Historic church holds spotlight for art programs
Located in the heart of the Auraria campus, St. Cajetan's Center is unquestionably one of the most recognizable and beautiful buildings on campus. Formerly a church in Denver's Westside neighborhood, the historic monument is now a tribute to Denver's Hispanic community as well as a source of creativity for Metro State professors, who are world-renowned artists.
Fred Hess, assistant music professor and award-winning jazz composer, features the stained glass windows of St. Cajetan's on the cover of his latest
Album cover features stained glass windows of St. Cajetan's.
CD "In the Grotto." Denver Post jazz critic Bret Saunders named the CD in his Top10 jazz albums for 2007. He referred to Hess' music as "jazz composition's best kept secret."
Local music lovers may agree, but only because Hess doesn't normally perform in Denver. "Half of my band is in New York," says Hess, who features renowned trumpet player and fellow Metro State assistant music professor Ron Miles on the CD.
Though they've played together often over the years, Miles was honored to be on this CD knowing that Hess could have pulled from New York instead. "It was my good fortune. Being in the Top 10 is a testament to Fred's music." Hess was the founding director of Denver's Creative Music Works Orchestra and has been a member of drummer Ginger Baker's Denver Jazz Quintet. He has performed with a wide range of jazz artists including Charlie Haden, Paul Smoker, Ray Brown, and Wynton Marsalis.
But Hess doesn't believe he has to travel far to hear great music. "The music department is full of world-class
"A Westside Wedding" painting features St. Cajentan's. The original version is included in a wall calendar of Chicano art.
musicians," says Hess, who credits Metro State for encouraging professional development. "The College encourages professor to do their thing, to be musicians in the real world and a teacher in the classroom."
Metro State's creativity doesn't stop at music. Assistant Art Professor Carlos Fresquez has exhibited his drawings, paintings, and prints in at least 25 states in the U.S. and in five different countries. Most recently, his signature piece, "A Westside Wedding" was included among 12 images featured in the 2008 Chicano art wall calendar published by Amber Lotus Publishing. His month is June.
Created in 1994, the painting features St. Cajetan's and has multiple meanings for Fresquez, a native of Denver. "I was baptized in the old St. Cajetan's and married in the new St. Cajetan's."
The painting shows what the scene might have been if he and his wife, who were married 27 years ago, had exchanged their vows at the old St. Cajetans. The new church was relocated to West Alameda Avenue in Denver as the Auraria campus was built and colleges began to make the area their home. In fact, he has painted two versions of the image - one with the community and one without.
The calendar features the painting without the community. Of the 45 prints he made public, one was sold to a university in Arizona a few years ago. It was the university that suggested the publishing company use his photo in the calendar. A 1980 fine art graduate of Metro State, Fresquez now works only a block away from the historic monument that appears to have quite a hold on his heart.