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Best Of 2006


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Best Of :: Arts & Entertainment


If there's anyone who should be frontin' for Denver, it's someone who titles a book of poetry about civil-rights martyrs Murder Ballads. A person who understands that Denver readers want beautifully crafted prose, depth of storytelling and consciousness-raising ideas wrapped in one catchy package. In short, we want it all -- and Jake Adam York delivers. The Alabama native moved here just five years ago, but he's already fully immersed in his adopted home. He teaches creative writing at the University of Colorado at Denver and held a creative residency at PlatteForum last year, where he ran a poetry lab for students from North High School and P.S. 1, creating the art installation "A Map of Denver" in the process. York also edits the Copper Nickel, the national literary journal based at UCD, and organizes the Denver Mint Reading Series, which brings Pulitzer-level and up-and-coming poets and writers to town. On top of all that, he's finishing his next book -- Annumeration of Starlings -- that will be a followup to Murder Ballads. That's a great verse-case scenario.


Kudos to the City and County of Denver for finally adding a drive-thru box office for Red Rocks Amphitheatre. Patrons no longer have to park and then hike up the hill; they can just zip up and be on their way. And considering how much walking is already required at the park, this is a much-welcomed change. All you have to do now is find your spot and get down to the music.

The Blue Cow

When concert season opens at Red Rocks, the crowds run rampant throughout the tiny burb of Morrison. It's enough to make anyone long for a stiff drink and a classic Americana meal, which is exactly what the Blue Cow provides. Whether you prefer a Bloody Mary, a margarita or a mimosa, the staff can hook it up; they serve everything from Budweiser and Corona to microbrews and Mike's Cranberry Lemonade -- even a martini in a pinch. They also brew the strongest espresso in town, and the soft-serve ice cream and shakes are ideal on a hot summer day. It's the perfect place to nurse away a hangover before the big show -- or to kick-start the next drinking marathon.

316 Bear Creek Ave., Morrison, 80465

The title of Lawrence Argent's sculpture isn't very catchy, and most people will draw a blank when hearing "I See What You Mean," but if we say "The Big Blue Bear" at the Colorado Convention Center, you see what we mean. The piece was an instant hit with the public, and it has become a nationally known icon for Denver. Even the normally artless business boosters hijacked it, sending out a guy in a cheesy blue bear suit to promote the hotel tax during last year's election. For all the love, however, it's the fact that the sculpture is sophisticated, contemporary and by a hometown artist that makes it one of the best things downtown.


In 2003, Carol Dickinson was facing retirement from directing the Foothills Art Center in Golden, and she decided she wanted to leave a lasting monument. A take-charge sort of gal, Dickinson went to the Foothills board and suggested having Texas artist Jesus Moroles create a sculpture garden in his signature minimalist style. (Truth be told, it was more than a suggestion; she presented the idea as a fait accompli.) The board agreed, and Moroles teamed up with architect Ted Shultz and landscape designer Susan Saarinen while Dickinson began cajoling donors for funds. Typically, projects such as this take five years to finish, but Dickinson got it done in just two and half, bringing Golden into the 21st century in the process.


Aurora's partly seedy, partly rebirthed main drag gets extra marks for effort in 2005. Last fall, Longmont artist Mario Miguel Echevarria put up his "Aurora Eterna: A Public Spectacle" mural atop Pasternack's Pawn Shop, shedding brilliant neon lights on a series of stylized symbols of Aurora history. "Aurora Eterna" is the perfect companion to the stretch's other murals (by Jason Needham and Susan Cooper), and it adds a touch of class to the tawdry.

9745 E. Colfax Ave., Aurora, 80010

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