Wake-Up Call: Pony up for the Arts

Fresh from shmoozing with Barack Obama, John Hickenlooper will be at the Ellie Caulkins Opera House tonight, presenting the 2008 Mayor's Awards for Excellence in the Arts to Charles Burrell, the Denver Young Artists, Su Teatro and the Bloomsbury Review, as well as a Mayor's Cultural Legacy Award to Noel Congdon.

The event, which is free, with doors opening at 5:30 and the ceremony starting at 6:30, promises to be a celebration of some of this town's real cultural icons. But you know what would make it an even better party? A poetry slam featuring the close to 300 haikus that amateur aesthetes wrote in response to realtor Rachel Hultin's call to compose verse inspired by "Mustang," Luis Jimenez's "heinous blue horse," as she calls it on her group's Facebook page.

But while Erin Trapp, head of the Denver Office of Cultural Affairs, is currently pulling together a host of materials connected to "Mustang" and plans to apply for a grant so that DOCA can create a website for the "ephemera" connected with the sculpture -- an online "place that would let people discuss the art" -- reading the poems aloud at tonight's ceremony isn't part of that evolving picture.

Both Trapp and Hultin admit that they were stunned by how the "Mustang" story blew up so big, and so fast. On February 6, the Wall Street Journal ran a front-page piece on Hultin's campaign, "and I didn't plan on spending four hours with reporters that day," Trapp says.

For more details on tonight's event, go to www.denvergov.org/mayorsawards. And remember:

Not enough support

The artists gallop away

And Denver's duller

A town without art

Art on the run

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