From "Mustang" to the blue bear, Beyond Blue celebrates 25 years of public art in Denver

Scott Lentz
Denver is celebrating 25 years of the city's public art program with Beyond Blue, an exhibition running through December 22 in the lobbies of the Buell Theatre and the McNichols Civic Center Building, where it held an opening reception on October 17. Many of the 46 artists who created the 75 artworks in show were there -- but not Luis Jimenez. The man responsible for the most iconic piece, "Mustang" (shown on the cake above) was killed while creating the work.

See alsoBest Public Art at DIA -- "Mustang," by Luis Jimenez

Scott Lentz
Controversial artist John McEnroe discusses his work "Pink," created with flamethrowers and meathooks.
Denver's Public Art Program was established by Mayor Federico Peña as an executive order, and turned into an ordinance in 1991 by Mayor Wellington E. Webb. It directs that 1 percent of any city capital improvement project of more than $1 million be set aside for the inclusion of art in the design. Today the collection has grown to more than 350 works by such notable artists as Jimenez, Lawrence Argent, Trine Bumiller, John McEnroe and Donald Lipski.

Scott Lentz
Artist Trine Bumiller touches up her painting before the Beyond Blue opening.
"Public art beautifies our city and supports local, national and international talent," Denver Public Art Program Manager Michael Chavez said at the reception. "The Beyond Blue show lets you see other works from the artists who've created iconic pieces such as the Blue Bear at the Colorado Convention Center and the thought-provoking blue "Mustang" at Denver International Airport. We hope the show will surprise and delight visitors and give them deeper insights into the artists' process and style."

Scott Lentz
Wellington E. Webb and Wilma Webb.
Former mayor Wellington E. Webb was at the reception to talk about the difficulties he faced at the start of the public art project. One challenge was convincing the city it was okay to spend lots of money on a horse standing on a chair -- Donald Lipski's "The Yearling," which stands outside the library by Civic Center Park and is a favorite today.

Scott Lentz

Keep reading for more photos of the opening reception.

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