Sunday, October 08, 2006

Denver Has Arrived


For those in the first two rows, you may have noted the major themes currently running here at ClizBiz:

• Bush & Co. are a pack of raving idiot monkeys actively dismantling our country.
• My disastrous love life – perhaps my butterfly net has a hole?
• My budding relationship with Denver – the honeymoon continues.

Today's post will touch on the latter.

My Denver Crush inevitably peaks when I'm bicycling along Cherry Creek, whizzing towards downtown, and marveling at how this lovely bit of nature has been contained and preened for my enjoyment. This was the case yesterday – a golden, perfect Autumn Saturday - as I headed downtown for the much-anticipated opening of the Denver Art Museum's new wing, The Frederick C. Hamilton Building.

Designed by the now-famous architect, Daniel Libeskind, the new building has been in the making since 1999. (Libeskind is the same genius who designed the Jewish Museum in Berlin and has been named Master Planner for the future of Ground Zero.) The Hamilton wing is striking, to say the least. At first glance, it appears to be several angry ships all caught in a traffic jam, trying to go in opposite directions. With its titanium angles jutting into the sky and its bold silver presence, it seems to say: "I am here and I am important: I house and protect art."

Everyone was there for this pivotal community event. So many folks milling around, gaping at the modernist sight – such a clear contrast to the stately Capitol building a few yards away. Truly, it was a festival atmosphere – music in the air, people posing for photographs, kids playing on sculptures and dance performances on stage. Indeed, any time a city gets a new jewel in their crown, it is cause for celebration. An event like this seems to confirm to its citizenry: "Yes, you are worth it."

Folks happily stood in line for free tickets with their babies, dogs and grandmas. (The museum was open free to the public for the first 35 hours straight.) Walking around, I could see the joy on people's faces – it was a complete and unrestrained civic pride. Better yet, I felt it on my own face.

Later that evening, I attended a Harvest Moon party and 'the DAM' (Denver Art Museum) was on everybody's lips. Everyone, it seemed, had tickets for ungodly hours – the free tickets included 'appointment' times to stagger the crowds. Some folks had an extra ticket for me, so at 1:00 a.m., off we went. (Still used to San Francisco, I suggested we leave at midnight so we could find parking. I was certifiably mocked. We left at 12:15 and were parked by 12:30. Still getting used to this whole …y'know … 'space' thing.)

At night, the new building is even more epic, particularly under a full Harvest Moon and especially when your new friends have encouraged you to imbibe as much herbage as possible. Unfortunately, I hadn't planned for the adventure and was stuck in a pair of painful high heels but again, I was recreationally medicated so I strived for the out-of-body thing.

The place is immense and the insides somewhat resemble the outside with stark white walls at great, dramatic angles. Again, people everywhere, really and truly, enjoying the place. The collection was mind-boggling – so many artists I actually knew! Degas, deKooning and an entire exhibit of my favorite Western artist, Charles Marion Russell.

Innocently rounding a corner, my gang and I came across a massive black and white photograph* – amazingly crisp and clear – of my hometown! I was completely flabbergasted and tried to sputter out its significance while pointing to my mother's house in Long Beach, California. Still, I don't think anyone but me fully absorbed the odd coincidence – as it should be, I suppose.

I then felt compelled to stand by the photograph (which must have measured something like 5' x 7 ') and explain to total strangers that no, this was not Colorado, this was my hometown. It was a weird moment of my first civic love making an impressive and abrupt reappearance during my current metro-courtship as if to remind me, "Yes, I'm sure it is very nice here but don't forget where you came from or Snoop Dogg and the ghost of Sublime will never forgive you." (Duly noted – special kisses go out to the LBC.)

Having no pre-conceived ideas or judgments about Denver, there is little opportunity for disappointment. Still, I am picking up on a tangible feeling that this great Western city is really coming into its own. It warms the dried-up cockles of my heart to know that my timing – in at least one area of my life – is impeccable.

*For anyone remotely interested in seeing this photograph, check out Page 28 of this document:

http://www.denverartmuseum.org/files/File/2005annualreport.pdf

4 comments:

History Chic said...

WOW!! Sounds like a fantastic night :) I am going to the DMA Friday nights here in Dallas but that just looked magical. How funny to run into a picture of your home town. What a reminder to not forget where you came from :)

Kath said...

What a karmic coincidence...running into your old hometown in your new hometown!

Was great seeing you Saturday night :-)

Howard said...

That picture is beautiful. Thanks for post the link. The Monkeys loved driving under the new wing during its construction because it looked like a ghost pirate ship and we'd make a lot of Scooby-Doo references and say, "Arrr" a lot.

I'm looking forward to finally seeing the new wing. Thanks for the great write-up about it.

Anonymous said...

My fave lines: (Still used to San Francisco, I suggested we leave at midnight so we could find parking. I was certifiably mocked. We left at 12:15 and were parked by 12:30. Still getting used to this whole …y'know … 'space' thing.)
Missing you in my space, happy to have you in my space.
val