You gotta’ love Denver, the “mile-high” city whose love of public art spawned a new business in cuddly bears.
Denver commissioned local artist Lawrence Argent to create a sculpture for its striking Colorado Convention Center and got a 40-foot-tall blue bear. Its title is actually, I See What You Mean, because the bear is peeking in the convention center windows.
Yet visitors were so excited by the big blue bear that it spawned an entire new industry in plush animals.
Buy one downtown, or go hug the real thing for free.
Denver loves art so much it boasts about spending “more public money for the arts, per capita, than any other city.”
Imagine: A city that brags about spending money on art — because it draws much more in convention and tourism revenue.
More than 150 pieces of public art includes traditional sculpture (an oversized chair) and abstract works (Mark di Savero’s painted steel in front of the Denver Art Museum).
More than $1 million in eye-popping art in Metro Denver has helped make the city a destination for more than sports and microbrews.
Denver is known as “Sportstown USA” because its seven pro sports teams and five stadiums have set an American record: Colorado Rockies (baseball), Denver Nuggets (basketball), Denver Broncos (football), Colorado Rapids (soccer), Denver Outlaws and Colorado Mammoth (both lacrosse), and the Colorado Avalanche (hockey).
Denver brags that it produces more beer than any other American city, although Portland, OR, disputes that. It does have Coors Brewery, “largest single brewing site in the world.”
In the world.
This is a city that takes its beer and its art very seriously — yet has a lot of fun with both.
Denver has such a commitment to art that it celebrates no less than eight arts districts, with commercial galleries, photo exhibits, crafts, working studios, and historical buildings:
7. Cherry Creek North Art District (more a shopping district)
Hundreds of galleries offer bites, drinks and music with their art on First Fridays and Second Saturdays, proving that everything from face-painting to fine art has a home in Denver.
Claes Oldenburg and Coosje Van Bruggen’s The Big Sweep, next to the Denver Art Museum downtown.