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Best Of :: Arts & Entertainment

Best political use of an art show to get a bigger building

Last November, the Denver Art Museum asked voters for a $60 million-plus capital-improvement bond to pay for the construction of a new, freestanding wing. So how could the DAM make the case that it needed the money because it was too damned small? Museum helmsman Lewis Sharp went out and scored Impressionism, a traveling show that broke all of the museum's previous attendance records with more than a quarter of a million visitors craning their necks to see Monets, Cassatts, Gauguins and Van Goghs that had come from museums all over Europe. Denver art enthusiasts not only crowded the Hamilton Galleries on the main floor, but they crowded the rest of the museum as well, and Acoma Plaza outside, and they paralyzed traffic on the West 14th Avenue Parkway. And, yes, they also went out and gave the DAM a landslide in its bond election. The political maneuvering through exhibition scheduling was just the first in a series of brilliant moves on Sharp's part. Another was his decision to look for a master architect to design a world-class building, just as the DAM had done before when it built its current 1971 edifice, which was designed by Italian legend Gio Ponti with local genius James Sudler. Thanks to Impressionism, that new DAM wing will surely be one of the best new buildings to rise on the Denver skyline in decades.

Best entertainment for under $1

After a long night at the bars, it's hard to find things to laugh at. But down at the corner of Colfax and Broadway, the bus stop for the #15 eastbound is a hive of entertainment. The stop is usually packed with denizens from the bars, winos trying to get out to Aurora, and people dealing with the graveyard shift. Some nights the conversation can get pretty interesting, as folks talk about the various effects of Thunderbird and Night Train on the central nervous system. The bus is almost always packed, and it's not unusual for passengers to break out in song.

Readers' choice: Kitty's

Best entertainment for under $1

After a long night at the bars, it's hard to find things to laugh at. But down at the corner of Colfax and Broadway, the bus stop for the #15 eastbound is a hive of entertainment. The stop is usually packed with denizens from the bars, winos trying to get out to Aurora, and people dealing with the graveyard shift. Some nights the conversation can get pretty interesting, as folks talk about the various effects of Thunderbird and Night Train on the central nervous system. The bus is almost always packed, and it's not unusual for passengers to break out in song.

Readers' choice: Kitty's

Best local rendition of "Blue Moon"

The Partridge Family? Not. The Jackson Five? Please. But cross Selena with the Brady Bunch and you'd be pretty damn close. Mariachi Vasquez is a certified mom-and-dad-and-all-the-kiddies mariachi group: Daddy plays bass, Mama sings tenor, and the three sisters and two brothers join right in there. The group, which hails from Tucson, has been shaking its maracas since the kids wore Pampers. While other children scribbled multiplication tables, these youngsters perfected their chops on violin, trumpet and guitar. Last year the group cut its first CD, Como la Ves, and is compiling its second. Mariachis usually are content to cover the classics, but Mariachi Vasquez spices its playlist with original material and south-of-the-border tributes to Patsy Cline and Elvis. Although the Vasquez kids are still learning their way around a recording studio -- let them make it through puberty first -- they can still put a little rumba into a conga line. And the Mr. Microphone tribute to the King -- as sung by ten-year-old Vincente -- is enough to put a swivel in your hips. If not a black-velvet Elvis painting in your living room.

Best free entertainment

Sure, it may sound like nightmarish DTs to a barfly in the prime of his life, but there are people out there who actually enjoy listening to the tinkling of the ivories without the cacophony of rattling ice cubes and expectorating stool-clingers. And you just may find those people settling into the comfy chairs surrounding the white baby grand piano in the lobby of the Lutheran Medical Center. The piano was donated by hospital volunteers, who could see the healing power of music. Anyone with the gift is welcome to play the instrument -- except for the times when professional musicians volunteer to warm the bench, the keys and the hearts of hospital patients.

Readers' choice: 16th Street Mall

Best free entertainment

Sure, it may sound like nightmarish DTs to a barfly in the prime of his life, but there are people out there who actually enjoy listening to the tinkling of the ivories without the cacophony of rattling ice cubes and expectorating stool-clingers. And you just may find those people settling into the comfy chairs surrounding the white baby grand piano in the lobby of the Lutheran Medical Center. The piano was donated by hospital volunteers, who could see the healing power of music. Anyone with the gift is welcome to play the instrument -- except for the times when professional musicians volunteer to warm the bench, the keys and the hearts of hospital patients.

Readers' choice: 16th Street Mall

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Best political use of an art show to get a bigger building: Impressionism Denver Art Museum

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