Jim has a gift for all things that move, driven by an insatiable curiosity (as a kid, he would take apart old watches and radios, then put them back together; remember, this was pre-video games) and the patience of a saint to tackle the tedious task that comes with understanding the mechanics of all those moving parts. Okay, it’s tedious to some of us; exciting to others.
Jimmy’s eyes were burning with excitement perusing the 60 machines that were part of the Da Vinci Machines Exhibition at the Denver Pavilion in Colorado’s mile-high city. Okay, maybe I should accept a little bit of the credit. These days, the boy is definitely all man.
Few painters of the 15th century had his skill for depicting human emotion in expression and gesture. Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa is undoubtedly the most famous example of his skill in using subtle graduation of tone to create the mystery behind that enigmatic smile. I studied those eyes, that smile, for several minutes, hoping to discover the source of her divine expression. I came away empty handed, but not without something to emulate the next time I determined Jimmy might need a little mystery (and fun) in his life.
1. Leonardo was a southpaw in an era when people were taught this trait was particularly sinister. Leonardo dealt with this perversity by writing from right to left, and backwards. Whether to avoid smearing the ink commonly used in the day, or to keep prying eyes from stealing his works, his “mirror writing” as it is commonly called today, is evident throughout his manuscripts.
recognition based on his illegitimacy and the social stigma that came with such a birth during that era. His desire to please helped Leonardo become a superb event planner, a skilled costume designer, a brilliant lighting technician, a resourceful impresario, and an accomplished musician. A good number of the machines he created were not developed for some practical engineering purpose, but simply to entertain and dazzle royal guests at various
4. Aside from his illegitimate birth, it is highly likely Leonardo was also homosexual at a time when such behavior was extremely risky, not to mention subject to severe penalties and public ostracism. Court records of 1476, when Leonardo was 24, show that he and three other young men were arrested following an incident with a well-known male prostitute. The charges were later dropped. There was never a Mrs. Leonardo da Vinci although there was an assistant, Francesco Melzi, principal heir and executor of da Vinci’s estate. Melzi eventually married and had a son after da Vinci's death; upon Melzi’s death, his heirs sold everything belonging to da Vinci’s estate.
5. The only privately owned portion of Leonardo da Vinci’s manuscripts and codices, the Codex Leicester, is owned by Bill Gates. Most of da Vinci’s notebooks, originally loose papers of different types and sizes, are part of major collections such as the Royal Library at Windsor Castle, the Louvre, the Biblioteca Nacional de Espana, the Victoria and Albert Museum and the Biblioteca Ambrosiana in Milan, which holds the twelve-volume Codex Atlanticus.
France is unidentifiable. The church and many of the gravesites were obliterated during the French Revolution, and further demolished in the early 1800’s.
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THE BOTTOM LINE ON DA VINCI’S MACHINES EXHIBITION
How to Get There: The exhibit is located in Denver’s 16th Street Mall in the Central Business District, just blocks from Denver’s famed E. Colfax Avenue/Highway 70. From Denver’s International Airport, head north on Pena Blvd for almost 10 miles. Merge onto I-70 W/Tuskegee Airmen Memorial Highway and drive another 10 miles. Take the CO-265/Brighten Blvd exit, Exit 275B. Turn left onto CO-265 S/Brighton Blvd and follow Brighton Blvd. Brighton Blvd. become Broadway St. Make a slight right turn onto Glenarm Pl just past 19th Street. Destination is on the corner of 16th and Welton. The 16th Street Mall area is an open air mall with only buses allowed on 16th Street. Public parking is available throughout the area.
Insider Information: Bring your best game, because this exhibit will grab you from the get go. You won’t know where the first few hours went by the time you make it to the movie and a chance to sit down. Bring the kids; the family pack option (2 adults, up to 3 kids) is $40. I dare you to walk away without being awed by the man and his machines. His art is pretty good, too. This is your lucky day, too. The Exhibit has been extended through April 14, 2013. Otherwise, look for it in other U.S. cities throughout the year.
Nearby Food: Denver’s 16th Street Mall is the place to shop, eat and be entertained. We ate at the Yard House several blocks away, but there are plenty of options.