Off Limits

Denver Art Museum director Lewis Sharp unveils the institution's new logo in the current issue of On & Off the Wall, the DAM's newsletter, likening the mark to the logos of Coca-Cola and Apple Computer.

"Chances are, when you read these names, you think of the logo or typeface of the brand," he writes to museum members. "Logotypes are the visual representation of an organization or product to the outside world -- a link that ties a place or product to the rest of society."

Nike's swoosh. Mac's apple. The DAM's "Denver Art Museum."

The logo includes no iconography. No homage to the building's famous architecture, a hallmark of the DAM's former logo (which worked just fine for thirty years). Just the words "Denver Art Museum" in three different typefaces with five colors and two metallic hues highlighting the word "art." So simple, so clean, so easy to do with Quark XPress and Adobe Illustrator.

The San Francisco office of MetaDesign (conveniently based in Berlin, home to architect Daniel Libeskind, who's designing the museum's new addition) was paid an undisclosed sum for the job, beating out two local firms for the honors. Representatives from the "identity design" company, which also works with Apple and Nike, spent nine months meeting with key people at the museum to define their "mission" and "values." "The workshops and competitive audits revealed that the Denver Art Museum should be positioned as a premium international institution with a strong community focus," MetaDesign explains in its case study of the project.

To meet those goals, the company emphasized "art" with color and size -- lest the community forget what the museum specializes in -- and then highlighted "Denver" with a bold sans serif font, lest those international types forget what town it's in.

The logo change, which is part of the museum's $200 million expansion project, is being rolled out slowly. But early reviews are already coming in. "It's just unimaginative," says Chuck Danford, a retired graphic designer and DAM member off and on for the last fifteen years. "It's not creative; it's boring. With the new building coming online -- a signature building, a destination place that will stand for Denver, something that is recognized by people all over the world -- it should be somehow symbolic of the new concept. It might have been nice to have a symbol by itself and then the words, like the Metropolitan Museum of Art has."

Museum officials insist they're happy with the designed-by-committee effort. "There's some criticism, but there's also a lot of people who really like it," says Andrea Kalivas, DAM's manager of public relations and marketing. "It's really legible and easy to read. We didn't want something big and flashy, and this conveys that we're a very straightforward museum that is accessible."

Denver. Art. Museum. Don't you forget it.

Check, please! The party of eighteen asked for seven checks -- a tricky process, even when the diners are all teetotalers -- but this wasn't your typical midnight Village Inn crowd. Attorney General John Ashcroft made the request after dining at the Buckhorn Exchange.

Ashcroft, who was in town to speak at Monday's White House-endorsed Faith-Based and Community Initiative conference, took over the Buckhorn's Roofgarden last Sunday, while Stock Show visitors and Justin Boots cowboys noshed below. There were "more cowboy hats than horns to hang them on," says one tipster.

Despite the Old West ambience, neither Ashcroft nor his dining companions -- some of whom were family from Colorado Springs -- were enticed by the eatery's exotic cuisine. Buffalo tenderloin was as far as they went, although two FBI agents parked outside -- in front of the fire hydrant! -- opted for buffalo burgers.

Denver's boys in blue, complete with chopper, had escorted the entourage's three SUVs and a twelve-person van to the highly secured restaurant at 6 p.m., 45 minutes late for the reservation. (Someone did call ahead.) Ashcroft, sans his usual suit and tie, was initially stiff with the patrons and staff, but later settled in for a four-hour tour, staying to hear Roz Brown and his autoharp. And at no point did he demand that the naked animals that adorn the Buckhorn's walls be draped, the way he accessorized a nude statue at the Department of Justice's Washington, D.C., headquarters.

Although the Buckhorn has hosted many august visitors through the years, dating back to the days when Teddy Roosevelt hunted with the building's first owner, not everyone was excited to have Ashcroft in the house. When an older couple was told they could say they'd dined with the attorney general, one member emphatically responded, "No, I don't think so."

Secure the premises.

Pressure points: The Colorado Coalition of Massage Therapists and Bodyworkers has been rubbed the wrong way by Governor Bill Owens's opposition to renewing Colorado's no-fault auto-insurance coverage.

To protest the possibility that new auto-insurance legislation may eliminate doctor- prescribed medical massage therapy, the Longmont-based group, led by Dawn Halvorsen Todd, is sponsoring Massage Legislative Awareness Day on Monday, January 20, at the State Capitol. (Although it's also Martin Luther King Jr. Day, an official state holiday, lawmakers will be working.) Throughout the day, five therapists will offer fifteen-minute chair massages.

"It's just a way to let folks know that massage does feel good," says Todd, who has been in practice eight years. "Frankly, the type of massage that most medical massage therapists offer doesn't feel good. But we won't be offering that; it's not an appropriate setting."

So far, Todd's group has only identified Owens as a candidate for a rubdown. Also in need of some mellowing is Senate President John Andrews, who's made a point of annoying everyone but Focus on the Family. And how about a hand for Joint Budget Committee Chairman Dave Owen? It's not going to be easy massaging that budget into shape.

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