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Denver, Seattle Art Museums Bet On Super Bowl

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(credit: CBS/Seattle Art Museum/Denver Art Museum)

(credit: CBS/Seattle Art Museum/Denver Art Museum)

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DENVER (AP) – The mayors of Seattle and Denver have salmon and green chile on the line. The directors of the art museums in the two cities have put up iconic statues in a wager on the NFL championships. And both cities are awash in team colors as Super Bowl Sunday approaches.

Christoph Heinrich, director of the Denver Art Museum, said Monday the fever surrounding the game is an opportunity for both cities to show off what makes them special, on and off the field. If Seattle were to win, Heinrich will send a Frederic Remington bronze of a cowboy on a bucking bronco to Seattle for three months. Heinrich calls the small statue, which is so detailed that wind seems to be ruffling the horse’s mane and the rider’s moustache, “one of the stars of our American West collection.”

Kimerly Rorschach of the Seattle museum said in a telephone interview that when the idea of a bet was raised, she immediately thought of a Remington bronco.

“I want the trophy of their mascot,” she said. “Then, I thought about what’s the equivalent in our collection.”

If the Broncos win, Rorschach will send an elegantly carved Seahawk mask, embellished in black, blue and red paint, from her museum’s North Coast Native American collection to Denver for three months.

“But of course, it’s not going there,” Rorschach said in the genteel museum director’s equivalent of trash-talking.

The losing museum will pay for the costs of packing and shipping the piece to be loaned. That would include a courier to accompany the bronze, Heinrich said. But he said he wasn’t thinking about shipping logistics “since we’ll win.”

In the event of a Broncos win, Seattle Mayor Ed Murray said he would send Denver Mayor Michael B. Hancock salmon, Dungeness crab, a bicycle made by Rodriguez Bicycles in Seattle and auction off a blown-glass piece by internationally known Seattle artist Dale Chihuly to benefit a Denver program for the homeless. Murray will also wear Broncos pajamas in public if the Broncos win.

Hancock is putting up green chile, Denver’s favorite fiery stew; a hoodie; ball cap; and handmade skis. Should the Broncos lose, Hancock will also auction off a Denver-themed item to support the Seattle-based Lifelong AIDS Alliance and wear an ensemble put together by the Lifelong AIDS Alliance thrift shop.

Denver is encouraging all business owners to light up their buildings in orange and blue. Even the home of the Colorado Supreme Court has “Go Broncos” banners, and a buffalo statue at the history museum is wearing a giant Peyton Manning jersey. Airport trains are playing a recorded message from cornerback Champ Bailey asking them to “Unite in Orange.”

Blue and white flags in groups of 12 – representing the “12th man,” the fans – are sprouting around Seattle.

Denver’s museum director Heinrich jokes that he would have gone for a bigger bet if his museum, instead of the city, owned “Mustang,” a giant, red-eyed, blue horse sculpture that will be familiar to anyone who has driven near Denver’s airport. An eerie mystique has grown up around the piece since its sculptor, Luis Jimenez, was crushed and killed by the horse during its construction.

In return, Heinrich suggested Seattle put up Jonathan Borofsky’s “Hammering Man,” a metal kinetic sculpture that towers over the art museum there. Seattle’s Rorschach chuckled at the idea of offering a piece so central to the museum’s identity.

“There’s an emotional connection to art, like there can be for sports,” she said.

- By DONNA BRYSON, Associated Press Writer

Additional Resources:

The Denver Art Museum shared the following information about the works of art in a news release:

Seattle’s Wager:
Forehead Mask – Nuxalk First Nation ca. 1880
This Nuxalk mask shows the elegant elongation of the bird beak, a sensitive and human-like rendering of the eye/socket/brow area, with painted embellishments on the surface in black, red and blue. The open mouth suggests the ferocity of this bird of prey, possible a supernatural “man-eater”. Shredded red cedar bark symbolizes the mythical arena in which the dance-dramas would be enacted.

Denver’s Wager:
The Broncho Buster – Frederic Remington
In 1895, Frederic Remington first endeavored to sculpt and the resulting work is one of the most enduring visual images of the American West. The bronze horse symbolizes the spirit and tenacity of the Wild West. Popular from the time of its creation, The Broncho Buster stands today as an icon of the region and is thought of as the first action bronze of a western hero.

(TM and © Copyright 2014 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2014 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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