Another 100 Colorado Creatives: Darrin Alfred

Darrin Alfred and friends in the Design After Dark photo booth.
#45: Darrin Alfred

As associate curator of architecture, design and graphics at the Denver Art Museum, Darrin Alfred -- who cut his teeth at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art before landing in Denver -- keeps the museum's design collection up-to-date, while curating such shows as 2009's popular poster show, The Psychedelic Experience; 2010's What Is Modern?, which re-explored the DAM's collection and redefined the meaning of modern design; and Pattern Play, a glimpse into the modern artistry of mid-century textile designer Jacqueline Groag, in 2013. But he also champions the Denver design community, both as a curator with an eye for local treasures and as a member of the AIGA Colorado board. More than an arbiter of taste, Alfred reminds us how good design and style can enrich our everyday lives. Where is design headed in a new century? Alfred gave us some clues by answering the 100CC questionnaire.

See also: Another 100 Colorado Creatives: Susan Lyles

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The Smithsonian Institution's Richard Kurin on studying history through objects

Courtesy of The Smithsonian Institution
History can build and destroy nations, create and end wars and help society wrangle with ethical obligations and failures. But when teachers reduce it to an endless scroll of names and dates that have been stripped of context, history loses its power.

The Smithsonian Institution's Richard Kurin is on a mission to change the public's relationship to the past. Working with his colleagues, the academic historian has distilled his museum's 137,000,000 historical and cultural artifacts into 101 iconic pieces he discusses in The Smithsonian's History of America in 101 Objects. In advance of his Tuesday night reading at History Colorado, Westword spoke with Kurin about his book.

See also: Phil Goodstein on Five Points, real estate and the future of Denver

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The Anschutz Collection of Western art will add expanded viewing opportunities in June

Ernest Blumenschein, "Sangre de Christo Mountains," 1926. American Museum of Western Art - The Anschutz Collection.
It's been two years since the once-private Anschutz Collection -- one of the world's most comprehensive collections of Western art -- first opened its doors to the public for limited guided tours in its home at the American Museum of Western Art. And it's been so successful -- perhaps too much so -- that to celebrate the anniversary, the museum, located in the historic Navarre Building, 1727 Tremont Place in downtown Denver, is expanding its public access hours beginning in June.

See also: Best New Museum Denver 2013: American Museum of Western Art -- the Anschutz Collection

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Remembering Ludlow: A roundup of commemorative events

The Ludlow Memorial.
A century ago this week, a long-simmering conflict between miners on strike in the southern Colorado coalfields and troops of the Colorado National Guard erupted into the deadliest labor war in American history. A raging gun battle on April 20, 1914, resulted in the destruction of the strikers' Ludlow tent colony and the deaths of nearly two dozen people -- most of them women and children who'd sought refuge from the shooting in a small cellar under one of the tents. The Ludlow Massacre, as it became known, is one of the darkest yet most neglected chapters of state history -- but a slew of commemorative events planned to mark its hundredth anniversary could help change that.

See also:
Best History Book 2009 -- Killing for Coal: America's Deadliest Labor War

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Mizel Museum wants your charms and sacred objects for a new display

Gronk and Spronk from local gallery owner Ivar Zeile's personal collection.
Does your family have a special charm that gets passed down from generation to generation? Do you keep a rabbit's foot keychain in your pocket for good luck? If you have jewelry or an object that means something to you, the Mizel Museum would love to display it. As part of its permanent exhibit, 4,000 Year Road Trip: Gathering Sparks, the museum is looking for cultural objects that symbolize protection or carry special meaning for people in the community to display in an upcoming companion exhibit.

See also: Mizel Museum's Denver Collects series takes viewers into the homes of local art collectors

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Modern Masters distills the canon of twentieth-century art at the Denver Art Museum

Photograph by Tom Loonan.
Joan Miró (Spanish, 1893-1983), Le Carnaval d'Arlequin (Carnival of Harlequin), 1924-25. Oil on canvas; support: 26 x 35-5/8 in. Collection Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, NY. Room of Contemporary Art Fund, 1940. © 2014 Successió Miró S.L./Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/ADAGP, Paris.
In a showing of neighborly solidarity, the Denver Art Museum turned to Dean Sobel of the Clyfford Still Museum to bring rare, twentieth-century riches from Buffalo's Albright-Knox Art Gallery to Denver. The resulting exhibit, Modern Masters: 20th Century Icons From the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, is the kind of show that will knock the wind out of you, a jewel-box of iconic images you rarely have the chance to see in person.

See also: Passport to Paris serves up French art with a side of history at the Denver Art Museum

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100 Colorado Creatives: Adam Lerner

Photo by Richard Peterson.
#4: Adam Lerner

There's not much one can say about Adam Lerner that would truly do him justice. He runs MCA Denver with nothing resembling an iron hand: He's funny, impossibly smart, steeped in culture and a natty dresser, and he has a knack for surrounding himself with people of the same ilk. And he's made MCA, as he did the Lab at Belmar before it, a friendlier place where the intellectual processes of looking at and understanding art become both fun and more directly challenging. We're lucky to have Lerner at the helm of Denver's handsome contemporary-art palace, where serendipitous programming brings lightness to the work of appreciating art. Amen. Read on to see where Lerner is at and where he's going.

See also: 100 Colorado Creatives: Nora Burnett Abrams

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100 Colorado Creatives: Nora Burnett Abrams

Nora Burnett Abrams at an MCA public program with artist Dario Robleto.
#6: Nora Burnett Abrams

Nora Burnett Abrams makes exhibits happen, and that's not easy: As curator at MCA Denver, she can't just pick up artists at a supermarket. Instead, it's about developing a relationship -- with a little detective work on the side -- and getting inside each artist's head to figure out what's going on in the work. All of which she does beautifully, bringing a rich variety of artists, both local and from around the world, to show Denver museum-goers where art's going in the 21st century, while also providing an informational backdrop for what they see. It's no small accomplishment, and Abrams is the perfect complement to MCA's participatory, highbrow-for-the-people museum model.

We invited Abrams to share her curator's point of view in the 100CC questionnaire; read on for the whole story.

See also: 100 Colorado Creatives: Nikki Pike

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Lake Steam Baths, gnomes on the range, and more drops in the 2014 bucket list

Bucket lists, by their very nature, are a celebration of the ephemeral -- a wish list of fleeting activities to experience before the mortal coil goes into a death spiral. The following experiences, however, are united by a sense of enduring history, of continuing traditions that will persist past the expiration dates of our own lives.

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Cruising Colfax, Casa Bonita and more drops in the 2014 bucket list

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Photos: Every poster tells a story in the Denver Art Museum's Drawn to Action exhibit

Denver Art Museum
James Victore, Racism, 1993. Screen print. © James Victore. AIGA Design Archives: Gift of AIGA.
Every picture does tell a story, and that's why the bold graphics of poster design are powerful beyond words. There's solid visual proof in the 35 works that comprise Drawn to Action: Posters from the AIGA Design Archives, which opens Sunday, December 15 at the Denver Art Museum. Here's a sneak peek...

See also: Drawn to Action: Posters from the AIGA Design Archives

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