RiNo ~

Today I dropped off a photograph for an exhibit at RedLine Contemporary Art Center in Denver (yay! finally got into a Denver show!). Afterwards I headed up Larimer Street for a bite to eat and found myself in what is now called the River North Art District (RiNo for short). It appears to be a rundown industrial warehouse district now partially converted into a trendy, edgy place full of brewpubs, coffee houses, smoke shops, and clubs, many of which host little art shows. It’s the kind of place where you may need to know by word of mouth that there’s an entertainment venue behind a particular unmarked door.

I got a burger at Denver’s recently opened Shake Shack, a chain I hadn’t heard of until the local news channels trumpeted this arriving business as if the second coming was at hand. Then I wandered a few blocks down Larimer Street to Denver Central Market, which houses various eateries and places to buy gourmet foods. In between I took photographs of some of the abundant street art in this district, mainly vibrant murals many of which take their style and inspiration from graffiti.

RiNo seems to be a rapidly changing area. To help label some of my images I consulted Google Maps, which had photos dating to June 2017 and September 2017. Already some of the murals have been reworked and many more appear to have been added. I hope someone is systematically documenting the street art in this area. It would make an interesting book.

The Gates of Paradise ~

The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City recently acquired a re-casting of Lorenzo Ghiberti’s “Gates of Paradise,” a 15th-century work. Bringing in this massive piece, which is several feet across and—I’m guessing here—maybe 12 feet high required taking down some of the windows that make up the wall of the Bloch Addition and the use of an industrial elevator. The photo of the overall work, which I adjusted for perspective as best I could in Photoshop, doesn’t come close to capturing the magnificence of these doors. I also don’t know who the figures are in the relief and bas-relief details shown; an interpretive key would have been helpful. It would be quite an interesting contrast to see a good reproduction of the Gates next to a reproduction of the “Gates of Hell” by Rodin.

Chalk it up to art ~

Last weekend I took my sister to the annual Denver Chalk Art Festival in Larimer Square. We went on Saturday; as we discovered, most of the pictures are not finished until Sunday, so that’s when we should have gone. Here’s a sampling of what we saw. Unfortunately, I don’t have the artists’ names for any of them. The portrait of the woman in white was especially interesting: The picture itself was oddly elongated, but a piece of paper taped to the ground in front of it directed you to stand there and look through your camera lens. And voilà, the picture appeared in proper perspective. It’s funny to think of the thousands of photographs of this picture that now exist in Colorado. Other chalk artists set themselves the task of reproducing a painting; the photo of the American Indian with the buffalo robe shows a detail of one of these.

New Cathedral ~

Altar, Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis

Altar, Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis

Central dome, Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis

Central dome, Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis

Narthex, Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis

Narthex, Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis

It isn’t new—in fact, it was dedicated in 1914—but St. Louisans sometimes refer to the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis as the “New Cathedral,” in contradistinction to the much smaller, historic “Old Cathedral” on the riverfront. These iPhone photos have been improved as much as my middling Photoshop capability can make them. The Wikipedia article about the cathedral has immensely better photographs. The Cathedral Basilica contains one of the largest collections of mosaics in the world. It’s something of a hidden treasure in the heart of St. Louis, not far from Forest Park.

Some perspective ~

I’m keenly missing many things from Southern Illinois—besides my friends, I mean, whom I miss constantly. Maybe it’s time to tally up a few things I like about Colorado and Loveland, to allay a sort of disoriented feeling I’ve been getting lately when I ponder that I really live out here now:

  • Cool nights even on hot days.
  • Lilacs. The lilacs out here grow much larger and bloom much longer than they do in Southern Illinois. (I guess the cold nights agree with them.) The large lilac in my yard bloomed for a full month this May. And in Loveland there are enough lilac bushes to perfume the air for several weeks.
  • Rocky Mountain National Park. Now that U.S. 34 is once again open through Big Thompson Canyon, it’s less than an hour away. Also: The Peak-to-Peak Highway, which runs from Black Hawk to Estes Park, and the drive from Fairplay over the mountains to Breckinridge. I’m itching to do some mountain drives that are new to me.
  • The sky. Although I don’t see as much of it as I’d like to, I see enough to appreciate that the clouds are very interesting out here. If it weren’t for the fact that winters and summers are both more extreme out on the open plains, and everything so remote, I’d like to live out there. Since my house has no mountain view, I wish it at least had a good view of the sky. Fortunately, things open out just a block or two from home.
  • Benson Sculpture Garden in Loveland, which has more than 100 works of art, mostly bronzes, in a very pretty pond setting.
  • Aspens, of course, and columbines, with their lovely molded five-cupped centers.
  • Tokyo Joe’s, a “fast-casual” chain where I can get a big bowl of udon noodles, veggies, and wild salmon for $11.65. Oh, and New York–style pizza bought by the slice. Yeah, they have that here! I wouldn’t be my mother’s daughter if I didn’t mention food in some fashion.
  • No chiggers! As Calvin Trillin knows, this is never the least consideration in any list of  positive attributes.

That’s a start. More later, I hope.

City Museum 2 ~

Granted, this is an awful lot of images for one post, but I’m hoping to simulate for people who have never been there the sensory-overload experience that City Museum offers. This place, like the Gateway Arch and the Climatron at the Missouri Botanical Garden, has become a unique must-see in St. Louis.

City Museum 1 ~

I wish that City Museum, in St. Louis, had existed when I was growing up there. It’s an unbelievably inventive, active place—both for kids and for adults who are in sufficiently good shape to climb many stories of spiral staircases, squirm through wire mesh tubes high in the air, and otherwise navigate their way through this enchanted space, created from industrial parts and tons of concrete (I presume) in the old International Shoe factory building. It’s for good reason that the museum’s website recommends that you bring a flashlight and that the gift shop sells knee pads. Some well-prepared souls wore head flashlights, like spelunkers. Doing this museum properly is, essentially, to do spelunking.

The first couple of floors contain a network of mostly hidden tunnels: you’ll notice a small opening at the side of a narrow walkway that leads to who knows where; a couple of metal steps in some inconspicuous place will lead up into a twist of metal tubes that disappear beyond the ceiling; a child will suddenly pop into view, or out of view, in a completely unforeseen place. There are long spiral slides and shorter straight slides and little bitty tunnel “slides” whose presence is indicated only by openings at the sides of pillars or staircases. For someone who must keep her eyes on her child at all times, this place would be a nightmare. And, as the museum entrance sign says, there are no maps.

Furthermore, the place is loud, thanks to a bellowing organ in the building’s core (the Caves/Spiral Staircase area) and to the constant echoing shrieks and laughter of children. Spelunking is far outside my physical capacity, but an out-of-shape older person such as myself can still walk some of the uneven, dark passageways, or climb the dimly lit spiral staircases, and marvel at the repurposed building materials there and elsewhere in the museum. I took photos despite ridiculously slow shutter speeds (measured in seconds), because it was simply impossible not to. Needless to say, tripods are not allowed; they would pose a real hazard even in spaces wide enough to set them up. Anyway, here are a few abstracts, semi-abstracts, and unclassifiables. More to come.