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Best Of :: Arts & Entertainment

Best Lifetime Achievement in the Arts

Most of the masters of Denver's current photo scene weren't even born when now-ninety-something Hal Gould opened his House of Photography in Cherry Creek in 1955. And he was an accomplished photographer long before that, having gotten his first camera in 1932. He went on to help establish the Colorado Photographic Arts Center in 1963, mounting shows as the exhibition director of the group, and then in 1979, he opened his Camera Obscura Gallery directly across from the Byers-Evans House, just west of the Denver Art Museum. In the intervening decades, Gould put together one impressive show after another, some highlighting the efforts of internationally known photography stars, others featuring works by top Colorado shutterbugs. And Gould would probably keep going for decades more, but with a weak art market as a result of the recession — not to mention that he's really earned a rest — he and partner Loretta Young-Gautier recently decided to close the gallery. The term "end of an era" is thrown around a lot, but this time that poignant phrase is the perfect description of what's going to happen when Gould finally locks up Camera Obscura at the end of April.

Best 15th Street Tavern Flashback
Rockaway Tavern
Hunter Stevens

After a long run, the 15th Street Tavern closed in 2007, leaving a big hole in the downtown punk scene. And almost immediately, the Tavern's Myke Martinez started looking for a place where he could resurrect that beloved venue. It took a few years of hunting, but Martinez and Kris Sieger, another former 15th Street owner, finally found what they were looking for in the spot previously occupied by the Triangle. The two teamed with 3 Kings Tavern owner Jim Norris to overhaul the space, adding a stage and putting a tiki bar in back. While the Rockaway isn't an entirely authentic resurrection of 15th Street, it borrows elements from both that venue and 3 Kings to add something entirely new, and much needed, to the scene.

2036 Broadway, Denver, 80205
Best Actor in a Drama

Gary is determined to make his fortune by catching a home-run ball. In Ian Merrill Peakes's committed, intelligent performance in the premiere of The Catch at the Denver Center Theatre Company, we saw all the character's complexity, his brilliance in calculating the odds, his grandiosity and delusion — and also his very human attempts to connect with his estranged wife and emotionally pinched father.

Best Actor in a Musical
Nick Sugar

Nick Sugar was born to play the raucous, all-stops-out part of Hedwig in Hedwig and the Angry Inch. In this Avenue Theater production, he got to strut, cross-dress, belt out numbers both sexy and forlorn, boast, whine, mock and beg — and all while he held the audience spellbound. And then he went further, reaching deep into his own soul to find a redemptive dignity amid the squalor.

417 E. 17th Ave., Denver, 80203
Best Actress in a Comedy

In Reckless, Rachel is a crazy, farcical character, given to euphoria attacks and blindly ecstatic babble (only briefly interrupted by her husband's revelation that he's taken out a contract on her life). In the role, Julia Motyka sometimes bounded around the stage with an energy so manic you wanted to help those contract killers strangle her yourself. But at other times she was thoughtful and smart, and by the play's end, she'd deepened into someone you genuinely wanted to know. Motyka's smart performance in the Denver Center Theatre Company's production was anything but reckless.

Best Actress in a Drama

In Mouse in a Jar, Ma is the ultimate female victim: a Polish immigrant married to a faceless man who regularly abuses her and stands symbolically for the brute power of dictatorship and oppression everywhere. Ma cooks. She awaits the nightly return of her oppressor. She does little to protect her two daughters, and when one of them attempts to protect her, the attempt itself is brutal. Yet Ma also possesses a twisted, burned-in-the-flame toughness and humor. Trina Magness gave a memorable, haunted performance as Ma in LIDA's production of Mouse in a Jar.


Best Lifetime Achievement in the Arts: Hal Gould


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