Welcome to Denver, Where an Audi Igloo Could Be Considered Art

Categories: Art

Welcome to Denver -- and an Audi igloo.
Denver International Airport will celebrate its twentieth anniversary on February 28. Although there were several postponements before the airport hit that 1995 opening date, one goal remained constant: DIA would have a great collection of public art, which today comprises more than thirty permanent pieces and has won international awards. Of course, there were some snafus with the art program, too: "Mustang," better known as Blucifer, arrived more than a decade late, and "Mountain Mirage," which was designed to greet visitors as they came off the train, is gone altogether -- its original spot filled over the the holiday season by a couple of fabric igloo tents touting Audi.

See also: New DIA Artwork Hasn't Inspired Any Conspiracy Theories -- Yet

More »

Craftsy Has Created an Arty Online Empire, One Frosting Curlicue and Cross-Stitch at a Time

Categories: Art, News

"Work your fingers down and around the thigh, and get that butter right up against the leg."

Three cameras zoom in on the action as Ian Knauer massages roasted-garlic-infused butter under the skin of the raw chicken lying on the cutting board in front of him. Surrounded by gleaming granite countertops and stained wooden cabinets, Knauer is working in a spacious professional kitchen in the Icehouse building in LoDo, the former home of the Mise-en-Place cooking school that's now functioning as a full-scale film set. Before the cameras rolled, the director carefully walked Knauer through the shot -- massage in the garlic butter, stuff the bird with orange and thyme, then truss it up -- referring to a lengthy script that details every move and comment that Knauer is supposed to make. Between takes, a chef's assistant hurries over to wipe up errant chicken juices from the cutting board. A finished, roasted chicken lies on a nearby countertop; it will stand in for Knauer's chicken later in the segment so they don't have to wait around for this bird to cook. It's already starred in an "action shot"; earlier, when Knauer pulled this chicken out of the oven, a cameraman was right there with him, capturing the smoke and sizzle of the freshly roasted bird.

A Pennsylvania-based farmer/chef who was a food editor at Gourmet magazine and star of the PBS show The Farm, Knauer is used to high-end cooking productions -- but even he is struck by the sophistication and polish of this three-day film shoot, for which he was flown to Denver. "This is a much bigger production value than our PBS show," he says once the cameras are off. "This is the real deal."

But this segment isn't for a big-budget cable cooking show. Instead, the results of this shoot, which is likely to end up costing more than $10,000, will go up online, a place where most kitchen tutorials are either bare-bones YouTube clips or viral memes depicting what happens when you microwave a lava lamp.

The film shoot is the work of Craftsy, a local online-education company that's breaking all the rules of startup culture. Since 2011, the operation has been producing three- to five-hour video tutorials on some of the most traditional, tech-averse subjects imaginable, including quilting, knitting, sewing and cake decorating -- but those old-fashioned subjects are now luring 350 new class enrollments every hour. And over the past year, Craftsy has expanded its curriculum to include classes on subjects like cooking, among them Knauer's The New Chicken Dinner, which will go up online early in 2015.

While some people wonder whether online-education programs can ever make money, Craftsy has been charging $20 to $50 per class from the get-go and collected more than $24 million in revenue in 2013, double what it made the year before. The vast majority of its users are female and over forty -- the antithesis of the typical tech audience -- and its enrollment now stands at a total of five million students from all fifty states and 180 countries.

Ignoring all suggestions to move to Silicon Valley, Craftsy has been quietly thriving in Denver, outgrowing one office space after another. It now boasts 225 employees and plans to hire 100 more in the new year. Last spring, Governor John Hickenlooper designated May 21 as "Colorado Craftsy Day," celebrating the company as one of the standout successes in the region's growing tech scene. And Coloradans aren't the only ones taking notice of this unusual startup. In November, the company raised more than $50 million in financing, nearing $100 million in total venture capital.

But Craftsy is doing more than turning heads and making money. It's fashioning a bold new way to digitize the burgeoning maker movement -- turning quilting teachers into online celebrities, cake-decorating aficionados into successful small-business owners. And it won't stop until it has revolutionized the $30 billion U.S. crafts market, one crochet stitch and frosting curlicue at a time.

As Knauer says between takes of his cooking-class shoot: "These guys are pros."

More »

Photos: Fifteen Beautiful Colorado Paintings on Postcards

Categories: Art, Lists, Photos

More images below.
In many ways, postcards are becoming something of a lost art -- but even rarer are postcards of places like Colorado that feature paintings rather than photos. We found a slew of examples on ArtFire -- if you're unfamiliar with the site, think of it is an even artsier Etsy -- and they're absolutely eye-popping. Check out our fifteen favorites below, and be sure to click on the links if you'd like to add one or more of them to your Colorado pride collection.

See also: Our Ten Favorite Colorado Pride Items on Etsy, Summer 2014 Edition

More »

Photos: Twenty Posters and Prints That Make Colorado Look Amazing

Categories: Art, Lists

The full-size version of this poster and nineteen more below.
We're constantly amazed at how inspirational Colorado can be. And here's proof: twenty eye-popping posters and prints that capture and celebrate the beauty of the state you're in -- we hope. Check out the collection below, and be sure to click on the caption-links; many of them are available for sale.

See also: Photos: Ten Best "Colorado" Movie Posters

More »

"Take the iPads Off the Tortoises:" Petition Stokes Controversy Over Museum Exhibit

Categories: Art, News

Photo by Billy Farrell/BFAnyc.com
A cropped version of an exhibit-promoting photo made available by the Aspen Art Museum.
"Moving Ghost Town Tortoises," a new exhibit at the Aspen Art Museum, hasn't even launched yet. It's slated to debut on Saturday amid the unveiling of a new building at the facility. But it's making national and international headlines thanks to a petition claiming animal abuse as a result of the presentation's most unique aspect: iPads strapped to the backs of three African tortoises. Photos, details and more below.

See also: Photos: More of Denver's Best Street Art as Chosen by a Graffiti-Scene Veteran

More »

Update: Boulder city manager says "no" to "Yes!" art project

Categories: Art, News

More photos below.
Update: Last month, we reported about the kerfuffle over a planned art project: a giant red "Yes!" slated for installation at Boulder's main library branch that inspired numerous locals to say "no."

Now, the nays officially have it. At last night's Boulder City Council meeting, city manager Jane Brautigan announced that she would not sign the contract for the display in part because of the public outcry. (Another factor: The artists are from Miami, not Colorado.) A new policy to choose public art for the library is reportedly in the works. Continue for our previous coverage.

More »

Photos: Boulder residents saying "no" to "Yes!" library art project?

Categories: Art, News

More photos below.
Earlier this week, the City of Boulder announced the selection of a public-art project for the Boulder Public Library main branch: "Yes!," by artists R&R Studios based in Miami. But some of those who've seen renderings of the piece, featuring giant red letters and an exclamation point (we've got more images below) aren't responding in a positive manner.

More »

Marijuana: Puff, Pass and Paint offers a 420-friendly art experience

Categories: Art, Marijuana

Photo by Leslie Simon
Like most artists, Denver painter Heidi Keyes, seen here, was looking to expand her artistic endeavors.

Then, a friend told her to create a Colorado-style version of the popular Sip and Paint/Canvas and Cocktails events already happening: "Why not some kind of 420-friendly painting class?"

And with that, Puff, Pass and Paint was born, gaining steam and clients faster than Keyes could ever have imagined.

More »

Sheridan Boulevard is on the frontline of graffiti -- and two city systems for handling it

All photos by Nate Hemmert
There's street art and then there's graffiti. One can be beautiful, creative and inspiring; the other can be destructive, ugly and a huge nuisance. But the dividing line is difficult to determine. For proof of that, just head to the front of the graffiti war: Sheridan Boulevard, where you can see how two different cities are fighting this problem. Sheridan borders with both cities from Colfax south to Yale. And if you take a drive along this strip, you'll quickly recognize that graffiti and tagging are an issue here. Look a little closer, though, and you'll notice that the east side of the street is more marked up.

More »

Photos: More of Denver's best street art as chosen by a graffiti-scene veteran

Categories: Art, News, Photos

Big photos below.
Earlier this month, we featured twenty images from a video entitled "Denver's Best Street Art" and asked if they deserved the title. A twenty-year veteran of the local street-art scene answered no and provided images that he feels better represent the area's best writers -- so many, in fact, that we broke the collection into two sections.

Today, we present the sequel -- and the art is just as astonishing as in part one.

More »