Jazzee Supper Club @ 15th & Wazee

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Dining at the Wazee Supper Club as 15th & Wazee, as the world goes by outside.

Last winter I rediscovered the old/new Wazee Supper Club and found it to be the best place for Jazz in downtown. The old haunt has a deeply ingrained history. Like most of the history in this part of downtown, I found that little has been done to the 1881 Bon Ton Saloon since 1898. After the Bon Ton closed people continued to live above the saloon in small rented rooms. Not until 1954 did the building return to its original use with the opening of the Wazee Supper Club by proprietors James C. Capillupo and Albert R. Rotola. The partners had a decent run with the restaurant/bar until 1974, when brothers Angelo and Jim Karagas, owners of the legendary My Brothers Bar, added the Wazee to their eating establishments. It was a good fit. Brothers sits on the corner of 15th & Platte, the Supper Club is at the other end at 15th & Wazee. Most people will ask, do you remember when this was under the 15th Street viaduct?

The historic urban corner has rallied in the last ten years with new condos and businesses. Once again it is a friendly neighborhood hangout much like it was in the 1880’s when it was the Bon Ton Saloon.  

The fresh, old-newness of this historic space is understated. The original black & white floors and dark wood paneling cast a delightful spell over the dining room & bar. There is an extensive selection of craft beer, wine and mixed drinks. Sitting inside watching Denver go by sets the tone and makes one feel as if you are one of the in-the-know-folks who frequent this stylish, vintage eatery and bar.

On the night we decided to experience a real meal at the Wazee, it was raining. There’s just something about watching Denver in the rain and probably the reason we decided to eat like the rich and skinny. We never order an appetizer, but this night we ordered the grilled polenta that is paired with an Italian, garlic herb red sauce, it had a distinct grilled flavor I loved.  This small plate was more than enough for two people.  

I hate to admit it but I am not a huge fan of salads, but for Chip we ordered The Wazee Salad and split it.  It was plenty. The locally grown salad and veggies had a mixture of goodies to satisfy my crunchy, sweet, tart taste craving. 

Since I rediscovered this comfy place, I’ve longed to have a pizza but I need the gluten-free crust and usually, I’m the only one at the table who isn’t eating with abandon. To avoid explanations I usually just order their superb french fries (crisp, hot, perfect). This night Chip ordered The Bianca pizza with added toppings. I had a hankering for the BBQ pulled pork with cheddar and caramelized onions on a gluten-free crust. The tangy, sweet, smoky BBQ flavor was subtle, but not too much so and was a perfect match for the slow-cooked pulled pork.  The crust was one of the best G-F crusts I’ve ordered in a year. Thin, tasty and crisp where it should be. I asked about the crust. Chef Bob said he orders all their gluten-free products from a bakery in Longmont. 

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The Bianca and the BBQ pulled pork pizza.

No jazz on the Wednesday we visited. The jazz jam will return next fall and I must tell you, it is seriously one of the most sophisticated and delightful evenings one can spend in downtown Denver. The crowd is made up of low-key, local jazz lovers and musicians who gather to listen & play music. Often times a visiting musician will join the ever changing group with a song or instrument. Jazz musicians Bob Montgomery and Al Hermann form a group made up of professors, scientists and musicians who love to chat at your table and tell stories of recent gigs in Russia, Chicago or the White House.  Since I am from Arkansas, one musician delighted in telling me about the night he let Bill Clinton sit in on his gig. Jazz musicians get around all right.

Arriving at the corner of 15th & Wazee is no problem. After 6:00 p.m. street parking is assured, but,  be aware of your parking meter time. Last winter, as we listened to slow jazz with a glass of wine, watching the snow fall on downtown Denver I watched one of the wait staff jump up from her stand, bolt out the front door, run down the street without a coat, to put money in our meter. Now that’s what I call hospitality. 

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Street photography. The local scene

Look what I found. Street Photography from Jason. Enjoy his stark, beautiful images of life.

Jasonikon's Blog

Over the last couple of days I have been walking from one end of the local high street to the other, my Nikon on my tummy, 35mm lens. ISO set high enough to yield a smallish aperture to get a safe depth of field. More or less. So much for the technicalities. The more interesting bit is the people who walk to and fro and generally inhabit this half mile of shops, paving stones and tarmac. From the quirky, to the pensive, the aggressive, the ugly, the resigned, the damaged, is there nothing that a camera cannot make look interesting? There’s little more to say on the matter. The true genius of photography lies in the ability to capture and freeze an instant of so called “normal” life, to be scrutinised at an almost forensic level, by anyone, at any time, and for however long into the changing future, as…

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‘Finding Vivian Maier’

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Can’t get enough of Vivian?

I’ve been obsessed with the mystery of photographer Vivian Maier since I first read about her, probably a year ago. The documentary is now showing in Denver at the Esquire Theater.

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Thank God, John Maloof bid on a box of negatives at a Chicago storage unit. He casually sifted through them but was hoping to find historical references for the book he was writing. Once he determined there was nothing of significant historical value he put the box back in the closet. Curiosity forced him to open the box a second time and scan some images. What he found were hundreds, thousands of photos that suddenly seemed to be not only great photography but a treasure trove of art snapped by an absolutely unknown person, Vivian Maier.

The mystery expanded as her art unfolded, her photos and life story loosely pieced together. The woman behind the camera was a secretive person who took care of other people’s children and entertained herself and her charges by trekking through the worst parts of Chicago, her camera around her neck.

The results are astonishing, fascinating and beautiful. Vivian Maier, (b. 1926-2009) was an artist. Unraveling her story is part of the art and mystery of this strange and lonely woman. The documentary sheds light on a small piece of the puzzle. The questions asked like who was she, why did she take so many photos and never develop them, who was this woman who gave her name as V. Smith, among other aliases, inferring at times that she was ‘sort of a spy;’ she was born in NYC but had a noticeable French accent, who was she?

Finding Vivian Maier‘ is captivating. I still can’t get enough of Vivan. Fortunate for people like me who love stories like this, and thanks to John Maloof the world is still developing hundreds of thousands of her photographs. She was a curious soul who found art in the down and out back streets of Chicago. Her camera focused on people living through a bad day or a woman out on the town. Through her camera she was passionate, stylish, compassionate, friendly, social, happy.  Vivian more than any one, was aware her subjects had a story that was far more interesting than the one she could tell. She didn’t need words.

Now, we get to piece together her photos and the woman who lived through her Rolleiflex lens. Vivian Maier, a 20th century artist with the eye of an Otto Dix, Diane Arbus, Rembrandt, Nan Goldin. Her photos tell us what she knew. We’ll never know all we want to know about Vivian Maier.

 

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Love always, Paris on the Platte

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Paris on the Platte is an unusual name for a coffee shop that sits at the edge of I-25 and downtown Denver. When Faye opened the shop in 1986, Platte Street was still part of a decaying industrial area and hard to find.  There was nothing significant about the street excepting, the legendary My Brothers Bar sat kitty-korner at the end of the street. People didn’t just go down there, but, it was a little known back-street-route to the highway from downtown Denver. You probably remember when the 16th Street viaduct was still there, then it was gone. I can’t even remember where it stood now.

PoP is funky and cool. The old used books section is gone replaced by a solid wooden bar and dining area lined with original brick walls. I still cherish a book I bought there in the early 1990’s, Best of Vanity Fair, 1930-1940’s, with the original cover sleeve, tattered & torn, but so lovely.

The grit and bricks have been power washed. The original atmosphere has remained the same by utilizing few changes in the once dark coffee house. The Paris has stayed in step with the now hip Platte street restaurants, outdoor patios, Colorado Outdoor shops, dress stores, the REI anchor store, Natural Grocers, the Kayak shop, bike shop. There’s colorful public art tucked between the high-rise apartment buildings. When you’re there, you’ll want to end your errands at the park along the Platte, relax on the steps and benches which line the sidewalks and river. The REI deck is perfect for sipping Starbucks, watching bikes, babies, tubing, kayaking and dogs enjoying a hidden playground in the middle of Denver. P.S. there is a dog park on the other side of the Platte on Little Raven.

The Paris opened with artists in mind. Nowadays, the coffee shop, wine bar and cafe continues to display art by local artists. Friday & Saturday nights feature live music.  The Paris has shifted slightly to accommodate the local trends on the street which is teeming with people day and night. People live, work and play there. All dogs are welcome along the two block neighborhood. I like to think of it as Denver’s bustling European village tucked away on the other side of the river.

Rebekah Robinson’s work is displayed through May. On the day I met Candice for coffee, we saw Rebekah and a few other long time locals who still wander in from time to time.

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John Singer Sargent For Your Saturday

I’m sorry to do this to you….700 slides of John Singer Sargent’s paintings. It takes a good long while, but oh what a beautiful artist he was. You’ll see illuminated portraits, detailed watercolors, lively sketches & charcoal drawings. Others may compare with his talent but none have ever surpassed John Singer Sargent. Reblogged from Adrienne Middlemay. Thank you, Adrienne. Happy Easter!

Author Adrienne Morris

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Sigmar Polke Rebels at MoMA

Interesting retrospective by a most diverse artist. Note the artist’s clever spirit for adventure and experimentation. I think I love Sigmar Polke.

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DSC_9532 The first large-scale US retrospective of legendary German artist Sigmar Polke (1941-2010) opens this weekend at MoMA .  Sigmar Polke is one considered to be one of the most experimental artists of the 20th century and the works on view demonstrate this perfectly.  From his enormous paintings on materials as flimsy as bubble wrap or printed textiles, there is not one medium that defines his almost 50 year-long career.

Films, photography, sculpture, drawings, collage and paintings are all part of the collection on show at this vast and fascinating retrospective. Different periods of his work are clearly inspired by the times he was painting and no doubt his contemporaries, with amazing pieces of pop art and abstract expressionism.

A witty, clever and awe-inspiring show that is grounded in the artists deep skepticism of all things authoritarian, many of the pieces in the show give pause for thought.  The show debuts in…

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First Art @Abend Gallery

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First Fridays are stressful. You start by asking yourself which galleries do I want to visit first, then, on paper or in your head, you must keep track of time, crowds, parking and just how many art districts you can visit from 6 p.m. til 9 p.m.

Last Friday was a no brainer. I was going to Abend Gallery‘s Landscape Show. All participating artist’s works were easy to swoon over,  such as Lorenzo Chavez, Stephen Day, Tim Deibler, Bruce Gomez, David Harms, Marin Dobson, Jane Hunt, Peggy McGivern, Elizabeth Sandia, Dave Santillanes, Jean Shom to name a few.

Abend has a strong reputation for quality art but, owner, Chris Serr‘s real genius is in selecting unknown, accomplished artists.   One of my favorite new artists, I’ve only seen at Abend is Elsa Sroka.  Her Bovine series had me thinking I want a cow on my living room wall. Sroka wasn’t technically in this show but her cows were hanging here & there throughout the gallery.

Our landscape artists are pretty lucky.  They don’t have to travel far from their studios to capture a snowcapped mountain or a frozen river bed. Abend’s meditative show conveyed majestic Colorado scenes painted by artists who recognize the hourly difference between vibrant, atmospheric colors of fall, winter, summer and spring, snow resting gently on spring flowers. They know a thing or two about using the complete range of the color spectrum to explain a 2-D Western sunset. If you believe an artist speaks through his work, these paintings tell beautifully quiet, narratives about the West.

Abend Gallery is a good stop after an kick-ass week. Take your time and absorb the beauty of the West and the spectacular scenery at the corner of York & Colfax. This show goes through May 3, 2014.

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Artist David Harms, above.

3rd photo – Trevor, the best gallery assistant ever. He has been working with his mom since he was fourteen years old. We’ve watched him grow into a creative photographer and superb gallery administrator.

5th photo – look who I ran into – artist, Desmond O’Hagan.

10th photo – landscape artist, Jean Shom.

 

IMG_0905IMG_0910 IMG_0908 IMG_0907 IMG_0906 IMG_0904 IMG_0902 IMG_0901 IMG_0900IMG_0898Abend Gallery, 2260 E. Colfax, 80206. 303-355-0905. info@abendgallery.com

 

Alexander The Great

Andy Warhol’s friend & mentor. Thanks WHATWELIKENYC.

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Gallerist Alexander Iolas first met seventeen-year-old Andy Warhol in 1945, and seven years later gave him his first gallery exhibition in New York City. Their friendship lasted their entire lives until they both passed away, less than four months apart, in 1987.  Stand out Warhol works along with many of the major artists whose careers were defined by showing with Iolas are included in Alexander the Great: The Iolas Gallery 1955-1987 currently on show at Paul Kasmin Gallery in Chelsea.

Iolas played a pivotal role in the art world in America, recognized for being among the first to introduce American audiences to Surrealism. The exhibition contains incredible Surrealist pieces including iconic works by Magritte.  With Iolas having helped shape the careers of arists such as Ed Ruscha, William N. Copley, Victor Brauner, Max Ernst and of course Andy Warhol, this collection feels like a whirlwind journey through some of the twentieth century’s…

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May the [Art] Circles be Unbroken

It’s fun to go over to the Navajo Art District (38th & Navajo) and hit  openings on a Friday night. First, you should stop at Patsy’s 1930’s bar, the only one on this block of Navajo, have a drink, hit the galleries, then come back as we did to eat their old world Italian pasta.  We had the thick meat sauce & sausage with minestrone soup & salad sitting at the bar. Steve, the bartender is generous with the hard stuff and can work a full bar without missing a beat. He has eyes in the back of his head, your glass is never empty – if that’s they way you want it.

Zoa Ace is the featured artist at Zip 37 Gallery through April 13th. Her work never ceases to delight viewers with teeming feminine scenes, whimsical and artistic. Her incredible color palette inspires love at first sight. And her paintings remain full of Zoa Ace-isms from the calla lillies to her signature doll-faced girls in fancy dresses.  If you can stand in front of one of her paintings without being elbowed, you can spot Minnie Mouse, Olive Oil, sometimes a high-wire performer;  she dreams of animals, umbrellas, clocks and jewels.

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Mary Recchia, Zoa Ace, Louis Recchia

They’re the iconic duo in Denver’s art world, Zoa Ace and her husband, Louis Recchia (with a backward R). Over the years, instead of morphing into look a-likes, like husbands & wives do, their work has morphed into a similar style with repetitive themes. One has to be somewhat familiar with each’s limitless sense of humor and their love of iconic personalities to grab the instant recognition of a Zoa or a Louis. The pair have uncanny harmony that is distinguishable alone, yet, tells the real story:  they have shared days, months, years and hours in the same house, bed and studio. Now, their daughter Mary, has stepped into the spotlight. She shows her airy, detailed, pen & ink drawings in Zip as well.

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Collin Parson

Across the street at the legendary Pirate Contemporary Art gallery another chip-off-the-old-block is on the walls. His father, Chuck Parson, has been a well-known Colorado artist for the last 25+ years. Now we have the pleasure of his son, artist and likeable guy, Collin Parson. He’s a product of the latest wave of artists who know the inside of a computer. Collin says he’s an artist, but adds, his father is the real artist, one who can draw, paint, sculpt. I say Collin is cutting himself short. He is a genius. Imagine creating modern flowing, symmetrical designs on a computer screen then actually putting the design into real metal. The results are astonishing and quite beautiful. I see it in the lobby of buildings like – General Motors?

Zip 37 Gallery, 3644 Navajo Street. www.zoaace.com

Pirate Contemporary Art, 3655 Navajo Street. www.collinparson.com

 

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Central Park Clouds

Denver has a ‘Cloud’ sculpture that was installed in 2010, by former Colorado resident artist Christopher Lavery.

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DSC_9043 Olaf Breuning’s “clouds” installation near the 5th Avenue entrance to Central Park, is a cheerful injection of hope for the warm weather ahead.  The blue clouds, the color of a perfect sky rather than actual clouds, are placed above brown limbed trees which are still waiting for their spring foliage to arrive.

Constructed of painted polished aluminium, Breuning had the idea from one of his earlier staged photographs.  The clouds transform this hectic corner of Central Park in to a stage.  The day we visited, we chanced upon a group of people dancing beneath, with Breuning’s dramatic and childlike clouds wafting above like a carefully conceived background set for New York.

Olaf Breuning. Clouds. Central Park at 60th and 5th Avenue. NY.

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