Best Of :: Arts & Entertainment
When Vance Kirkland, Denver's premier mid-century modernist painter, died in 1981, he left his estate of magnificent watercolors and paintings to Hugh Grant — the artist's longtime friend who is decidedly not the well-known actor with the same name. In the late 1990s, Grant decided to share the collection with the public, a decision that resulted in the founding of the Kirkland Museum of Fine & Decorative Art several years later. But Grant didn't stop with showing all those Kirklands; he also began to acquire work by other artists from Colorado's glorious past. Today it's almost impossible to list the scores of local art stars represented in the Kirkland's impressive collection; there are pieces by William Sanderson, Edward Marecak, Nadine Drummond, Gene Matthews and Roland Detre, to name just a few. The Kirkland also has genuine depth in Colorado ceramics, with many works by the likes of Betty Woodman and Nan and Jim McKinnell, among a host of others. Since most Denver institutions long ago abrogated their responsibility to the art of our state, it's great to see the Kirkland so ably filling the breach.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.