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bowie 2

How do you mourn someone you’ve never known? How can loss be so palpable for one you’ve never laid a hand on? There’s been enough death and destruction in our lives lately for us to be not only too familiar, but inundated with it. We know the leaden days that follow endless succession after a personal loss, we are all too intimate with hollow nights where space expands to hold the echo. Paris, Belgium, parents, pets, and people who have touched our lives through bringing their talents so richly to theirs- now gone. How can the days feel empty with the loss of one who never filled them?
I’ve cried over a celebrity death twice before; when John Lennon was shot and the tragedy of Princess Diana. I lived around the corner from the Dakota on that cold December night and I joined the disbelieving vigil, passing candles and singing songs with strangers. With Princess Diana’s death I couldn’t take my puffy eyes off of the news coverage, watching over and over as if truth could be digested one soundbite at a time. That seems so long ago. It was all so unreal; one very macro, the other was a personal experience, and now these shocks and stunners have become so close together, they teeter on the mundane. Until Bowie.

“Life beats down and crushes the soul and art reminds you that you have one.” – Stella Adler

After a childhood trying to pass as normal, this freak of a teenager found out that there was an English glam rocker hanging out in a club on the Sunset Strip. A high school friend would pick me up, toss me a bag with my outfit for the outing; hot pants, halter and glitter platforms and I’d ch-ch-change from suburban cheerleader to glam-child on the I-5 as we sped toward the center of the Universe; the Sunset Strip. The Strip, post Jim Morrison jumping off the Whisky A-Go-Go, was resurgent with a glam and reckless 70s energy to counter the macramé of my suburban safety and Rodney Bingenhimer’s English Disco was where we’d encounter the Starman. Like Elvis, only better, he was an artist like the world has never seen: exciting and dangerous, a legendary chameleon who could embody the character and the story, our story. The Patron Saint of the Outlier, equal parts showman and shaman, David Bowie burst from my dreams in Technicolor, alien, human, godlike and humble. He gave me the vision of a world beyond my straight-A sister and the fear of spending my adulthood in a world that felt so alien. I wore the grooves off his records, slipping him into the Hi-fi stack among the Joni Mitchell, Neil Diamond and CSNY of my elder sibs. I saw him live every chance I got, slithering my way to the front of the stage like the nubile blonde that I was.
During my New York years, he was HERO; LODGER & LOW wafting through the loft, or waiting by the stage door after seeing him in The Elephant Man. David Bowie was an artist I claimed as my own; interesting, relevant, fluid. Bowie’s impression upon my youth was seminal. He not only gave us permission to be our different selves, he demanded we celebrate it, challenged a generation to take creativity to the limit and begin there.
I got home late the night he died, went to bed with a broken heart, knowing the world would be different. I couldn’t bear to see the pain on social media the next morning- perhaps if I don’t don’t logon I can pretend it never happened. But it had. Like everything has. And though I knew I’d have to face the tributes, the Ziggy profile pics and the music- oh god, the music- flooding the airwaves. It was an unavoidable reminder of what we’d lost, and what we’d gained.
In the months that have passed since his death, I’ve wondered why this death was so different. Not only for me (whose Plan A was movie star, Plan B- bear Bowie’s babies), but for millions around the globe. This star extinguished reminds us of our youthful promise to be wholly ourselves. A sobering, somber moment as we check in with our velvet covered middle-aged selves to see how our quest for artistry may have morphed into the mundane, or disappeared in the pursuit of money. For me, this is the challenge, to return to the edge and begin there once again.

Paris“Life beats down and crushes the soul and art reminds you that you have one.” – Stella Adler

I spent the first ten days of November in the dark, enveloped in the swirl of the Denver Film Festival, embraced by the magic of movies. My head and heart were filled with the stories of the twenty or so films I’d seen: love stories, tales of triumph and redemption, documentaries and comedies to shine their light on our human foolishness. And there were lots of war stories: old wars, new wars and wars yet to come, each carrying the weight of “why” on their backs like a wounded soldier. By closing weekend the darkness had changed. Paris had been attacked and the world was in mourning once more. Grateful for the darkened theatre, the light as it hit the silver screen, and the gift of being swept from reality for a brief span of time.

Life has always been brutal; it’s that now we have Twitter. Throughout history when tragedy strikes, by the hands of man or the slap of Mother Nature, we have managed to plod on. We survive, sometimes little more.  Healing is a matter of time and the feeling of putting the pieces back together. The leaden feeling lifts and we go on… but how do we make sense of the senseless? Our leaders offer condolences, pledges of support and election year rhetoric. Our pulpits offer duality and confusion as we struggle with loving our enemy. Where do we turn for guidance?

Look to your artists.

Mankind is complex, humanity, elusive; we search for certainty when “the center cannot hold”. We blame, strive to right the world, to get back to normal knowing nothing is certain and there is no normal.  Art has no normal. It has no answers. You can rearrange the pieces as you put them back together, creating something new the world has never seen.   Artists give us what the 24 hour news channels don’t even dream of; context.  After the films were over I was left with nothing but an empty feeling, inundated with the 24 hour news I’d been watching for 48 hours. I switched the channel and there it was, a movie of war and triumph and the power each one of us has on the life of another. The film was Life is Beautiful, and it was.

 

“There’s a moment during every single festival that I love the most, it’s that moment after the speeches on opening night and the anticipation of that first flicker of the image, where it’s a frame no longer and the first story we’ve chosen finally begins.” Britta Erickson, Festival Director Denver Film Society

 

 

“Let’s Dance…”rsz_rock_ballets_photo

Wonderbound had scheduled the Rock Ballets into their 2016 season well before the world heard the news. In a perfect confluence of time and space, sound and vision, Artistic Director Garrett Ammon’s ballets, set to the music of David Bowie and Queen take flight a month after the legendary artist’s ascent. The popular program has been here before, but you haven’t seen it like this.

Not only will the Wonderbound supernova perform these stunning works, the music will be played live by a supergroup comprised of Denver’s Chimney Choir and  the Ian Cooke Band.The music of Queen and David Bowie will be featured along with original tunes by both bands.

Can you imagine the kinetic imagination of Garrett Ammon set free to the lyrical strains of Queen’s “Love of My Life”? Gives me goosebumps just thinking about it so I’m sure that when the dancers take stage for “Bohemian Rhapsody” I’ll be in tears, and “We Are The Champions” should give me a chance to pick myself up off of the floor.Ammon’s star shines in “An Occasional Dream,” delving into one of the most famous tales of history and Bowie’s edgier songs, “Life On Mars,” “Time” and “Space Oddity” while Wonderbound Company Artist Sarah Tallman opens the night with her creation , “Unbroken Sky”. This world premiere will feature songs created by the supergroup septuplet of Chimney Choir and Ian Cooke Band and will evoke the explosion of the Beatnik generation.*snaps*

 “We are very excited to be a part of ​ Rock Ballets ​ . It will be a lot of fun to team up with Ian Cooke Band and reinvent some of the classics.“  – Kevin Larkin, Chimney Choir 

And if that’s not enough, Leon Gallery  has curated Denver Artist Mario Zoots for an exclusive exhibition of new works exploring themes from old Rolling Stones issues from the Bowie and Queen eras. (Oh great, now I belong to an ‘era’).

Rock  Ballets ​opens February 13 and will run for five (5) performances throughout Denver. More information on the production can be found at wonderbound.com​ .
If you can’t wait, stop by a limited seating Teaser at the Wonderbound Studio at Junction Box, for a taste of what the full-length performance will hold. Teaser #9 is on February 2, 2016 at 6:30 pm.

rsz_okeeffe_georgia-chama_river_ghost_ranchThere’s nothing like a room full of O’Keeffe to make me want to take a road trip and the “Georgia O’Keeffe in New Mexico: Architecture, Katsinam and the Land” exhibit at the Denver Art Museum is no exception. Horizontal landscapes of rugged terrain, softened under pastel lights and sharpened on the shadow stimulate my need for the wide and the wild. When Georgia O’Keeffe came to the badlands of Abiquiu she was already an established and successful New York artist. The untamed West, rendered by a soul who’d found her place on earth brings serenity to every city wall she hangs on. Heavy with landscape, the exhibit takes us away from the larger, more familiar cow skulls and flowers of our collective remembrance and sits us down on a rock at sunset. Shapes, shadows, fine strokes and drama draw the viewer deeper down the river. Hopi influences aside, or perhaps front and center I found myself transported to a different time and place, staring at a church or a chasm as if alone in the enchantment.  O’Keeffe crowds solitude with the thick heat and thin air of the high mesa desert, in a tone-on-tone moment that contains life and death without judgement.
“I longed for quiet, a sense of personal attachment and a place that held meaning”, Georgia said of New Mexico.  Not only did she find it she became it, inspiring us as layers of light call to the mind to open up, to share.  A pencil sketch becomes an intimate whisper, the high blue mesa a best friend. Georgia O’Keeffe is the retreat you long to give yourself, and now she has come to you.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Georgia O’Keeffe in New Mexico: Architecture, Katsnim & the Land at the Denver Art Museum through April 28, 2013

http://www.mnn.com/lifestyle/arts-culture/stories/cultured-people-happier-less-stressed.

People who go to museums and concerts or create art or play an instrument are more satisfied with life, regardless of how educated or rich they are.


For years we’ve read studies about how arts in education create better students, especially with the math+music connection. Here’s proof (I’m calling it proof) that you don’t have to be Baby Mozart or write the Great American Novel to benefit from the creative spirit. Partaking in the experience is a spiritual anti-oxidant of its own.
Cultural institutions work hard raising funds and keeping doors open and the gift of your attention helps them keep giving, creating a rich communal experience and increasing the value of our cities. When funding issues hit the ballot the arts are ofttimes berated. Seems to me the beraters might be happier if they picked up that dusty guitar in the basement or that watercolour they’d judged themselves harshly for and didn’t finish.
We’re inundated with news of of the benefits of exercise and healthful eating; we would be well served to take heed of our need for arts & culture as well.

One of Denver’s architectural wonders is the Fredrick C Hamilton Building, designed by Daniel Libeskind at the Denver Art Museum.. With its jutting roof line and walls all akimbo, I love its mix of elegance and surprise. Apparently the Fondation Pierre Bergé-Yves Saint Laurent did too because when DAM Director, Christoph Heinrich, approached them to host the Yves Saint Laurent Retrospective they said “Oui”. They make for a chic ensemble and quite the coup. Denver is the only stop in North America before this exquisite exhibit heads south of the border. New York must be green with envy.

When Yves Saint Laurent took his seam ripper to the nipped Dior waistline, he unleashed the power of the modern woman and seems to have designed her wardrobe for the past 50 years. The words ‘jumpsuit, pantsuit, safari look and bolero jacket’ were rarely heard before the genius of the YSL moment, and never to describe fashion. Influenced by global culture, Saint Laurent drew his inspiration from the arts and artists, from operas, literary figures, personal muses and “aesthetic ghosts;” he has woven time into the timeless.

Read more.
The Yves Saint Laurent Retrospective lands in Denver for an exclusive look into the designer’s genius. The Denver Art Museum is the only North American stop as this exquisite exhibit travels from Paris to South America. Why? “Because I asked.” says DAM Director, Christoph Heinrich. With the integration of local fashion stars and designers included in the gift shop and gallery, I say “Magnifique!”

I live and work in a city that fosters and grows its arts and cultural community, lights the way with a beacon of alternative energy investment, and preserves the character of the city’s neighborhoods and Technicolor past… That’s something to look up to.

This spring, Denver placed a respectful #3 on the first annual PR Newswire “Cities on the Edge” study. Factors like our love of extreme sports, a thriving music, arts & cultural scene, the respectful way we’re building green, contributed to our raise rank as well as the perception that we are ‘poised for greatness.’ Of course, we who live in Denver could have told them this. Over the past fifteen years, we’ve watched our Mile High City grow and flourish right before our eyes. We’ve built and rebuilt, created and recreated, and come into our own through the hard work and dedication of our citizens, our leaders and our innovators. We’ve hosted the World Series and the Democratic National Convention, won two Stanley Cups, two Superbowls, built or expanded four museums, created four or five arts districts and some sassy neighborhoods, grown our theatres to the nation’s center stage and thrown some bands into the spotlight. Colorado is on fire!
(…didn’t Governor Owens land in hot water for saying that?)

One thing about living here that makes us great beyond the flash is our strong sense of community. On an early, drizzly morning last week, I roused my grousing sons out of bed and joined more than 500 volunteers for Concert for Kids’ Community Day, a masterfully planned day of giving back. Over 40 of the metro area’s non-profit organizations welcomed busloads of volunteers to their sites for fix-up projects. We were transported to the Bridge Project to complete a to-do list that included painting, landscaping, and cleaning, prior to the Monday morning carpet installation. With goods, services, labor and lunch donated by denizens and sponsors, a slam-dunk day of facility improvement allows these organizations to use their operating funds for the primary programming needs.

I had no idea what to expect from putting a roller and paint brush into the hands of my twelve and seventeen year old sons on a sleep-in-Saturday morning. Could this present a problem? Possibly, but not this day. This was a day of cheerful teamwork, service to others and the kind of hard work they’re rarely asked to do at home. I was uplifted by seeing them in this light; the strong and giving young men they’d grown to be. They were gratified having done something for someone else, and satisfied by the joy they left behind. It’s this kind of dig in and get it done spirit that tips Denver over the edge of greatness and Concert for Kids makes it doable. In gratitude, this weekend CFK presents the Denver Day of Rock in venues throughout the downtown area. Listen to the Gin Blossoms, the music of Styx, the Railbenders and more. Get on your feet and dance some Zydeco with your friends, your family and the strangers you’ll call friends by day’s end. There’s nothing like dancing in the streets to get the summer into full swing!