Friday, 2 July 2010

Letter from Denver # 6

The California Zephyr is the biggest train I have ever seen. I don't know how many cars but they are all double deckers! The leg room was unreal and the seats folded way down but still it was impossible to get really comfy and sleep! I spent most of the 18 hour journey watching the rolling countryside fly past the window. Had some amazing moments listening to the Riceboy Sleeps album, watching butterflies chasing each other at the side of the tracks, crossing the Mississippi river on the most rickety looking bridge, seeing lights through the trees once the sun had gone down creating this weird strobe lightning effect.

We passed through 4 states to get to Denver, starting off from Illinois, the Iowa, Nebraska and finally stopped in Colorado. You could see changes in the landscape but also a lot of similarities at points. We covered over 1000 miles during the train ride, drank a few beers and had a 21 day matured steak which wasn't great! But the food cart staff were excellent and loved our accents.

We got to Denver and hooked up with Kit, part owner of Aberdeen's finest sandwich shop and good guy! We drove around in the baking heat for a while trying to find a breakfast stop and finally found a nice wee cafe that did amazing eggs & salmon. After a munch we headed up to Kit's new pad to drop bags and then hit an exhibition down town. The gallery had taken over a few different shops and spaces to install art works. Some of the pieces were pretty cool like the snake made from massive slices of bread and the fibre glass kid dancing on a bed of coke cans.

Then we cruised out on the crazy motorway and hit up the Red Rocks, this amazing amphitheatre set into the red rocks at the start of the Rockies mountain range. The rocks were carved out by man to help create the arena that plays host to some pretty big bands. We headed off to a park in town to have a munch and a drink, we got a massive Borrito from one of the many take away places, for $6 this thing could have fed about 3 people! It was massive. That combined with a few beers and we were all feeling a bit drained. Colorado is roughly 1 mile above sea level so the air is a bit thinner and you can suffer from altitude sickness. Weve been okay but I wouldn't like to try playing a game of football!

We went out to small bar for some spicy wings at night but I had to run back to the apartment as I keep forgetting my id and you need it to get in everywhere. After that we went on the hunt for some ice cream from one of the many ice cream places dotted about town but most of them were already shut so it was off home again to sleep with some ac on. The next day Kit took for a wee drive to his barber shop, a cool we place that does decent cuts, has a bit of history behind it and the barbers have good banter. Then it was off to the Buffalo Exchange to pick up some new threads and then Wax Tracks for some sweet tunes. I also played my first old skool video game, Ms Pac Man. It was quite an experience. Figured I'd need a shirt for Vegas and its also first Friday, basically all the new art shows across the US open on the first Thursday or Friday of the month so we headed out for some mexican and then began the gallery trail!

We hit up a small opening beside the restaurant that consisted of drawings of wild beasts destroying cities and all kinds of strange creatures. My favourite piece was a creepy looking print of Pee Wee Herman on his bike! Next up was a trip to Ironton Studios. They had everything you could want, a massive warehouse workshop, gallery space, studio space, a sculpture garden and some nae bad art on display inside! We hit up another studio / squat round the corner called Rhinoceropolis. It was pretty awesome, gallery through the front and then living / studio space through the back. They play host to bands as well and have a continuing flux of musicians, artists and friends passing through each month! They had an old skool Super Mario Brothers arcade system set up, it was like a dream! It also matched some of the 8 bit art work on the walls. My favourite piece was an 8 bit picture of 3 muscle men with small children around their feet cowering and a city scape on fire in the back ground! EPIC!

After all that art it was time for a breather so we hit up Sweet Action for some tasty ice cream, the chocolate Guinness being of note. They had some really cool prints on the walls by ISO50 and Nanoshi as well as a host of others. Then a quick walk down the road and it was more arts! The best show we saw was by Ravi Zupa, a local artist I think who makes amazing pictures using found images, collage and also makes these amazing puppets. His work was pretty amazing and was on show at the IlLiterate gallery which was a nice space.

We finished off the tour with a visit to the Blackbook Gallery. There was a group show opening with some mighty fine work on display but the thing I liked the most was the lay out of the space. Shop front entrance with books & prints for sale, main gallery space next door, big enough for a decent party, work shop / bar / darts space through the back with decks & PA set up and then a lovely court yard out back fro setting off rockets and fireworks. I think I've read about the space before in Juxtapose and it was held in high esteem for helping bring alternative art to Denver. They had some beautiful prints by big names such as Jeremy Fish, Evan Hecox and a few others for sale at pretty reasonable prices too!

Anyway that's it up till today, were just about to pick up the car and then were hitting up the Grand Canyon and onto Vegas for 4th July, American Independence Day! Aye just like the film featuring Will Smith! Denver has been a fun trip and no end of thanks to Tasha & Kit who have been incredible hosts and looked after us for the last 2 nights as well as all the people they introduced us too along the way. Now onto that epic drive through deserts, mountains and rocks!