After our extended lunch at the Buckhorn Exchange, we spent the late afternoon of Day Four in and around the 16th Street Mall, a 1¼-mile-long stretch of street tiled over for use exclusively by pedestrians and free shuttle buses. This sounded like a novel concept to us, but in person it wasn’t too different from the “lifestyle centers” (the new euphemism for outdoor malls) that we have back home in Indy, despite being four times their size. The constant (and free!) shuttle buses were a wonderful touch, though.
The other half of our brief visit to the Denver Art Museum was largely spent in the Japan portion of their Asian section, my son’s exhibit of choice. We knew this without even having to ask. He dreams of going to Japan someday so he can confirm in person what he already tells us every other day, that everything they do or have is better than anything we do or have. The “grass is always greener on the other side” argument is useless against him. They probably have an appropriate metaphor that tops that one, too.
My favorite of the collection: a sculpture so intricate, it must have taken the carver’s entire lifetime and/or driven him mad.
Our itinerary for the first half of Day Four didn’t feel overbooked when we first arranged it. By the time we finished touring the Molly Brown House and standing next to the Colorado State Capitol, we had a little over an hour to walk a few blocks east to the Denver Art Museum, walk a few blocks back to our parking space, and arrive at the Buckhorn Exchange in time for our 1:30 reservation. After allotting for the hot round-trip walk through the artsy part of town, we found ourselves pressed for time on our whirlwind self-guided tour of the Denver Art Museum.
Further complicating matters: my camera batteries died, and my spares were safe and sound in our hotel room back in Aurora. Fortunately my wife is diligent in keeping her camera’s built-in battery recharged nightly. Between Molly Brown and the museum, we found not a single shop of any kind that sold batteries. Even the Art Museum gift shop was of no help — theirs isn’t the kind of place that stocks up on incidentals for inconvenienced tourists. At best, they might’ve carried a commemorative spoon with a painting of a battery on it. Once again, as with the GenCon costume contest, the day is saved thanks to my wife and her superior camera.
A few outdoor sculptures greet you as you approach the Art Museum from the east. Between the museum and the Denver Public Library is Acoma Plaza, in which stands Mark di Suvero’s sculpture “Lao Tzu”, named after the author of the Tao Te Ching. I read the latter in college, but wasn’t prepared to interpret the artist’s meaning here, unless some of these shapes represent Chinese pictographs.
Our game plan, once inside: we three each selected one museum section for the group to peruse. I chose the Pacific Northwest section, featuring art from the U.S. and Canadian tribes who dominated that particular coast. Our museums in Indiana and the surrounding states have more than their share of Native American art and artifacts, but I was curious to know if other tribes had their own individual styles unavailable for display in the Midwest. I’ve seen all the maize-based manufactured goods I’ll ever need to see in our museums, but this exhibit was successfully different from those, highlighting the works of the Haida, the Tlingit, the Inupiaq, and the Kwakwaka’wakw (I’m not sure which letters are silent, if any).
After our extensive daylong sojourn through mountains’ majesty, we spent Day Four of our vacation on a metropolitan retreat in Denver. It was nice to get away from nature for a while and relax in the urban hustle-‘n’-bustle.
Our first major attraction was the Molly Brown House, the well-to-do abode of the famous socialite and boat jinx from 1894 until her passing in 1932. It exchanged a few times after that and was put to less fabulous uses until a 1970s restoration effort renovated it into a historical highlight not far from downtown Denver. Photos were unfortunately forbidden inside the house, but the exterior has its own quirks, least of which is the house being decades older than its surrounding neighbors. You’ll notice under the ad banner for the Titanic tour is an unusual place for a relief out of time.