Denver is full of small pieces of artwork, most of them barely noticed — if noticed at all — and soon forgotten. Some are tucked into an alley or pasted on a little-used sidewalk; others are plastered on big walls or fences out in the open, hidden in plain sight.
Rick Ramos has made it his mission to find those pieces of art and record them. A Denver native, he lived on the East Coast for ten years before returning to Colorado in 2008. When he did, he kept coming across stuff that made him think.
"I have always lived in cities, and I've always been fascinated by graffiti," he says. "I've always known a lot of graffiti artists. It's something I'm very close to."
So Ramos started taking pictures of graffiti and other artsy, funny or hidden pieces of Denver street life for his blog, UnseenDenver.com. And then he got a group of people he met through Twitter to send him their photos, too.
The idea is to "make people pay attention," he says. "It's the little things that you walk by and don't actually see. And it's not just art or art for art's sake or writing on the walls. It's anything: a bra hanging from a tree. Sneakers hanging from a telephone wire. One of my favorites is Accidental Heart. It's a bunch of hearts made naturally, from a drop of water, from a crack in the pavement — all in the shape of a heart."
Almost all of it is presented without judgment or comment.
But the site also captures written or drawn messages. "I think writing on the walls is important," says Ramos, who has a link to the Metro Area Graffiti Task Force in his FAQs, albeit with a snarky message of his own. "But I don't want to know who did it. I don't want them to get in trouble and I don't want anyone to call anyone else out."
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Real tweets: Filming of The Big Year, the movie based on the book of the same name by former Denver Post reporter Mark Obmascik, has just wrapped up. Owen Wilson, Jack Black and Steve Martin play the three main characters in this true story about extreme bird-watchers who race around North America trying to check off the largest number of birds — and the rarest — seen in a 365-day period. Rashida Jones, Anjelica Huston, Brian Dennehy, Dianne Wiest and Joel McHale are among the other notable names in the star-studded flick directed by David Frankel.
Most of the shooting took place around Vancouver (along with some other far-flung Canadian locales), and Obmascik and his family took a vacation to the set this past spring to watch the action. "Being with a six-year-old, it was a little nerve-racking being in a place where you need absolute silence," Obmascik recalls. "But the director is a great guy, and the actors were really great, too."
Obmascik plans to attend the premiere of the movie when it opens sometime in 2011, but he isn't sure whether he'll be part of any other Hollywood action. "That's up to them," he says.