When fall weather gets finicky, we decamp to “local” cities like Denver, Colorado, where we recently packed a surprising amount of culture and coffee into only 24 hours. Herewith some of our top picks.
By design, this jewel box of a museum offers singular insight into a singularly elusive artist. At the height of his career, Still removed his art from the public realm—severing all ties with galleries and museums—and spent his final decades living and painting in rural Maryland. And his seclusion continued after his death, when his will left his entire oeuvre to an as-yet-determined American city that would agree to build a permanent, stand-alone exhibition space for his paintings. For two decades, his widow Patricia Still searched for a site that could fulfill such demanding requirements. Meanwhile, the collection remained off-limits to all. Finally, in 2004, Denver stepped forward and offered to house the Clyfford Still Estate—some 825 paintings on canvas and 1575 works on paper. To design the museum, the city enlisted Brad Cloepfil of Allied Works Architecture, who created a stunning space worthy of the stunning artwork. A must-stop in the Mile High City.
Next door, the Denver Art Museum draws you in with its panoply of presentations and eye-catching architecture. Even before you step inside, the public art installed in the outdoor plaza allures, from Mark di Suvero’s soaring Lao-Tzu to Claes Oldenburg and Coosje Van Bruggen’s playful Big Sweep. With interest piqued, the aesthetic experience deepens the moment you step inside the museum and its jaw-dropping space. The original structure, designed by modernist Italian master Gio Ponti, underwent a dramatic transformation in 2010—by the hand of starchitect Daniel Libeskind (Studio Libeskind) in collaboration with Davis Partnership. Echoing the spiking vitality of Denver, the Nexus addition unfolds in bold angles and utter experimentation. Light illuminates the central staircase with geometric grace, and leads into exhibition spaces at once intimate and open. While our trip aligned with the end of summer shows (including the seminal Women of Abstract Expressionism), the fall roster is equally impressive; in particular, we want to see the two sartorially-minded exhibitions: Shock Wave: Japanese Fashion Design, 1980s–90s (on view through May 28, 2017), and Star Wars™ and the Power of Costume (November 13 through April 2, 2017). May the art force be with you.
After saturating yourself with art, seek refuge in the chic environs of Hudson Hill, a new craft cocktail bar in Capitol Hill. Only a hop-skip away from the Civic Center Cultural Complex, Hudson Hill is the brainchild of Jake Soffes, a native New Yorker who picked the neighborhood for its echoes of Williamsburg and the East Village (ergo Hudson Hill, a mash-up of Hudson River and Capitol Hill). The concise cocktail menu features classics and inventions, while the wine list spotlights bold yet approachable varietals and the beer taps are supplemented by seasonal brews and special-release. From the bar menu, we picked a couple of bites including the pork and bacon terrine and a curated cheese plate. The décor channels the same care paid to the menu; the bar is a massive Douglas fir slab, geo tilework (in a happy grid of cobalt and white) sheathes the counters, cocoa leather wraps the banquettes and bar stools, and antique Navajo rugs and arthouse photographs by Soffes’ father adorn the walls. To top it off, the bar plays an everlasting loop of vintage vinyl. Thank you, sir, may I have another?
Amethyst Coffee Company (and friends)
What would a Persephone jaunt be without ample amounts of coffee? Amethyst Coffee holds its beans in high esteem—a testament to the years proprietor Elle Taylor spent pulling shots at top cafes in Boston and Denver (we love that Elle labels herself both Owner and Barista). To outfit her own place, she worked Denver furniture maker/design studio TWIG WDWRK to craft a clean aesthetic defined by blonde wood, latticed panels and geometric pendants. With a core program featuring Denver’s own Commonwealth Coffee, Amethyst features a monthly rotation of roasters, which makes for a wide selection on any given day. We enjoyed our cuppa in a shlumpy sofa facing an antique rocker, a comfy-cozy vignette that proved to be the perfect respite from the urban buzz.
Other downtown coffee destinations we can’t wait to check out include the beyond-beautiful Little Owl Coffee, the café-cum-market Mercantile and the elegant independent roaster Black Eye.
Until next time, Denver!