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Active Retirees : Active Retirees June-July 2012
Active RetireesTM | 17 H eading down Speer Boulevard in downtown Denver, I am confronted by a huge blue bear. Its enormous paws are outstretched and it’s peering into the large glass windows of the Colorado Convention Centre. I am awestruck. It’s not a dream, and no, it’s not alive. It’s Australian sculptor Lawrence Argent’s artwork, I See What You Mean, otherwise known as the Big Blue Bear, and it was my introduction to the art and heart of a city that most people only think of as a hot spot for skiing in winter. A 35-year -old law in Denver, Colorado, gives the city the look and vibe that makes people fall in love with it: one per cent of all construction budgets for all state- funded projects are set aside for the purchase of public art. Evidence of this law is everywhere. The gigantic white- capped tent-like sculptures make the airport look like snowy mountains, random cows are painted with murals and bronze sculptures depict the history of the city. With pianos placed along the main drag, each painted by a different artist and there to be played, the city is a colourful maze of art. If you go in spring or summer, you’re in for a treat, as everyone is dining on the sidewalks, enjoying life and sunshine. Chalk it up The Denver Chalk Art Festival at the beginning of June is something you don’t want to miss. Professional chalk artists are all over a major ‘eat street’ in Larimer Square, squatting, standing, hands on hips, scrutinising, faces filled with concentration as they alternate between coffee, water and filling in another colourful segment of their grand-scale works. There is even a cordoned area for children; chalk-art streams from their fingers as their families look on with pride. It’s a magical festival that carries on into the night, when people pop in and out of restaurants and bars, stopping to admire the art. The relaxing art of dining The Brown Palace Hotel was established in 1892, and is one of Colorado’s most regal hotels. The stunning atrium lobby, with eight floors of balconies, gleaming cast iron railings and ornate grilles, rises majestically above patrons as they indulge in the high life. The scene is completed by a gentleman sitting at a grand piano playing melodies while sweet treats, cucumber sandwiches and exotic teas are delivered to tables on silver platters. A tranquil, beautiful spa is also on the ground floor. If it’s a more modern, creative culinary journey you are after, you’ll find it at Table 6, a restaurant where the regulars cheer on the superb local produce and inventive dishes whipped up by charmingly eccentric chef, Aaron Foreman. Next time someone says they’re skiing Denver in winter, when the restaurant seating is tucked away and the pianos, cows and big blue bears are covered in snow, remember, it certainly isn’t all about skiing in this part of the world. •• Sound of Silence Ever wondered what a speakeasy club actually is? In alcohol prohibition time, it was a hidden bar where people gathered to drink but you had to ‘speak easy’ so that law enforcers didn’t discover the hideout and ruin all the fun. Denver had a load of speakesy clubs in its day, and one of them is still set up like the clubs of yesteryear. You descend from the street, and land in a 50s style, Happy Days kind of pie shop – complete with black and white checked floors and red faux leather swivel stools. There’s a silver door with a sign behind the counter and, if you lean close, you’ll see that it reads ‘The Green Russell’. Stepping into this cool club, one thing you’ll notice right away is the warm low lighting, the decadent leather Chesterfield-type booths, an old red telephone booth, and a glass-walled herb garden spanning the length of the bar behind the bartenders. At the Green Russell you don’t need a cocktail menu – you tell the bar staff what you like and they make up a concoction sure to tick all the boxes. When they need fresh herbs, they duck behind the glass wall and pick fresh herbs from the garden. And the telephone booth? That’s for those who dare pull out a mobile phone in a space that is meant for socialising. If anyone wants to use their phone, they have to stand in the phone booth, in the middle of the room, under bright lights. Not flattering at all. Brilliant. Bound for Colorado Chalk artists squat or stand, hands on hips, scrutinising.
Active Retirees April-May 2012
Active Retirees Aug-Sept 2012