Passport to Paris: Parisian Art at the Denver Art Museum

Located in the Civic Center of Denver, CO, the Denver Art Museum is a striking building housing some seriously impressive artwork.  Recently, they’ve had the honor of presenting a temporary exhibit called “Passport to Paris,” which includes three exhibitions of French art from the late 1600s to early 1900s. I had the opportunity to visit the exhibits, and I can honestly say that the Denver Art Museum put together a wonderful show that’s definitely worth the trip.

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The “Passport to Paris” exhibit at the Denver Art Museum includes three shows – Nicolas Poussin’s “Crucifixion” is part of the “Court to Cafe” collection.

“Court to Café” Explores Three Centuries of Art History

Borrowed from Wadsworth Atheneum, this 50 painting tour through the centuries is the main attraction of “Passport to Paris.”  We had to reserve a tour time and purchase our tickets online before arriving at our specified time.  The slots fill up fast, so following this step is crucial to getting into the tour.  Even though we were there on a weekday afternoon, it was quite crowded.

They gave us individual audio guides for the walk-through, and we were free to wander through three centuries of French art at our leisure.  The exhibit is purposefully set up to give the viewer a glimpse into each time period, showing the progression of artistic style through the ages.  The Denver Art Museum put a lot of effort into creating an experience as you move through the stylized space.  Speakers playing music from the time period being represented are strategically placed throughout, paintings are paired with gorgeous furniture pieces and clothing from their eras, and even the wallpaper behind the paintings mimics the designs of the time.

The audio guide helpfully explains how art progressed from formal, darker depictions like Nicolas Poussin’s “Crucifiction” to airy, light outdoor scenes like “The Beach at Trouville” by Claude Monet.  Artists began breaking the traditional rules of painting during the Impressionist era, taking their easels to paint outdoors rather than inside stuffy studios like their predecessors.  The resulting artwork capturing natural landscapes in vivid colors without lines was entirely new to the art world.

“Nature as Muse” Shows Progression of Landscape Art

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Claude Monet’s “Waterloo Bridge, Sunlight Effect” is one Impressionist painting in the “Nature as Muse” exhibit.

This collection of 36 French landscape paintings is a quicker walk-through than the elaborate “Court to Café,” but you could spend a lot more time just staring at the incredible paintings presented here.  These are big name painters, some of the most famous in the world, Claude Monet, Vincent van Gogh, Edouard Manet, Camille Pissarro, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, to name a few.  The Denver Art Museum director, Christoph Heinrich, put this exhibit together from the museum’s permanent collection and works owned by Frederic C. Hamilton.

As Ray Mark Rinaldi of The Denver Post puts it, the “Nature as Muse” is a more intimate, scalable look at the progression of French art from the 1600s to the era of Impressionism.  The narrowed subject matter, namely landscapes, makes it easier to see the changes of artistic style through time.

“Drawing Room” Features Gorgeous, Delicate Work

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Jean-François Millet’s delicate drawing, “The Diggers,” is part of the “Drawing Room” exhibit.

By far and away my favorite exhibit was the “Drawing Room” – a collection of 39 works on paper in media like various colors of ink, pastels, graphite, chalk, and even crayon.  The pieces are arranged in backlit glass cases and show French art in a completely different way than the rest of the show.  Bent over the small scale artwork, you can get a close look at how immensely talented these artists truly were.  A few strokes of a pen can produce a picture of such detail that it takes your breath away.

The Denver Art Museum has put together an incredible show.  If you are lucky enough to see it before it is over, plan to spend a little more time than you think because it is a collection well worth a second and even a third look.

Photo Credits: Wikimedia Commons – First, Second, Third

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Denver Cabaret Theater: Midnite Martini’s Winter Burlescapades Review

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Lannie’s Clocktower Cabaret is Denver’s best cabaret theater.

Lannie’s Clocktower Cabaret is located in the basement of the historic downtown Denver’s clock tower in the heart of the city. This cabaret theater offers a myriad of shows ranging from adult comedy to musical concerts, but they specialize in burlesque entertainment. Midnite Martini is a critically acclaimed burlesque star who produces many of the burlesque shows offered at Lannie’s.

Over the holiday season, Lannie’s put on the specially holiday themed burlesque show, Midnite Martini’s Winter Burlescapades.  If you are spending a night out on the town and want to see something different and exciting, check out my below review of the show to see if cabaret theater is right for you.

Experiencing Cabaret Theater

Entering from the lobby of the clock tower and heading down the stairs, you are transported to a cozy little cabaret theater reminiscent of times gone by. The hostess, dressed in suitably skimpy clothing and wrapped in Christmas lights, seats you at one of the tables facing their small stage. Here you can order drinks, appetizers, and dessert from a helpful waitress before and even during the show. When the lights go down, the mood of the crowded theater gets rowdy as emcee Naughty Pierre begins the show. The atmosphere is warm and comfortable and you may find yourself sharing a table with strangers and laughing along with them as you hoot and holler at the acts on stage. This show is all about the noise, and patrons are encouraged to use the noise makers they are given to cheer on the performers throughout the show.

Burlesque is adults-only entertainment invented over 160 years ago. It was performed in cabarets and nightclubs back in the 1800s and usually involved a variety of bawdy humor skits and striptease numbers. They got away with the ladies taking off their clothes by having the girls wear pasties so they were never completely nude. It is an art form, and it is still performed this way today. The art of burlesque is the focus on a slow, sometimes funny and sometimes sexy, dancing striptease which often incorporates the clever use of props till a final reveal at the end of the number.

The Variety of Acts Makes for an Exciting Night

There were many talented acts featured at the Winter Burlescapades cabaret theater this year. All of them incorporated the holiday theme and holiday music. The skilled Larry Webner accompanied the numbers on keyboard and assisted Naughty Pierre with his emceeing. They began with a number by three ladies dancing to the Alvin and the Chipmunks’ song, Christmas Don’t Be Late and it only got better from there!

Some of the most memorable acts of the evening were Lady Shanime doing a burlesque routine as Betty Paige and another where she stripped while she sang Santa Baby. The talented belly dancer, Taka, did an amazingly surreal belly dance with golden wings to the Sugarplum Fairy, and she came back in the second half and danced to a rendition of The Little Drummer Boy. Also especially notable were Lolo Flamingo, who jumped rope on a unicycle, and Brigitte Bordeaux’s hilarious burlesque routines, one to the song Santa Clause Got Stuck in My Chimney (ooo-la-la!) and another where she wore dozens of stuffed cats as a costume, dancing with them to Carol of the Bells. A classy, traditional burlesque act put on by the gorgeous lady in red, Autumn Flaunt ‘Em, to B.B. King’s Merry Christmas Baby topped off a very entertaining evening.

Noticeably absent was Midnite Martini herself, whose stunning aerial dancing usually steals the show. The general energy in the cabaret theater wasn’t as high as it normally is, with a somewhat subdued audience and a few comedic skits that fell flat. The emcee, Naughty Pierre, wasn’t up to his usual standard. His tongue in cheek humor and a few of his bawdy stories felt very slapdash and went on too long in places.

Overall, the night’s entertainment at Lannie’s cabaret theater was well worth braving the winter chill to go out and see. They always have very talented cabaret stars in the line-up and the location in downtown Denver can’t be beat.

Photo Source: Flickr