Best Of Arts & Entertainment
Best Museum Shop
Denver Botanic Gardens
Former Nordstrom exec Chuck McGothlin has an impeccable eye honed during a career buying for the department store's Fifth Avenue boutique in New York, and his experience there clearly translates well at the beautifully upscale Denver Botanic Gardens gift shop. What makes this a must-see stop before or after any...
Best Free Entertainment
As Andrew Orvedahl and Robert Rutherford, hosts of the Narrators, will assure you, storytelling is an art -- not just an opportunity to spew random reminiscences. In front of an audience, the storyteller must impart drama, give a sense of time and place, and even hit the funnybone once in...
Best Theater Bar
Curious Theatre Company
It's worth visiting Curious for the building alone, an intimate, beautiful structure that got its start as a nineteenth-century church, with a heavy wooden door and, along the walls, the frames of long-gone stained-glass windows. And whether you're feeling holy or just plain thirsty, it's definitely worth mounting the stairs...
Best Cocktails at a Music Venue
The Soiled Dove Underground
Good music deserves good drinks to go along with it, but not all venues offer great cocktails. Compared to the watery whiskeys and eight-dollar Heinekens found at many clubs, the Soiled Dove Underground is a booze-lover's oasis. Along with the venue's classic Colorado cocktails, all made with spirits from local...
Best Gay Bar
Denver's gay scene has no shortage of drama: It seems like every time we look up, somebody is boycotting one gay bar or another. Take a time-out at the Barker Lounge, where the staff is friendly, the regulars are always happy to strike up a conversation, the drinks are cheap,...
Best Surprise in the Suburbs
The Alamo Drafthouse Cinema is a national chain, yes, but the Texas-based theater house still leaves room in its monthly lineup for programming unique to each location. Enter Keith Garcia, a devout cinephile who left the city after a decade with the Denver Film Society and took his eclectic taste...
Best Use of Ginghams and Plaids
Bruce Price: Works on Paper: 2007-2012
It's rare for a Colorado artist to be feted in a solo at the Denver Art Museum, so Bruce Price: Works on Paper: 2007-2012 was worth noticing for that reason alone. But the works on paper included here used patterns taken from swatches of gingham and plaid, and they fit...
Best News About an Infill Project
Denver Art Museum complex to be completed
When the initial designs for the Daniel Libeskind addition to the Denver Art Museum were unveiled, there were the jagged Hamilton Building, the canted Museum Residences, the blocky parking structure, and a hotel in the form of a vertical shaft at the southeast corner of the site. This tower was...
Best Place to Express Yourself
make. workshops at PlatteForum
We plop down our dollars to drink wine while creating identical paintings, but deep down inside, don't we know that's not really art we're making? PlatteForum's make.workshops go the extra mile by pairing creative drinkers with storied members of the art community to create projects of lasting value. Past instructors...
Hair is a musical that doesn't have very well-defined dance numbers. Yes, there are big songs and dances, but at the Town Hall Arts Center, the entire production was a swaying, shimmying, surging celebration, with action and music so intertwined that director/choreographer Nick Sugar must have found both his roles...
Best Karaoke Bar
Armida's Mexican Restaurant & Lounge
Karaoke is a curiosity: Alcohol, peer pressure and occasional untapped talent all combine in one extremely public display, making for entertaining and unpredictable results. Armida's draws a consistently big and diverse crowd, ensuring a night high in both drama and comedy. And while its popularity guarantees a considerable wait for...
Best Fresh Take on the Western Tradition — Solo
Don Stinson: The Road to Valentine
Contemporary-realist painter Don Stinson depicts intrusions on nature, using the Western landscape in Colorado, New Mexico and Utah to make his point. Often he'll include a derelict drive-in theater or some other abandoned symbol of modernity that he finds amid the breathtaking vistas. In this show, the title painting included...
Best News for the Museum District
The Kirkland Museum's move
The Denver Central Library, the Denver Art Museum, the Clyfford Still Museum, the Byers-Evans House Museum and the History Colorado Center all occupy a small area around the Civic Center, giving the state a cultural heart. And in a couple of years, the Kirkland Museum of Fine & Decorative Art...
Best Music Video
"Culture Over Currency Vol.1" Collective Culture Cypher
Colorado has had a nice share of video cyphers from different hip-hop crews in the past couple of years. But most stay confined to their own group — or they add so many people that they lose the attention of their fans. Rarely does one video capture a careful cross-section...
Best One-Person Show
Wendy Ishii, The Year of Magical Thinking
Joan Didion's husband died suddenly one evening while she was preparing a salad for dinner in their New York apartment. After some time, Didion explored her terrible loss in a memoir, The Year of Magical Thinking, which was eventually staged as a play starring Vanessa Redgrave. This year, Wendy Ishii...
Best Mic Stand
Lola Black's badass copper mic stand made its concussive debut last June, when the band performed at Broadway's during the Westword Music Showcase. The stand was given to lead singer Lola by a seriously devoted fan, Josh Saucier, who's a metal fabricator. The idea for the head-butting brass-knuckle design came...
Best Reason for the Biennial of the Americas to Return
The Biennial of the Americas returned this past summer, an odd three years after its debut, and Denver Night alone was reason to welcome it back. Masterminded by the MCA's Adam Lerner and sound artist Chris Kallmyer in the spirit of blurring the edges between art and fun, the climactic...
Best Digital Arts Displays
Plus Gallery's Ivar Zeile and digital artist Ryan Pattie brought a different kind of spectacle and a feel for the future to the streets of downtown Denver last summer when, with help from the Denver Theatre District, they presented Denver Digerati, a series of curated motion-based artwork on the DTD's...
Best Feminist-Oriented Programming
Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art
Without officially branding its programming a feminist endeavor, the Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art brought women into the spotlight in force in 2013. As part of its Present Box series, BMoCA invited bridal dressmaker Maggie Evans to sew live and artist/lawyer Vanessa Place to present her confessional performance art. The...
Best Bathrooms at a Music Venue
Red Rocks Visitor Center
Everyone discusses the "secret bathrooms" at Red Rocks in hushed, reverent tones, but those aren't even the best ones in the venue. That prize goes to the bathrooms in the Visitor Center, at the top of the amphitheatre. They are so luxurious that we frequently hear first-timers in there gushing...
Best Theme Parties
Lights, foam, action! That's the idea behind Crowdsurf Concerts, a company that has mastered the art of bringing theme parties and huge dance acts together. It starts with an incredible lineup of dance-music acts and adds theme parties such as the aptly titled Parade of Lasers and Foam Wonderland to...
Best Indoor Element of the 2013 Biennial of the Americas
When the curator of the 2013 Biennial of the Americas left the program, the job of planning this exhibit fell to Denver-based curator Cortney Lane Stell, who had just one week to finalize a list of participating artists and just a couple of months before she needed to install their...
Best Deal for Art Collectors
Community Supported Art Colorado
Art collecting can be a tricky business, one that requires a shrewd eye, knowing what you like and a knack for telling the future. The CSArt Colorado project replaces that trickiness with a treat. It invites "shareholders" to join for a $400 annual membership; in return, they receive a selection...
Best Performance on Wheels
Salon Romantik: Fear & Prophets
The motion-based performances dreamed up by Patrick Mueller and Control Group Productions cross so many disciplinary lines that it's hard to know what to call them, and perhaps it's ridiculous to even try to pin it down. For the second leg in the troupe's journey called Salon Romantik, Control Group...
Best Arty New Building
Broadway Triangle, by tres birds workshop
The form of the Broadway Triangle, by Mike Moore and his tres birds workshop, is fairly rational: a cluster of volumetric rectangles held in place by dark-painted girders overriding the outside. But then the craziness begins. The lower parts of the walls have been clad in salvaged bricks, with random...
Best Homage to 2013 Flood Survivors
Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art's Flood Project
If art truly heals, the proof is in programs like the Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art's Flood Project. Activated quickly in the wake of last fall's devastating floods in Boulder County and beyond, the project went straight to the people affected in a variety of ways. Denver artist Viviane Le...
Best Music TV
Sounds on 29th
When the DIY Brass Tree House collective came to an end in 2012, the excellent Brass Tree Sessions series of live concert videos ended as well. But with their background in video and television production, the heads behind Brass Tree were able to team up with former Teletunes host and...
Best Art Gallery in a Restaurant
Entre Nous Galerie d'Art
Patrick Dupays of Z Cuisine is as much an aficionado of local artists as he is a great chef, which is why it's not surprising that he turned the hole-in-the-wall spot between Z and its sister brasserie, À Côté, into a gallery space where artist friends — many of them...
Best Outdoor Element of the 2013 Biennial of the Americas
"Mine Pavilion," by Pezo von Ellrichshausen
The original plan for the 2013 Biennial of the Americas called for downtown to be turned into one big art fair. That didn't happen, but we did benefit from the brilliant "Mine Pavilion," a timber tower designed by the Chilean architectural firm of Pezo von Ellrichshausen. The multi-story piece, which...
Best Lesbian Night
If you want to get sweaty in a tight room with a bunch of hot women who like women, head to Tracks Nightclub on First Fridays for Babes Around Denver (BAD), which has been touted as the largest lesbian night in the country. The evening starts with line dancing and...
Best Annual Festival
Denver County Fair
Pin a blue ribbon on fair directors Dana Cain and Tracy Weil: The Denver County Fair is our winner — and still champion! If the goal of the fair, now in its third year, is to represent every stratum of our city's culture, it's no surprise that at this year's...
Best Inspirational Theater
Phamaly Theatre Company
Phamaly is the only company in the country to use performers with every kind of disability in its shows, whether those handicaps are physical, cognitive or emotional. The company stages a musical in the Space Theatre at the Denver Performing Arts Complex annually and puts on a second, non-musical production...
Best Vending Machine
Compared to the vending machine at the Larimer Lounge, which offers a new pack of 100-percent-cotton T-shirts and socks, other vending machines just seem naked. The chance to go home to that special someone feeling fresh as a daisy after a show is worth way more than the few dollars...
Best Concert of the Year
Prince and 3rd Eye Girl
Prince doesn't obey regular human rules. Last year, despite his arena-filling popularity, he announced that he would do a tour of small venues across the country, playing multi-night runs in each city. In Denver, that meant a three-night, six-show residency at the Ogden Theatre. The kicker was the $250 ticket...
Best Metal Fest
Denver Black Sky
Denver's metal kingdom has flourished in recent years, partly because of contributions from transplants like Sherwood Webber of the New York-based death-metal band Skinless. After his band broke up in 2011, Webber moved to Denver and worked behind the scenes producing concerts for AEG Live. Using his industry connections and...
Best Sculpture Show — Group
There's no better place for a sculpture show than at the Denver Botanic Gardens, what with all those curving walkways, clearings and water features. And exhibitions director Lisa Eldred has used the grounds to her advantage, mounting one great exhibit after another. The most recent one was Catalyst, devoted to...
Best Arts Marathon
Just as Month of Photography overtook Denver galleries across town last March, Mo'Print 2014 — aka Month of Printmaking — did the same this year, sharpening its focus on the art-world's most underappreciated skill set. The centerpiece, the Open Press 25th Anniversary Exhibit, at the McNichols Building, is as much...
Best DIY Promoter
Professional concert promoters are rarely seen at their own concerts. They're so busy (or jaded) that fans almost never catch them in the crowd or at the bar, let alone swinging windmill fists in the mosh pit. But Zach Smith is not your average concert promoter. He's not even a...
Best Theater for After-Work Relaxation
Garner Galleria Theatre
It's been a long day, and you need to unwind in a comfortable place where you can slip off your shoes under the table, get a drink and enjoy entertainment that really does entertain. At the Garner Galleria, you can sit at a counter along a rail or at a...
Best Present for Theater-Loving Friends
Curious Theatre Company season pass
You can't go wrong with season tickets for Curious Theatre Company: Give them to friends, and they'll be thinking about you with gratitude several times over the course of the year. Curious brings the best and most-talked-about contemporary work to Denver — plays you've read about with interest but assumed...
Best Deferred Retirement Show
Roland Bernier: Last Picture Show
Last year, octogenarian Roland Bernier attempted to retire by mounting The Last Picture Show at Walker Fine Art. But it was not to be, as Bernier is still working. Moreover, his pieces are still being shown around town. For this attempt at retiring, though, Bernier created an array of pieces,...
Best Leather Gay Bar
If you love the salty smell of leather and sweat on a beautiful man, wrap your hands around the phallic doorknob at the Eagle and walk into paradise. Despite a few burly men looking Hells Angels-scary (and most people who frequent the Eagle like that sort of thing), the bartenders...
Best Album-Cover Design
Scavenger, The Raven and the Writing Desk
The Raven and the Writing Desk tapped artists Emi Brady and Tim Tindle to design the cover art for its luminous 2013 EP Scavenger. True to the band's imaginative aesthetic and songwriting, Brady and Tindle created a fold-out raven, colorful on the outside and black and white on the inside,...
Best Not-So-Guerrilla Art
Ladies Fancywork Society
The yarn artists of the Ladies Fancywork Society proved last year that their work, though rooted in the street, transcends the underground designation. The LFS created not one, but two major yarn installations at a pair of Denver's most prestigious art museums: MCA Denver and the Denver Art Museum. The...
Best New Arts District
Golden Triangle Museum District
The Golden Triangle is looking at a glittering future, with the new Vance Kirkland museum soon to join such monumental achievements as the Clyfford Still Museum, the Denver Art Museum, the Byers-Evans House Museum, the History Colorado Center, the Denver Central Library and the revitalized Civic Center. But many of...
Best Display of Theatrical Community
Denver Actors Fund
John Moore, the onetime Denver Post theater reviewer who now works at the Denver Center, started the Denver Actors Fund last year to help theater people with medical crises. The goal, he says, is "immediate, situational relief" in cases of "great and sudden medical need." The amounts of money aren't...
Best Arts District
Navajo Street Art District
Northwest Denver is changing fast — in fact, most of the southern end of the 3600 block of Navajo Street has been scraped flat. But the other end remains home to one of Denver's first art districts. Pirate: Contemporary Art got its start as an artist co-op for rebellious types...
Best Makers Collective
Makers work in many fields, but they all have a few things in common, including an entrepreneurial spirit and the talent for something — be it brewing or crafting or cheese-making or canning homemade pickles or providing chemical-free beauty services — that people need and want but can't find just...
Best Crafting Collective
Crafting mavens Becky Hensley of Denver Craft Ninjas and Anne Davidson of the Colorado Bead Company got together last year to create a haven where crafters of all skill levels can share ideas and techniques or just work together side by side. The huge Park Hill facility offers a dizzying...
Best Club Night
Mile High Soul Club
A monthly club night that's been going strong for close to five years, Mile High Soul Club is the place where Northern Soul and Motown fanatics can share the dance floor with folks just looking to get down to the throwback sound. DJs Dogboy, Tyler Jacobson and Steve Cervantes rotate...
Best Sculpture Show — Solo
Patrick Marold: Strata
Conceptual artist Patrick Marold hit the big leagues last year when he was awarded a $1.5 million commission to create a work that will occupy the under-construction "valley" where the rail line will meet the new station and hotel at DIA. But even though Marold is adept at orchestrating massive...
God of Carnage
There's almost nothing as funny as watching people behave really badly — and though Yasmina Reza's God of Carnage doesn't have a lot of depth, when the playwright lets loose the force of her ferocious, unforgiving intelligence, there's definitely a lot of bad behavior. The two couples involved, Michael and...
Best Contemporary-Realist Show — Painting
Critical Focus: Ian Fisher
Canadian-born Denver artist Ian Fisher has an interesting strategy for picture-making: Create photo-realist paintings of the sky unmoored from the landscape. For Critical Focus: Ian Fisher — which is still open — MCA curator Nora Burnett Abrams took an in-depth look at the artist's recent cloud paintings. Despite Fisher's careful...
Best Underground Talent Promoter
The Hundred has become the best source for amazing music that isn't floating near the top of the iTunes dance charts. The group scours the ranks of underground acts to find artists for its Home concert series. In addition, founder Brennen Bryarly provides free entry to all Hundred events for...
Best Metal Brewery
Metal may sound like a frenzied assault of cruel screams and wicked drum-pounding made by what looks like a crowd of shabby, bearded misanthropes. But TRVE Brewing owner Nick Nunns is out to prove that it doesn't have to taste like cheap domestic garbage. TRVE has made metal palatable for...
Best Theater When You Want to Dress to the Nines
Ellie Caulkins Opera House
Looking for a reason to wear your diamond earrings? At the Ellie Caulkins Opera House, the fashions in the lobby might be almost as interesting as what's on stage — an opera, ballet, maybe a musical. As a bonus, inside the auditorium the sound system is superb, all the sightlines...
Best Supporting Actor in a Musical
Stephen Day in A Christmas Carol: The Musical
The last time we saw Stephen Day play a leading role was as Albin in the Arvada Center's The Birdcage some years back, when he was a fussy, silly delight. For the most part, he shows up in supporting though significant roles, as he did this year in A Christmas...
Best Reunion Show
After singer Shawn Strub left 40th Day in 1993, the band struggled on for another couple of years before splitting. And while its influence could be heard in bands like Space Team Electra, 40th Day faded into almost complete obscurity. Then, in 2012, bassist James Nasi and guitarist Neil Satterfield...
Best Repertory Cinema
International Film Series
Pablo Kjolseth of the International Film Series is more than a curator: He's a man with a mission who juggles a mixture of new and old art-film and pop-culture oddities, current sleepers and cult favorites on IFS screens every fall and spring semester at CU-Boulder. And the series has only...
Best Stage Art
FaceMan's shark stage
Steve, the uni-monikered leader of the folk ensemble FaceMan, figured he'd draw on the hypnotic power of scary sharks and funky folk rock when he planned a gig at the relatively small Lost Lake Lounge last October. Inspired by the bogus Discovery Channel documentary about a (fake, as it turns...
Best Hip-Hop Hangout
With a name inspired by a late-'70s hip-hop group from the Bronx, Cold Crush opened on Upper Larimer last May and immediately became part funky lounge and part artist haven. Most nights of the week, DJs spin all manner of hip-hop, funk and soul, and occasional guest musicians stop by...
Best Blues Jam
Ziggies has been around for five decades, and it boasts the state's longest-running blues jam. Every Sunday, whether you're looking to hone your chops or just listen to some great local players, Ziggies is your spot. The Blues AllStars and Doc Brown switch off hosting duties every week, getting things...
Best Free Concessions
Landmark Greenwood Village
Have you ever gone to a movie theater and pulled a refillable popcorn bucket and soda cup out of a trash can, washed them off, then sheepishly approached the concession line saying, "I'm here for my refills," praying that the gawky kid behind the cash register won't bust you? To...
Best New Public Art Downtown
"I Know You Know That I Know," by Sandra Fettingis
The impressive "I Know You Know That I Know" is a public commission granted to Denver artist Sandra Fettingis, who was asked by the Colorado Convention Center to cover an astounding 160 feet of wall space with murals. What she came up with is a highly sophisticated and complex set...
Best Jazz Jam
There are a number of high-school and college jazz programs in the area, and they're turning out some incredibly talented young musicians. But while music theory, jazz standards and note transcription are important, sometimes just jamming with other folks is the best way to learn. Over the past few years,...
Best Supporting Actress in a Musical
Norrell Moore in Hair
Most productions of Hair just don't get Sheila, the anti-war agitator with the vulnerable heart. They make her a caricature, or some sort of hippie-ish but tight-assed, lean-in corporate boss. But director Nick Sugar cast the perfect actress in the role in his Town Hall Arts Center production: Norrell Moore,...
The Full Monty
A lot of elements make up a great musical: a tuneful, clever libretto; fabulous singing and dancing; expensive tech. But The Full Monty, directed by Scott Beyette, wins hands down for pure heart, daring and soul — as well as talent and skill, of course. Set in Buffalo, the musical...
Best New Artist Studios
Nine artists, some of them graduating RedLine residents, joined together early in 2013 to realize a dream by building out TANK, a revolutionary new studio space in Overland. The flowing circular blueprint worked so well that they've since added a second buildout of interconnected, doorless studios, including an area reserved...
Best Hip-Hop Brunch
Every Sunday morning, DJ Ginger Perry sets up shop at Table 6 for a breakfast that could double as a dance party. Discerning diners can enjoy their Hollandaise with a side of hip-hop, their biscuits with boom-baps and beats — and their Bloody Marys with, well, another round. Nothing says...
Best Flier Art
Ethan McCarthy is best known for his work as a musician in extreme-metal bands like Clinging to the Trees of a Forest Fire, Keep and Primitive Man. He's also had experience running the DIY venues Kingdom of Doom, Blast-O-Mat and Aqualung's Community Music Space. A disarmingly gregarious and compassionate person,...
Best Inaugural Show
Artist and gallery owner Mai Wyn Schantz took over the former Sandra Phillips space on Santa Fe Drive in the arts district after the latter decamped for the Golden Triangle, and thoroughly remodeled it. The result is a nice exhibition room and a spacious studio. Influence — the inaugural exhibit...
Best Free Scare
Cruel Season Horror Series
Not many film screenings come with syringes full of human blood. But that's the sort of thing that makes "BloodThirsty Theresa" Mercado's seasonal horror-film series at Crash 45 so special. The impeccably curated films, which show on the first Tuesday of the month and are grouped into Cruel Autumn, Cruel...
Best New Public Art
"Iridescent Cloud," by Laura Haddad and Tom Drugan
The Denver Museum of Nature & Science is growing like a weed, most recently with an elegant if enormous klipp architects-designed addition. With it came the lyrical "Iridescent Cloud," by Seattle's Laura Haddad and Tom Drugan. The piece, constructed by Demiurge Design, is a canopy of sorts, supported by three...
Best Unofficial New Public Art
The doctor is in! You've probably seen Dr. Fart's work around the city — on electrical boxes, lampposts, the occasional dumpster. It's hard to miss, as the elusive Dr. Fart — the alter ego of an up-and-coming comedian — has found the ideal prescription for inducing a smile: writing "Dr...
Best Theater Season
Edge Theatre Company
For three years, Rick Yaconis's Edge Theatre Company has mounted an eclectic mix of new plays and classics and encouraged the work of local playwrights with an annual Festival of New Plays — one of which gets selected for full production each year. This year, that play was Gifted, a...
Best New Art Building
Space Gallery, by Owen Beard's Solid Design
Museums and art centers are typically in purpose-built structures, often with dramatic architecture to set off their aesthetic cred. On the other hand, galleries are almost always in rehabbed spaces. This is certainly true in Denver, where until recently there were only two galleries in specifically designed buildings: the William...
It makes sense that the jukebox at the Skylark Lounge has plenty of rockabilly and classic country on it, with tunes from the likes of Johnny Cash, Marty Robbins and Patsy Cline; after all, that sound complements the overall vibe of the retro-centric bar, which is lined with vintage movie...
Best New Art Bar
There are restaurants that hang art, and then there is La Cour: Run by a family of staunch Francophiles, the new blue-brick cafe brings a little bit of Paris to South Broadway for folks longing for charcuterie and cheeses, a tasty tartine or quiche, affordable French wine and/or pastries from...
Best New Affordable Gallery
ZIP Gallery members Valerie Savarie and Karrie York lucked into a wonderful space when the Colorado Photographic Art Center vacated its Belmar digs for a more urban location; together they forged something new — an artist-run and -owned gallery and studio space that, while it partly adheres to the co-op...
Best Theater Where You Can Dress as You Please
Edge Theatre Company
Don't be confused by its suburban location: Edge Theatre Company has one of the coolest homes of any theater troupe in the area. There's interesting artwork displayed in the rooms adjoining the lobby — including, on our last visit, a giant fabric pin cushion — and the decor is colorful...
Best Actor in a Musical
Seth Caikowski in The Full Monty
Seth Caikowski has played sidekicks and leading men, dignified figures and cartoonish clowns. In Boulder's Dinner Theatre's The Full Monty, he got to display another aspect of his versatility as working-class Jerry, tough-minded and humorous, but emotionally vulnerable in his relationship with his young son and ex-wife. Since this is...
Best Club Patio
Bar Standard/Milk Bar
The rooftop patio on the building that houses Bar Standard and Milk Bar is rarely open for business. But when it is, it makes for one hell of a party pad. After climbing up the metal staircase to the top of the building, you'll find a tiered space with ample...
Best Actor in a Drama
Cajardo Lindsey in The Brothers Size
We've seen Cajardo Lindsey playing thoughtful, temperate people for a few years now and doing it very well, but before he appeared in Curious Theatre Company's The Brothers Size, we'd never understood the man's sheer power as an actor. In this myth- and dream-saturated story, Lindsey played Orgun, owner of...
Best Gourmet Feast After a Play
The Catamounts' productions not only provide food for thought, but occasional feasts after certain Saturday-night shows, when a truck rolls up to the Dairy Center for the Arts and attendees line up for a plateful of food inspired by the play they've just attended. There's also beer — again, brewed...
Best Historic Solo
In Thin Air: The Art of Phyllis Hutchinson Montrose
Kirkland Museum director Hugh Grant has spent the past several years rediscovering forgotten or all-but-forgotten Colorado artists who were once prominent and giving them shows. But he did something different with In Thin Air: The Art of Phyllis Hutchinson Montrose. Since the artist had never been prominent, Grant became the...
Best Contemporary-Realist Show — Drawing
Roots — New Drawings by Heidi Jung
The prime challenge for a representational artist working in the contemporary-art arena is to come up with something that looks new. And since artists have been mining realism since the days of the cave painters, that's not so easy to do...which made the handsome and tastefully installed Roots — New...
Best Emerging-Artists Show — Duet
The Everyday Circus: Hollis + Lana
This knockout show of neo-abstract paintings and sculptures done by the husband-and-wife team of Conor Hollis and Amorette Lana and ably curated by Adam Gildar, was eye-dazzling with all its toned-up colors and in-your-face forms. The paintings combined freely executed automatist passages with carefully rendered extensions of them. Interestingly, the...
Best DJ Set
Cold Crush is a little slice of hip-hop heaven, layered with morsels of goodness at every level. You might accidentally catch a legendary DJ there, just doing his or her thing on the wheels. DJ Muggs from Cypress Hill stopped in on June 22, delivering a truly surprising set that...
Best Supporting Actress in a Drama
Emily Paton Davies in The Beauty Queen of Leenane
Emily Paton Davies seems to get better every year, and her portrayal of lonely, angry Maureen, trapped with a crazed, manipulative mother in Edge Theatre's production of The Beauty Queen of Leenane, was a revelation. Her timing was impeccable, her emotional responses beautifully and passionately modulated throughout. Even as Maureen's...
Best Specialty Theater Group
Theatre Esprit Asia
Theatre Esprit Asia, a local company bringing together pan-Asian casts with culture-centric works, has proven in its first season that the concept is no flash in the pan. Not only is TEA, the theatrical brainchild of actors Maria Cheng and Tria Xiong, strong on talent, but the fine acting has...
Best Place for Dinner and a Play
Vintage Theatre Productions
Vintage Theatre has come up with a clever scheme to solve the where-do-we-eat-before-the-show conundrum, partnering with Copacabana Grill Catering so that play-goers can order anything from full meals to appetizers to dessert and coffee, and eat — comfortably seated at a table in the lobby — before or after the...
Best Theater for a Special-Occasion Splurge
Temple Buell Theatre
Graduation, major birthday, visiting parent anxious to treat you, date you want to impress? The Buell is where the big, glittering Broadway shows land — and increasingly, Denver is the first stop for the most acclaimed and successful of them. Ticket prices vary from show to show and according to...
Best Disco Revival
Denver Disco has gathered the previously disconnected nu-disco scene in Denver at a weekly night featuring some of the genre's best acts. The synths of yesteryear, pumped up with some modern-day bells and whistles, are still getting people out on the dance floor — and then some. Bar Standard, the...
Best Dance Party of the Summer
Global Dance Festival
What started out as Rave on the Rocks has transformed into the biggest dance-music festival in the region. Global Dance Festival has pushed the boundaries of the genre in past years with headliners like Empire of the Sun, Kid Cudi and LMFAO, but festival promoter Triad Dragons Entertainment remains dedicated...
Best Unexpected Place to Hear Local Music
Untitled at the Denver Art Museum
Going to Untitled at the Denver Art Museum is kind of like going to your imaginary rich best friend's fabulous loft party. Rock and roll and fine art may seem like strange bedfellows, but the DAM has found a way to successfully marry the two. On final Friday nights of...
Best Actor in a Drama
Cajardo Lindsey in The Brothers Size
We've seen Cajardo Lindsey playing thoughtful, temperate people for a few years now and doing it very well, but before he appeared in Curious Theatre Company's The Brothers Size, we'd never understood the man's sheer power as an actor. In this myth- and dream-saturated story, Lindsey played Orgun, owner of...
Best Museum Exhibit
Passport to Paris
Last fall, the Denver Art Museum bundled three related shows — Court to Cafe, Drawing Room and Nature as Muse — as a unified blockbuster called Passport to Paris. Like previous blockbusters at the DAM, Passport to Paris attracted huge crowds who drove up ticket sales, membership rolls and gift-shop...
Best Dance Party of the Year
Last year's Decadence was the largest indoor EDM event in North America, with an attendance of nearly 40,000, and it happened right here. Colorado favorites Bassnectar and Pretty Lights headlined alongside Tiësto and Above & Beyond — and those were just a few of the acts to grace the stages...
Best Album-Release Show
By holding its release show for (compass) at the Eron Johnson Antiques warehouse and incorporating a sort of treasure hunt, Chimney Choir made good on much of its mystique. The space truly is a warehouse, where the band held shows long ago amid architectural artifacts from old houses. The performance...
Best Dance Club
Do you feel a need to dance in the dark with strange people, to music your parents don't understand? According to Rolling Stone, Beta is the best place in America to do it. Beta's immense reputation and even bigger sound system draw some of the greatest electronic musicians from around...
Best Emerging-Artists Show — Group
Edge Gallery underwent some transition last summer when many longtime members quit and were replaced by a group of new ones. Heralding this change was Conceptually Scattered, featuring work by the new generation of Edgesters, almost all of them up-and-coming artists new to the scene. The majority of the pieces...
Best Actor in a Comedy
Evan Weissman in Jugged Rabbit Stew
Founding troupe member Evan Weissman has been missing from the Buntport stage for a while. "It's like breaking away from family," he says. "Even if you want to, you can't, and I don't want to." So it was a joy to witness his return as Alec the Amazing and All...
Best Mix of Music and Comedy
Greater Than Social Club
What better soundtrack for Denver's finest comics than tunes from the city's best indie bands? As obvious as the pairing may seem, it took the combined efforts of the Greater Than Collective, Illegal Pete's and the folks from Lannie's to make it happen — and the partners have cooked up...
Best Nooner for Arts Patrons
American Museum of Western Art — Anschutz Collection
Opened in the historic Navarre Building in 2010, the AMWA has been a tough booking for fans of Remington, Russell et al., with curated public tours only a couple of days a week. But now Wednesdays are "Open Range Day," with self-guided tours available from 11:45 a.m. to 1:15 p.m...
Best Public Art at DIA
"Balustrade," by Betty Woodman
The extensive art collection at Denver International Airport has paid for itself in publicity alone. There's "Mustang," the all-but-fire-breathing stallion by Luis Jiménez that still inspires fear in the timid, and the enigmatic Leo Tanguma murals that have spawned a thousand conspiracy theories. But there are also works with a...
Best Burlesque Night
Cora Vette's RestoMod
Last year, the reigning madam of Denver's burlesque scene premiered Cora Vette's RestoMod at the Voodoo Comedy Playhouse. The Thursday-night extravaganza takes its name from car culture: A "restomod" is a vintage car that's been rebuilt for speed under the hood but maintains its classic appeal everywhere else. And Cora...
Best Exhibition on the Horizon
Mark Mothersbaugh: Myopia
The MCA's Adam Lerner has a thing for art propelled by socio-political movements, and that predilection threw him in the direction of Devo musician/composer/artist Mark Mothersbaugh, a man who Lerner says is the most creative person he's ever met. Those are strong words to describe a pop-culture anomaly who can't...
The Beauty Queen of Leenane
The Beauty Queen of Leenane is a high-octane, savagely funny play about desperate, isolated lives. Mother and daughter Mag and Maureen live together in a state of mutual dependency and mutual loathing. Their neighbors are a pair of brothers: sweet-natured Pato, who just might bring a ray of joy into...
Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy
Jonathan Earl Peck in The Most Deserving
The witty The Most Deserving described the travails of a small-town granting agency that has $20,000 to award to a deserving artist. Except that there aren't many artists around, and no one can agree on a definition of deserving. The closest thing to a real visionary is Everett Whiteside, an...
Best New Club
Lotus Clubs founder Francois Safieddine, who owns Chloe and Suite Two Hundred, clearly knows a thing or two about dance clubs. He took a slightly different approach with ViewHouse, which opened just before the start of the 2013 baseball season, in the former home of Mori Japanese Restaurant. Safieddine pulled...
Best Jazz Club
Dazzle Restaurant & Lounge
Dazzle has won numerous Best of Denver awards from Westword over the past decade or so, primarily because it is, hands down, the best jazz club in town. DownBeat magazine even thinks it's one of the top 100 jazz clubs in the world. Over the past year, music manager Kevin...
Best Actress in a Drama
Kate Gleason in Annapurna
She was so ordinary, this woman Emma, who burst into her dying ex-husband Ulysses's dilapidated trailer twenty years after she'd left him, absconding in the middle of the night with their son. She looked like anyone you'd find parking her car at the supermarket or sitting on the porch sipping...
Best Gallery Show — Group
Out of Line
The Robischon Gallery is so big that it's easy for co-directors Jim Robischon and Jennifer Doran to mount large and impressive group shows in which each artist is given his or her own spacious berth. And not incidentally, they also have the curatorial talent to be ambitious. That was surely...
Best New Festival
The ArtStir open-air art market debuted last Memorial Day weekend at the Denver Pavilions, and we can't wait to see what it will stir up this year. Featuring a vendor list made up exclusively of Colorado artists, ArtStir went out of its way to create a mix that doesn't look...
Best Parting Glance
Robin Rule's last show
Though she was gravely ill this past winter, Robin Rule, who earlier in the year had closed her bricks-and-mortar gallery in RiNo, was still determined, after decades in the art business here, to remain a part of it. Together with Adam Gildar, she co-curated Dimension and Symmetry: Clark Richert at...
Best Movie Theater — Programming
Denver has killer blockbuster multiplexes and a few arthouse-chain theaters, but none of those corporate programming teams can compete with our hometown curators at the Denver Film Society. As a nonprofit, DFS has multiple funding streams that allow the Sie FilmCenter to show movies no other venue could. Last year,...
Best Beach Parties
Inkmonstr Pool Party Series
Inkmonstr turned the Exdo Event Center's parking lot at 34th and Larimer into a gigantic beach party with a trio of events last year. The Denver print studio brought in a couple of stages, a sixty-foot slip-and-slide, a dunk tank and a pool, along with booze and live music from...
Best Gallery Show — Solo
Ania Gola-Kumor; Moving Paint
An old saying advises that if you fall off a horse, you get back on, but what if it's a ladder? Back in 2011, Colorado artist Ania Gola-Kumor fell off a ladder while painting — her kitchen ceiling, not one of her sumptuous abstract canvases — and was so seriously...
Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy
Trina Magness in Failure: A Love Story
Failure: A Love Story is a swift, sad-funny theater piece featuring three lovely sisters: giggly, luminous Nelly, athletic, swim-obsessed Jenny June, and patient, practical Gertie. Metaphorically, they could all be facets of a single, fascinating woman, as each, in turn, enjoys a passionate love affair with the same man. In...
Best Theater When You Don't Want to Dress Up
Miners Alley Playhouse
People often say that if going to the theater were as easy and informal as going to a movie, they'd do it a lot more often. They have this idea that they have to book weeks in advance and then dress to the hilt — but that's not the case...
Best Anime-Centric Opera Troupe
Cabaret Otaku is in a theater class all its own, a troupe that brings traditional opera to the stage through the heart and vision of the local anime and cosplay communities. Led by classically trained opera singer Christina Marzano Haystead, this dedicated group of professionals takes conventional stories made for...
Best Musical Mix
Colorado Symphony Orchestra
Forget the dusty sonatas, stuffy tuxes and holier-than-thou cultural attitude. In the past year, the Colorado Symphony Orchestra has blown those tired classical-music clichés right out of the water. Instead, the organization has shown itself to be a dynamic and vital cultural force in the local arts scene, with a...
Best New Building
CU Denver Academic Building, by Anderson Mason Dale
Despite the surge in online learning, the Auraria campus has undergone a full-blown bricks-and-mortar boom in recent years. The latest building, which is still under construction, is the University of Colorado Denver Academic Building, by Anderson Mason Dale. Its mass is very complex and its materials rich and varied. And...
Best Movie Theater — Comfort
Alamo Drafthouse Cinema
When you snuggle up with a dreamy date, the stiffest, smallest movie-theater seats start feeling plush. The true test of movie-theater comfort is to go solo and sit between two strangers in a crowded theater — and there is no theater to which we would rather go alone than the...
Best Light Show
Reworked: The Collin Parson Experience
Collin Parson's day job is as the visual-art director at the Arvada Center for the Arts and Humanities, but he moonlights — emphasis on lights — as an artist who uses light as a medium in his strikingly bare-bones wall sculptures. Last summer, Parson mounted a survey of sorts called...
Best Opening-Night Parties
Miners Alley Playhouse
Dedicated theater-goers know that opening night is often the best time to take in a show — not just because you're the first to see the completed production, but because many companies celebrate their openings with snacks and drinks. After every opening night, Miners Alley sets out a lavish spread...
Best Actress in a Musical
Erica Sweany in Curtains
Niki is the ingenue of Curtains, an odd combination of murder mystery, farce and heartfelt tribute to musical theater. In the role, Erica Sweany was charming throughout, long-limbed and graceful, with a lovely singing voice. In the Arvada Center production, she really got to strut her stuff in a gorgeous...
Best Alternative Take on the Western Tradition
Native American art has been dominated by traditional forms such as weaving, jewelry, pottery and baskets. But for the past few decades, American Indian artists have also plunged into the international contemporary-art dialogue while still maintaining their heritage. For Cross Currents, at the MSU Center for Visual Art, creative director...
Best Show About Colorado's Modern Tradition
Over the past seventy years, Colorado has built a strong tradition in hard-edged abstraction and pattern painting that flourishes even today in the work of some of the most advanced artists in the state. That's doubtless why Collin Parson, the Arvada Center's visual-art director, decided to put together Perception: Color/Line/Pattern...
Best DJ Showcase
In recent years, Denver's electronic-music scene has gained a reputation as the place for new and rising talent. Success stories like Big Gigantic, Pretty Lights and Paper Diamond have drawn both emerging and established artists to the area. And thanks to the Sub.Mission crew, those newcomers have an outlet. Electronic...
Best Underground Venue
Lannie's Clocktower Cabaret
It has no actual Mafia ties that we're aware of, but Lannie's Clocktower Cabaret, run by the inimitable Lannie Garrett, could certainly pass for a speakeasy. It sits on the 16th Street Mall, looking like nothing more than an actual clock tower. But when you walk downstairs into the cabaret...
Best Art-As-Autobiography Show
Adam Milner: Wave so I know you're real
Adam Milner: Wave so I know you're real was a conceptual exploration of the world as seen through the quirky filter of the artist's everyday life. The initial impression of the exhibit was of a quiet, contemplative world, something like a library or an archive. But as you looked closer,...
Best Film Festival
Starz Denver Film Festival
Join nearly 55,000 film lovers making their way through more than 200 films at the Starz Denver Film Festival, Denver's preeminent, audience-friendly movie event of the year — for thirty years! Whether you want to watch future Academy Award nominees or gems that might never again see the light of...
Best Band Name Change
The punk band Wiredogs finally found a name to fit its sound, just before releasing last year's The Resistance. Frontman Dan Aid and his crew of mighty punk men finally got it right, as the handles they'd used in the past didn't quite fit. As White Leather, the band could...
Best Drum-Beater for Art
There is no one quite like Koffi Toudji. Depending on the day, the drummer, dancer and teacher can be found sharing his fancy footwork and rhythm skills at Cleo Parker Robinson Dance; playing music with the West African Drum and Dance Ensemble or his thirteen-piece Afro-fusion band Koffi Togo Vibe;...
Best Improv Troupe
In the wide world of comedy, improv can get a bad rap — but Governor Jack is working tirelessly to change that perception. This group of funny dudes hosts various events at its Voodoo Comedy Playhouse home, including The Duel: Improv Cagematch, which pits local troupes against each other in...
Best New Venue
The Sidewinder Tavern
When Kyle Ramirez and her husband opened the Sidewinder Tavern, they imagined a place that would host live music, serve quality food and be open to everyone. The venue is co-managed by Ramirez's son, Fernando Guzman, best known for his multi-faceted drumming skills in bands like Fissure Mystic, Fingers of...
Best Show That Was Barely There
Lines and Grids
One Denver art trend from last year was the less-is-more aesthetic. Many venues took on this topic, but Space Gallery's Lines and Grids stood out. That's because everything in it was reduced to its most basic expression, with the works all but invisible aside from the paper or canvas on...
Best Actress in a Comedy
Jamie Ann Romero in Sylvia
W.C. Fields is supposed to have said, "Never work with children or animals," but he could never have imagined the scene-stealing ability of a charming adult woman like Jamie Ann Romero playing the role of a dog in Sylvia. Sylvia is a stray brought home from the park by Greg,...
Best Theater for Adventurous Relatives
Each production at Buntport is completely original: The plays are written and acted by the five company members, all of them terrific actors. They may find themselves inspired by a literary work, an anecdote someone read in the paper, a floating thought or idea, and then they're driven to make...
Best Art-World Donor
Frederic C. Hamilton
When money was being raised for the Daniel Libeskind-designed addition to the Denver Art Museum, oil zillionaire Frederic C. Hamilton, then chairman of the board of trustees, met the challenge by throwing $26 million into the pot. That's why the addition is called the Frederic C. Hamilton Building. But Hamilton...
Best Artist Residencies
The project of artist Donald Fodness, Showpen provides low-cost housing and studio space where select young artist-residents can build and exhibit bodies of work for a given amount of time. Showpen's success rate is its best advertisement: The majority of its "graduates" move on from the incubator to grad schools,...
Best Place to Contemplate Death With Others
Denver Death Cafe
At first the idea of a death cafe might seem morbid — a place designed for goths and very sad people. But in fact, the Denver Death Cafe is not like that at all — instead, it's a healthy forum where people can talk about death in self-actualizing ways. The...
Best Non-Venue Venue
Mutiny Information Cafe
Mutiny Information Cafe is first and foremost a bookstore/coffee shop. But this Bermuda Triangle of weirdness in the sea of ultra-hip South Broadway is also a space that throws some of Denver's best all-ages concerts and art happenings. Stop by any night and catch zine readings, noise shows, performance-art pieces...
Best New Poem About Denver
Slam poetry is a growth industry in this city, with local spoken-word performers regularly winning national honors, even making their case before Denver City Council, as University of Denver student Jose Guerrero did to mark the release of Imagine 2020. The report came complete with a new poem by Guerrero,...
Best DJ Party
DJ Ktone's Birthday Bash 6: Denver Got Next
DJ Ktone was once dubbed "The Turf DJ," and even though he rarely uses the moniker these days, he is still Denver's favorite turf DJ. Every year at the beginning of March, the often disparate corners of urban culture join together to celebrate Ktone's birthday, bringing out old favorites and...
Best Place to See New Bands
Seventh Circle Music Collective
When Aaron Saye took over the space formerly known as Blast-O-Mat in August of 2012 and renamed it the Seventh Circle Music Collective, he had some impressive boots to fill. Fortunately, the gregarious filmmaker and music fan had organizational skills honed during his years of tour managing, and he competently...
Best Fresh Take on the Western Tradition — Group
Western not Western
For Western not Western, Bill Havu and his assistant, Nick Ryan, surveyed the many artists in the gallery's stable to find pieces that use Western-art vocabularies but aren't traditionally Western in style. They included straightforward realists like Jeff Aeling, James Cook and Rick Dula, as well as Tracy Felix, Sushe...
Best Experimental Mix
Watt? Amplified and Supercharged Music Expression
Mark Mosher organized the Boulder Synthesizer Meet-Up to connect with others interested in using technology in music. He found kindred spirits in internationally touring trombone player Darren Kramer and Victoria Lundy of the Inactivists and the now-defunct Carbon Dioxide Orchestra. The trio played through Mosher's audio rig, with Kramer processing...
Best Show Combining Thinking and Seeing
Joel Swanson: Left to Right, Top to Bottom
Ever since Marcel Duchamp inverted a urinal a century ago and called it a fountain, artists have been exploring conceptualism — art about ideas. This has been especially true in the past thirty years or so. But, truth be told, most conceptual art puts the idea front and center, so...
Best Comedy Night
Those looking for laughs without a pesky two-drink minimum can find solace on the last Sunday of every month, when the glamorous Lannie's Clocktower Cabaret hosts Propaganda! At Matt Monroe's free comedy night, you can catch priceless sets by such local favorites as Adam Cayton-Holland and Ben Kronberg, as well...
Best Lesbian Bar
Blush and Blu
Jody Bouffard has had the corner on Denver's lesbian bar scene for years. While other venues and owners have come and gone, Bouffard has continued to create safe, comfortable spaces where lesbians and the broader LGBTQ community can drink, socialize and flirt. Her newest enterprise, Blush and Blu, is no...
Best New Band
Griffith Snyder of Inner Oceans spent a few years as a member of the Americana-inflected pop band Dovekins. The popular band appeared headed for a national audience before dissolving suddenly, leaving Snyder with a lot of time to contemplate his next move. He wrote expressive music that came from his...
Best Book Club
Words Beyond Bars Project
This book club has everything: great titles, a dynamic facilitator, interesting company all deeply engaged in relating works of literature to their life experiences. The only hitch is you have to be in prison to join. Ex-librarian Karen Lausa's largely volunteer effort to bring serious books into the Colorado Department...
Best Supporting Actor in a Drama
Laurence Curry in The Whipping Man
At first, John, a thief and joker, seems to be around for light relief in The Whipping Man, Matthew Lopez's audacious play about a Confederate soldier returning home from the war with a gangrened leg and celebrating Passover with two of his family's freed slaves, who have been raised in...
Best Open Mic
Before they became the sort of international superstars who headline places like Red Rocks, the Lumineers played many an open mic at the intimate Meadowlark. Every Tuesday night from 9 p.m. until 12:30 a.m., the venue gives local singer-songwriters a chance to test out new material, refine older songs or...
Best Book on Denver Architecture
Guide to Denver Architecture
Architecturally speaking, Mary Voelz Chandler loves every design triumph and structural flaw that makes Denver Denver. She spent years covering art and design for the Rocky Mountain News and used her expertise to compile the Guide to Denver Architecture, which saw a second edition released in 2013. What makes this...
Best Artist Reunion
The Transit of Venus
Back in 1974, a group of women in Boulder who also happened to be artists noticed that they were routinely rejected from exhibits because of their gender. Motivated by feminism, and as part of a national movement, they formed the advocacy group Front Range Women in the Visual Arts. Times...
Best Movie Theater — Food/Drink
Alamo Drafthouse Cinema
Could a chocolate-chip cookie save the world? Until you bite into the warm, crispy exterior and molten inner gooeyness of the cookies at the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, hold your bets. Even home-baked cookies taste stale compared to these. Beyond the cookies, the Alamo offers melted butter — real butter —...
Best Club Smoking Area
The rooftop at Vinyl is easily the coolest place in town to light up and party down. The spacious open patio includes fire pits surrounded by cushy seating, breathtaking views of the downtown skyline and Front Range, and bar service featuring cheap drinks and sexy bartenders. In this rarefied setting,...
Best Blues Club
Now in its fiftieth year, Ziggies is Colorado's oldest blues bar. No surprise, then, that it's also Denver's main spot for catching the area's finest local blues talent every night of the week. But Ziggies brings in its share of national touring acts, too, and even some international players. While...
Best Theater Production
A Midsummer Night's Dream
The Colorado Shakespeare Festival is in transition and its last season was uneven — but Geoffrey Kent's A Midsummer Night's Dream ransomed the summer. Set in the fizzy, elegant era of Downton Abbey, it provided one of the funniest, liveliest and most joyous evenings around. The show was both welcoming...
Best Theater for Slightly Conservative Relatives
Arvada Center for the Arts and Humanities
If you have slightly conservative relatives visiting who are interested in a night on the town...in the suburbs...head to the Arvada Center. Skip the Black Box Theater, where riskier plays periodically appear, and go for the Mainstage shows — mostly large, professionally staged musicals like Camelot and Don Quixote, with...
Best Theater for Discovering Performers — or Becoming One
Plays, films, music, classes, comedy — the Bug does it all in a long, narrow auditorium watched over by a white-faced puppet figure of Richard Nixon. Resident theater company Equinox creates a year-round schedule that alternates crazed musicals with serious work; local filmmakers screen their work regularly. And if you've...
Best Use of Buttons
Nick Cave: Sojourn
Artist Nick Cave uses buttons — tens of thousands of them — along with bangles, sequins, doilies, pot holders and even animal statuettes to create his distinctive sculptures, and there were plenty of them in Nick Cave: Sojourn, the centerpiece of Spun, last year's salute to textiles at the Denver...