And at home, he has two even younger charges to work with: He and his wife, Neambe, have a three-year-old and a one-year-old, both born on full moons, both delivered by Vita. "I feed my children healthy food that I grow, not the processed food available in my community. They're incredibly smart, with the brain food I give them," Vita says.

"You can grow a lot of things in Denver," he adds. Including Ietef Vita's amazing, organic vision.

Watch him grow. — Patricia Calhoun

2013 MasterMind/Multimedia

Nix Bros./Evan and Adam Nix

The Nix brothers got their start as filmmakers in high school in 1999, when Evan, the older brother, got a VHS camcorder for Christmas. They were living in Las Vegas then, but in 2006 they moved to Denver, where their father had attended the University of Denver and the family had vacationed. "It's the kind of place we were always looking at, always wanted to move back to," says Evan. "We've been making films here for the last six years."

And Denver's been lucky to have the Nix brothers. When they're not working their day jobs — Evan at a small video company, Adam at an ad agency — they've been making award-winning short movies and music videos, working with some of the town's most talented comedians and musicians. In addition to making films, they direct Denver's annual Laugh Track Comedy Festival (it will be back in summer 2013, though the date is not yet determined) and perform in their own (fake) band, Total Ghost.

They're not only doing good work, they're having fun. "The thing that we really feel we've been able to thrive off is the fact that Denver's small still, and that makes it fun," says Evan. "It's genuinely a creative, collaborative sort of thing that's not ego-driven or career-driven; people are doing it because it's a passion they have, and we're lucky to be a part of it. We're not standup comedians, but we're embraced by the community and have so many friends involved." And have become friends with so many more.

The work has "technically been pro bono," Evan notes, "but I would call it collaborative." And recently, certain more lucrative opportunities have come up, including a pilot with the Grawlix (featuring this week's cover boy, among others).

Says one MasterMind who's pushed hard for Nix Bros. to win this award, "They're doing so much that the only argument against them is that in a year or two, they'll be too big for us. Giving them this award now may help keep them here." And help keep Denver looking good. — Patricia Calhoun

2013 MasterMind/Literary Arts

Counterpath Press and Bookstore/Julie Carr and Tim Roberts

Long ago, poet Julie Carr and her partner, Tim Roberts, decided what they wanted to do, and it all fell together in Denver after that. "Way back when we first met and we were dreaming up our future lives, we decided we wanted to start a small press, which we did, and we also thought we'd like to start a bookstore," Carr recalls. "But there's a practical story behind it. Tim has a book-production company, and he needed some office space, so he sneakily, without telling me, found an office space that was also a storefront." Located near the Mercury Cafe, at 613 22nd Street, that storefront is now home to both their imprint, Counterpath Press, and Counterpath Books, with its few shelves of select titles from fellow independent literary presses. And a whole lot more.

Carr and Roberts expected that they'd host readings at their place, but "almost immediately, that wasn't enough," she says. "We just wanted to do more than have readings, and we expanded our repertoire from the get-go." To that end, they began hosting film and digital-media screenings, performances and, more recently, scholarly talks. Since Roberts's business already pays for the space, they're able to offer those presentations free of charge. Their employees, Mike Flatt and Ariela Ruth Goldberg, help keep things running smoothly, though it remains a challenge to find the right audience for each type of event, Carr notes. But she's sure that they're out there, because Denver is culturally very rich for its size. "It's small enough that anything you do matters," she says. "There's a real sense of closeness here between people doing things that are similar."

And Carr and Roberts are already dreaming again, this time of a bigger space. "We'd love to do dance performances...or even theater," says Carr, a former dancer herself, looking to the future. Again. — Susan Froyd

2013 MasterMind/Visual Arts

GroundSwell Gallery/Danette Montoya and Rebecca Peebles

Rebecca Peebles and Danette Montoya were two baristas with art degrees, living the artist's life, both seeking places to show their work and disappointed by the prospect of coffeehouse shows. But that was before they jumped together into a gallery of their own, just like that. MMJ dispenser GroundSwell was preparing to open a storefront at 3121 East Colfax Avenue, and Peebles and Montoya took a chance by asking if they could use a small space in the front of the shop as a gallery. "They literally just put it in our laps," Montoya remembers. "We didn't even know what was going to unfold, and it turned out to be something much bigger than what we were thinking of originally."

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Laura Bond
Laura Bond

Great choices, Westword! Ietef Cavem Vita is a genius; glad more people will get to find out.


i wish i knew how to enter for this before hand :(


Great article and congrats to all of the winners! (Although I do disagree with "the desirable 25-to-34-year-old demographic " reference at the start of the article, simply because there are soooo many outside of that age range that are also 'Colorado's Creative Capital'.) :-)