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Art and nature at high altitude
November 2011
by Jeffrey Bouley  |  Email the author


DENVER—Maybe being roughly a mile above sea level —well, between 5,130 feet and 5,680 feet up depending on where you are in the city—just isn't enough for you. Maybe you want to enjoy art and nature in a place that looks down on Denver. Literally.
If so, Red Rocks Park and Amphitheater might be just the ticket. Located near Morrison, Colo., just 15 miles west of Denver, the 868-acre park is anywhere from about 6,200 to 6,450 feet above sea level, depending on where you are. Red Rocks Park is a transitional zone where the Great Plains meet the Rocky Mountains, and this unique environment allows visitors to see plants, birds and animals of both regions. More than that, the Red Rocks Amphitheatre is said to be the only naturally occurring, acoustically perfect amphitheatre in the world, and it has hosted artists from Sting and the Beatles to opera stars and U2.  
At press time, there were no events scheduled at the amphitheater, but you can still visit for the scenic vistas and hiking, among other activities. You can enjoy trails both for walking and biking, as well as picturesque picnic spots and a visitor center that includes the Ship Rock Grille, the venue's on-site restaurant open for lunch and weekend brunch. The Trading Post Trail is 1.4 miles in length, and goes through spectacular rock formations, valleys and a natural meadow. Some of the terrain is rough, so hiking boots or shoes are recommended, and hikers should be prepared for adverse weather conditions, as the weather can change very quickly. The trail is narrow, though, with some drop-offs, steep grades and road crossings at various points. Rock climbing is prohibited. The Red Rocks Trail, on the other hand, is a multi-use trail for hiking, horseback riding and mountain biking. The trail splits with one segment going north to connect to Jefferson County's Matthews-Winters park and the other segment goes east to connect to the Dakota Ridge Trail.
The Red Rocks website lists various stops as "area attractions," among them the Bandimere Speedway in Morrison, for motorsports entertainment from funny cars to jet-powered dragsters; the Buffalo Bill Memorial Museum in Golden, Colo., which is home to the grave of William F. "Buffalo Bill" Cody; the Coors Brewery in Golden, which offers a 30-minute self-paced tour followed by sampling of its products for those 21 or older; Dinosaur Ridge in Morrison, with its Trek Through Time exhibits and simulated dinosaur dig; the Lariat Loop Scenic Byway, a 40-mile route in the foothills west of Denver; and The Fort in Morrison, which is a replica of Bent's Old Fort, an 1830s fur trade post in Southern Colorado and a restaurant featuring fine beef, buffalo, game and seafood.  
However, not all of you will be willing or able to trek out of the city, so here are three other options for enjoying nature and art closer to the convention center.  
Denver Art Museum  
The museum goes back a ways—all the way to 1893—and since then has gathered more than 68,000 works of art, counting itself "one of the largest and most comprehensive collections of world art between Chicago and the West Coast." The museum is known in particular for its Native American art and an extensive group of pre-Columbian and Spanish Colonial art objects. The museum is also home to various European and American paintings and sculptures, Asian, African, Oceanic, Western American and textile art and more.  
In 1971, the museum opened the 24-sided, two- tower North Building, and in 2006 its Frederic C. Hamilton Building, situated directly south of the North Building—which added 146,000 square feet and nearly doubled the size of the museum.  
Current exhibitions that will still be running during all or part of the ASCB meeting include "Western Horizons: Landscapes from the Contemporary Realism Collection," which runs through Dec. 4; "Robert Adams—The Place We Live: A Retrospective Selection of Photographs," which runs through Jan. 1; "Dirty Pictures," which runs through Jan. 8; "American Indian Art," which runs through April 29; "Blue & White: A Ceramic Journey," which runs through May 27, and "Texture & Tradition: Japanese Woven Bamboo," which runs through July 29.  
Denver Museum of Nature & Science  
The big draw right now at this venue is "T. Rex Encounter: You vs. Sue," and it won't be ending until after Jan. 8, so you still have time to, as the museum puts it, "Come face-to-face with a prehistoric icon in this immersive bilingual (English/Spanish) exhibition. Through advanced robotics and cutting-edge face recognition technology, T. Rex—along with raptor dinosaurs and Triceratops—will react to your every move, sizing you up as friend, foe or their next meal." Along with that is the DinoMAX 3D double feature in the Phipps IMAX Theater, which includes "Dinosaurs Alive!" and "Waking the T. Rex: The Story of Sue."  
Other current exhibitions include "A Strange Beauty," a photography exhibit that includes 62 large-scale works inspired by the Denver Museum of Nature & Science's education, zoology and earth sciences collections; "Egyptian Mummies," which features two mummies that teach modern scientists how the ancient civilization of Egypt regarded its living and preserved its dead; "Expedition Health," which teaches how your human body is constantly changing and adapting in ways you can see, measure and optimize through the choices you make; "Gems & Minerals," which is a tunnel beneath the earth in a recreated mine that allows visitors to examine colorful crystals and minerals found both locally and globally; "North American Indian Cultures," which addresses diversity among Native American groups and the practicality and artistry of their everyday objects; "Space Odyssey," which allows visitors to explore the universe and their place in it through a dynamic and interactive exhibition; and wildlife exhibits in which, as the museum touts, "animals big and small come to life in exquisitely detailed dioramas that transport you around the world."  
Denver Performing Arts Complex
Housed within the various buildings of this four-block, 12-acre arts complex are the Denver Center Theatre Company, Denver Center Attractions, National Theatre Conservatory, Denver Center Theatre Academy, the Colorado Ballet, Opera Colorado and the Colorado Symphony. As part of its mission statement, the complex notes, "As the flagship theatre of the Rocky Mountain region, the Denver Center for the Performing Arts creates and presents exceptional theatre that engages, excites, provokes and inspires both artists and audiences."  
Three shows are currently scheduled that would be playing during the ASCB meeting: "The Lion King," which runs through Dec. 4 in the Buell Theatre; "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer," which runs through Dec. 18 in the Space Theatre; and "Girls Only: The Secret Comedy of Women," which runs through Dec. 31 in the Galleria Theatre.

I thought their team was the Broncos …
One onlooker at the convention will loom larger than most others
DENVER—So, we don't want to alarm you, but there is going to be a very large bear peering at you from time to time when you're at the ASCB annual meeting. In fact, he's big enough to get Godzilla's attention, even if he'd ultimately lose the fight. Fortunately, chances are low that you'll be on his menu.  
While Denver might be known for its Broncos (as in the football team), there is another prominent animal—a giant blue bear perpetually looking through one of the windows of the Colorado Convention Center from the sidewalk area outside—forepaws and nose pressed against the glass of the building.  
The 40-foot-high bear is made of composite materials, with the external surface coated in a polymer concrete that is colored lapis lazuli blue. The somewhat faceted look of the bear's hide owes to the fact that the design was extrapolated from three-dimensional laser scans of a tiny plastic child's toy that were later modified to be more lifelike and then digitally abstracted to provide the unique texture afforded by the more than 4,000 interlocking triangles hung on a hidden steel armature.  
The bear was erected in June 2005 and cost $425,000—just one of nine pieces commission from the $2.4 million the convention center owners had to set aside as part of Denver's public art ordinance when the center was constructed. 

Easy strolling, easy spending  
Between the power of walking and a free bus line, you won't have any problem getting around
DENVER—You don't have to go far for your eating and shopping options while in town for the ASCB annual meeting, given the convention center's convenient downtown location. The task of letting you find your meals and souvenirs is made even easier by the existence of the 16th Street Mall, a tree-lined, red-and-gray granite pedestrian mall built in 1982.  
Running right through the center of downtown Denver, it offers various plazas, fountains, daily special events, entertainers and, of course, outdoor cafes, restaurants and retail stores. Also in evidence are historic buildings that have been renovated and newer skyscrapers among them. Every day of the week, you can take advantage of the same free transit that the locals do—the MallRide of the Regional Transportation District (RTD). Running more than one mile along the entire length of 16th Street Mall, the MallRide has stops at every intersection between RTD's Civic Center Station and Union Station. 

Present, learn and network  
ASCB invites attendees to join it at "the world's leading cell biology meeting," where the organization touts your ability to "Stay abreast of leading research, meet with colleagues and see the latest tools and techniques—all in one place."  
2011 ASCB Annual Meeting Highlights
    Sequential symposia by leading cell biologists
    Mini-symposia highlighting research from submitted abstracts in core and new areas
    Thousands of posters featuring "fresh-from-the-bench-to-your-lab" findings
    Member-organized special interest subgroups Working groups that aim to unravel complexities and point the way to the future
    Networking opportunities, including Q&As with speakers, Saturday sessions and expanded discussion tables
    Career development workshops for all career stages
    Assessment-driven programs for educators Inspirational talks by ASCB awardees
    Workshops, exhibitor showcases and tutorials demonstrating the latest technology and techniques for your lab
(Go back to main ASCB show preview article)  

Code: E111131



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