Weilworks says "Tomato"

It's not always easy for an artist to coax art from the mind, or the hand. But it can be even more difficult to coax tomatoes from the soil. Tracy Weil is lucky to have both skills, and he combined them last Friday at Weilworks, 3611 Chestnut Street, his unbelievably cool, three-story studio/home/watchtower, which sits on the banks of the Platte River.

Weil had grown 250 heirloom tomato plants from seed and was selling them for $5 a pop at the RiNo Art District First Friday event, which also highlighted Weil's garden-inspired artwork. And while the pieces hanging on the wall were a little out of my price range, the works sitting side by side in little plastic pots were just right.

So I am now the owner of a $5 piece of earth art, a Goldman's Italian American, that I hope to gaze at all summer long. And speaking of gazing, I climbed Weil's watchtower to the third-story open deck, which has views of Denver in all directions, and although it was misting heavily when I was there, the 360-degree vistas were still unbelievable.

Close your eyes for a moment and you can imagine yourself at a riverside encampment in 1859, when Denver became a city, or at least in 1943, when Denverites planted tons of tomatoes as part of the WWII-era Victory Garden craze.

Growing your own vegetables is trendy again now. To learn more about the urban homesteading movement, check out the first in Westword's series of blogs, entitled Urbavore's Dilemma. And for a history lesson about Denver during its 150th anniversary (including tales of Victory Gardens), plant yourself at www.buckfifty.org.

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