Try a little culture with your craps

Mar 19, 2007 10:36 PM

"That Boy George sure makes a pretty girl," was my grandmother’s 1983 observation when Culture Club videos filled 13" color television screens. My "Grammy" was a wonderful and surprisingly hip lady, but she just did not grasp the relevancy of the Church of the Poison Mind chanteuse.

Artistic endeavors assist in defining sense of place. In Black Hawk, Central City, Cripple Creek, Ignacio and Towaoc, art abounds and may be appreciated if one’s gaze can be diverted from the shiny slot machines and green felt tables.

At the Ute Indian casino properties in Ignacio and Towaoc, archival quality pieces on display aid in explaining the multi-generational stories of the respective tribes who host the locales.

The physical arts (e.g., painting, sculpture, indigenous crafts) have, since long before gaming, traditionally been outlets for Indian peoples to express their heritage.

In the Old West towns, paintings or even lovingly carved bars crowned by flourishes as may be seen at properties such as Easy Street or Dostal Alley in Central City or The Imperial or Bronco Billy’s in Cripple Creek, provide the framework for the modern incarnation of gaming dens.

Public sculptures reflecting the abundant wildlife of the area is available for viewing in Black Hawk throughout the Ameristar property and on the streetscape; kitty-corner from Fitzgerald’s, one may see a brass homage to a miner panning for gold shaded by a gazebo.

The performing arts maintain a legacy stretching since the days of prospectors. In Central City, the historic Opera House continues to offer European quality opera while in Cripple Creek, the Butte Opera House allows the unique entertainment of melodrama to thrive.

For visitors more inclined to appreciation object des artes in more traditional viewing surroundings, Central City hosts the Gilpin Historical Society (museum) and Cripple Creek boasts the Cripple Creek District Museum, the Lowell Thomas Museum, and the gently preserved historic brothel, the Old Homestead Museum.

Connoisseurs of industrial arts will no doubt appreciate the Cripple Creek and Victor Narrow Gauge Railroad and the Mollie Kathleen Gold Mine.

Less than an hour away from the properties in Ignacio and Towaoc is the town of Durango, host of the famous Durango-Silverton narrow gauge railway. Durango also boasts numerous, well-respected traditional galleries.

While the main directive of visiting what are now known as the Colorado gaming towns is to gamble, it would behoove any guest to take a breather from the clanging machines and chip clacking tables to enjoy the areas from a more cerebral, artistic standing and mine for some culture.