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Ana Maria Hernando celebrates female power in nature at new Denver Botanic Gardens exhibit

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Ana Maria Hernando celebrates female power in nature at new Denver Botanic Gardens exhibit

In a sense, Ana María Hernando‘s entire artistic career feels like a build up to where we encounter her this month, in a new show at the Denver Botanic Gardens, centered around her voluptuous and volcanic representation of the Nusta, the mighty, female spirit of the mountains from Andean mythology.

Hernando has spent decades conjuring objects that explore the ways women empower themselves. Not how they aim to take over the world, but how they exist in it wholly, collaboratively, spiritually, vigorously. Her work, often made with fabric and thread, argues for the agency of women in sewing circles or kitchens, or in convents, for the subversive power in “traditional female” crafts and things like flowers and poetry.

For one project, she collected embroidery from cloistered nuns in Argentina; for another, she assembled a collection of petticoats crocheted by female sheepherders in Peru. She transforms these raw materials into large-scale installations that overflow with vitality and underscore the subtle and practical methods that women employ to control their destinies.

Hyoung Chang, The Denver Post

DENVER, CO – SEPTEMBER 29 : Photo taken Fervor, tulle and mixed media, 2021 of exhibitions Fervor: Ana María Hernando at the Freyer – Newman Center of Denver Botanic Gardens in Denver, Colorado on Wednesday, September 29, 2021. (Photo by Hyoung Chang/The Denver Post)

It is the sum total of all that collective energy that seems to be embodied in this Nusta — 8 feet tall at least, and erupting in smoky shades of gray, black, gold and white. Above this monstrous mound, a poofy cloud of orange and white is suspended from the ceiling. Its forcefield emanates throughout the room.

But Hernando reminds us that is it a female energy. She makes the whole thing out of tulle, flowing and abundant and, in doing so, morphs a material linked to frilly wedding gowns and fancy quinceañera dresses into a force not to be messed with.

It’s not an aggressive act, just a truthful and devotional observation about the universe delivered with artistic liberty. This exhibition, titled “Fervor,” contains several others, pulling a variety of media (from painting to spoken word, music and needlework) into an environment that flows through two rooms of DBG’s new galleries.

Hernando brings several of her projects together here. Among them is the monumental “Ecoutons,” which was developed during the pandemic. The piece was originally intended to be an in-person exercise where a group of people would head out into nature, listen to the sounds of birds, and illustrate what they were hearing through embroidery.

If you go

Ana María Hernando, “Fervor,” continues through Jan. 2 at the Denver Botanic Gardens, 1007 York St., 720-865-3500 or botanicgardens.org.

The logistics of doing so became impossible during a global lockdown. So instead, Hernando asked people to spend time alone in nature, observe the birdsongs and send her recordings of them. She then did the interpretations herself, creating abstract narratives using cotton thread on soft organza, a fabric so light it feels like air itself.

The exhibition’s opening room is full of these pieces and of the recorded songs themselves, representing birds across the U.S., from places like Texas, Hawaii and Florida, and from other countries, like Mexico, France, Germany and not surprisingly, Argentina, where Hernando was born and returns to frequently.

1636379710 718 Ana Maria Hernando celebrates female power in nature at new

Hyoung Chang, The Denver Post

DENVER, CO – SEPTEMBER 29 : Photo taken Écoutons / We Listen / Escuchamos, cotton thread embroidery on organza, 2020-2021 of exhibitions Fervor: Ana María Hernando at the Freyer – Newman Center of Denver Botanic Gardens in Denver, Colorado on Wednesday, September 29, 2021. (Photo by Hyoung Chang/The Denver Post)

They hang loosely from the ceiling, turning the gallery into an aviary of sorts, with the wispy organza catching breezes in the room and sending the pieces into gentle flutters. It’s not an accurate re-creation of the sky or the treetops or whatever upward domain birds call home, but the spirit is there.

Because the pieces are hung a little high off the ground to examine close up, the renderings of the bird calls have been replicated in works on paper and hung on the walls at eye level, each hand- labeled in simple pencil. “Hummingbird from Ward, Colorado,” one reads. Another: “Birds from County, Wexford, Ireland.”

The exhibition becomes even more immersive in the second room, where Hernando has installed another monumental organza sculpture, this one hanging down from the ceiling and appearing as something like a cloud bursting with energy and releasing flowing tufts of fabric in in lime green and other shades that cascade toward the floor. Again, Hernando balances the forceful, and potentially fearful, abundance of nature with a reminder of the goodwill energy that flows from it. The piece is intimating and shockingly beautiful at the same time.

1636379710 149 Ana Maria Hernando celebrates female power in nature at new

Hyoung Chang, The Denver Post

Photo taken Écoutons / We Listen / Escuchamos, cotton thread embroidery on organza, 2020-2021 of “Fervor”: Ana María Hernando at the Freyer – Newman Center of Denver Botanic Gardens. (Hyoung Chang,The Denver Post)

The room is also filled with sound, with a recording of Hernando reading three bird poems, “Wood Thrush,” “Mourning dove” and “Bobolink,” with musical accompaniment from Dreaming Fields of Action. Hernando wrote the words while “imaging the meaning of each song and the experiences of the birds that sing them.”

The text isn’t fully decipherable, though its effect is hypnotic. It invites you to linger, meditate, to find some rich connection to nature. In some ways, it is easy to give in to this proposition; Hernando’s tribute to the non-human world is seductive and sincere without feeling strained. It stands apart from all of the other immersive experiences out there these days that simply try too hard to take over the senses of visitors.

But in other ways, it must be said, this could be a challenge for folks taking in the exhibition as a sideshow to the garden’s plants, trees and flowers. DBG’s galleries are modern and efficient, though they are not exactly warm spaces. And the building that houses them, in the middle of the garden, is modern and sleek and full of hard surfaces, white walls, paneled ceiling, steel-framed windows.

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Playoff wins since the Odell Beckham trade: OBJ 1, Giants 0

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Playoff wins since the Odell Beckham trade OBJ 1 Giants

The Giants didn’t sign him to trade him to watch him win playoff games somewhere else.

But that’s exactly what Odell Beckham Jr. did Monday night with the Los Angeles Rams, scoring his first career postseason victory.

That’s more than the Giants’ zero playoffs victories (and appearances) in the three years since the infamous deal. Giants GM Dave Gettleman since has been ousted, as well.

Beckham was the Rams’ catalyst in blowing open a 34-11 wild card win over the Arizona Cardinals. He caught four passes for 54 yards and a touchdown and completed a 40-yard pass.

He became the first player in NFL postseason history to have a 30-yard reception and a 30-yard passing completion in the same game, per ESPN Stats & Info.

He scored the game’s first touchdown, high-pointing a 4-yard TD pass from Matt Stafford in the first quarter, tapping his toes in the back left corner of the end zone. He had caught a 17-yard pass early in that same drive.

Then he caught a 31-yard pass down to the Cardinals’ 2-yard line in the second quarter — on a play designed specifically for him — to set up a Stafford 1-yard TD sneak for a 14-0 lead

Beckham also completed a 40-yard pass to Rams running back Cam Akers in the third quarter to help set up a Stafford 7-yard TD pass to Cooper Kupp. That ballooned the Rams’ lead to 28-0.

Gettleman unforgettably signed Beckham to a five-year, $90 million extension in August 2018, then traded him at a discount in March 2019 to an NFL Siberia, the Cleveland Browns.

The Browns organization chose Baker Mayfield over Beckham this fall. Beckham’s father went public with rampant examples of the Browns quarterback’s shortcomings and reluctance to throw his son the ball.

That helped OBJ escape from a toxic situation to sign with the Rams, the organization that had first pursued a trade with the Giants for him back in the spring of 2018.

And on Monday, Beckham thrived in his second career playoff game on the big stage of SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, Calif. The win improved the Rams’ record to 6-3 since his signing in November.

It was a meaningful bounce back on the playoff stage for Beckham, whose only previous playoff appearance had been his four catch, 28-yard dud in the Giants’ 38-13 wild card loss at Green Bay in January 2017.

He punched a hole in the wall of the visitors’ locker room that night, venting frustration after a tumultuous week that began with the infamous and ill-advised Boat Trip to Miami six days prior, with veteran Victor Cruz leading the way.

Beckham was rehabbing a torn ACL last year when the Browns reached the playoffs for the first time since 2002 and beat the Steelers before losing to the Chiefs.

The Giants have a 14-35 record and haven’t had a 1,000-yard receiver since trading Beckham.

Their offense has ranked 18th, 31st and 31st in the three years since his trade, respectively. And two head coaches have been fired: Pat Shurmur and Joe Judge.

The Giants’ receiving leaders by yards in the past three years were Darius Slayton (740) in 2019, Slayton (751) again in 2020, and Kenny Golladay (521) this past season.

Beckham eclipsed 1,000 yards receiving in four of his five Giants seasons, and went over 1,300 three times, with a high of 1,450 in 2015. The only season he didn’t go over 1,000 was 2017 when he broke his ankle four games in.

Now he’s flying with the Rams, scheduled to be a free agent after the season, making his best case that the teams who quit on him made a major mistake.

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Man and dog die after being shot in Fenton on Sunday

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Man and dog die after being shot in Fenton on Sunday

FENTON, Mo. – A man and a dog have died after they were shot Sunday in St. Louis County.

Police said the shooting happened at about 3:25 p.m. in the 600 block of Greenhurst Court. When officers arrived, they found 25-year-old Austin Vines and a dog suffering from gunshot wounds. Vines was taken to the hospital for medical treatment, but has since died. The dog has also died from the gunshot injury.

St. Louis County Police Department Crimes Against Persons detectives are investigating this homicide. Contact the St. Louis County Police Department at 636-529-8210 to speak to investigators if you have any information regarding the incident. To remain anonymous or potentially receive a reward, contact CrimeStoppers at 1-866-371-TIPS (8477).

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White House: Texas hostage-taker not in terror database

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Texas synagogue hostage-taker had stayed in area shelters

By JAMIE STENGLE, JAKE BLEIBERG and ERIC TUCKER

COLLEYVILLE, Texas (AP) — The gunman who took four people hostage at a Texas synagogue in a 10-hour standoff that ended in his death was checked against law enforcement databases before entering the U.S. but raised no red flags, the White House said Tuesday.

Malik Faisal Akram, a 44-year-old British citizen, arrived in the U.S. at Kennedy Airport in New York about two weeks ago, a law enforcement official said. He spent time in Dallas-area homeless shelters before the attack Saturday in the suburb of Colleyville.

British media, including the Guardian, reported Tuesday that Akram was investigated by the domestic intelligence service MI5 as a possible “terrorist threat” in 2020, but the investigation was closed after authorities concluded he posed no threat.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Akram appears not to have set off any alarms in U.S. terrorism databases when he entered the country.

“Our understanding, and obviously we’re still looking into this, is that he was checked against U.S. government databases multiple times prior to entering the country, and the U.S. government did not have any derogatory information about the individual in our systems at the time of entry,” Psaki said.

She added: “We’re certainly looking back … what occurred to learn every possible lesson we can to prevent attacks like this in the future.”

The standoff in Colleyville, a city of about 26,000 people 30 miles (48 kilometers) northwest of Dallas, ended after the last of the hostages ran out of the synagogue and an FBI SWAT team rushed in. Akram was killed, but authorities have declined to say who shot him, saying it was still under investigation.

President Joe Biden called the episode an act of terror.

Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker, who was among the hostages, told “ CBS Mornings” that he had let Akram into Congregation Beth Israel on Saturday morning because he appeared to need shelter.

Cytron-Walker said the man wasn’t threatening or suspicious at first, but later he heard a gun click as he was praying.

One hostage was released hours later, and the rabbi and two others later escaped after Cytron-Walker threw a chair at the gunman.

During the standoff, Akram could be heard on a Facebook livestream demanding the release of Aafia Siddiqui, a Pakistani neuroscientist who is suspected of having ties to al-Qaida and was convicted of trying to kill U.S. Army officers in Afghanistan. The prison where Siddiqui is serving her sentence is in nearby Fort Worth.

An attorney in Texas who represents Siddiqui said the prisoner had no connection to Akram.

The investigation stretched to England, where over the weekend police announced that two teenagers were in custody in connection with the standoff. The teenagers are Akram’s sons, two U.S. law enforcement officials told The Associated Press. The officials were not authorized to discuss the investigation and spoke on condition of anonymity.

On Tuesday, police in Britain said the teenagers had been released without charge. They were detained in Manchester, about 30 miles from Akram’s hometown of Blackburn.

Akram’s family said he had been “suffering from mental health issues.”

Federal investigators believe Akram bought the handgun used in the hostage-taking in a private sale, according to a person familiar with the matter who spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigation is still going on.

___

Stengle reported from Dallas and Tucker reported from Washington. Also contributing to this report were Associated Press writers Paul J. Weber and Acacia Coronado in Austin; Michael Balsamo in Washington; and Danica Kirka and Sylvia Hui in London.

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