Wake-Up Call: Another contemporary art treasure in Denver

Michael Paglia posted the news first: Adam Lerner, head of the Laboratory of Art and Ideas in Lakewood, will take over as director of the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver, replacing Cydney Payton, who exited last fall.

And that's not all: In revealing the hire yesterday, the MCA board also announced that the Lab will merge with the museum, leaving its base in Belmar in April. Lakewood's loss -- and it's definitely a loss for the innovative Lab to abandon that new-urbanism outpost -- is Denver's gain.

But those who tout the merger as filling a programming gap in central Denver are ignoring a true cultural laboratory operating just south of the Civic Center: the Denver Public Library's Fresh City Life.

Chris Loffelmacher is the mad scientist who concocts program after program for Fresh City Life, in the process making the DPL the hippest cultural venue in town. On Monday night, a fashion show. This Saturday, a cooking class. And between, movies and lectures and a marathon knitting project that created thousands of hats for soldiers. Loffelmacher understands the importance -- and expanse -- of the arts. After all, he's an artist, too. He created Mayor John Hickenlooper's memorable green leaf jacket.

I look forward to seeing what Lerner will do at the Museum of Contemporary Art. But in the meantime, let's not overlook what Loffelmacher is doing at the DPL. For more information on Fresh City Life, go to www.denverlibrary.org.

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