I had the privilege of spending Friday morning with Madeline Albright as she led a tour through the Read My Pins: The Madeline Albright Collection, exhibit at the Denver Art Museum. It was a dazzling break from the Hilary Rosen/Ann Romney controversy and the tired Working Woman vs. Stay-at-Home-Mom hubbub I’d woken up to. Mother, diplomat, U.N. Ambassador, and America’s first female Secretary of State, she was funny, outspoken, insightful, vulnerable, and strong as she told the tales of the various pins she’d become famous for wearing. Madame Secretary’s jewelry box is more than a collection of gems; it is a tale of history in the making, of disarmingly strong femininity, and the secret language women speak. “I started out buying pins and brooches at vintage stores and flea markets and the collection grew from there. Some were gifts, many are family heirlooms or hand-crafted pieces of fine jewelry, and others are pure costume pieces.” A well-placed brooch, intentionally selected for the occasion not only became  Ms. Albright’s fashion signature, but also a silent signal to her host about what she expected from their meeting. “I found that jewelry had become part of my personal diplomatic arsenal,” Albright has said. “While President George H.W. Bush had been known for saying ‘Read my lips,’ I began urging colleagues and reports to ‘Read my pins.’” (It is said that Russian diplomats used to send their aides to scout what pin she was wearing.)       Organized by the Museum of Arts and Design in New York, where it was their highest attended show, the exhibition itself is fascinating. Clustered into expressive categories beyond “like kind,” there are stories here; time and place are given context as well as insight into the diplomatic maven’s mind, inspiring me to look into my own gem box to see what messages might be lurking. Many of the pins are surprisingly large, a delightful contrast from a petite woman who “Had to stand on a box behind the podiums.” They are works of art and fine jewelry. They are plain, silly, elegant, poignant, and flat-out gorgeous. There’s an abstract piece made from fragments of the Berlin Wall, a golden serpent worn after Saddam Hussein referred to Madame Secretary as such and a golden dove given by Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin’s wife, Leah, which is heartbreakingly hopeful. Like Albright herself. If you’re planning a trip the DAM… plan ahead and purchase timed tickets to the Yves Saint Laurent Retrospective. This is a luscious collection of genius and a whirlwind of textural sensualities. Tracy’s take?  “Also not-to-be-missed.” And if theatre’s what you’re after, catch “Great Wall Story” or “Heartbreak House” at the Denver Center and pass on “Ring of Fire.” No heat there. Found my new favorite up-scale burger at Highland Tap & Burger. This place is a new fave; the right blend of hip and homey with great fare (heavenly burgers and to-die-for duck-fat fries, killer Stranahan’s Whiskey roasted chicken wings… I could go on), yummy wine list, hand-crafted brews and the LoHi prices are lower than LoDo.

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