Denver, A Happy City
Since most of us can’t travel ALL the time and you cannot be somewhere new and exciting, it’s a good time to explore what your own city has to offer. Today, I had the opportunity to explore some alleys in Denver with my mom and no, it was not scary. Denver decided that this year of twenty eighteen it would take part in Happy City originated by Stuart Semple. Part of this project are alley art installations. Off the sixteenth street mall in the Denver city center are four of the five alley installations and the fifth is located in an alley off of Larimer Square.
Y/OURS is in the alley between Curtis and Champa Streets and was completed by Joel Swanson. The sign in the alley states “The “Y” in “YOURS” blinks on and off alternating between the embedded words “YOURS” and “OURS.” This artwork playfully questions how public space is defined through notions of personal property and ownership.”
Alley Freshener is in the alley between Stout and California Street and completed by Carlos Fresquez. The sign states “Through a humorous lens, Fresquez’s large-scale, suspended sculpture questions society’s contradictory viewpoint of cleanliness in personal versus public space. By placing enlarged air fresheners in an urban environment, this artwork suggests the importance of cultivating neglected civic space.”
Public Body is in the alley between Stout and California Streets and is completed by Frankie Toan. The sign here says “Inspired by Judith Butler’s speech titled Bodies in Alliance and the Politics of the Street, this artwork speaks to the significance of human interaction with public space. Through a series of vibrant, body-like forms, Toan’s installation encourages views to reenvision the alley’s traditional function into a place for public gathering.”
Stuart Semple’s piece is in between Stout and Champa Streets and is titled I should be crying but I just can’t let it show. The sign explains “Squished between two buildings, Semple’s large-scale, yellow smiley face acts as a metaphor for human’s ability to persevere under pressure. By utilizing a universal symbol for “happiness,” this artwork is at once optimistic and playful.”
The final installation is my favorite and located behind Larimer square in the alley off 15th Street between Larimer and Market Streets. Titled Alley Cats and completed by Kelly Monico, “Alley Cats is a playful commentary on humans’ fascination with felines throughout history, from Ancient Egypt to the Internet Age. Composed of Three hundred cat figurines, this artwork exemplifies the human-animal bond and its connection to well-being.”
Denver is a big art city and being able to walk around the city to see art is awe-inspiring. It’s convenient to incorporate art for everyone into everyday life and gives those that may not have the opportunity to experience art the option. I don’t often feel like spending a beautiful day inside at a museum, especially during the summer. Installations like the alleys are a great alternative as it’s good to be outside and nice to walk around.
After the alley tour, we decided to stop at The Market on Larimer Square for a treat and a latte. The Market is a lovely spot and feels like you are getting away to another place for a brief period. When we were finished, we ventured across the street, as I wanted to show my mom Bistro Vendome, my absolute favorite restaurant in all of Denver. It’s a cute French restaurant that is tucked away from the square. There is a lovely courtyard that is perfect for summer brunches. The inside is very French and a great place to spend time on a cold evening. Truthfully, I can always find a good time to go to Bistro Vendome.
Even when I can’t travel to a new place, I try to enjoy the little things that make me feel like I step away for brief moments in time. Stopping for a café, meandering into a small courtyard and doing things out of my daily routine are enough for me to feel this way. It is always a good idea to see what secret places your city has for you to explore. Enjoy what your city has to offer you!
To learn more about Happy City, please visit https://happycitydenver.com/.