Denver Public Art Free Artwork Around City

big-blue-bear-denver-sculptureThe City of Denver has an ambitious public art program. Initiated more than a decade ago, the City and County of Denver public arts program requires that all construction and infrastructure projects over a certain dollar amount set aside one percent of the overall budget in order to purchase and erect public art around the city. An unforeseen consequence of the 1% to public art rule has been the creation of some enormous public works of art as developers sought to fulfill the city mandate with a single piece of sculpture or other outdoor art. The result is a city full of large public sculptures that may be viewed for free around the city.

Free Art for Families, Visitors, and Tourists

The City of Denver offers a Guide to Public Art to help families find and see free artworks to help inspire children and adults alike while also providing fun free stuff to do in Denver. Visitors and tourists will be equally impressed by the wide variety of free sites to see in Denver. Seeing all of the public works of art in Denver could be a whole day itinerary for travelers to Denver looking for some fun, free, sightseeing in the city.

Free Sites To See In Denver – Art

The best known public art sculpture in Denver has become the city’s unofficial mascot. The giant blue bear looking through the windows into the Denver Convention Center appears to be leaning on the glass wall of windows trying to get a peak inside at the events happening in the Convention Center.

The official name of the big blue bear at the Convention Center sculpture is I See What You Mean, a title just as playful as the enormous bear sculpture.  The street the blue bear sculpture is on is 14th Street outside of the main entrance of the Denver Convention Center. Of course, the bear can be viewed from the outside of the Convention Center by passers by walking down 14th St. or even by those in cars driving by. (Open your sunroof or moon roof for an even better view as you drive by. Just pay attention to the road and don’t get into any accidents.)

Other well known public sculptures in Downtown Denver are the giant dancers outside of the Denver Performing Arts Complex along Speer Boulevard, and the horse on the giant red chair outside of the Denver Public Library downtown branch and easily seen from the north entrance of the Denver Art Museum. These Denver landmarks are titled Dancers, and The Yearling, respectively.

For more information on Denver’s public art get a copy of the Downtown Guide to Denver Artwork.

Cherry Creek North Shopping District

Cherry Creek North is the name for the shopping district just to the north of the Cherry Creek Mall. Next to Downtown Denver’s 16th Street Mall, Cherry Creek is the best known shopping spot in town.

Unlike many shopping districts, Cherry Creek North, or CCN to some, sprang up organically after the mall opened and brought an increase of shopping traffic to the area. Small boutique shops in line with the lineup of upscale shops located in the Cherry Creek Mall developed across 1st Avenue into a loose collection of stores, art galleries, and salons. The resulting business district proved popular with locals and those traveling to Denver. Eventually, the area was organized under the Cherry Creek North Business Improvement District.

Until recently, Cherry Creek North was anchored by long-term staples like The Tattered Cover and Mel’s restaurant. However, escalating rents and renovation projects pushed by miscalculating landlords and developers right before the economy took a down turn in 2008 forced out several of these popular businesses. The Tattered Cover relocated to the renovated Lowenstein Theatre several blocks north on Colfax Avenue across the street from East High School. Mel’s closed down, as did a popular cooking store, and numerous other shops and boutiques.

While some long-time Cherry Creek businesses like the Cherry Cricket, Little Ollies, and the Cherry Creek Grill weathered the storm, for a time, it seemed as if the magic of Cherry Creek had been lost and several commercial spaces sat empty. Luckily as the various construction projects finally were completed, some of the magic was recaptured, thanks to new local anchors like Whole Foods, Crate and Barrel, and the only J.W. Marriot Hotel in Denver.

Other newcomers are helping to redefine what Cherry Creek North is today and into the future. Argyle Bistro Pub is fast becoming a local favorite, and Houston’s Steakhouse is busy with diners most every evening. New fashion clothing stores and designer brands as well as big name artists have filled in many spaces.

Today, the Cherry Creek North Shopping District again sports an eclectic mix of shops, spas, salons, restaurants, and even a fitness club. In addition, the Denver Public Library in Cherry Creek, formally named Ross – Cherry Creek Branch, has reopened after a much needed renovation funded by Denver municipal bonds, bringing to a close most of the building oriented construction. While some summer improvements courtesy of the CCN BID are on tap, Cherry Creek North is once again a bustling shopping area.

Colorado Roads Conditions and Denver Traffic

Whether visiting Colorado for a family vacation, staying in Denver for a convention, just driving out to Denver International Airport, or considering a move to the Denver area, one of the most unpredictable elements of life in Colorful Colorado is the current road conditions on major highways, Interstates, and city streets. If Colorado’s fast changing weather weren’t enough, the state’s geography ensures that what is happening in Denver, isn’t necessarily anywhere near the same thing that is happening in the foothills, or mountains, or even just twenty miles north or south.

Typically, summer road conditions in Colorado are of limited concern to tourists and residents alike. Although spring thunderstorms and the occasional summertime microburst can cause heavy rains, they are generally short-lived, and confined to a small area. Keep driving, and a few minutes later, the concerning weather is far behind in the rear-view mirror. If it ever does get bad enough, pulling over on the side of the road and waiting five or ten minutes will most likely bring more favorable conditions.

In fact, most Coloradans fear the problems caused by road construction in the Summer much more than those caused by Summer weather.

Colorado’s Winter Roads, Denver Snowplows, and Ice

On the other hand, winter driving conditions in and around Denver can range from dangerous whiteouts on slick ice covered streets, to bright sunshine and dry pavement, and that’s just in a 40 mile radius! Fast moving weather fronts can mean that driving from Loveland to Denver in the morning on clear, dry roads, will be a distant memory come evening with blowing snow and blizzard conditions on the highways.

Weather forecasts are often no help in this area either. The Rocky Mountains enormous geologic footprint casts an equally long shadow across the world of meteorology. Light storms predicted just the night before can turn into raging winter storms, and forecasted blizzards often turn out to be just a couple of inches of fluffy white snowfall.

Fortunately, the Colorado Department of Transportation, known locally as CDOT (pronounced see – dot) provides road condition updates around Denver and all over Colorado. These updates are broadcast frequently on radio stations around the state.

Even more useful is a website maintained by CDOT and its Intelligent Transportation Systems or ITS branch. Found at www.cotrip.org the COTrip website provide current road conditions, weather maps, drive times around the Denver Metro area and along popular highway and Interstate routes, as well as live traffic information and traffic jam flags. Of course, why take CDOT’s word for it when you can see for yourself.

CoTrip has links to dozens of traffic cameras all over the state. There is no need to wonder what things look like near the Eisenhower Tunnel. Just pop over to CoTrip and look at the tunnel’s traffic cam. Other traffic cams are setup around the state and there are several dozen Denver traffic cams pointed at both I-25 and I-70, as well as along those numerous city streets that are technically Colorado State Highways.

Make COTrip the starting point for researching current and upcoming driving conditions.

Downtown Denver Public Library

Denver-public-library-books-graphic The Denver Public Library Downtown Branch is located on the Southeast edge of the main downtown Denver area next to the Denver Art Museum and Civic Center Park with both the Colorado State Capitol Building, and the Denver City and County Buildings near by. Branch libraries are located through out the city.

The library building itself is something of an interesting architectural piece. On one hand, the building is composed of perfectly normal building shapes and colors, just like you would draw in a picture, and that is its genius. Of course, real buildings typically don’t look like the ones drawn on paper, but this one does. It is pastel colored with each segment of the building forming a perfectly drawn shape, cylinders, rectangles, and squares.

Inside, the Denver Public Library book collection sprawls across four floors. The library Children’s section is on the first floor, as is the Reference Section, and the popular fiction and multimedia section. The top three floors contain the bulk of the library’s books and are categories in the traditional Dewey Decimal System manner.

The library has numerous computer workstations with public Internet access. This can make finding a free one can be difficult despite time limits placed on consecutive usage, as many people camp out for as long as they are allowed online. For that reason, it is advisable to search the library’s card catalog online prior to visiting if you are looking for something specific. Otherwise, a handful of computers scattered throughout the library are marked as being either Card Catalog Only, or No Internet Access. These stations are generally not occupied.

Residents of Denver can use the online catalog to not only search for materials, but also to place books, DVDs, and CDs on hold. The great thing about the system is that in addition to reserving the materials, the user may also choose where to pick up the materials, meaning that there is no need to drive all over town to a specific library to get the book you want. Simply place a hold on the book and select your nearest Denver Library Branch to pick it up.

Denver Public Library Hours

The main downtown branch of the library is open every day, although only for a half a day on Sundays.

However, all local branch library locations are closed on Sunday. Additionally, falling tax revenues have caused Denver and the library system to endure major budget cuts. Unfortunately one money saving method being used is closing branches for additional days. The 2010 Library Schedule of hours has most branches closed on Sundays and two other days each week, so check the Denver Library Hours prior to venturing out.