest paintings of his lifetime not in L.A., but during his years in Colorado.

A traveling show out of New York, True Grit addressed the work of a group of women artists who rose to prominence before the feminist revolution of the '70s. Organized by Katherine Crum of the Parrish Art Museum in Southampton, the exhibit included pieces by Lee Bontecou, Jay DeFeo, Nancy Spero, Louise Nevelson, Claire Falkenstein, Nancy Grossman and Louise Bourgeois -- seven of the most famous women artists of the modern period. A few were feminists, others weren't, but all had their reputations enhanced by the interest in women's art brought on by feminism. CVA director Kathy Andrews simultaneously mounted a Louise Bourgeois solo exhibition that seamlessly hooked up with the wonderful main course.

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