Best of Denver

I returned from a week on the western slope suprised to find out that this very blog has won an award from Westword for “Best Blog — Cultural“. I was shocked, shocked I tell you. Really. Then I looked at the web page and found out that the readers’ choice went to ‘Slacker and Steve’. Turns out Slacker and Steve are the afternoon DJ’s on Alice 105.9, and they don’t even have a blog. Tough competition. But awfully nice of Westword to give this little side project a mention. I’ll take it as a raising of the bar and a challenge to do more with it in the future.

When I think about it, I’m not sure there is a lot of Denver-based art and culture blogging going on. Westword has a good one called “The Latest Word” (though they couldn’t really give the award to themselves) and 5280 Magazine is better in blog than in print. I enjoy my RSS feeds from The Urban Brain and Denver Infill, but they are primarily about living and building in the city, respectively. Tracy and Jill set one up for the River North Art District, but that’s neighborhood specific.

So, that raises the question. Who is writing about art and culture in Denver? Let me know if you have any ideas…

Recurrent Nightmare

The current show at Ironton is really cool. Chelsea Hunt has created ‘an installation of miniature proportions’; it’s intelligent, humorous, and disturbing at the same time. She created engaging scenes of tiny characters with frightening figures looming over them. The same sort of figures that used to loom over me when I was a little character. And now, as I look down at the little characters, I am one of the looming figures.

The artist reception for the show is this Friday, March 30th, from 6-9pm, and the show continues through April 21st. More information is available on the ironton website,

understanding everything

Jan Chipchase, who I’ve never met, has a small goal. He wants to understand everything. He also says that is impossible. For me, it is impossible. For him, I’m not so sure. At the very least he appears to have been everywhere, and documented her travels with an incredible zeal.

Jan works for Nokia, doing research on how people really use phones. Apparently, he also likes to see how people do a lot of other things. On his site, Future Perfect he expounds on all sorts of topics; some posts are simple observations, others more trenchant analysis of how we live our lives in the modern world.

My favorite? The Selfish Toothbrush.

Tokyo, 2007

Spalding Gray, still telling stories

I had the chance to work as stage manager for Spalding Gray for a summer when I was working with the Illusion Theater and the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis in 1985. He was the most compelling storyteller I ever had the privilege of listening to. At the time, he was performing about eight different monologues ranging from “Sex and Death to Age 16” to “Swimming to Cambodia.” 8 or 9 performances a week, I was mesmerized.

If you don’t know his story, Gray (who unfortunately passed away in 2004) was best known as a storyteller, but he had performed in happenings in the 1960’s, and also worked with the Wooster Group at the Performing Garage In New York. The Wooster Group is a theater troupe best known for incredibly complex and difficult performances, often with a hidden narrative.

I was struck the change he in his approach and by his commitment to communicating clearly what was in his mind. I think this is a profound and very important realization; no matter what media you work in, clarity of intent and purpose are key to the ability to communicate effectively.

Another insight from Gray’s work stems from the intensely personal nature of his stories; his performances were quirky, often meandering, and nothing if not true to his own personality. From my own experience, I have found that design and strategy get watered down when they lose their individuality. People respond to work that is authentic and based in personal experience.

Now the words of Spalding Gray are back on stage. Ben Brantley posted a glowing review in the New York Times. Five actors take on readings from his shows and journals. I won’t be in New York to see the show this time around. If you are, you should go.