A varied menu of experiences

Posted 6/18/10

Look up in the sky: Janet Echelman’s monumental 80-foot by 60-foot “1.26” will float over the Denver Civic Center, announcing the Biennial of …

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A varied menu of experiences


Look up in the sky: Janet Echelman’s monumental 80-foot by 60-foot “1.26” will float over the Denver Civic Center, announcing the Biennial of the Americas, which runs through July with a focus on the Western Hemisphere’s 35 countries.

It expresses temporality and interconnectedness surrounding the 1.26 microsecond shortening of the day that resulted from the February 2010 Chilean earthquake’s redistribution of the earth’s mass.

Most programming will be very much in the here and now, seen through the lens of a wish for a more cohesive Western Hemisphere: visual and performing arts, dialogue among distinguished thinkers about common issues and discussion about the arts. Four interlocking themes run through this rich menu of sights and sounds: Innovation, Sustainability, the Arts and Community.

While the Biennial concept has been floating around for a couple of years, it really started coming together fairly recently, especially after young art Mexican curator curator Paola Santoscoy was hired, so a check on the website for the latest schedule is suggested — also, please look at it because we can’t begin to describe the wealth of activities planned: www.biennialoftheamericas.org.

The 1910 Greek Revival McNichols Building at Denver’s Civic Center, once Denver’s Public Library, will be open to the public for the first time in 60-plus years, filled with art, architectural and design concepts and cultural events for the first Biennial of the Americas, which will extend to related exhibits and events across the metro area. Three floors have been transformed from a warren of small offices to open gallery, performance and gathering spaces, with the intention that the building will be further transformed for public use in the future— funding needed, of course.

“The Nature of Things” is the theme for a McNichols exhibition of work by 24 artists from across the Western Hemisphere. The title comes from a philosophical work by first century Roman poet Lucretius, which addresses the Biennial themes listed above. It speaks of how people perceive their world, including the inherent conflicts. It is hoped that viewers will create their own responses to what they see and hear. The redeveloping building is itself viewed as part of the exhibition.

A site-specific installation by Mexican artist Jeronimo Hagerman and a new mural by Santiago Cucullu from Argentina will be among the new works shown, which will include paintings, sculpture, video art and mixed media. One of Colorado’s best known painters, Clark Reichert, will be included. Programs will feature participants. For example, from 4 to 6 p.m. on July 6, Hagerman and Santoscoy will speak.

The Americas Roundtable, brings public dialogues by prestigious thinkers in half day sessions, held intermittently at the Ellie Opera House July 6 through 28 (see schedule). They will address education, philanthropy, women, public health, poverty reduction, trade, energy and climate change, as perceived in the US, Canada and Latin countries. Some continue dialog that began earlier. For example, last year in Davos, Switzerland, the World Economic Forum began a discussion of women-owned businesses and how they can impact the global economy. the roundtable on July 7 will continue that discussion.

An active south area participant will be the Museum of Outdoor Art, located at Englewood’s Civic Center, which is focusing on sustainable architecture.

A show in the gallery features “Element House architecture for a new ecology, models and drawings of off-the-grid homes designed by MOS Architects.

“Weidenblume” at MOA’s Samson Park, next to Comfort Dental Amphitheatre, is a biodome made from dormant willow rods, based on Sumerian reed construction in Mesopotamia. It’s the first U.S. installation by German landscape architects Santfe Strukturen. The living sculpture will take root and leaf out over several years. Also at Samson Park, are recycled dwelling units designed by Denver Architect Douglas Eichenberg, and installed by MOA design and Build interns.

The fourth project “p.s.” means personal space, a pentagonal unit to be built in one’s back yard for use as an office or studio or… It will be completed in July.

MOA is also hosting a related Public Forum called “PLACE” for artists and community members to discuss a possible new sustainable live and work community for Englewood. It will take place at 7 to 9 p.m. January 29 at the Englewood Civic Center, 1000 Englewood Parkway.

The Denver Art Museum, Museum of Nature and Science, Museum of Contemporary Art Denver, Museo de las Americas, Buntport Theater Company, Su Teatro and other institutions will have programs, the Kids Patch will be ongoing and outdoor concerts and performances are scheduled, including a free Colorado Symphony concert and fireworks on July 3. Again, consult that schedule!

Many events will be free and some, such as the Roundtables and McNichols admission, will be ticketed.

If you go:

The McNichols Building at the Denver Civic Center is the focal point, but activities are scheduled at the Ellie Caulkins Opera House in the Denver Performing Arts Complex at 14th and Curtis. In addition, museums and galleries across tow will participate. Find a schedule at biennial of


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