The Biennial of the Americas officially began its month-long run in Denver yesterday, and Mayor John Hickenlooper assures that you’ll eventually understand and appreciate what the festivities are all about. “It’s like the first time you open a new restaurant,” he tells The Denver Post. “When I first opened a brewpub, no one knew what a brewpub was. Same thing with this.” So, what is the Biennial? It’s a new, once-every-two-year celebration of art and ideas, a series of concerts and exhibits with cultural events and roundtable discussions. The restored McNichols Building in Civic Center is the epicenter of activity, but expect to see cultural displays in institutions throughout the city.

A Summit of Former Heads of State unfolds on July 12 and includes former presidents of Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador, Panama, Mexico, Guatemala, Argentina, and the Dominican Republic. The work of artists from 35 Latin American countries and the United States is also on display, notes The Associated Press, thanks in large part to the efforts of Paola Santoscoy, lead curator of the Biennial’s main exhibition (via 5280). For a less earnest take, Westword’s Kenny Be brings his humor to the hoopla.