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Latin American Cultural Event Slated for Denver

DENVER (AP).- Latin American artists will showcase works ranging from a mural chiseled out of vinyl and a large-scale reproduction of the first ever particle accelerator during a monthlong Denver event that Mayor John Hickenlooper said will highlight the Western Hemisphere's common heritage.

The event featuring artists from 35 countries will be a "world's fair" of ideas, Hickenlooper said, with current and former world leaders also participating in forums around the city beginning July 1.

The festival will be called the "Biennial of the Americas."

The goal is to have Denver host the event every even-numbered year.

Preparations are already under way at the downtown McNichols building, the previous location of a Denver library and most recently the city's treasury building.

The building will be the main stage of the event, with musical performances three nights a week, said Paola Santoscoy, an event curator.

The building will also include works from an Argentinian artist known for fashioning murals out of vinyl, a Peruvian who specializes in video and animation, and a Mexican who uses plants to create his designs.

Exhibits will also be shown at the Museo de Las Americas, the Denver Botanic Gardens and the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. The Museum of Contemporary Art will have the particle accelerator exhibit, as well as a light display mapping the migration of people from Mexico into the U.S., said Adam Lerner, the museum's director.

Officials are still working out the details of whether there will be admission fees to the various exhibits.

The event is expected to cost about $3 million, said Rachel Chaparro, a festival spokeswoman. The money will be privately raised.

Confirmed speakers for the forums include former Mexican President Vicente Fox; Federico Pena, who was Denver's first Hispanic mayor and a national co-chairman of President Barack Obama's campaign; and U.S. Sens. Mark Udall and Michael Bennet of Colorado. The forums held throughout the city will cover education, energy and climate change, poverty reduction and women in leadership.

Hickenlooper said Denver is a perfect location for an arts biennial because the city is "on the spine of the hemisphere" — the Rocky Mountains go down the same geological structure that turns into the Andes.

But, he said, "the real reason is that no one else was doing it."

"And I think there's a tremendous benefit that will come to a city that can become recognized as a partner to Latin America."

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.

Denver | Mayor John Hickenlooper | Paola Santoscoy |

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