Tuesday, December 11, 2018
--- Language and mathematics ---
This year my dual focus will be language and mathematics, but are those really two different things?
There is an ongoing philosophical debate as to whether numbers have an independent existence "out there" in nature. Is there a property of nature called "one"? Is there really a such a thing as a fraction?
Part of my graduate training was in research methodology. I've done a little research myself, mostly as parts of student teams, but I've mostly been involved with helping others develop their studies. Two of the biggest problems I've seen in studies are reification and reductionism.
Reductionism, in this instance, is the tendency of specialists to see their world from the narrow viewpoint of their own area of expertise. A medical issue will always have psychological, social, and environmental elements so a physiologist looking at diabetes might focus on the blood and pancreas and forget all about these other elements, and that can be useful as long as it is kept up front that his results are only part of the story. But if you have to deal with the reality of diabetes, you'd better not forget the other things.
Reification is much more insidious and difficult to guard against - often, it's just ignored.
Science doesn't give truths. It provides models that allow us to understand things that happen in the world and make predictions, but no model is perfect. All models are approximations of reality. A good model preserves as many of the important features of reality as possible so that it's outcomes can be said to be accurate to within certain specified limits. The error can be specified. But there is always error.
We keep models in our heads about how we think the world works. And, hopefully, our models are pretty close to reality. But philosophers and research advisers are there to warn us that the word is not the thing and that the model is not the reality.
And I think that is why some people mistakenly believe that numbers are "real". You can point at a number on a page but that's just ink that's been allowed to soak into paper and dry. To be grammatically correct, "1" is not 1. Fractions are even more problematic. If you break a stick in nature, you don't have two fractional sticks. You just have two sticks, and the "two" only exists in people's heads.
Mathematics is a language, just like English or Spanish or AMSLAN. It has been developed to help us come up with technically correct descriptions about how the world around us works.
In a way, numbers do have a kind of existence, as information, but that existence isn't independent. If there were no minds around to appreciate a zero, there would be no zero. But zero revolutionized our world by allowing us to make very precise "words" to describe very large and very small quantities.
Some machines have parts that must be accurate in size to ,say, 0.01 millimeters, or else the tiny space between the parts would allow enough motion to shake the machine apart. Try expressing 0.01 in Roman numerals (which have no zero).
Our technical understanding of the world, and therefore, our exquisite technology, relies on the language of mathematics, but language it still is.
We have many languages - literary language that allows us to communicate complex messages across both space and time, nonspoken body languages that allow us to communicate exquisitely our emotional intentions, aesthetic languages that let is communicate beauty (and sometimes ugliness)to multitudes. The sciences use the languages of logic and mathematics to communicate ideas with great precision.
Now, as I begin to explore the hard sciences, my first stop will be the "hard language" of mathematics and the softer human spoken languages.
Does mathematics exist "out there"? Well, in fact, it does. As long as there are thinking people "out there", there will be mathematics and I will be carrying it out into the field more and more to explore the intricacies of the world around me.
--- Hard science, soft science ---
"Hard" science is misleading. Social sciences, psychology, history - all that can be vastly more difficult than the "hard sciences". In the laboratory, everything other than what is being observed is controlled (and, often, what is being observed is also controlled, which begs the question, "Is what is being observed a fabrication?"). In the field, things can't be tightly controlled so there is always a lot of what scientists call "error".
"Error" isn't what it sounds like. It isn't "accident" or "misbehaving". The inconvenient fact is that even the purest of chemicals are not absolutely pure and there is no way of knowing exactly what impurities are present. No procedure is absolutely perfect and all we can do is specify how close to perfect it is (we can do that by specifying tolerances and checking to make sure these tolerances are met.)
Tiny imperfections are considered insignificant or negligible. Of course all the tiny imperfections add up, and that's what scientists call "error".
"Soft sciences" including field research in the hard sciences deal with lots of error so results of studies tend to include a lot of involved statistics that generate statements like, "The measurement is accurate within plus or minus ..... ," or "a trend was observed that ....," or "p is less than ...." These are statements of uncertainty.
In contrast, a hard scientist can confidentially tell you that the boiling point of pure water is 100.0 degree centigrade at one atmosphere of pressure. Observations made in the laboratory have very little error and therefore results of laboratory studies can often be reported with considerable certainty. Hard science is "hard" because of the "solidity" of it's results.
Up to now, I've been exploring the soft sciences around the Denver area, but I'm about to shift over to the hard sciences: mathematics, astronomy, physics, chemistry, geology, paleontology, biology. Along the way, you will see why even the hard sciences have their soft spots.
Thursday, November 29, 2018
--- Social and language education at the library ---
The Denver Public Library is scattered all over the Denver area with 24 branch libraries in addition to the big, castle-like central library in downtown Denver. In addition to providing books, movies and educational materials to their patrons, they offer many educational experiences.
The end of the year is a transitional event for me because I am changing topics for my adventures, but it's more of a blending than a sharp change. I've been studying social sciences, but now I will turn my attention to language. Obviously, language is social.
When I visit Mi Pueblo Market, I wish I could talk to the checkout person in Spanish.
Unfortunately, the last two attempts to learn Spanish has been frustrating. I didn't have this much trouble learning German or AMSLAN. I realize that new languages are harder to pick up as a person gets older, but I can tell from my past attempts that Spanish should be an easy language, so next year will be one more (last?) attempt to learn Spanish.
The Denver Public Library offers many tools for learning new languages and I will be using it. Specific to Spanish, not only are there books, books on tape, and movies in Spanish, but they have bilingual events. Looking at their online calendar for next year, I see weekly bilingual guitar lessons offered by the Valdez-Perry Branch and the Schlessman Family Branch offers weekly Spanish conversation groups. And there have been many single events in the past.
I will have to develop a basic conversational grasp of Spanish before I can make much use of these learning tools, but they're something to look forward to.
Does your local public library have a website? Check it out. You may be surprised about how much your library offers.
Thursday, November 22, 2018
--- A trip to Asia ---
There is a lot of Asian influence in Denver. I've visited the little Buddhist temple on Estes Street near Bear Creek and the Domo Japanese Restaurant between Auraria West station and 10th Street and Osage Station. I plan to check out Sakura Square when I visit the Union Station area early next year.
Many of the Vietnamese refuges, after the Vietnam War settled around Denver and, after the release of Japanese-Americans from internment camps, Governor Ralph Carr welcomed them to settle in Colorado. There are neighborhoods in Denver that have a decidedly Asian flavor. Some of the local branches of the Denver Public Library, like the Bear Creek Branch, have significant holdings in the Vietnamese language.
I took a trip Tuesday down Alameda to the area on Federal called "Little Saigon".
I walked through the Denver University campus to University Station. I'm almost at 200 pounds and I'm avoiding bus rides as much as I can and the campus in always nice for a visit. A short train ride to Alameda Station and a bus ride to Bryant Street brought me to the Denver Buddhist Cultural Society. When I was planning my trip, I looked around the neighborhood and noticed this building across the street...
[Justice for All]
It looked interesting so I decided to check it out. It's a large building with many legal organizations, pretty much independent of each other. Whereas it did look like it would be a useful place for someone looking for legal assistance, I would have had to knock on every door in the building to get an idea of what goes on there. If you need legal assistance, I would advise checking them out on the Internet before visiting.
So, to the cultural center...
[Denver Buddhist Cultural Society]
...which was closed and posted, so I didn't learn much there.
So, on to Federal Boulevard. I had told Coryn that I would make a side trip to the Mi Pueblo Market on Knox Court. On the way I met a couple of nice ladies trying to ride herd on a covey of small pooches who were spreading out in all directions. I helped them get the dogs together and continued to the market. On the way back to Federal, I spotted this mural on the Casa Resource Center building on Alameda.
[Entrance to the Far East Shopping Center]
[From the upper level]
The Far East Center is a shopping area in Little Saigon that has markets, gift stores, restaurants, jewelry stores, beauty shops, and other businesses. I visited the Truong An Far East Asian Gifts for a little shopping. The folks there were friendly and didn't mind talking. The shop is packed with all kinds of food items, clothes, and knickknacks. With my backpack, I felt like a very dangerous bull in a China shop. I managed to look around and get out without damaging anything.
Then I walked across to the China Jade Restaurant for a tasty plate of steamed dumplings. I've eaten here before with my family and have found their excellent reputation for dim sum to be completely deserved.
I have also visited the Little Saigon Supermarket next door. If you can figure out what you're looking at, this is a great place for finding exotic food items.
After what turned out to be a shopping expedition, I caught a bus back to Alameda Station, a train back to University Station, and a bus home.
Much Asian architecture in the United States has a pagoda look to it. Are there any Asian-style structures in your area? Even the small southern town of Selma, Alabama had seven Chinese Restaurants during the twenty years I lived there.
Japanese gardens have a minimalist style emphasizing rock, water, and sky. Are there any Asian gardens near you? Can you figure out the symbolism embodied in the landscaping before you research it?
Saturday, November 10, 2018
--- Auraria West to Osage ---
This was a very short hike. The light rail station is just at the very edge of Auraria campus near Colfax. The Domo is on the first block across Colfax, and the 10th Street and Osage Station is just a few blocks further. All in all, I doubt if Auraria West Station is two miles from 10th Street and Osage, but this hike is packed with interesting places.
Auraria West Station is my last station-to-station hike for a while. Next month, I start exploring the light rail termini. Alameda is the last station to transfer to other lines to the north and east. Alameda West is on the line that continues to Union Station and it is also where the W Line, which heads west to Golden, splits off.
As mentioned above, it is right on the border of the Auraria campus, which is shared by three colleges: Community College of Denver, Metropolitan State University of Denver, and the University of Colorado - Denver.
[Auraria West Station]
I've been through Auraria West Station several times. It's on the way to the Human Services offices in the Castro Building and the W Line serves the Golden area.
Frankly, the area isn't that impressive from the station, but there are some suggestive sights. I've heard of and seen the back of the Domo Restaurant from the light rail. It doesn't look like much from the back of the building but it has a good reputation. I can also see this building from the station - it looks like an old Spanish mission.
[Saint Cajetan's from the station]
As I walk around the parking area, I realize that it is on the Auraria Campus. Reaching Colfax, I saw a trail heading back onto the campus and I took that and am almost immediately at the Ninth Street Historic Park.
When the early settlers moved up stream from the short lived Montana City, they established a settlement called "Auraria". The name made plain the people's interest - gold. It was founded in 1858, three weeks before William Larimer staked out the future Denver City across Cherry Creek. The settlers, lead by William Greeneberry Russell, was a group from Georgia, and the town was named after Auraria, Georgia.
I keep finding ties back to my homeland. Before I retired, I had left the Southeastern United States exactly four time, once on a construction ministry trip to Great Falls, Montana, and three times to Denver. I guess it was only natural that I would end up in Denver, and I keep finding all these links back to Georgia and Alabama.
The Ninth Street Historic Park has preserved a section of old Auraria - a row of houses that now serve as administrative buildings and museums for the Auraria Campus. The buildings display a variety of styles from the late 1800s and early 1900s and each has a plaque out front that provides a little of the history. Here are pictures of some of the buildings.
[Ninth Street Historic Park]
After wandering around the park a while, I made a beeline for the big Spanish style building and found that it was, indeed, an old church, built in 1920, which is now a part of the college campus. On the day I visited, they were having a blood drive but the registration crew told me quite a lot about the building. There are some interesting stained glass windows there.
They also told me a little about the chapel across the way, which was my next stop.
The oldest religious structure still standing in Denver, the Emmanuel Chapel was built in 1876. First an Episcopal chapel, the building later became a Jewish synagogue, as indicated by the inscription now over the door, and is now an art gallery. It was hosting an exhibition by the German artist Aram Bartholl on the day of my visit.
His work is very modernistic and strikingly "clean". The gallery was spacious, white, and neon. He's worth looking up (hint: there's a Wikipedia article.)
Locals make great tour guides if you know how to talk to them. The folks at the art gallery directed me toward the student union building, an old, massive brewery called "Tivoli". The Tivoli Brewing Company, still in operation, was founded in 1859 in this huge brick building that looks like something right out of a Charles Dickens novel.
[Tivoli Brewing Company]
After another pass through the Ninth Street Historic Park, I left the campus, crossed Colfax, and walked to the Domo Japanese Restaurant, which is a reconstruction of a Japanese farmhouse. Restaurant, museum, gardens, and cultural center, it was an experience meal. The authentic Japanese food was served in an authentic manner in an authentic setting complete with tree stumps for seats. It made me happy.
[The Domo Japanese Restaurant]
After a big bowl of ramen and three sides (I don't know what they were, and I didn't ask. They were tasty.), I looked around the gardens, made a donation for the Myamar refuges, and headed down Osage toward Lincoln Park, a large green with a water park (closed for the winter) and a mural by Emanuel Martinez, that contains both modern and ancient symbols. It's called "La Alma" (The Soul, painted in 1978.
10th Street and Osage Station was close by. On the way back to University Station, I took the opportunity of taking pictures of the light rail reflected in upper stories of buildings as it passed on the elevated track just south of Broadway Station.
Does your town have any old buildings open to the public? One of my past hometowns, Selma, Alabama, had over 1000 antebellum structures. Old homes are great places to get in touch with past cultures.
I'll probably be making more trips to old Auraria. College campuses have always attracted me - they're like sprawling indoor-outdoor museums providing exhibitions in just about every field of interest, events, and many peoplewatching opportunities.
Thursday, November 8, 2018
--- Pride of Place: Living Memorials ---
We have just celebrated All Saints' Day and Dia de los muertos - the day of the dead. Almost every culture has had some kind of recognition of the dead - of ancestors and powerful figures of the past. Why?
Why not let "auld acquaintance be forgot?"
The last two sections of Pride of Place: Huwerl Thornton, Junior's "Living Memorials: Honoring Your Family" and Kristin Wetmore's "The Amistad Story: Commemorating a Local Narrative" are explorations of co-memoration - the remembering together of past peoples and events.
I am first a sociologist. My primary trainings and interests are peoples and cultures and you will see in this blog many pointers to events and peoples that are important and salient to whatever culture I encounter.
There are many elements of strong, healthy cultures and two are folkways and history. These things can be toxic. Remember (always remember) the character of Nazi Germany, endued in a pervasive and overwhelming folk tradition invented for political purposes - murderous in intent, and remember (always remember) that we have often allowed the same poison into the United State's psyche.
But cultures need anchors in the universe and the greatest anchors are the sense of belonging in time and place.
We remember our past in gravestones, statues, murals, street and place names, and buildings.
The Browns were intimately connected with Denver so when you see "The Unsinkable Molly Brown" or "Titanic" you can think about our Avoca and Brown Palace (even though the Brown palace was another Brown, Molly did stay there a week after the Titanic disaster.)
We remember our ancestors because they provide personal connections in time and place. We remember local and national heroes because they anchor us in the world. We remember events of the past, both good and bad, because they are the stuff that sews us into the fabric of the universe. Our existence may be the product of spirit or the Higgs field, but what we are is the product of our histories.
Can you reconstruct where you came from and where your community came from in the memorials that exist and are publicly visible in your community? Even if you and your family are not originally from where you now live, can you see traces of your culture in your new home?
My family has produced politicians, actors, directors, inventors, and ballerinas. I am connected through them to the churning washing machine (Nicholas Van Zandt invented it in 1809), Citizen Kane (Philip Van Zandt played Mr. Rawlston), and the opera Lakme (Leo Delibes composed it specifically for Marie Van Zandt). I am connected to VanZandt county Texas which once tried to secede from the state of Texas but decided to have a party instead, and I am connected by ancestry to the national hero of Germany, Arminius, who trashed a third of the Roman military machine with a few hundred German woodsmen and secured a lasting freedom for his people. Arguably, he's the reason that Martin Luther was able to escape the clutches of another world power, the Holy Roman Catholic Church. My mother's ancestors, the Forehands and Fordhams, were law men of renown and friends of the Younger gang, who were either lawless or heroes according to who you talk to. The Saint James Hotel, where I lived in Selma, was named after Jesse and was a reminder of this anchor I have in time and place. My great grandfather was a lawyer. He was known by his initials: J. J. Forehand. "J. J." of course, stood for "Jesse James".
You are established in the past by your own history. We hold our pasts in us. We are living memorials.
--- Pride of Place: My Maps. My Neighborhood ---
Sara E. Thomas' lesson plan "My Maps, My Neighborhood" (http://teachersinstitute.yale.edu/curriculum/units/2008/3/08.03.07.x.html) suggests using Google's MyMaps utility as a tool for exploring the neighborhood. It is a modification of Google's Maps that lets a user annotate and draw figures on a map, and then save it. You can learn more about MyMaps from:
I use Google's mapping utilities a lot when planning adventures. I'm planning my last station-to-station hike (for a while) and here is a map of the area I plan to hike.
[Auraria West to Osage]
The map can be saved to Google Drive, the "cloud-based" storage area in Google. I prefer to use the Screen Print key to save a copy and open it in Windows Paint so I can further modify it.
Play around with MyMaps. You might create a map of your city or neighborhood. See what it looks like from a "bird's-eye" view.
Google Maps will show you things like attractions and parks, or you can switch to a topographic map or satellite image. You can also zoom down to street level views and take a tour of your neighborhood.
Friday, November 2, 2018
--- Pride of Place: Tools and Art in Homes ---
Laura M. Tarpill's section in "Pride of Place: New Haven Material and Visual Culture", "Tools and Art in Hispanic Homes of New Haven" emphasizes differences in material culture in the homes of people from diverse cultures, specifically Hispanic culture.
Denver is a great place for learning about other cultures - there are so many represented in the city. One thing that I quickly noticed was that there were many more statues of Mary in sections of town with predominantly Hispanic culture. A Hispanic family is more likely to be Roman Catholic than a family from, say, a Germanic background. Protestants don't tend to have images of Mary around so much.
I've also noted that Hispanic homes tend to be more colorful with pastel facades and banners and such out front. They also seem to be more likely to have vegetable gardens in a very visible part of their yards. That's changing some as other cultures are catching on to the joys of sustainable gardens.
The Hispanic families recognize different holidays and celebrations than others. The Day of the Dead is coming up and there will be a flurry of activity in Denver. The same goes for the Fifth of May.
But it's not just Hispanic cultures. People from African or Caribbean areas might be just as flashy but I've noticed that the colors tend to be bolder with more primary colors like reds, blacks, and greens. People from the southwestern parts of the United States go for a lot of color also but they tend to be earth colors with lots of reds, yellows, and browns.
These tendencies are just that. Noticing a "Hispanic appearance" in a house doesn't mean that a Hispanic family lives there. It's just that you begin noticing more color, statues of Mary, and vegetable gardens as you enter and travel into a part of Denver that has more Hispanic families.
Are there a variety of ethnic families in your town? As you walk through town, see if you can recognize differences of appearance in the houses in different neighborhoods. Are the differences related to cultures?
Are there holidays in your town that you aren't familiar with? Look into them. Often other people are welcome to participate. Sometimes museums and cultural centers will offer educational programs about them.
Monday, October 29, 2018
--- Pride of Place: Denver's History of Public Art ---
It's interesting to see how much of the forces that drove New Haven's public art movement (described in Melissa Sand's section of Pride of Place: New Haven Material and Visual Culture - Discovering New Haven's History of Public Art. http://teachersinstitute.yale.edu/curriculum/units/2008/3 accessed 10/15/2018) also drove Denver's. Of course, from the first (which is much more recent than New Haven's "first", Denver worked hard for recognition as a cultural center, but the early steps were rather amateurish.
What really jump started the public arts movement (in the whole United States) was the New Deal Public Works of Art Project (PWAP) of the 1930s. This brought such works as the two Gladys Caldwell Fisher sculptures at the Byron White courthouse, Rocky Mountain Sheep and White Ram, and the Hugh Weller East High School murals.
The Federal Art Project of the 30s and 40s provided further impetus that continues to the current day. Much of the art in Denver was funded through these government programs. Denver's Public Art Program was established in 1988. It directs that one percent of any capital improvement project costing over one million dollars must be set aside for public art to be included in these projects.
Public art intersects intensively with both culture, politics, and history. I attended a presentation on the history of southwestern Denver and a topic that was brought up was the survival of neon sign art from the 50s.
The Voorhies Memorial was placed in the northern section of Denver's Civic Center Park in 1919. Funded by John Voorhies, it was to be a memorial gateway. The ensemble includes the Greek Theater and Colonnade of Civic Benefactors. Water features and ancient-style murals break the powerful architecture. The colonnade was designed by William E. Fisher and Arthur A. Fisher, and the Greek Theater was designed by Willis A. Marean and Albert J. Norton. These architects were active in many of the early architectural projects in Denver including the Cheesman Park Pavilion, the Governor's Mansion, and the Brown Palace Hotel.
The memorial would fit quite well in the National Mall in Washington, D.C. The sheer size of solidity exudes pomp and power.
It is interesting that two different architectural firms came together to create such a unity of form, a testament to early Denver's vision of a cultural center for the West. I keep saying "early Denver" but keep in mind that Denver itself is a recent city when compared to the centuries older cities of the east and much more ancient cities of the rest of the world.
The creation captures a classical style while addressing local topics, such as the murals, "The Trapper" and "The Prospector" in the Greek Theater, modernistic works that, nevertheless, fit well into the feeling of ancient splendor. They do point to the idea that the triumphant sentiment reflects the conquest of nature - the West - instead of a conquest of nations, a sentiment that would have been appreciated at the turn of the century at the beginning of World War I (1914).
The animal heads in the photographs are a recent exhibition based on the Chinese Zodiac.
[Mural - Alameda]
This mural, painted by Yulia Avgustinovich, is at the intersection of Santa F Drive and West Alameda Avenue. Called "Viva Colorado", it incorporates characteristically Coloradan elements including the state animal (bighorn sheep), bird (lark bunting), flower (columbine), cactus (claret cup) and insect (Colorado hairstreak butterfly), mountains, and a pioneer wagon. There is also a fish that I take to be a green cutthroat trout ( the Colorado state fish) and a blanket in Native American pattern. And above it all the trademark Colorado sun (I swear it's a different sun that what I was used to back east.)
There is a detailed description of the mural on the artist's website.
The pale pastels give the mural a dreamlike quality and I can't help thinking about the writings of Carlos Castenada when I see that spooky looking, blue eyed bighorn. Of course, that might just be me - I've had a lot of spooky in my life. Certainly an artwork will draw drastically different associations from different people.
Obviously, this mural is blatantly about Colorado. One motivation the artist mentions in creating the work was to beautify a previously ugly wall.
The pioneers portrayed are not the usual "Old West" stock. One is, maybe, Spanish, playing a guitar, and the other strikes me as, perhaps German, blowing a horn. The small dog seems rather, unimpressed. The horse practically gambols. It all has an antique feel to it but there are modern cityscapes here also. Colorado - nature, history, culture - seems compressed into one here. The pioneers could be modern city dwellers.Anachronism can be used in artworks to tie the past with the present. Unlike (what seems to me) the electric, "edgy" (despite the picnickers) mural at Alameda station, this mural is endowed with an almost mystical peacefulness.
Most of these murals seem to be unaffected by political motives of patrons, and if Denver commissioned them and said, "paint what you want." In this busy intersection at Santa Fe, and Alameda, and Interstate 25, I must believe that the painter has attempted to give busy people a small does of peace.
[Historical sculpture - Coming Home]
This grouping by Susan Grant Raymond consists of two draft horses lead by a man, with a child riding one of the horses and a colt trailing behind the team. The sculpture is visible from South Santa Fe Boulevard and South Prince Street as well as the Platte River Trail in Littleton. It represents a farmer and his son headed home at the end of a work day with their horses.
The bronze statues were created in 1987.
I sense the peace of the prairie in the fatigue of a days work. People like this settled the Platte River Valley. Southwestern Denver was farmlands until well into the 20th century.
The Littleton Fine Art Committee commissioned the piece from the artist who grew up in Littleton to add to the considerable collection begun in 1964.
[Modern artwork - big blue bear]
The big blue bear at the Denver Convention Center is the creation of Lawrence Argent, an associate professor of art and, later, professor emeritus at the University of Denver until his death in 2017. The actual name of the project is "I See What You Mean'. It is 40 feet tall and weighs around 10,000 pounds.
It is composed of fiberglass and, if you look closely, you can see that it's not furry. It is more...polyhedral. The blue color was an accident. Argent had originally intended to use the earth colors commonly seen around Denver but, due to an error in the copying process, the planning layout came out blue. Argent liked it, so blue it remained.
The bear is quite intentionally playful and funny, meant to get visitors into a lighthearted frame of mind.
The statue was installed in 2005 and has been well maintained. To emphasize the humorous aspect, there is a big coil that is sometimes brought out and placed under the bear between his feet. I guess if a bathroom tissue can make an ad campaign out of that old saw, Denver can, too. There has also been a ball and chain attached to the bear's leg.
The piece was inspired by a newspaper article that showed a bear looking into the house of a Colorado resident. Absolutely appropriate because there are bear statues all over Denver, the bear looks right at home.
It was actually constructed in California before being shipped to Colorado, the project costing $424,400. It is a part of the Denver Office of Cultural Affairs Public Art Program. Reproduced in various sizes and photographed around the world, this is one of the most beloved art pieces to knock on Denver's windows.
[Stained glass at Evans Chapel]
Evans Memorial Chapel was completed in 1878 in downtown Denver by Governor John Evans, also founder of the University of Denver. It was built in memory of his daughter, Josephine, who had died of tuberculosis a decade earlier. In 1960, the building was moved to it's current position on the campus of the University of Denver.
It stands on the west side of the Harper Humanities water gardens. One of the reflecting ponds is at it's east wall. The High Victorian Gothic chapel is built of rough hewn stone and displays a collection of stained glass windows.
The large stained glass window in the eastern window depicts a scene from Ruth that personifies grief. The small inset at the bottom shows Naomi followed by her daughters-in-law after proclaiming, "call me bitterness".
The National Register of Historic Places Inventory Nomination Form for Evans Chapel is accessible here:
and provides more historic information about the chapel.
[Architecture - Buchtel Memorial Tower, University of Denver]
The Buchtel Tower was built in 1917 as part of the Memorial Chapel Building that burned down in 1982. It was dedicated to the memory of alumni who died during World War I. It was named after Henry Buchtel, who was the university's chancellor from 1900 to 1924.
The space around the tower - an amphitheater and garden with stone features and metal lattices - is the Holocaust Memorial Social Action Site dedicated to the spirit of inclusion and respect.
Although the whole ensemble is located on busy Evans Avenue, it has a feeling of quietness and solemnity. The stone and metal projects a sense of age and strength, perhaps of commitment in the face of adversity and social resistance.
In 2015, the tower was rededicated to honor current military veterans in the DU student body.
Holocaust is a part of the human psyche. Any of us could be victim or perpetrator. I doubt if we can ever rid ourselves of the hatred of that which is different from us, but the memorial underscores the need to always be vigilant. Historically humanity is a vicious and hateful creature, but humans are also rational animals capable of choosing different directions. We can be better.
You have artworks in your area that are relevant to the spirit of your community (I know you do!). What are they? Can you interpret them in the light of the history of your community and your current world? Do they engender any feelings or emotions in you?
Look up the history of a local artwork. Does anything surprise you about it? Did the creator's intent differ from your interpretations? Has the message of the artwork changed over time?