Denver has seen a French fry-eating contest and hopscotch games recently in the name of artistic expression and cultural exchange. Now quite a few more exhibitions and events are underway, all as part of the 2015 Biennial of the Americas.
Dozens of international artists, speakers and leaders have gathered in Denver for the festival. Participants representing more than 25 countries from the Western Hemisphere will share their cultures and ideas.
“I think a lot of different art forms can help us to understand the relationships across borders,” Lauren Wright, who curated this year's Biennial, says.
“Because our programming extends well beyond art, it’s an opportunity for people to see Denver as a place where we can have really broad and interesting conversations about what’s going on in this hemisphere.”
Listen to Wright's conversation with Colorado Matters host Ryan Warner above. Also check out what these three artists are up to for the festival:
Artist Agustina Woodgate, from Buenos Aires, Argentina, creates public art installations called "Hopscotch" throughout the world. She painted her first square in Denver -- number 3,083 -- in Globeville on Tuesday, July 14, as part of RedLine gallery's "Play Grounds" exhibition. The course will stretch throughout six other neighborhoods in the city during the Biennial.
"More than an installation, it’s really an intervention to the sidewalks, hitting different neighborhoods within a city," she says. "Then you start also creating those links within your city that I think accelerates another layer of conversation. Part of the magic of the hopscotch is that it’s very simple. They’re just squares and numbers. So it’s very easy to engage in the production of it as well. It’s like all these people enjoying their space."
Sonia Destri, from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, directs Companhia Urbana de Dança (CUD). The hip hop dance group is working on its first international collaboration during the Biennial. CUD and Denver’s Wonderbound dance company will perform an original piece together in Civic Center Park on Friday and at the Newman Center’s Gates Concert Hall on Sunday.
"My guys don’t speak English and the dancers from Wonderbound don’t speak Portuguese, so you can see how interesting dance is," she says. "Because you communicate just with body, love and desire to put the things together. So far what I saw, it’s beautiful -- more than I was expecting. Because I thought it was going to be kind of difficult. You have different bodies, directors, choreographers. Together so many artists and people, the ego can be something bad. And suddenly I’m here, and there’s no ego."
The Biennial commissioned visual artist Erick Meyenberg, of Mexico City, to create a performance and video installation for Denver International Airport. The artist researched the surrounding area and discovered Montbello and Green Valley Ranch. Meyenberg decided to work with youth from the neighborhoods to choreograph a drill team routine for his piece “I AM THE FUTURE.” The performance takes place at 7 p.m. in the Jeppesen Terminal's Great Hall at DIA on Thursday.
"Since I got to know these kids and their routines, I just got super fascinated about their creativity and how they managed to form a small community, which for me is very important," he says. "It was an idea of how a future community should be. So I expect the spectators can get this sense of coming together in a group where there are no borders between gender, ethnicity, age. So this is the main goal of the project."
The Biennial of the Americas festival goes through Sunday. Many of the exhibitions run through August.