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Meet the MasterMinds -- and help us pick the next creative class

Poem on the range: Slam Nuba, a 2011 MasterMind winner
Poem on the range: Slam Nuba, a 2011 MasterMind winner

Recognizing that the local arts scene needed a little fertilizer to really get going, and growing, eight years ago Westword created a program to honor the visionaries -- artists and organizations alike -- who are changing the cultural landscape of metro Denver.

And we decided to not just honor these creative geniuses, but to give them each substantial cash awards to use as they see fit: the MasterMind Awards.

The first seven classes of MasterMinds have done amazing things with their awards, frequently using them to help other, struggling artists along and creating major multipliers for the more than $110,000 that Westword has given away so far. And now we're getting ready to induct our eighth class.

We've been meeting with members of the seven previous MasterMind classes, talking about all of the exciting projects going on in this city and debating which individuals and efforts most deserve a grant this year. The awards are divided between visual arts, performing arts, film/video/multi-media, literary arts and fashion/design -- but an increasing number of artists blur the boundaries between all of these areas, and in a delightful way.

That discussion is far from over, so if you know of an artist or arts organization that you feel is deserving of a no-strings-attached cash prize, feel free to make a nomination in the comments section below (or, if you're shy, e-mail the name to editorial@westword.com).

We'll be announcing the next class of MasterMinds, once again sponsored by Metropolitan State College of Denver, at our annual Artopia event, set for Saturday, February 18.

Here is the roster of previous MasterMind winners, along with links to their bios:

2011 MasterMinds

Slam Nuba

Sarah Slater

Tricia Hoke

Illiterate/Adam Gildar

Tiffiny Wine

2010 MasterMinds

Fallene Wells

Jennie Dorris

Jolt/Guerilla Garden

Eric Matelski

Laura Goldhamer

2009 MasterMinds

Brian Freeland/LIDA Project/Countdown to Zero

Viviane LeCourtois

Ravi Zupa

The Denver Voice

Vicky Nolan/Emily Griffith Opportunity School

2008 MasterMinds

Creative Music Works/Andrew Starr

RINO/Jill Hadley Hooper & Tracy Weil

Jason Bosch/ArgusFest

Art From Ashes/Cathleen O'Neill

Mona Lucero

2007 MasterMinds

Jessica Robblee

Jimmy Sellars

Tony Shawcross/deproduction, denver open media

Vox Feminista

The Fabric Lab/Josh and Tran Wills

2006 MasterMinds

Dragon Daud, aka Dave Denney

Katie Taft

Deb Henriksen

Cafe Nuba/Ashara Ekundayo

Johnny Morehouse

2005 MasterMinds

Lauri Lynnxe Murphy

Emerging Filmmakers Project @ Bug Theater

Brandi Shigley

Denver Zine Library

Buntport Theater

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