It’s a daunting task: What to call the new public sculpture at the base of the 16th Street Pedestrian Bridge. No ordinary name will do for such a creation, with its stack of bulbous crimson sacks rising, slipping and sliding, twenty feet into the sky and culminating in a suggestive glistening tip. It’s an erection of dramatic proportions, one all the more penetrating thanks to its internal nighttime glow.
Its official name, “National Velvet,” clearly won’t do. Even the work’s sculptor, John McEnroe, seemed unconvinced about the title at the artwork’s dedication yesterday afternoon, amid Denver ArtsWeek. “'Velvet' implies something suggestive,” he said with a sly grin before the ceremony. “And the word ‘National’ speaks for itself.” Whatever you say, John.
Alternative titles were already making their way through the crowd. “Wet Salami,” one suggestion, didn’t do justice to the $50,000 sculpture commissioned by the Denver Office of Cultural Affairs, and "Penis Bags," another possibility, lacked the right lyrical flourish. Some attendees, meanwhile, were inspired by the creation’s marketing potential, pondering corporate sponsorship from Trojan and suggesting someone manufacture hand-held replicas, like the popular Big Blue Bear (whose name is really "I See What You Mean") reproductions – though these models would come with a handy vibrating feature.
Mayor John Hickenlooper, who stopped by for a few words, seemed in on the joke, wasting no time in leaping up and caressing the bulging monument. "This is a piece of art that begs to be touched," he admitted to the crowd before adding, "I suspect the mayor’s office may get a few calls." A city staffer, smirking in the audience, noted the mayor’s office hadn’t actually seen the sculpture until that day.
As dusk fell and the ceremony drew to a close, the name game continued. "Kidney beans," posited a passerby, while another observer, inspired by the magma-red hue of the now-lit structure, recommended "Tower of Power."
Only later, over drinks at the nearby Paris Wine Bar, did folks who prefer to remain anonymous come up with the perfect moniker.
Welcome to Denver, Saggy-Boob Electric Penis. We’re sure you’ll make quite an impression. – Joel Warner