Sightseers get sights to see

Denver visitors can peruse art at center

"The Heavy is the Root of the Light,” a 95-by-95-foot painting by Mindy Bray, is on the wall behind the escalator at the Denver Convention Center. Courtesy photo

Denver's iconic 40-foot-tall Blue Bear, titled “I See What You Mean,” now has more to look at as he peers into the Denver Convention Center.

Eight new works of art were recently placed in the center to enhance the experience of the many visitors who trek through its exhibit spaces and halls.

The artworks were paid for through a public-private partnership between the City and County of Denver and the convention center's management company, SMG, which commissioned the project. Total cost was $235,000.

The pieces mark the introduction of Denver's newly announced cultural plan, “IMAGINE 2020,” and were selected through NINEdotARTS, a local cultural consultant, with representatives from Denver Arts and Venues, Visit Denver, SMG and members of the Denver arts community.

The focus was on Denver artists and galleries. Half of the artists are younger than 35, although Denver veterans Roland Bernier and Phil Bender are also included. For Bernier, it's the largest installation in his 60-year career of creating art from words (“Wall of Words”). Choices range from traditional landscape through Bernier's words and Bender's license plates to Mindy Bray's huge mural and Ian Fisher's images of clouds and sky. (Museum of Outdoor Arts in Englewood recently exhibited his work.)

On the wall by the two-story escalator that carries one up to the exhibition halls is a 95-by-95-foot site-specific mural by Mindy Bray, titled “The Heavy is the Root of the Light.” It is based on photographs of the Platte River nearby at Confluence Park and speaks of the flow of pedestrians as well as that of the river. The title is a line from the Tao Te Ching.

Bray is a painter and installation artist based in Denver, who received her MFA from the University of Iowa in 2005. She has taught at the University of Denver and Metropolitan State University and exhibited nationally.

Her artist statement reads: “All visual experience is filtered, as the brain categorizes and creates patterns in order to attempt an understanding of what is being experienced …. My works on paper and on the wall describe an intersection of the natural world and built environments ….”

Other new public art at the convention center:

● “I Know You Know That I Know” by Sandra Fettingis.

● “Untitled (Ocular Series) by Mike McClung.

● “Wall of Words” by Roland Bernier.

● “Boulder Creek-Autumn 08 #1” by James Cook.

● “Atmosphere No. 27, 37 and 44” by Ian Fisher.

● “Untitled 88” by Derrick Velasquez.

● “License Plates” by Phil Bender.

These new works would meet the priority listed in “IMAGINE 2020” that states: “Increase visibility of local artistic and creative talent.” The document, as well as a summary of it, can be found online. We hope the metropolitan area arts community is aware of its aspirations.