PPAC #1: Photographing Public Art – Denver

I am happy to get in on this brand new challenge with co-hosts Cee Neuner and Marsha Ingrao! For this very first week, Marsha is the host. She says:

The #PPAC is deliberately open – photographer’s choice. Here are some ideas to get you started.

  • Seasonal Displays
  • Graffiti
  • Statues and Sculptures
  • Collections
  • Store Windows
  • Car Shows
  • Artistic Construction (benches, buildings, bridges)
  • Wall Art (not just murals)
  • Challenge Guidelines
  • Art has to be freely visible from a public street, freeway, or walkway.
  • Photographers have free access of use for their photos – no copyrights by the artists.
  • The challenge starts every Friday by 9:00 a.m. Pacific Time.
  • Write a post on your blog, publish it, and include a link back to the appropriate host’s post – not on Cee’s or Marsha’s #PPAC page. Also write us a comment and paste the link into the comment. Sometimes pingbacks are missed.
  • Visit at least two or three other participants in the community and leave them a comment.

Here are some public art pieces in downtown Denver, Colorado. From these photos, you can see why I fell in love with Denver and hope to visit again soon!

This was the first sculpture we saw, in the downtown business district.

Most of the public art we saw was on a pedestrian street, closed to traffic.

These decorated pianos were available for anyone to stop and play (we actually saw someone playing one of them), but I don’t know how well-tuned they were!

Other public art-based entertainments: chess/checker boards!

My husband wasn’t interested in playing chess or checkers – he was just tired and wanted to sit down for a minute!

More cows:

Cows weren’t the only public art bovines on display – there were bison also!

Another sculpture:

Cleverly designed restaurant signs can also be classified as public art!

CFFC: International Business

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge has the theme “all about buildings.” This week’s topic is commercial buildings or store fronts.

One of the fun things about traveling is all the different types of architecture you see. So I am posting photos of a variety of architectural styles and colors from some of my recent trips.

An upscale shop in Cologne, Germany
Souvenir shop in Cologne with lovely wood carving.
Detail on the wall of a bakery in Miltenberg, Germany
A variety of things are for sale in this typically German shop, in Miltenberg

A drugstore in Wurzburg, Germany
Schlenkera Brewery, Bamberg, Germany
Colorful souvenir shop in Nuremberg, Germany
Riverside commercial area, Nuremberg
Tattoo parlor and smoke shop in Regensburg, Germany
Colorful commercial street in Budapest, Hungary
Café in the Jewish Quarter, Budapest
Bakery in Highwood, Illinois, USA
Downtown street with empty storefronts in Woodstock, Illinois (this was during the early lockdown days at the beginning of April, 2020).
Woodstock, Illinois – you can see how empty this downtown commercial street is.
Entrance to a shopping center in Tel Aviv, Israel
Arabic signs over stores in Bethlehem, Israel
Also in Bethlehem
Israeli version of Starbucks (Bethlehem)
Children’s books (and it seems like a lot of other things) are for sale in this hip neighborhood of Denver, Colorado.
Southwestern adobe style is common in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
More Pueblo style architecture in Santa Fe
Colorful hues in Tucumcari, New Mexico
You can get married and then go next door and have old time photos made! (Tucumcari)
Northwestern USA style in Poulsbo, Washington
Poulsbo, Washington – love that onion-dome style “tower” on top of this bookstore!
Poulsbo, WA
Wind socks flutter in front of this kitschy gift shop, Poulsbo, WA

CFFC: Murals

For Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge with the topic Murals and GraffitiI have a wealth of photos in my archives, because I love photographing public artwork! I include here a sampling of each location. Note that I have blogged about most of these places before, so there will be some duplicates. 

Tucumcari, New Mexico: A town I had never heard of before has apparently achieved renown due to at least two songs about the town, and a novel set there. It’s a stop on Route 66.

Cuba, Missouri: This small town on Route 66 is famous for its murals, depicting historical scenes and events, and scenes of daily life.  Many are scenes of the Civil War, but I have not included any of those here. Cuba is a “must-see” for any Route 66 trip!

Pontiac, Illinois:  one of the last (or first, depending on which way you go) along Route 66. In Pontiac also is a good-sized museum and store selling all types of Route 66 memorabilia. 

Because of its prominence on Route 66, there are miniature cars all over downtown Lexington, each with a different artist’s painting.
Local historical figures

Black Cat Alley in Milwaukee, Wisconsin is an alley flanked by old industrial buildings, which has been converted into a “canvas” for local mural painters! Located in the downtown area, it is easy to get to and I would recommend it for anyone visiting Milwaukee that has an interest in mural art.

Lincoln, Nebraska is a surprisingly interesting city. I had never been to Nebraska before our 2018 road trip and since we like to visit capital cities, we spent a day there. There is a section of town we discovered by accident while finding our way to a restaurant recommended online. Across the street was an old warehouse converted into an artists’ co-op workshop with interesting art on the outside walls.

Denver, Colorado:  We stayed at a fantastic Airbnb in the artsy part of town. On Tennyson St. (where the first of these photos were taken), they have weekly art fairs during the summer season.

Sidewalk art/graffiti in downtown Denver

Dubuque, Iowa – near the Mississippi River Museum

Des Moines, Iowa

In Amsterdam, Holland we took a private boat tour on the canals and harbor. We discovered several trailers painted in vivid colors.

Brazil is very rich in culture and teeming with artists of all kinds. The more famous ones display their art in galleries and museums. However, the street art is amazing, painted by very talented “graffiti artists.” In the city of São Paulo, there was literally art everywhere – you could barely walk one block without seeing street art.

Ibirapuera Park is a large park in Sao Paulo containing small art museums, walking paths, and refreshment stands. This mural was on the wall outside a public restroom.
On another wall outside the same restrooms
On a street near Ibirapuera Park
Under a bridge near Ibirapuera Park – graffiti art and a homeless person’s possessions

For connoisseurs of “graffiti art” (although most of it is much more beautiful than graffiti), there is a neighborhood in São Paulo called Beco do Batman (Batman’s Alley) – wander its cobblestone streets to see an explosion of beautiful and/or humorous murals and sometimes political statements. The first two photos were taken outside Beco do Batman proper, which is residential – and we needed lunch so these were our view from the small café where we ate.

Friendly Friday Odd Couples

I found out about the Friendly Friday Photo Challenge from Cee Neuner (thanks, Cee!).
Here’s my first contribution, for the topic Odd Couples.


Short and tall: My friend Marcia with an Abe Lincoln impersonator


Artwork at Santa Fe State Capitol


Odd couple indeed! Grandpa and grandson in their unique outfits!


Incongruous decoration pairing outside someone’s apartment in December


 Colorful cow and guy, Denver, Colorado

Lens-Artists #82: Capitals & Capitols

The Lens–Artists photo challenge this week has a guest host, Viveka, whose topic is capitals.

On our road trips around the United States, we try to visit as many capitals as possible – not just the capital cities, but also their capitol buildings. I have a series of posts featuring some of the capitols we’ve visited lately. (Check them out in my archives – that’s why I’ve put the dates in below.) These are the ones that we have seen in the last 3 years.

Capitol exterior and its dome from inside

Some of the memorials and statues on the capitol grounds

Capitol building exterior (no, it doesn’t have a dome) and view of grounds from the top floor viewing area

Some famous North Dakotans

Capitol exterior (the dome is at the top of this multistoried building), floor of the rotunda, visiting school group

Artwork viewed from the rotunda, including a colorful door

Exterior and view from the dome

Stained glass portraits

Exterior and staircase

Slideshow of some of the sights inside

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The capitol building in Santa Fe is shaped like the Zuni sun symbol, which is also depicted in the rotunda and on the state flag. The first two photos are a partial view of the exterior and one of the curved hallways.

The New Mexico capitol building has a lot of artwork by New Mexican artists. The slideshow shows some of them.

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The Oklahoma state capitol has the distinction of being the only capitol in the U.S. that has an oil rig visible at every cardinal direction. Two of these can be seen below. The middle photo is the dome from the rotunda, and the photo at right is a commemoration of Oklahoma’s native tribes, each of which has its own flag.

Sculpture, artwork, and artifacts in the capitol

DES MOINES, IOWA (Sept. 2018)
Capitol exterior and chamber of the legislature

Iowa’s capitol has colorful designs and patterns on its floors.

On the capitol grounds, there is a Holocaust memorial.

Interestingly, this post does not contain photos from my home state capital (Springfield, IL – I was last there in 2012) nor the capital of the state north of here, the state where I was born and I grew up (Madison, WI – I can’t remember the last time I visited the capitol).

I have also visited several foreign capitals in recent years (2017-2019), but not their government buildings – can you figure out which cities these are? One is a provincial capital, the others are national capitals.




Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Creativity

Lens-Artists’ Photo Challenge #42 is the topic Creativity.

I love to visit cities where I get a surprise free art show! In Lincoln, Nebraska last May, after visiting tourist attractions such as the Capitol and the Sunken Gardens, I Googled restaurants and found Lazlos, in the old part of downtown. After lunch, we walked around and across from the restaurant was an alley that local artists had decorated with murals, whimsical sculptures, and more. It reminded me of Black Cat Alley in Milwaukee, which we had visited the previous November. There were a variety of styles and media.
The face sculptures were done by Mary Kolar and the stars by Ann S.
This family was created by Julie McCullough out of discarded miscellaneous objects.

Andy Peters created a sculpture (at right) using the theme of the painting at left.

I think these are boats?
This 1960s-style mural took up a large section of wall.
I like the way this artist used the contours of the windows when painting this mural.
Jen Gay was the creator of this piece.
And here’s a warning!
A few days later, we spent 3 nights at an Airbnb in Denver hosted by artist Marlene Feinholz. Most of her paintings have local themes, but there are some unusual pieces too.
This space, essentially a “garden apartment” below her residence, used to be her studio, but she decided to move her studio upstairs and rent out the apartment to visitors to Denver. Most of the artwork (with the exception of a couple of Picassos she apparently picked up in Spain) was her own.



CFFC: Walkways I Have Traveled

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge this week is about the sidewalks, trails and walkways we walk on, usually without thinking much about them.

Rio de Janeiro is famous for its wide sidewalks with mosaic designs – common places to walk, jog, and meet – and play with dogs. (Nove. 2016)
In July of 2017, we spent a week at Blacks Cliff Resort on Upper Kaubashine Lake, near Hazelhurst and the location where we used to have a cottage. The cabins we rented were high above the lake. This is the walkway down to the pier.
An artist drew squiggly lines that made faces on the sidewalk in front of the Convention Center in Denver, interspersed with messages. (June 2018)
Path through the “farm” (a vegetable and flower garden – the veggies raised provide natural ingredients for meals at the school) at Verde Valley School, Sedona, Arizona (June 2018)
Garden path at Chicago Botanic Gardens, July 2018
The State Capitol building in Des Moines, Iowa, has beautiful tiled floors, such as this walkway leading to stairways up and down. (Sept. 2018)
Winterset, Iowa – most famous for the bridges of Madison County – has a tiny park dedicated to George Washington Carver. We almost missed it because it is wedged between two downtown buildings. (Sept. 2018)
In downtown Chicago, off Michigan Avenue, is a restaurant called the Purple Pig. This is the entrance to its outdoor patio. (Oct. 2018)
Walkway among the ruins of Karnak, near Luxor, Egypt (Dec. 2018)
This walkway under an arch is at the ruins of Caesarea Philippi on the Mediterranean Sea in Israel. (Jan. 2019)

Some Denver Doors: Tennyson St., the State Capitol and the 16th St. Mall

June 1, 2018

For Norm’s Thursday Doors this week, I return to Denver, on the day we spent visiting the downtown area.

When we arrived in Denver in late afternoon two days before, we went first to our Airbnb to get settled. Our host’s name was Marlene and she was an artist. She recommended several places to eat in the area. That first night, we went to Tennyson St., a hip, artsy street full of restaurants, art galleries, murals, and shops, to have dinner at an Italian restaurant, Parisi. The food was good, but a little expensive.
Down the street across from Parisi was a eatery called Burrito Giant. The door is not particularly interesting, but it is surrounded by this amazing mural!
The next morning, we went to a restaurant for breakfast that Marlene had recommended, also on Tennyson St., called The Cozy Cottage. The food was so good that we ended up going there every morning we were in Denver! The menu had a variety of interesting menu items, so we wanted to try something different each day. Also the coffee was great! This the patio where we found a table each morning, since the weather was warm.
Dale went inside to use the restroom and took this photo of the restroom doors, marked either and or! Apparently they were unisex restrooms. I’m not sure which one he chose!
Next door to the Cozy Cottage was this children’s bookstore.
20180531_103634 (2)
Other sights along the same stretch of Tennyson St.:

The following day, June 1, we spent exploring part of downtown Denver, specifically the 16th St. Mall (which is a mile long pedestrian street) and the state capitol, which I have already blogged about in my State Capitols series. We parked at the Colorado Convention Center,…


Some artist had created these designs on the sidewalk in front of the Convention Center.



The Convention Center is most famous for the large blue bear sculpture, positioned to stand on his back legs to look  in the window.

…then walked to the capitol.


One of the entrances to the capitol, blocked off and a sign saying “Emergency Exit Only.”


Door detail


Elevator doors


Entrance to the governor’s office

We passed the McNichols Civic Center Building on our way to the 16th St. Mall. The cornerstone of this building was laid in 1909. It was recently renovated and reopened in 2016. (Source)
The art deco style University Building, on the pedestrian mall, was built in 1911 as the A. C. Foster Building. It was renamed the University Building in 1929 and its façade was remodeled at that time. (Source)
SONY DSCOne of Denver’s most iconic buildings is the Daniels and Fisher Tower at 16th and Arapahoe Streets. It began construction in 1910 and was opened to the public upon completion in 1912 as a department store. Modeled after the Campanile in Venice, it was the tallest building west of the Mississippi at the time, opened in time for the city’s 50th anniversary. (Source)
The 16th St. Mall had a lot of unusual things to see, among them several upright pianos of similar type, each painted a different color. Apparently anyone can just sit down and play one of them.

SONY DSCWe saw other musicians, too.

There were many other interesting things to see.

In a plaza in front of Union Station were fountains of water which spurted out of the ground for people (mainly children!) to run through.
I was interested in seeing Union Station, at the far end of the mall, a beautiful train station which is Denver’s main transportation hub. Marlene had painted a picture of it which was in our Airbnb apartment.
20180530_175854A station was first built on the site in 1881, but it burned down in 1894. The current building was constructed in two stages, with the large central portion being completed in 1914.  The station underwent renovation in 2012 and was reopened in 2014 as a combination of a hotel, several restaurants, retailers and a train hall. (Wikipedia)SONY DSC
We were at Union Station on a Friday, but on Saturdays from May to October, a farmers’ market sets up on the plaza in front from 9 am to 2 pm. Union Station is also the site of Denver’s latest bee-keeping project: there are 4 hives on the roof! Honey and honeycombs produced by these hives are used in the station’s restaurants. SONY DSC


You can play a type of shuffleboard at Union Station!

Lots of people sit around waiting – there is a variety of seating, including some comfy chairs.
Entrance to one of the restaurants. I bought ice cream at the Milkbox Ice Creamery!SONY DSC
Union Station’s Bus Concourse earned a Gold LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification for “green building” in 2014, because of its use of recycled materials, increased ventilation, natural light and a green cleaning policy. It was only the ninth transit building in the country to earn LEED designation. (Source)






Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Patterns

There are patterns wherever we go. Some are man-made, while others are in nature. Still others are a combination: humans manipulating natural phenomena to create patterns. Anne-Christine of Lens-Artists’ Photo Challenge this week has chosen the theme of patterns.

This fountain at Ravinia (outdoor summer music venue north of Chicago) was created by harnessing the properties of water and gravity to make a moving pattern of columns of water which appear and disappear in a sort of wavelike pattern – it’s mesmerizing to watch!
Sometimes a fountain doesn’t have to be spectacular to create an interesting effect. The bubbling water in this fountain at Chicago Botanic Gardens disturbs the surface of the pond just enough to create concentric circles.
Speaking of ponds, this pond is crowded with lily pads that are very similar in shape and form a sort of pattern (also at Chicago Botanic Gardens).
Nature’s creations often form beautiful patterns, such as these leaves…
a yucca plant with its fan of spiky leaves…
and these cacti with their tiny flowers that look like rubies dotting their prickly surfaces.
Animals, too, have natural patterns which are often used as camouflage. Butterflies have a symmetrical pattern formed by their wings. There are two seemingly identical butterflies on this leaf.
Giraffes, cheetahs and leopards have patterns on their fur for camouflage. This leopard, though, was in plain sight as she walked by our safari vehicle in Tanzania. Soon she would disappear into the brush of the Serengeti.
Man-made patterns are everywhere humans live. Lincoln, Nebraska has some very talented street artists! An alley in downtown Lincoln had been beautified by the imagination of several different artists.
When we build buildings, patterns are created consciously or subconsciously in the architecture. Look up at Denver’s state capitol dome to see patterns such as the ribs of the dome at the very top and the circles of round stained glass panels of famous Coloradoans.SONY DSC
At Union Station in downtown Denver, these identical windows make patterns too, as do the light fixtures! How many patterns can you find in this photo?
SONY DSCWhether natural or man-made, patterns are everywhere and pleasing to the eye. Using patterns, our brains make sense of the world.