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What do cave painting and tequila have in common? How about soul food and surrealist painter Salvador Dalí?
If your answer is “nothing,” you’re in for a surprise. Since 2004, MCA Denver’s Re-Mixed Taste series has featured “tag-team lectures” on categories that sound as though they were chosen via dart throws. The audience is asked to draw connections between the two disparate topics. The idea is to encourage a different way of thinking about concepts and events, even if we feel we know all there is to know about them already, says Sarah Baie, director of programming at the MCA. Event organizers think carefully about each duo. “It wouldn’t work if they were completely random,” Baie says.
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For the series’ 10th anniversary, MCA staff cobbled their favorite 26 talks (from the nearly 300 they’ve put on) into 13 lecture duos, calling on all-star speakers such as Dr. Kirk Johnson, director of Washington, D.C.’s Smithsonian Museum, and James Beard Award-winning cookbook author Adrian Miller. Though the season is in its final stretch—there are four more lectures through the end of August, including tonight’s “Existentialism & Giant Vegetables”—and most of the lectures are sold out, tickets are released at the door if there are still empty seats.
If you can’t make it, here are five takeaways from Re-Mixed 2014 so far:
1. Unless it comes from Jalisco, Mexico, it’s not tequila; it’s simply an agave-based distilled beverage.
2. Cave paintings crafted a thousand years apart don’t look all that different from one another. That’s because they’re drawn in a particular, almost cinematic style designed to come to life when someone passes a torch in front of them.
3. There were rumored “cow tunnels” beneath New York City in the 20th century that provided a path to shepherd cows from where they were stored to the Meatpacking District for slaughter.
4. Swiss typography, known for its simplicity (think Helvetica), was developed during World War II in reaction to the grandiose and ornate font styles pushed by the Germans.
5. Surrealist artist Salvador Dalí’s inspiration for the dripping clocks in his famous painting “Persistence of Time” came from a chunk of cheese that melted after he left it outside on a sunny day.