Serving The Philippines and far beyond as a board member of Metro Infanta Foundation

My friend Mila Garcia Glodava and I met almost 30 years ago as communications colleagues. About 25 years ago, Mila showed me around her homeland in The Philippines–a place of beauty and poverty, of pristine islands and polluted cities, but overall a culture of beautiful people of warm hospitality and wide smiles. Mila is akin to the Mother Teresa of The Philippines.

When Mila asked me to serve on the board of the Metro Infanta Foundation she established 25 years ago, I couldn’t say no. Over the years, Mila and her foundation have accomplished a lot in three areas: education, faith-formation and cultural heritage preservation. I especially have a spot in my heart for the indigenous people similar to those pictured above whom I met while on my pilgrimage in Asia.

When Mila asked me to help her create communications for the 25th anniversary of her foundation, again I could not say no. But I had not idea until we got into the project how much she had accomplished, not only in The Philippines, but around the globe. We collaborated over the summer and produced a 24-page commemorative booklet in addition to collateral materials mailed just before Thanksgiving. The project was a lot of fun because we compiled all the foundation’s many wins. We also because we worked with the bright colors, rich indigenous textiles and tropical plants, as well as captivating images of The Philippines as we designed the direct mail package to reflect the islands.

Tired, but almost finished: Mila Garcia Glodava and me as we share a hug and celebrate out long history of collaboration.

Mila and I have a special synergy. We work hard together, but we always laugh hard, too. It’s been my honor to serve as a member of Mila’s Metro Infanta Foundation board since its inception 25 years ago and to contribute to this major project. Salamat Po! That’s Tagalog for “thank you.”

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History Colorado: the state’s memory

When a PR staffer from History Colorado contacted me to say they’d enjoyed my recent magazine article about the director of Denver’s Museum of Contemporary Art, he also invited me to interview the new director of History Colorado. I was already overbooked, yet I wanted to help a fellow female who was taking on a top position, so I agreed to report the feature for The Denver Gazette. I learned a lot about History Colorado, an organization that does much more than I ever imagined. History Colorado’s presence is in all corners of the state. Here’s the compelling layout published by The Denver Gazette:

The Denver Gazette published the photos I shot while visiting History Colorado, and I especially like this image of the new director with historic woman behind her.
At the History Colorado Center in Denver’s Cultural District, an exhibit titled “Zoom In” presents an authoritative chronology of the Centennial State using just 100 objects. All told, History Colorado’s collections contain 15 million objects and documents. 
The oldest artifact in ‘Zoom In’ is a stone spearhead known as a Folsom point that’s almost 13,000 years old. The newest object is a glass marijuana bong from 2012. In between, everything from the history of the first Christmas lights to the first skier’s chairlift on Aspen Mountain.

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New Welcome Center adds to Denver Art Museum’s artful buildings

All three buildings on the Denver Art Museum campus: from left, a point of the Hamilton Building, the new Welcome Center, and the Gio Ponti-designed Martin Building at right.

My feature and my photography published by Art & Object spotlights the three architectural gems of Denver Art Museum. Read my article at this link with no paywall. I interviewed the DAM’s director, Christoph Heinrich, prior to the DAM’s recent reopening of the $175 million upgrade. Part of the project was the sprucing up of the DAM’s 50-year-old building designed by Gio Ponti. The project also introduced a sparkling new Welcome Center. The Welcome Center features curved glass windows nearly 40′ tall, a new application used for the first time in the building.

Downtown Denver as seen through one of Gio Ponti’s unusually shaped windows.

One of the best aspects of the upgrade is the opening of the Martin Building’s rooftop terraces with fresh air and fresh views of the city and, in the distance, Colorado’s Front Range of the Rocky Mountains.

The Civic Center Park amphitheater and the Colorado State Capitol as seen from the rooftop terrace of the DAM’s Martin Building.

On a mid-October day under Denver’s bluebird skies, flags fly atop the Gio Ponti-designed building that needed to fit on an unusual, triangular piece of real estate.

Photos by Colleen Smith

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Denver’s Museum of Contemporary Art celebrates 25th anniversary

Nora Abrams directs the Museum of Contemporary Arts and led MCA Denver through COVID-19 lockdown.

On Friday the 13th of March 2020 – three days before Colorado sank into quarantine — Denver’s  Museum of Contemporary Arts closed its doors due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As post-lockdown reemergence unfolds, MCA Denver prepares to celebrate a silver anniversary in 2022.

Museum director Nora Burnett Abrams celebrates the silver linings forged by tumultuous events of 2020 and the first half of 2021. When I met with Abrams, I caught her contagious enthusiasm for the museum’s newest direction: a flourishing online presence that extended MCA Denver far beyond the bricks and mortar museum.

Here’s a link to “Curating Community,” my feature about MCA Denver in the new issue of Colorado Expression magazine

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The art of flowers, fabrics and embroidered birdsong at Denver Botanic Gardens

Flowers inspire multi-media artist Ana Maria Hernando.

Ana Maria Hernando’s exhibition titled “Fervor” at Denver Botanic Gardens displays the artist’s love of and reverence for nature. Hernando associates the word “fervor” with devotion. She said, “‘Fervor’ has connotations to the spirit. Many times, we think about people praying with fervor — that commitment to action. It’s a word that’s very passionate, and that word brings that passion forward. Nature has fervor. The intent, the vocation for life.”

In her work as a painter and/or sculptor inspired primarily by flowers and fabrics, she has her own fervor, her own intention and vocation and passion.

“I like very much the idea of learning, so I make a lot of mistakes. When I am beginning to work with one material, many things don’t come out the way I want or I intended, but I like that process,” she says. “I like how alive that process is.

Here is a link to the article in Colorado Expression magazine with more details about the exhibit at Denver Botanic Gardens.

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Photographer stops summer: a fine-art photo series of the season

Photos by Dianne Allison

Like many or most people, I have mixed feelings about Facebook, but as a journalist I have made many professional connections there, including the fine-art photographer Diane Allison. I don’t recall how we met, but Diane’s photo collages on Facebook immediately caught my eye. I found myself giving lots of thumbs up and hearts to her posts.

When reporting an article about dandelions, my assignment charged me with providing photos. I remembered a macro shot of a dandelion Diane had posted. Eventually, my editor and his boss agreed the photos were so eye-catching they would buy them to accompany my article.

Then, I approached my acquisitions editor at Art + Object, an international online site known for high-brow coverage of the high-end art scene. He agreed immediately, too, that Diane’s images warranted an article. Then my editor had the idea for a series about summer: brilliant! I’ve always loved summer, so curating this fine-art photo tribute was a joyful task this summer of 2021. With the fruits and flowers, insects, fireworks, rainbows and carousel unicorns of summer, this series is as relaxed as the season and requires only clicking through one magical image after another: 11 in all, including the inspired artist.

Here is a link to the slide show with no pay wall!.

And here are links to Diane Allison and her beauty vision:

https://www.dianeallisonphoto.com

/https://www.instagram.com/photobroad/?hl=en

https://www.etsy.com/shop/dianeallisonphoto

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How the pandemic improved the health of Denver’s Museum of Contemporary Arts

Creativity is always a valuable commodity when it comes to problem-solving. And what bigger problem than COVID-19, which shuttered the Museum of Contemporary Arts in Denver. The museum known for rule-breaking quirk put their creative, out-of-the-box thinking to work during quarantine and wound up growing their audience substantially via virtual programs. I had the opportunity to meet face-to-face with MCA Denver’s articulate and enthusiastic director, Nora Burnett Abrams — pictured below in images from the internet — to talk about how COVID-19 inspired a healthier MCA Denver.

Here’s a link to my article published by Art & Object.

And here’s a link to MCA Denver where you can learn more about what’s happening now and in the future to celebrate the silver anniversary of the museum.

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An art collector and a philanthropist, George Wiegers’ nest in Cherry Creek North

As if this penthouse’s views of Colorado’s Front Range Rocky Mountains, downtown Denver’s skyline and, below, Cherry Creek North weren’t enough, the apartment is a virtual art gallery. The homeowner, George Wiegers, discussed his digs in Denver, his investment banking career in New York City, and his connection to Vail. One of Colorado’s most generous philanthropists, Wiegers founded The Depression Center, a national network for people suffering mental illness. He and his wife, Betsy, also were instrumental in bringing world class philharmonic orchestras and ballet companies to Bravo Vail. Wiegers, a 6th generation New Yorker, loves all the West has to offer, particularly alpine skiing, fly-fishing and the Colorado art scene.

Click here to read the article published by Colorado Expression magazine.

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Salvador Dali’s rarely seen botanical prints at Denver Botanic Gardens

Salvador Dali, Gardens of the Mind Exhibit, photo courtesy Denver Botanic Gardens

Salvador Dali taught us that there’s more to life than meets the eye. And while Dali’s surreal art tends to bring to mind warped clocks or Catholic crucifixions, the artist also created several suites of botanical prints. Dali subverted the high-brow seriousness of botanical illustration and put his own spin on the art — sometimes working directly over existing prints.

Working with the librarian at The Dali Museum in St. Petersburg, FL and the art curator at Denver Botanic Gardens, I wrote about the Dali botanicals on exhibit at DBG.

Each slide has commentary to help understand Dali’s art — as if we can understand the wild and dreamy imagination of the artist who believed his inspiration came through the tips of his handlebar mustache. Quirky and colorful and full of mystery, too, have a look at Dali’s fruits and flowers and you’ll never see a peach or a pomegranate or a pansy the same again.

Click here for my article published by Art & Object — no pay wall!

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A different look at dandelions

Photos by Dianne Allison

On June 21, 2021, the first full day of summer, The Denver Gazette published my feature about dandelions along with eye-catching fine art photographs of dandelions by Denver artist Dianne Allison.

For the article, I interviewed a landscape designer who advocates for native plants. She emphasized that dandelions play an important role in our landscapes and eco culture. I also interviewed the founder of the medicinal plants garden at Denver Botanic Gardens, who emphasized that dandelions are good food and medicine. And I interviewed a certified arborist from a local tree and lawn care company who said dandelions aren’t really harming lawns or trees, but are more an aesthetic and tolerance issue.

“Dandelions get yellow light in Denver” is my feature article published in The Denver Gazette on 21 June 2021.

In my own organic garden, I dig dandelions after rain storms. I have eaten dandelion greens in salads and green shakes. I have made dandelion fritters from the blossoms, and dandelion vinegar from the roots. However, I live in the city alongside neighbors with pristine lawns, so I don’t let my dandelions go wild — tho’ they’d like to, no doubt.

If able to wish upon a dandelion seed, I’d wish for the sea change required for humans to embrace dandelions and learn to cultivate them without letting them get totally out of control. After all, European immigrants intentionally brought dandelions to the New World. Our new perspective on dandelions as plants for food and medicine rather than weeds would made a difference to our yards and our planet.

For more about healthy soil and the web of life, watch the documentary film “Kiss the Ground” on Netflix.

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