Airports as Artports

Spooky action

Haunted Colorado offers a spooky look at the area’s most haunted attractions, and is the latest temporary exhibition in a diverse art and culture programme at Denver International Airport. Jason Holland reports.

Denver International Airport is known in some circles for being at the heart of several conspiracy theories – ranging from being the headquarters of the Illuminati to hiding a secret network of tunnels and bunkers to be used by world leaders in the event of an apocalypse.

The eclectic nature of some of the airport’s art, statues and murals fuels many of the conspiracies, with images and symbols interpreted in bizarre, creepy or downright terrifying ways.

The airport’s latest art exhibit, however, can claim to be genuinely spooky – as it gives insight into some of Colorado’s most haunted attractions.

Haunted Colorado highlights supernatural hot spots throughout the state and is timed to coincide with Halloween, running throughout October. The exhibition is located in the airport’s Jeppesen Terminal before security.

From cemeteries to hotels to abandoned mines, the exhibition features historical and current artefacts, intriguing objects, photographs and information that is designed to “edify, scare and excite”.

“The root of the exhibit helps define and applaud the history of Colorado’s extraordinary people and organisations who continue to support the myths, the legends and the realities of their ghostly acquaintances,” the airport said.

Participating exhibitors with eerie objects to showcase include the Museum of Colorado Prisons; the Rocky Mountain Paranormal Research Society; The Stanley Hotel; The Wizards Chest; and the aptly-named Tom ‘Dr. Colorado’ Noel.

Haunted Colorado is the latest temporary exhibition forming part of Denver International Airport’s Art and Culture Program. Nearly 40 site-specific works including sculptures, murals and other installations feature, with the artworks displayed in outdoor landscapes, inside Jeppesen Terminal and on concourses, as well as in the train tunnels and onboard trains.

While keeping the arts programme “fresh and exciting”, the airport also aims to “make the creative energy and cultural legacy of the Rocky Mountain Front Range region palpable to anyone who visits the airport”. An emphasis is also placed on creating a cultural experience “that engages airport users, attracts audiences from the surrounding area, and wins recognition in the world beyond”.

Accoring to Denver International, the exhibition “helps define and applaud the history of Colorado’s extraordinary people and organisations who continue to support the myths, the legends and the realities of their ghostly acquaintances”.

Here are some highlights from the airport’s permanent collection:

21st Century Artifacts

Carolyn Braaksma and Mark Villareal

B Gates

The floors of B Gates incorporate the unique geology and geography of Colorado in ‘21st Century Artifacts’. Broad areas of coloured terrazzo are inlaid with stone patterns, precast concrete shapes derived from fossil forms found in Colorado, and cast bronze embeds.

America, Why I Love Her

Gary Sweeney

Jeppesen Terminal

Inspired by family road trips from the artist's childhood, ‘America, Why I Love Her’ pays homage to family vacations in general, and to tourist spots in particular.

Beaded Circle Crossing

Alice Adams

B Gates, Center Core

‘Beaded Circle Crossing’ derives its form from the lodges, tipis and beadwork of Native Americans, as well as from the bridges of Eiffel and Calatrava. The central upper rectangle, symbolic of the earth and of the buffalo, is supported by two iridescent screens of spliced colored-glass tubes alternating with ‘bugle bead’ shapes. The gathering of the poles around the helix of yellow glass may be seen as a sun symbol or as the central opening at the top of the tipi.

Children of the World Dream of Peace

Leo Tanguma

In temporary storage, to return by 2021

This powerful mural expresses the artist’s desire to abolish violence in society. One section of the piece speaks to the tragedy and devastation of war and its impact on humanity. The mural then moves on to images of smiling children, dressed in traditional folk costumes from around the world, celebrating peace prevailing over war.

Dual Meridian

David Griggs

A Gates, Center Core

‘Dual Meridian’ pays homage to the architectural heritage of its site by harking back to the grand, vaulted spaces of turn-of-the-century transportation halls and train sheds. On one side, curvilinear train tracks and indigenous Colorado stones reflect an Iron Age sensibility about transportation. The other side, with its concrete landforms and tiled global map projection, envisions the space-age spectacle of flight. A vaulted titanium arch reaches across the space, revealing those elements as if seen from the orbit of some future mode of transportation.


Luis Jiménez

Peña Boulevard approach to Denver International

‘Mustang’ is a 32ft cast-fiberglass sculpture. The artist’s characteristic style references the grandeur of the Mexican muralists, the energy of the Southwest and the bright colours he experienced as a youth in his father’s sign-making company.

Water in All Of its States

Yann Kersalé

Hotel & Transit Center

Parisian artist Yann Kersalé was selected for a US$1 million commission to provide a lighting design for the Train Hall and Level 5 canopies and a unique video-based installation inside the escalator connecting the Public Transit Center to the Level 5 plaza.


Anibal Catalan

C Gates

Created specifically for the airport, ‘Vorticity’ makes use of the Colorado landscape and the unique tented architecture of the building, which itself echoes the silhouette of a mountain range. Artist Anibal Catalan used geometry to transform physical and perpetual space, rewarding different viewing angles by producing compositions, which are always distinct but harmonious. The installation is comprised of several suspended sculptures arranged in a spiral, the shapes of which were determined by tracing the Rocky Mountains’ dramatic profile.

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The Moodie Davitt eZine

Issue 267 | 27 September 2019

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