Tag Archives: Denver

Charlie Burrell knows jazz and a thing or two


Charles Burrell, Jr. left, Charlie Burrell on right. Photo taken at First Friday Jazz brunch, January, 2015. (Purnell Steen can be seen heading toward the piano for the brunch concert)

You’d think he’d write exclusively about playing the stand up bass or, jazz or, Denver Symphony Orchestra or, Five Points in the 1930-40’s.  He does. Yet Charlie gives that and more to his readers. What you won’t read is the typical WWII musician’s escapades on drugs, jail, or complaints about the situation.  Don’t be fooled though, he was not an unobservant slouch. This musician took it all in, like, it was better to avoid small town America if you’re a black man. He knew, if he were stopped, it was likely he would miss his gig. It wasn’t easy for a black man to get out of jail in those days for just driving through rural America or, East Denver for that matter. Despite a less than perfect childhood, Charlie Burrell went on to share the stage with Billie Holiday, Duke Ellington, Count Bassie, Charlie Parker, Lionel Hampton.

His book, The Life of Charlie Burrell, Breaking the Color Barrier in Classical Music, is testimony to a fine man and true artist. The book proves without a doubt that Charlie Burrell is a gentleman, a hero, a kind educated man, a talented musician, the no-bull-shit-don’t-you-mess-with-me-or-my-friends-you m-f, kind-of-guy.  Born into the ghettos of Detroit, Charlie Burrell, in my opinion, is in every sense of the word – a hero and a legend.

Burrell had the passion and where-with-all to learn everything he could learn about classical music & instruments, rifts, rhythms, tone, style & music etiquette while dragging a huge-ass instrument all over the world. His set-backs and struggles, he made them interesting. Still, he overcame more than you or I could imagine. Once you read the book, you will wonder as I did. ‘Would I have done what Charlie did for his art?’

At 12 yrs old, Charlie took the only instrument that was offered to him in his school, the huge stand up bass. It became the love his life, his lone mistress, his joy and his road to a well-respected career at the Denver Symphony Orchestra, San Francisco Symphony and jazz joints around the world.

There’s genuine depth and intellect woven through the book and, there’s much to know about Charlie Burrell, inside & outside.  Not only about his music, memories and anecdotes but about perseverance and pride in giving of oneself.  His niece, Grammy Award winner Dianne Reeves and nephew Purnell Steen (jazz pianist) have much to say about Uncle Charlie. He recognized their talent and encouraged them with the love and knowledge of music and his well-honed skills in ‘becoming a person.’ You have to read the book to understand how this phrase was important in the making of Charlie Burrell.

Charlie Burrell received a Martin Luther King Humanitarian Award in Denver last week. I can not think of a more deserving person.

Rock on, Charlie Burrell.

The Life of Charlie Burrell, Breaking the Color Barrier in Classical Music, by Charlie Burrell and Mitch Handelsan, Foreward by Dianne Reeves. #CharlieBurrell

ISBN: 1502896451

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Odd, Quirky & Curious Art at the Creek

The 2014 Cherry Creek Arts Festival was part Old Curiosity Shop wonder and slick new organic shapes and colors.  The miles of booths brought to mind memorabilia of another time and place.  I noticed the trend for recycled-objects-art was waning and there were few fine art photography booths. This show was unusual but lovely with its odd, nostalgic, narrative tone. Contemporary art mixed elegantly with classic, vintage themes, style and colors.

The art work below is exactly why I came away with ‘nostalgia’ in my conscientiousness. See for yourself.

IMG_2096 IMG_2097 IMG_2099 IMG_2101 IMG_2105 IMG_2107 IMG_2114 IMG_2118 IMG_2121 IMG_2122 IMG_2126 IMG_2127 IMG_2129 IMG_2131



I was enchanted with the sepia intonations in many of the works, and the use of multi-mixed mediums to create a work of art. The brown & black, pen & ink drawn and colored over a collection of old music sheets was typical and original.  I was transported to the pages of Grimm’s Fairy Tales and the bewitching art of early children’s book illustrations, prints and re-touched photography. The feeling I took away from the festival was, let me say, a circus poster.  Colorful exquisite details in the art,  elegantly reminiscent of an eye-popping, vintage color poster that brought a sense of excitement to the moment. I felt like the circus was coming.




List of artists:

Beverly Hayden, Chattanooga, TN; Valerie Bunnell, Northampton, MA; Bradford J. Salamon; Claudia Roulier, Denver, CO; Richard Ryan, Bourbonnais, IL; Brianna Martray, Denver, CO; Cali Hobgood, Urbana, IL.


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‘Finding Vivian Maier’


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.


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.


imgres      Vivian-Maier_67_479-04_72dpi-633x640

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Paper Fashion Show – A M A Z I N G

It was an Ooh, La, La visual wonderland. The 10th Annual ADCD ( Art Directors Club of Denver) Paper Fashion Show happened last night at the Seawell Grand Ballroom. And, it was a WOW. I had attended a luncheon in the Seawell Ballroom on Wednesday but last night the room shared no resemblance whatsoever. It was transformed into a vision of feminine colors, whimsical fashion illustrations, frills and outrageous dresses made out of P A P E R. The designs were absolutely amazing. I took photos for you …. see for yourself.


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Swine, Swindle & Shutter ends February, 2013

It snowed all day yesterday, but I saw purple and yellow crocuses blooming Sunday. I’m sure spring is close, I had the first whiff of thawed earth this weekend. Winter is waning I know, because PR people are sending out ‘Mark Your Calendar,’ releases to the media informing us the party is starting. And so it is, the best time of the year in Denver is revving up.

Swine Tasting

IMG_2172  Chef Justin Brunson

It was beautiful last Wednesday when I went to the new restaurant, Old Major, for a media food & wine tasting. The name Old Major was taken from the boar in George Orwell’s Animal Farm. From start to finish the only thing I could complain about was the bright, hot sun beaming down on me, and only me. There was nothing to do but suffer. The manager felt my pain and stood so that his head shielded me from the brightness here and there, but until the fireball went down, I was in the sun light, and, though I know better, I wore my sunglasses throughout the food and wine tasting. The lastest hippest foodie restaurant is in LoHi, 3316 Tejon, I expected an older home to house the so-called rustic kitchen. The building at one time was a roller rink but I saw no evidence of that. The interior was redesigned in dark rustic, wood, brick & glass, using the kitchen as the center piece. Diners can see through the glass partition to the working kitchen. The food being prepared in there rocks. Like South Carolina’s new wave of chefs, such as Sean Brock, whose rule of thumb says every item served must be grown in, and have historical relevance to the region, Chef Justin Brunson, while not a Southerner, is from the same school of thought. Even though Colorado is not as rich in year-round vegetables and herbs, the staff and chef focus on serving food from local farms with no genetically engineered vegetables or grains, and they are basing their reputation on serving heritage-raised meats. Old Major is innovative. They’ve introduced the idea of nose-to-tail butchery. That means every part of the animal has a purpose and distinct flavor. The last dish served to the slathering media, before the thick, silky, creme brulee arrived garnished with a crisp, flavorful strip of bacon, was a thick juicy pork chop from Zimmerman Pork Farm in Hotchkiss, Colorado. It was to die for. With the advent of the Food Chanel, food has become a fine art form that everyone can enjoy. Like all artists, today’s chefs must be educated about their craft, knowledgeable of their region’s bounty of food and know what’s available in what month. But it’s overseeing quality first that is the test of artfulness. Using Sean Brock’s recipe for the PIE Theory, it’s evident Chef Brunson is on top of the formula for fine, tasteful dining. PIE = Product, Inspiration, Execution.

IMG_2177         Pork Chop from Zimmerman Pork Farm

IMG_2179   Old Major kitchen

Catch Me If You Can

After a delightful 2 hour Old Major’s experience, I raced over to the Denver Post for a presentation by authors, then left early to get to the Buell Theatre for “Catch Me If You Can.” I love musicals. This one was zippy and fun. There was something less-highly-polished about this production compared to say, “Memphis.” It could have been that the trucks carrying the sets were stranded in Kansas due to the weather, so opening night was Wednesday instead of Tuesday. When it comes to the story behind this brilliant but unlikely con man, most people like to add that, ‘He shouldn’t be applauded for his crimes.’ I find it fascinating. Without doubt, Frank Abagnale, Jr., was a world-class con-artist. It’s hard to believe that a 16 year old young boy/man, was able to convince professionals that he too was a professional pilot, doctor, lawyer. In real life, Frank must have been a natural, handsome charmer. In the Denver production, Stephen Anthony / Frank had me convinced. He was equal parts engaging, cute, well-mannered, curious, innocent and he capably carried off the character of a young boy in trouble, sinking deeper over his head, but doesn’t know how to stop doing the bad things he got himself into by mistake. Stephen Anthony could sing and dance to boot. It was fun to watch even if the entire production was a bit road weary. There was a rhinestone or two missing on opening night but, perhaps the real problem was they just didn’t have time to get their costumes cleaned and sparkling for a delayed opening night.


It was First Friday, March 1, 2013

IMG_2193         Gallery 1261, artist Heather Neill

IMG_2189   At Gallery 1261, 1261 Delaware,

My fav art peeps:  artist, Daniel Sprick, art consultant, Candice Pulliam, sculptor, Jay Eighmy.

IMG_2182   Space Gallery, Santa Fe Art District,

ICONS, artist William Stoehr

IMG_2185   Deborah Jang, multi-media,

Carson Gallery, An Exhibit Space of the Art Students League of Denver, 700 Santa Fe

new-Warhol-hi-res_1  In keeping with the March theme, Month of Photogrpahy, at Walker Fine Art, 300 11th Avenue, my choice for best-of-night was photographer, Sally Stockhold and her “The Life I Never Lived,” series.  This woman is amazing. Notice, every person in the shot is my favorite artist, Sally Stockhold.

We also stopped at Byers-Evans House Gallery, CHAC, Artists on Santa Fe, Goodwin Fine Art Gallery.

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Bet you know this one

Last week’s  art contest was  a little difficult but you guys came through.  Congratulations to Laura Phelps Rogers who correctly identified the contemporary work of  Dr. Abe Vigil, titled, “Valedictorian,” 1972, at Governor’s Park, Pearl and 7th Avenue.

Here’s the clue for this week’s mystery sculpture’s  title, artist, and locale.

Great pickings here where the fruit hangs  plentiful, lush and high. 




For the first person who gets the artist, title and locale correct, I will send you one admission ticket to the Vance Kirkland Museum.  I need to buy 4 for you lucky winners. Thank you for joining in the fun at Denver Art Matters. Next week I’ll surprise you with different tickets to a different museum.  Have a great weekend.  : )


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Where is this piece of Art and Who is the Artist?

2012-04-08 16.57.42

The identity and locale of this piece will be more difficult than last week’s mystery art.

O.K. art lovers prove me wrong.


Children & dogs love to play here.  Brides say Ooh, LaLa’s.

First person to respond with the correct artist’s name and locale wins 2 tickets to the Vance Kirkland Museum.

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Before I die I want to…write on a wall

Our wall is installed on the grounds of the McNicols Civic Center, corner of Colfax Avenue and Bannock Street.
Candy Chang’s “Before I die’ wall first appeared in New Orleans in 2011. Today there are over 75 walls installed in cities and countries around the world: San Francisco, Scotland, Hong Kong, Paraguay, New Zealand, Brazil, Chile, Germany, Poland, Denmark, Raleigh, N.C., Spain, Canada, Des Moines, Australia, Italy, Peru, Argentina, New York City.
 Everyone is invited to pick up a piece of chalk, add reflections on your life and share your personal aspirations in a public space. Read more about Candy Chang and how this beautiful art project began below.
Denver’s Before I die wall was brought to the city through a partnership of Arts & Venues, Community Coordinating District, Rocky Mountain College of Art & Design and Denver Design Build, LLC

What is it?

Before I Die is an interactive public art project that invites people to share their hopes and dreams in public space. After artist and urban planner Candy Chang lost someone she loved very much, she painted the wall of an abandoned house in her neighborhood in New Orleans with chalkboard paint and stenciled it with a grid of the sentence  “Before I die I want to ______.” Passersby can use chalk to write directly on the wall. The project has since spread worldwide and walls have been created by communities in Mexico, the Netherlands, Australia, Kazakhstan, and beyond. The project is about remembering what is important to you, creating a public space for contemplation, and reimagining how our public spaces can better reflect what matters to us as a community and as individuals.

Who made it?

Candy Chang. She’s an artist, designer, urban planner, and co-founder of Civic Center, a civic design studio in New Orleans. She created the wall in her neighborhood in New Orleans after she lost someone she loved very much. Read her full bio here. Additional installation assistance by Kristina Kassem, Alan Williams, Cory Klemmer, Anamaria Vizcaino, James Reeves, Alex Vialou, Sean Knowlton, Carolina Caballero, Earl Carlson, and Gary Hustwit.


Made with primer, chalkboard paint, stencils, spray paint, chalk. Self-initiated with permission from the property owner, residents of the block, the neighborhood association’s blight committee, the Historic District Landmarks Commission, the Arts Council, and the City Planning Commission. With generous support from the Black Rock Arts Foundation.


The original installation was created February 2011 and lasted until October 2011. At that point the property was purchased and the house is currently being renovated and turned into a home again. Happy ending! The project continues to grow, with new walls being made around the world every month.


The first installation was created on an abandoned house in Candy’s neighborhood in New Orleans, at the corner of Marigny St and Burgundy St (900 Marigny Street).

What’s Next?

After receiving many requests from people around the world, Candy and her Civic Center colleagues created this project website and a Before I Die Toolkit to help people make a wall with their community and share their wall online. A book about the project will be published by St. Martin’s Press and released in 2013. Learn more here. (2012)

TERMS OF USE: Selected high-resolution photographs and portions of the written material included here may be included in original print/web content to be created by the licensee. The portrait of the licensor, Candy Chang, shall be used as a positive example and appear unaltered in this and any derivative works. Unless stated otherwise, the acknowledgement beneath the screenshot shall read: “Copyright © Civic Center” and, where feasible, links to http://candychang.comand http://civiccenter.cc.


The Before I Die presskit contains the complete project overview and history and a selection of high resolution photographs. Due to the large photo sizes, the package comes in at around 30MB. Download the Press Kit here. To download an individual hi-res photo, click the image you would like and scroll down to the download link.

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Santa Fe Arts District starting tonight – First Friday

CHAC Gallery Show: Stevon Lucero…the painter… the storyteller… the legend!

CHAC Gallery January 2013 Presents a Retrospective of the work of our very own Stevon Lucero.

Stevon Lucero…the painter… the storyteller… the legend!

We all know and love Stevon Lucero. He has taken some time away and everyone has been asking about him…is he still painting?  Is he still showing his work? What is he doing? Well, we are going to have him the whole month of January to view his amazing work and have him tell us his wonderful stories!

Stevon Lucero is one of the Founding members of CHAC Gallery. We are excited that he has agreed to have a retrospective of his work at CHAC Gallery.


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