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National Velvet - Denver, CO
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member Outspoken1
N 39° 45.478 W 105° 00.487
13S E 499304 N 4400894
Quick Description: 'Interesting' abstract work in Denver's Highland area
Location: Colorado, United States
Date Posted: 12/19/2010 12:54:54 PM
Waymark Code: WMABGE
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member silverquill
Views: 4

Long Description:
Ummm, yes, this piece is another controversial piece by Denver artist John McEnroe. I tried as many ways as I could to photograph it to enhance it. This piece is also illuminated at night, which gives it a 'different' feel. This link is a slide show that does have installation shots (visit link) . Below are some discussions about this piece:

"Artist John McEnroe’s latest public sculpture, National Velvet, provides downtown Denver with a striking new work of art that continues the artist’s trademark unorthodox approach to materials, form and contemporary ideas. Utilizing sand as the building blocks for a dynamic new visual motif, National Velvet conjures up multiple interpretations through its towering form and the tendrils that spiral through it. Viewers will delight in the sheer scale and playfulness of the work, the dominant red-hue piercing through the sky, both through the day and when lit from within at night.

In the last decade, Denver artist John McEnroe has built a formidable career as one of the more progressive and respected contemporary artists in the region. He has created a sculptural oeuvre that includes major public art commissions in Denver including the renovated Colorado Convention Center, a work for the Dry Creek Light Rail Station and the Omar D. Blair Charter School.

In addition to his major public works, McEnroe maintains a robust and unique studio practice, exhibiting in many solo and group shows. His most recent exhibitions include New Paintings at The Lab of Art + Ideas at Belmar, Decades of Influence at the Museum of Contemporary Art | Denver, Young Moderns at the Gallery of Contemporary Art at the University of Colorado-Colorado Springs and Art Miami, in conjunction with Plus Gallery. Most recently, Christoph Heinrich, the Denver Art Museum’s Polly and Mark Addison Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art has invited John to exhibit in Embrace! alongside some of the top contemporary artists in the world in a showcase that will electrify the unique architecture of the Denver Art Museum’s Hamilton Building in the fall of 2009.

McEnroe exhibits exclusively with Plus Gallery in Denver and his work is in the permanent collection of the Denver Art Museum, as well as select public and private collections of note." (from (visit link) )


"Like "Mustang" at DIA, John McEnroe's "National Velvet" has elicited a lot of public comment. But here the jokes have been accompanied by sniggers and smirks rather than shock and awe. Some have suggested that the piece, a contemporary take on an obelisk cast from piled-up sandbags — in the Platte River floodplain, no less — suggests either a penis or a stack of breasts. What really makes this sculpture fun, though, is the way McEnroe parodies traditional monumental sculpture by placing a glow-in-the-dark red plastic spire in the middle of an old-fashioned-looking town square." (from (visit link) )


"At the entrance to Denver’s 16th Street Pedestrian Bridge is a big red light-up sculpture called “National Velvet.” But instead of something that looks like it could be anywhere reminiscent of the title, it looks like a large red pile of oversized kidney beans. Or, as in Denver Westword writer Joel Warner’s article, “Saggy Boob Electric Penis.”

Or “Wet Salami.”
Or “Tower of Power.”
Or “Kidney Beans.”

At night, when it’s all illuminated from inside, it looks like what I imagine the inside of my large intestine looks like after a night of eating meat.

Another article claiming BS on “National Velvet” is Mile Hive. I mean, come on. $50,000 to John McEnroe for this? I consider myself a learned man, versed in design, art and art history, and the intricacies of light as it interacts with our lives. I have a hard time getting this one. Does that mean it’s wrong? Not necessarily. But I’m not alone in my distaste. No offense Mayor Hickenlooper, but that $50,000 monstrosity is terrible. Come on. Also, no offense to the sculptor, John McEnroe, but that thing is terrible. Denver residents, especially a lot of those who live in the Highland, aren’t pleased with “National Velvet.”

But I like “Saggy Boob Electric Penis” much more as an official name. Check it out for yourself." (from (visit link) )
Title: National Velvet

Artist: John McEnroe

Media (materials) used: Cast plastic, paint and lights

Location (specific park, transit center, library, etc.): East side of the 16th Street Pedestrian Bridge

Date of creation or placement: 2008

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