Arts & Entertainment

  • Best Free Entertainment

    Aurora History Museum

    The Aurora History Museum is puny compared to the gleaming History Colorado, set to open in Denver this spring. But what it lacks in size, it more than makes up for in honesty — and accessibility. Not only is the museum free to visit, it's also very free with the facts. Its exhibit about the city's founding, for example, is… More >>
  • Best Movie Theater — Food/Drink

    Denver Film Center/Colfax

    Free refills on fountain drinks. Beer. Fancy chocolate. And popcorn. Oh, the popcorn. It's the type of popcorn that makes people stop in to buy it, then leave without even seeing a movie. The food and drink at the Denver FilmCenter on Colfax is hands-down the best in Denver, not just for the quality selection, or for the comfort in… More >>
  • Best Ladies' Night — for Comedy

    Ladies Laugh-In

    A gal can always use a good guffaw, and Ladies Laugh-In makes sure that she can get it at least once a month. Comedians Heather Snow and Chella Negro are the hostesses of the monthly showcase at Beauty Bar, and while the featured performers are mostly women — everyone from Lori Callahan to Nora Lynch to Alicia Jacobs — there… More >>
  • Best Comedy Night


    A grawlix is a sequence of typographical symbols used to represent a non-specific profane word or phrase, like this: #@$%*! But there's nothing that coy about Grawlix, the monthly alternative-comedy night formerly known as Los Comicos Super-Hilariosos that features Ben Roy, 2012 MasterMind Andrew Orvedahl and former Westword staffer Adam Cayton-Holland, with frequent special-guest comedians from across the country. The… More >>
  • Best Karaoke Night

    Rear Inn Lounge

    If you're itching to sound off, the best karaoke nights in town are at a spot hidden away on a Westminster building's backside (thus the moniker, we presume). But with its elevated stage, overhead screen displaying the words from your choice of thousands of songs, and an enthusiastic audience of friendly, easygoing neighborhood regulars, the Rear Inn is way ahead… More >>
  • Best Way to Publicly Embarrass Yourself and Still Have Fun

    My Teenage Angst - CLOSED

    Looking through your old journals can be fun, but reading from them while you're on stage in front of a room full of strangers somehow makes the experience incredibly awesome. From first-period nightmares to tales of selling kids fake LSD, the true stories keep spilling out during the monthly My Teenage Angst, each one more painfully true than the next.… More >>
  • Best Pants-Free Party

    No Pants Party

    The first Friday in May is National No Pants Day, and last year the Denver Flash Mob and Denver Fun Times came up with the bright idea of hosting a No Pants Party at the Ginn Mill. Not surprisingly, the 2011 party turned out to be a fabulous time, with free admission (and a reasonable pants-check fee of just $2),… More >>
  • Best Jukebox

    3 Kings Tavern

    Sure, you've got thousands of songs at your fingertips on those Internet jukeboxes, but the old-school CD jukes just feel like they've got soul — or at least character. When you're flipping through the pages of 3 Kings Tavern's Rock-Ola Legend, which seems like it's at least a few decades old, the selection process is much more tangible, whether you're… More >>
  • Best Blues Jam

    David Booker at El Chapultepec

    The basic blues formula is fairly simple — but to really get a good handle on it, you've got to play in a live setting with other musicians. And what better way to hone your chops than jamming at the legendary El Chapultepec with guitarist David Booker, a Brit transplant who's been in Denver since the '80s and has performed… More >>
  • Best Jazz Jam


    Originally started a few years back by guitarist Cole Rudy, who was looking to re-create the backyard jams he enjoyed with music-school friends, the weekly Monday jazz jam at the Meadowlark is still the main place in town to catch some of the city's finest young players. While some jams might attract a lot of one particular instrument, here you'll… More >>
  • Best Alternative Prom

    Nerd Prom

    The Nerd Prom, a party/concert that went down at the Gothic Theatre in January and was put on by Denver funk 'n' soul band Bop Skizzum, drew current, former and never-were nerds. There were seafoam-green tuxedos, light sabers, Chewbacca masks, "Kick Me" signs and taped-up glasses. (Stop us if this sounds like something Stefon would list on SNL's Weekend Update.)… More >>
  • Best Hip-Hop/Neo-Soul Night

    Brown Sugar

    At Brown Sugar, you're likely to hear anything from deep soul house to Jill Scott, mixed over a hip-hop beat. Party-rocking DJs SD and KDJ Above flex their neo-soul muscles every week for a laid-back crowd while Funky Buddha provides the sexy atmosphere. As the drinks flow and couples huddle together in dark corners, enticed by the sounds, party-goers get… More >>
  • Best Blues Club

    Blues & Greens

    Whatever "Boulder's Home of the Blues," as Blues & Greens is known, might lack in atmosphere, it makes up for in talent. The club, housed in Boulder's Outlook Hotel, not only brings in a regular roster of top-notch local talent like Otis Taylor, the Delta Sonics, David Booker and the Lionel Young Band, but it frequently welcomes well-known national acts,… More >>
  • Best Dance Club


    Not only has Beta become a prime destination for the local dance scene over the past four years, but the venue was also named the top club in North America and fifteenth in the world by Beta earned the honors by hosting a succession of national acts such as the Crystal Method, Deadmau5 and John Digweed and having them… More >>
  • Best Movie Theater — Programming

    Landmark Chez Artiste

    On the eve of the Oscars, the line for The Artist at Landmark Chez Artiste reached well into the parking lot. The film would go on to win Best Picture the next night, and one of the only places to enjoy it in Denver was at this theater tucked into a strip mall off South Colorado Boulevard. Chez Artiste offers… More >>
  • Best Dance Party


    Stepping into Glob on the first Friday of any month is like falling down the rabbit hole in Alice in Wonderland. Gender roles are checked at the door, and inhibitions disappear in the time it takes to strut onto the dance floor in the big warehouse space. Created by longtime Denver dance proponents Lauren Zwicky (DJ Narky Stares) and Israel… More >>
  • Best Sound


    Boasting two Funktion-One systems — one on the main floor and the other on the second level, in the Beatport Lounge — Beta's sound is unrivaled by virtually any club in North America, much less Denver. With more than 100,000 watts of power being pumped into the main floor speakers and a constant tuning process that tweaks the sound system… More >>
  • Chloe

    Best New Club


    As the head of Lotus Concepts, Francois Safieddine has carved out a niche in the Denver club scene with Suite Two Hundred, 24K and the Oak Tavern. His newest venture, Chloe, is a lot more than just a chic discotheque; it's also a lounge, and a restaurant that serves Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisine. Named after a fictitious jet-setting fashionista,… More >>
  • Best Large Venue

    1STBANK Center

    Connoisseurs of live music will tell you that something is lost when an artist becomes popular enough to perform in an arena. While this may be true at some places, it's certainly not the case at Broomfield's 1STBANK Center, where the sound is pretty well dialed in virtually anywhere you sit. The venue, which sits halfway between Denver and Boulder,… More >>
  • Best New Underground Electronic Venue

    2200 - CLOSED

    The space formerly inhabited by Muddy's Coffeehouse and later known by a variety of names — Club Evolution, the Loft, Gallery 22 and Club Ra, among others — has found new life as an electronica and hip-hop space with two dance floors and a spacious outside patio. The venue, which has brought in an array of acts, from Lee Foss… More >>
  • Best Boylesque Night

    Cora Vette's Hot Rods - CLOSED

    Leave it to local burlesque madame and emcee Cora Vette to start a nationwide revolution in boylesque. She's been traveling the country over the past year to perform at boylesque shows, talking about why men putting on fabulous costumes and then taking them off is awesome and generally advocating for the concept. And Denver has definitely benefited from her efforts… More >>
  • Best Art Gallery/Party Space

    Lumonics Light & Sound Gallery

    Artist Dorothy Tanner uses light as her medium — along with water, plastic, fabric and her imagination. The sculptures adorning the walls and fountains on display at Lumonics are psychedelic and mesmerizing. When Tanner and her talented crew open up Lumonics for an event (which is at least every weekend), there's almost always a light show filling an entire wall,… More >>
  • Best Burlesque Night

    Black Box Burlesque

    They might be split personalities, but neither Reyna Von Vett nor her on-stage alter ego, Cora Vette, is a plain Jane. One of the strongest — and sassiest — personalities in Denver burlesque, Vette's creatively coy sex appeal lends itself to rowdy and raunchy rotating themes — planned by Von Vett and other organizers of Black Box Burlesque, and scheduled… More >>
  • Best Performance by a Theater Advocate

    John Moore

    In his decade on the job as theater critic for the Denver Post, John Moore helped transform the local scene. He saw just about everything. He was a tireless advocate who fought for more print space and also made innovative use of every other medium at his disposal. On the paper's website, he posted photos of productions as well as… More >>
  • Best Theater Venue We Lost

    The Denver Vic

    The life of the Vic — a 75-seat theater in the basement of a Victorian house in northwest Denver — was closely interwoven with the history of the city. The venue was created by a Shakespeare-loving tuberculosis patient named George Swartz, who moved to Denver for the climate and loved reading the plays to his friends. In the 1950s, Paul… More >>
  • Best Theater Company We Lost

    Paragon Theatre Company

    Everything seemed to be going so well for Paragon Theatre Company. The small but ambitious group had celebrated its tenth year in 2011, and early this year moved into a new space specially constructed to its requirements. On this stage, Paragon had just opened a production of Miss Julie that earned excellent reviews, and we were looking forward to a… More >>
  • Best Delivery of a Song

    Katie Ulrich

    Katie Ulrich was all verve and warmth as leading lady Janet Van De Graaff in Boulder's Dinner Theatre's production of The Drowsy Chaperone, a daffy, sweet-cynical tribute to '20s musicals. Van De Graaff was forced to choose between an acting career and love, and explained her choice in a sizzling number called "I Don't Wanna Show Off No More" —… More >>
  • Best Shakespeare Monologue

    Kathleen McCall

    If you've ever seen The Taming of the Shrew, you remember the tamed Katherine's final speech, the one in which (at her husband, Petruchio's, request), she exhorts the other women in the play — and, by extension, all women — to be obedient to their husbands. The speech is moving and eloquent and really, really hard for most of us… More >>
  • Best Contemporary Monologue

    Dee Covington

    Tony Kushner's Homebody/Kabul was a gutsy choice for Curious Theatre Company — not least because it began with a one-hour monologue in which a conventional Englishwoman clutching an outdated travel guide to her breast expressed her longing to see Afghanistan. She cited facts from the guidebook, embellished them with her own imaginings, and contrasted these ideas with her own safe… More >>
  • Best Film Festival

    Mid-Winter Punk Film Festival - CLOSED

    While other punk film festivals feature such predictable fare as The Filth and the Fury and The Clash: Westway to the World, capitalizing on the bands and the stories everyone has already heard, Mid-Winter Punk Film Festival organizers Sarah Slater and Molly Zackary embraced the true DIY nature of punk rock and gave us something completely unexpected yet ultimately delightful.… More >>
  • Best Comic Triple Threat

    Caitlin Wise

    Caitlin Wise was a student at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts' now-closed National Theatre Conservatory, and audiences first saw her in smaller roles at the Denver Center Theatre Company. This season, she rose to prominence in a trio of performances, starting with her portrayal of Hermia in the DCTC's A Midsummer Night's Dream. A comic in the zany,… More >>
  • Best Performance in a Variety Show

    Kelly Tobin

    Kelly Tobin's appearance in Vox Phamalia: Quadrapalooza made you question the essential meaning of art, and the line between acting and simply existing — with revelatory truthfulness — on a stage. As part of this series of skits and songs about disability, Tobin stood on stage to tell you about hers. She had a lovely, spunky, warm presence, but you… More >>
  • Best New DIY Venue — Denver

    Unit E - CLOSED

    Unit E got started when the guys from Rubedo and some friends rented out part of a building so that they could have a gallery and a place to hold shows and have complete control of the environment. It has since grown into the kind of place where underground bands of all stripes play alongside art shows, all reflecting the… More >>
  • Best Diva

    Marcia Ragonetti

    When you're doing a show about Maria Callas giving a master class, it helps if there's a genuine diva around to play the role, and for this Miners Alley Playhouse production of Master Class, director Robert Kramer scored a coup when he cast local mezzo-soprano Marcia Ragonetti — even though she didn't get to sing very much. But watching Ragonetti… More >>
  • Best New DIY Venue — Boulder


    Though these days Boulder is mostly high-tech ventures and other moneyed interests mixed in with the university, remnants of the best part of its hippie past remain in place. Chrysalis Co-op is as its name implies: a communal living space where people not only live together, but grow food and share ideas and creative ventures. The co-op has also reached… More >>
  • Best Supporting Actress in a Musical

    Barb Reeves

    Barb Reeves is a veteran Boulder's Dinner Theatre performer with a number of strong characterizations to her credit. But in this BDT production of Slow Dance With a Hot Pickup, a gentle-hearted musical about a group of people competing to win a truck, she put something into her portrait of a harried waitress that we've never seen from her before.… More >>
  • Best Actor in a Musical

    Tyrone Robinson

    The character of Coalhouse Walker towers over the musical Ragtime, a panoramic take on the history of the early twentieth century based on the E.L. Doctorow novel. We are shown Walker's patient and ultimately victorious courtship of Sarah, the mother of his child; his pride, the insults he endures, and then his violent radicalization. When the actor scheduled to play… More >>
  • Best DIY Venue — Fort Collins

    GNU: Experience Gallery - CLOSED

    Fort Collins has had its own vibrant art and musical community going back decades. Its existence has resulted in various DIY venue experiments over the years, as well as the scene's semi-legendary progressive shows. For those, one band would play in a certain location, and the next band on the bill would play in a second location whose whereabouts were… More >>
  • Best Actress in a Musical

    Maggie Sczekan

    Okay, we admit it: We fell in love with Maggie Sczekan's Christine in the Boulder's Dinner Theatre production of Phantom. When she was on stage, we were mesmerized. When she wasn't, we waited impatiently for her to return. So many musical-comedy ingenues are annoying: pretty, simpering puppets whose sweet, shy gestures could never come from a real, breathing woman, but… More >>
  • Best Alternative Venue

    Yellow Feather Coffee - CLOSED

    When Yellow Feather opened its doors, it was the kind of coffee shop that offered not just solidly great coffee with a choice of milk and milk substitutes, but a community-minded space, as well. While not a traditional music venue, Yellow Feather has hosted touring artists along with local bands looking to have their release shows at an intimate venue… More >>
  • Best Supporting Actress in a Shakespeare Tragedy

    Leslie O'Carroll

    In the Colorado Shakespeare Festival's production of Romeo and Juliet, Leslie O'Carroll's Nurse was a tough old peasant who was more than a match for a group of rudely teasing young aristocrats, but was also properly obsequious before Lord and Lady Capulet. She was also a woman who loved her charge, Juliet — but not so much that she'd give… More >>
  • Best Movie Theater — Seats

    United Artists Colorado Center Stadium 9

    You know you go to movies too much when you notice the new seats. But that's just what happened at Colorado 9, home of blockbusters-and-popcorn fare, where chairs worthy of Jean-Luc Picard's ass await. There's spring in the cushion and push-back in these seats, so much so that even after sitting through a two-hour-plus film like 2011's The Girl With… More >>
  • Best Supporting Actor in a Shakespeare Tragedy

    Geoffrey Kent

    Mercutio is one hell of a role, with some of the best speeches anywhere in Shakespeare. The trouble is that with all the productions of Romeo and Juliet, we've heard them all before. A lot. How does an actor make the long description of Queen Mab's nocturnal dream visits sound new? How does he approach the death scene, with its… More >>
  • Best Supporting Actor in a Shakespeare Comedy

    Robert Sicular

    In the Denver Center Theatre Company's production of The Taming of the Shrew, Robert Sicular played Katherine's much-put-upon father, Baptista, with silver-haired dignity. He showed us the man's blind fondness for prissy Bianca, and just how painful it was to have crazy, angry Katherine as a daughter. Baptista has to speak a lot of not-particularly-inspiring dialogue that does nothing much… More >>
  • Best House Shows

    Mouth House

    This building at 28th and California used to be inhabited by anarchist punks and folkies, some of whom were involved in Food Not Bombs. It was called the Pitchfork House back then, and you would see bands like the Fainting Fansies and others of that ilk playing there. Today the punk spirit remains, and the guys who live here now… More >>
  • Best Actor in a Shakespeare Play

    John G. Preston

    We've seen domineering Petruchios, and Petruchios so glossily movie-star sexy that it's easy to understand why their Katherines fall for them. But in the Denver Center Theatre Company's production of The Taming of the Shrew, John G. Preston's Petruchio was sort of rugged-tough and sort of ham-fisted and sort of dopey-dusty all at the same time — and he managed… More >>
  • Best Club Night

    Electronic Tuesdays

    Sub.mission introduced Electronic Tuesdays at Cervantes' Other Side just over a year ago, and because of the massive crowds that come for this club night, it's now been moved next door to the Ballroom. With local acts, DJ battles and competitions, Electronic Tuesdays have grown into a raging concoction of dubstep, house, drum-and-bass and anything else that falls under the… More >>
  • Best Dubstep Night

    Bassic Fridays at Beta

    When the dubstep craze started taking over Denver, there were so many random bass-heavy weeklies that we almost lost count. But then the Sub.mission Dubstep crew teamed up with Beta Nightclub and Reload Productions' drum-and-bass squad to present a night, and the result was Bassic Fridays. Designed to cater to Denver's true bass-heads, the dub-strong night brings in only the… More >>
  • Best After-Hours Party


    AAMP has consistently produced a quality late-night party that surpasses all others and continues to leave lasting impressions. To keep things legit, a door guy is always there checking IDs, and security ensures guests' safety by making sure nothing unsafe is going down. AAMP brings in the hottest dance acts, some of whom have never been seen or heard by… More >>
  • Best Place to See Local DJs

    Cervantes' Masterpiece Ballroom

    To say that Cervantes' is a clubhouse would be using a loose tongue, but to say that it's the meeting point for all local talent would be totally spot-on. There's a show here almost every night, and you'll find local DJs mingling in the Ballroom or over on the Other Side, sipping drinks, sharing music or just taking in the… More >>
  • Best New Festival

    Create Denver Week

    The showpiece of Create Denver Week is the Create Denver Expo, a nuts-and-bolts day of workshops, business resources and networking hosted by Arts & Venues Denver (the city department that resulted from last year's merger of the Division of Theatres and Arenas and the Denver Office of Cultural Affairs) specifically for local creative types — but that doesn't mean the… More >>
  • Best Weekly Hip-Hop Party

    Club Dreams - CLOSED

    It's almost unheard of for a hip-hop club to consistently draw 1,000 people these days, but somehow, each and every Friday, the guys from Parlay Productions and 1600 Entertainment do just that. Whether it's the alluring sounds of DJs Ktone and Top Shelf that continually entice the masses, or the club's three-level setup, which is perfect for seeing and being… More >>
  • Best Actress in a Shakespeare Play

    Jamie Ann Romero

    We'd seen Jamie Ann Romero as a charming ingenue and a cute comedienne several times before, but it was never clear that she had the gravitas for a tragic role — until the Colorado Shakespeare Festival's production of Romeo and Juliet. Romero's Juliet was a lovely, playful child who grew before our eyes into a deep-souled woman. It was a… More >>
  • Best Denver Dance Institution


    Can you name any other club night that's been going for as long as Lipgloss and has managed not just to survive, but thrive, despite the change in personnel? We thought not. Founded in June 2001 by boyhollow (aka Michael Trundle), Tyler Jacobson and Tim Cook, Lipgloss has become a Denver institution at this point, one that's kept things moving… More >>
  • Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy

    Michael Bouchard

    A Touch of Spring is a romantic comedy of a fairly familiar kind — an American couple in Rome, a mild mystery needing to be solved, a charming young girl who rocks the stodgy American man's world — and the most original thing about it is the character of Baldo. Especially in the Miners Alley Playhouse production. Playing the elfin,… More >>
  • Best Reggae Party

    Reggae on the Roof

    Reggae on the Roof, the brainchild of Francois Baptiste and 3Deep Productions, has gone through many inceptions and DJs, but the Thursday-night party at Vinyl has never stopped. Attendees can expect to hear the hottest sounds and vibes courtesy of KDJ Above, who turns the place into an island dance hall with the sounds of the best reggae interspersed with… More >>
  • Best Underground Electronic Programming

    Bar Standard

    Over the past year, Bar Standard has steadily risen to the top of the underground electronic-music scene. Although Vinyl and City Hall might be bigger venues that play to more mainstream crowds, the lush and lovely Bar Standard stands out for presenting some of the top names in electronic music today: Doc Martin, Mark Farina, Hugh Cleal, Lisa Shaw with… More >>
  • Best Underground Electronic Venue-Store-Spa Combo

    The Lotus Dream Emporium & Spa

    The Lotus Dream Emporium isn't only (or, arguably, even mostly) an underground electronic-music venue. It's also a women's boutique with new and used clothing, home decor items, greeting cards, shoes, purses, jewelry, tea sets, art and much more. Owner and dreamer Melissa Enyeart opens the emporium for private events, and on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays for open-mike poetry sessions, movie… More >>
  • Best Slow-Moving Documentary

    kART Across America

    They admit the initial concept was, well, a little crackpot. For local filmmakers Andy Raney and Jeremy Make, the genesis of their movie was a Jäger-fueled discussion of how difficult it was to define American culture after a year of studying abroad. Cut to their bright idea: In order to capture the meaning of art in this country, the former… More >>
  • Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy

    Jessica Austgen

    When Jessica Austgen is on stage, she's so full of life and originality that you can't take your eyes off her. In Collapse, produced by Curious Theatre Company, she played one of those neurotic, crazy, needy sisters who upends a shaky marriage. Clad in vivid rusts and oranges that perfectly accentuated her red hair and eccentric persona, Austgen squirmed on… More >>
  • Best Record Label

    Elm & Oak Records

    When Alex Botwin parted ways with Pnuma Trio, the multi-talented musician focused on Paper Diamond, which took over the electronic airwaves, and he helped build up other artists who later found great success. This inspired him to form Elm & Oak Records, a store and label now based in Boulder that sells records from the imprint's flagship artists as well… More >>
  • Best DIY Label

    Bleak Environment

    Aaron Miller moved to Denver from the Western Slope a few years back and became part of the local musical community through some old friends. He established a small imprint called Clam Records that released tapes by friends including TekTone. But his real goal was to create a distro and label to support music that he believed in, one that… More >>
  • Best Actress in a Comedy

    Rhonda Brown

    Rhonda Brown has a terrific warmth and vitality on stage, and these qualities were evident in her portrayal of Linda in the Miners Alley Playhouse production of Fiction, Steven Dietz's tricky Rubik's Cube of a play. Linda, a writer and prickly intellectual, has been diagnosed with a fatal brain tumor and has asked her husband — also a writer —… More >>
  • Best New Recording


    With all of the buildup — from the buzz that Snake Rattle Rattle Snake generated almost immediately after forming a few years back to the breathless accolades the group continues to collect — there seemed plenty of room to be disappointed with Sineater, the band's first full-length. Fortunately, Snake Rattle Rattle Snake delivered on all of its early promise. From… More >>
  • Slicing Up Eyeballs

    Best Music Blog

    Slicing Up Eyeballs

    Now in its third year, Matt Sebastian's Slicing Up Eyeballs has established itself as one of the best sources around, maybe in the world, for news about '80s college, modern and indie rock. The blog's name borrows from the Pixies song "Debaser" (which was inspired by Salvador Dalí and Luis Buñuel's film Un Chien Andalou), and there's a good chance… More >>
  • Best Local Music Documentary

    Neon Savant and the Silent Trajectory

    Pete Bell started going to Rhinoceropolis in 2010 to see non-mainstream music acts. As one of the few all-ages venues that didn't cater to relatively well-known music, Rhino was a place that Bell could attend whenever his high-school schedule didn't get in the way. Inspired by the anarchic spirit of the place and its focus on mostly experimental music, Bell… More >>
  • Best Disturbing Music Video

    "Goodbye Horses"
    Tollund Men

    Neal Samples has put out music under multiple names for years with an abundance that most people would never bother to explore, much less indulge. His Cabaret Voltaire-esque Tollund Men took his lo-fi, electro-post-punk/performance-art inclinations to another level when he began performing the music live with the aid of friend Daniel Bouse. Last fall, Samples combined that cold, dark, evocative… More >>
  • Best Actor in a Comedy

    John Arp

    Wealthy Victor is living the expatriate's dream in 1960s Europe, but he's very, very sad, nonetheless: His mistress Louise has just refused his offer of marriage. So he has come to the elegant cafe he owns in Paris intending to starve himself to death. The staff is horrified. They suggest feeding him an imaginary banquet, plate by luscious plate, in… More >>
  • Best Band Couture

    Fingers of the Sun

    Dressed in thick tweed suits to match their infectious twee songs, the members of Fingers of the Sun have not only graced the Denver music scene with one of the most expertly crafted albums of 2011, but they've delivered plenty of eye candy, as well. From Nathan Brasil's mid-'60s slug mustache to Suzi Allegra's thrift-store dresses and Marcus Renninger's daring… More >>
  • Best Supporting Actress in a Drama

    Patty Mintz Figel

    Sam Shepard's A Lie of the Mind is bleak, fragmented and full of violence and rage. Just about every male in it is despicable, and it's up to the women to provide anything resembling a glimmer of redemption. We haven't seen much of Patty Mintz Figel on Denver stages this season, but every time she appears, we remember what a… More >>
  • Best Glass Act

    Illegal Pete's

    There are few more pleasant ways to give back to the community than drinking while doing so — which makes Illegal Pete's latest charity venture both sweet and savvy. The restaurant chain recently launched a series of collectible beer glasses dedicated to noteworthy (and Illegal Pete's-friendly) bands on the Denver scene, with local dance-punk outfit the Photo Atlas the first… More >>
  • Best Band That Broke Up

    Hot White

    You know a band was noteworthy if a number of its peers, based on word of mouth and having heard the music, say they wish they'd been able to see the band live before it broke up. That was the fate of Hot White, which, after roughly four years of existence, played its last show on September 26, 2011, with… More >>
  • Best Supporting Actor in a Drama

    Cory Michael Smith

    Elder Thomas is a nineteen-year-old Mormon missionary who visits the dying protagonist in The Whale, Samuel D. Hunter's play that premiered at the Denver Center Theatre Company this season. Through him, we learn a lot about the pull of Mormonism for some young people, and also quite a bit about how Mormonism operates. Elder Thomas returns several times to visit… More >>
  • Best Collaboration

    Paper Bird and Ballet Nouveau Colorado

    Coming on the heels of a pauper's life of dumpster diving and living in a bus powered by veggie oil, Paper Bird teamed up with Ballet Nouveau Colorado for the grant-fueled project of Carry On, which took the former to a new world of highbrow art, writing songs for a companion ballet production. Ballet Nouveau Colorado was likewise suddenly exposed… More >>
  • Best Cable TV Show About Coloradans

    Making Monsters

    Ed and Marsha Edmunds like to make people jump. Their animatronic creations, which they build for haunted houses and other clients around the country, range from an almost-too-lifelike electric chair to set pieces for Alice Cooper to aliens for the UFO Museum in Roswell. And the Travel Channel took notice, making the Edmundses' Greeley-based company, Distortions Unlimited, the subject of… More >>
  • Best Use of Non-Traditional Percussion

    Echo Beds

    Take a contact mike and one or more of the following: water bottle, stacked cymbals, detached hood of a car, a sheet of metal, floor tom, chains, bricks, file cabinet — any item that can make a sharp, clattering sound — and process or amplify the sounds these items make together, and you'll get a bit of the confrontational and… More >>
  • Best Near-Reunion

    40th Day

    40th Day was one of Denver's most popular alternative-rock acts from the late '80s through the mid-'90s. The band's earliest work was atmospheric post-punk reminiscent of an early haunted U2. But by the time James Nasi joined on bass, 40th Day was changing musical directions. The 1991 album Lovely Like a Snake brought its more ethereal melodies together with a… More >>
  • Best Warehouse Show

    Iceage at Rhinoceropolis

    Denmark's Iceage has been a bit of a buzz band for the past year and a half or so. Oftentimes, such bands are unable to live up to the hype that surrounds them — but when these guys played to a packed house at Rhino, from the beginning it felt like you were in an important moment. The stark iciness… More >>
  • Best Actress in a Drama

    Kim Staunton

    Lynn Nottage has acknowledged that her brutal and richly textured play, Ruined, owes a debt to Bertolt Brecht's Mother Courage. Like Mother Courage, Mama Nadi profits from violence and war: She's the owner of a brothel. But where Mother Courage worships profit alone, placing it above even her love for her children, Mama Nadi is more nuanced, and fiercely protective… More >>
  • Best New Underground Music Festival

    Goldrush Festival

    Crawford Philleo, Sam Martin and Ryan Pjesky are three of the most active music bloggers in Denver. Last year they decided to put their heads and resources together to curate a music festival to reflect their mutual and individual musical interests. As with any such event, the organizers agonized over its planning and execution. These efforts paid off, as the… More >>
  • Best VJ — Team

    Audio Visual Violence Club

    Jeromie Dorrance is not a name many people know right now, but teaming up with Mario Zoots, of Modern Witch and Men in Burka renown, was a stroke of good fortune for him. Both Dorrance and Zoots are talented visual artists in their own right, with Zoots having been a visual artist long before trying his hand at music. Together… More >>
  • Best VJ — Individual

    VJ Dizy Pixl

    VJ Dizy Pixl (aka Alie Lane) may be a VJ based in Denver, but the excellence of her craft landed her a gig doing visuals for cEvin Key of Skinny Puppy on his tours, as well as for group tours with Download, Otto Von Schirach and Dead Voices on Air. At home, Lane is an in-demand VJ for various shows,… More >>
  • Best Addition to the Hip-Hop Scene

    KMG Studios

    For the past year, the Kimble Music Group family has been providing excellent engineering, recording and mixing services to hip-hop cats all over the rap scene at KMG Studios. From Rockie to the entire Super Dope team to every indie artist on the rise, KMG has made its mark on records across the board. Great quality, state-of-the-art equipment and the… More >>
  • Best Actor in a Drama

    Sean Scrutchins

    9 Circles, which had its regional premiere at Curious Theatre Company, is based on a real-life atrocity in Iraq: an incident in which a United States soldier entered a family home, raped and killed the fourteen-year-old daughter, killed both her parents and her six-year-old sister, then attempted to burn her body. Taking us into this man's mind is a serious… More >>
  • Best DJ to Rock a Basement-Style Party


    Not only is Gypdahip an incredible producer — he can sample, chop, screw and do pretty much everything you can imagine to a beat — but he's one of the top DJs in the city. You can find him wrecking shop on everything from underground hip-hop you've forgotten about (Mos Def's "Taxi") to the rarest Dilla sample you've never heard… More >>
  • Best Guerrilla Hip-Hop Video Production

    Fa'al/Eazy Media

    Fa'al of Eazy Media is hard to miss. Typically moving faster than the rest with his backpack and camera equipment, the guy can be seen at pretty much any and every hip-hop show in the scene — local, national or otherwise. Whether shooting the Foodchain or capturing footage of high-end fashion shows and other aspects of the nightlife scene, Fa'al… More >>
  • Best Hip-Hop Videographer

    Jeremy "Konsequence" Pape

    Ask for the "Konsequence special" and you're likely to get a video with the best story line, cinematography and charisma out there. Konsequence has shot videos for rappers all over the scene, employing his personal tricks to bring to life some of hip-hop's greatest joints. Whether capturing a melancholy instrumental video for a beatmaker like Kid Hum, or documenting the… More >>
  • Best Film Advocate

    Keith Garcia

    From cult classics to box-office blowouts, Keith Garcia makes sure that every film — even a dog — has its day. The program director at the Denver FilmCenter, he does exhaustive research, and he's willing to take a chance by booking movies that are unlikely to attract mainstream audiences. Garcia has put both the queer-advocate music documentary Who Took The… More >>
  • Best Live Hip-Hop Painter

    Xencs L. Wing

    Xencs L. Wing brings new life to an old tradition: painting sugar skulls. She posts up at hip-hop shows with her crafts — she makes earrings and other items — and offers live demonstrations, mixing colors to the beat of whatever head-nodding hip-hop music is being played at the time and creating a masterpiece in front of the crowds. Not… More >>
  • Best Hip-Hop MC to Blind You With Science

    Turner Jackson

    Turner's world is turning on an axis of science that he's using to completely change up his rhyme schemes, themes and patterns. Like a supernova getting ready to self-destruct, the rapper delivers the kind of heady content that you'd need a science glossary to figure out. The raps heard on Star Destroyer, his latest album, a collaboration with Big J.… More >>
  • Best Season for an Actress

    Lucy Roucis

    Lucy Roucis is a mainstay in PHAMALY, Denver's outstanding company of disabled actors; she herself suffers from Parkinson's. She was a wise and sightly ironic presence for PHAMALY's program of skits, songs and stories, Vox Phamalia: Quadrapalooza; gave a killer performance as a gruff female executive in How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying; and really shone in The… More >>
  • Best Hip-Hop Producers You Might Not Know About

    Marky Bias and Big J. Beats have been doing incredible things with the MPC machine at basement and garage parties for a while now. Widely respected by local hip-hoppers like Whygee and Brikabrak, who've been lauding their talents the longest, the two consistently bring the heat out of their backpacks, both as producers and rappers over their own beats. The… More >>
  • Best Hip-Hop Show Involving a Legend

    DJ Premier for Shoe Shine

    Seeing DJ Premier live with every hip-hop head in the city who knows what a legend he is was spine-tingling. A humble giant, Preemo not only gave a show for the ages, but he got intimate with the crowd and gave props to all of the artists who had submitted material for the seventh installment of Shoe Shine. The crowd… More >>
  • Best Unofficial Annual Festival


    Civic Center turns into a carnival of mellow craziness every 4/20 — and this year's pot celebration, which falls on a weekend in a year when a half-dozen marijuana-related measures could be headed for the ballot, promises to be the toke of the town.… More >>
  • Best Hip-Hop DJ on the Grind

    DJ Top Shelf

    A resident at almost any hip-hop nightclub you can name, DJ Top Shelf boasts an in-depth knowledge of good Southern rap. But he doesn't just break new records with wall-thumping bass; his selection is diverse enough to reach even the most underground of hip-hop heads. As a result, he's quickly risen through the ranks of the city's finest party rockers.… More >>
  • Best Hip-Hop Graphic Designer

    Graffiti Black for Dope Designz

    That Thursday-night flier for Vinyl? He designed that one. And that special-event flier taking place at almost any urban nightclub you can imagine? Yep, he designed that one, too. Graffiti Black's stamp of graphic approval appears on everything from business cards and album covers to T-shirts and fliers. A brand ambassador of sorts, Graffiti lends his unique, dope touch to… More >>
  • Best Breakout Hip-Hop Artist

    Myke Charles

    Myke Charles made a name for himself as the MC in his a cappella group Urban Method on NBC's Sing Off. Before that, though, he was known as Purpose, the super-charming fresh-faced kid with the golden rhymes from Fresh Breath Committee. More than just one of a posse, though, Charles has honed all of his skills and emerged as a… More >>
  • Best Established Female MC to Inspire Aspiring Female MCs

    Bianca Mikahn

    In a town full of boys with ruffian rhymes, Bianca Mikahn has made a name for herself as a breakout MC. An award-winning poet on her own, Mikahn first attracted attention as a member of the live hip-hop act Paradox and has continued to progress with the release of Left Fist Evolution, her debut solo album. A lecturer and teacher… More >>
  • Best Season for an Actor

    Brian Norber

    Brian Norber has been such a mainstay of Boulder's Dinner Theatre for so many years that he could well say with Gus, the Theatre Cat (a role he took on this year): "I have played in my time, every possible part/And I used to know seventy speeches by heart/And I knew how to act with my back and my tail/With… More >>
  • Best Place to See Grrrls Rock Out

    Girls Rock Denver Camper Showcase

    In just a week, Girls Rock Denver turns girls ages eight to eighteen into rock stars. The local organization formed in 2007 as part of the national Girls Rock Camp Alliance, and ever since, it has been putting on an annual week-long summer camp where aspiring rock goddesses learn how to play instruments, form bands and then perform before a… More >>
  • Best Concert of the Year


    In an era when even critics complain that there's not a lot left to say about Radiohead, it seems that Thom Yorke has opted to dance things out instead. At the conspiracy-crooning band's two-hour, two-encore set in Broomfield, the ponytailed frontman came in two speeds: slow seizure and grand mal groove thing. As he propelled his small, spastic frame through… More >>
  • Best Pro Year

    Fallene Wells

    Fallene, Fallene, Fallene — where have you been all our lives? We like to think that Fallene Wells's big year actually got its start in 2010, when we named her to the sixth annual MasterMind class, but though the multi-talented fashion designer, hair stylist and fashion-show promoter was already a big thinker, the best was yet to come. In 2011,… More >>
  • Best New Band


    It's hard to recall a band in recent memory that made as much of an impression as Spires, a quartet that appeared quietly but instantly engaged us with its auspicious four-song debut, which was far too short for our tastes. Somehow the group's lush, atmospheric dream-pop sound — which has plenty in common with acts like the 77's and Slowdive,… More >>
  • Best American Idol Appearance by a Denver Artist

    Magic Cyclops

    Scott Fuller had pretty much retired Magic Cyclops. But he found the opportunity to rekindle his long-running brand of performance-art comedy and music by trying out for American Idol last year, at what was then Invesco Field at Mile High. Clearly, he did it for his own amusement and perhaps to have stories to tell later; he didn't necessarily expect… More >>
  • Best Unexpected Grammy Win by a Coloradan

    Brian Joseph

    When Bon Iver earned a Grammy nod for its self-titled 2011 album — besting heavyweights like Radiohead, Death Cab for Cutie and My Morning Jacket — it wasn't just a victory and upset for Justin Vernon and Jagjaguwar, the indie label he records for. It was a major win for Colorado's own Brian Joseph, a former member of Achille Lauro… More >>
  • Best Act to Preserve Local Music History

    Martin Anderson and Haylar Garcia

    When the property that once held Time Capsule Studios — the iconic recording facility where a number of classic Denver albums were recorded — went into foreclosure and was taken over by the bank last May, Martin Anderson, a real-estate agent charged with overseeing the sale of the building, discovered what he suspected to be master recording reels left behind.… More >>
  • Best Kickstarter Campaign

    Five Iron Frenzy

    Before the Fray definitively claimed the title, Five Iron Frenzy was one of Denver's biggest success stories. The homegrown, Christian-centric ska-core band earned its renown the old-fashioned way: by building up a grassroots fan base through constant touring. When the band called it a day in 2003, playing its final show in front of a capacity crowd at the Fillmore… More >>
  • Best Punk-Band Clash With a Denver Icon

    Elway the Band vs. Elway the Man

    While we certainly understand the desire to protect one's brand, the chances of anybody confusing Elway the band with John Elway the man are about as good as people mistaking this fishwrap for the similarly named Westwood college. Just the same, when the Broncos executive caught wind that the band formerly known as 10-4 Eleanor was now calling itself Elway,… More >>
  • Best Nod on Pitchfork


    Once BLKHRTS came roaring onto the local scene, it was only a matter of time before the act's ferocious brand of hip-hop attracted attention outside of Denver. So it came as little surprise when estimable Los Angeles-based music critic Jeff Weiss praised the group in the L.A. Times after seeing it in California this summer. But what was surprising was… More >>
  • Best Cameos on a Recording

    FaceManFeeding Time

    You know the one about the guy with the smoking-hot girlfriend, the one who, when folks see the two of them together, they're all like, "How the hell did you land her?" And you know his answer? "I asked." While the members of FaceMan could never be accused of playing out of their league like that, they used much the… More >>
  • Best DJ in the World Who Lives Here

    DJ Vajra

    In 2004, DJ Vajra earned a Best of Denver nod as Best Hip-Hop DJ/Turntablist. Back then, we described the DJ, otherwise known as Chris Karns, as an unassuming record clerk from Boulder. "All DJs fear Vajra," one of his peers said at the time. And in fact, even back then a number of people considered him not just the best… More >>
  • Best Act of Selflessness

    Jim Norris benefits

    We take care of our own. While this notion has always held true in Denver, the sentiment was never driven home more convincingly than when 3 Kings Tavern co-owner Jim Norris was unexpectedly hospitalized after being bitten by a brown recluse spider. Norris spent nearly a week in the hospital, racking up a mountain of bills. But soon after news… More >>
  • Best Clothes Call

    Yves Saint Laurent: The Retrospective

    The hoopla for this exhibition began long before it opened in late March at the Denver Art Museum, and with good reason: Not only is Denver the only stop that this blockbuster from the Foundation Pierre Bergé — Yves Saint Laurent in France — will make in the United States, but it's breathtaking, even if you aren't a dedicated fashionista.… More >>
  • Best Shmoozer for Designers

    Red Drinks Denver

    Is Denver on the brink of becoming a notable national fashion center? Some people think it could be just that, with the right kind of push. A circle of friends in the local fashion industry — Tricia Hoke, Deb Henriksen, Lisa Elstun and Jose Duran — got to wondering how they could draw the design community closer together to create… More >>
  • Best Shmoozer for Artists

    Action Figures

    Several years back, local artist Katie Taft curated Self Made, a stimulating art-talk series at Double Daughter's that eventually outlived its shelf life there. But it wasn't an idea that was ready to be tabled altogether. Taft brought the idea back into play last year, when Action Figures debuted as a monthly event at the Colorado Photographic Arts Center in… More >>
  • Best Cheap Entertainment

    Off-Center @ the Jones

    Hidden away on the dark northwest side of the Denver Performing Arts Complex is the little Jones Theatre (known as the Source when the facility was originally built), which has always seemed like an afterthought with its shadowy, back-door locale. But what goes on here might be one of the best deals in town: clever performance- and improv-based events that… More >>
  • Best New Arts Project

    The Laundry on Lawrence

    Brian Smith and the Space Creators are on a roll. They took a chance in 2010, when they opened the doors at Wazee Union, the first of their growing empire of warehouses transformed into artist communities with affordable studio space. When that gamble turned out to be even more successful than they could have imagined, they moved forward with Walnut… More >>
  • Best New Community Space

    The Deer Pile

    Tucked into the artist studios above City, O'City, the Deer Pile is the latest venture in the Dan Landes empire, which stretches from vegetarian restaurants to a resort in Mexico to an urban farm in Lakewood. The Deer Pile — named after an inexplicable mural of a giant pile of deer — is devoted to showcasing a wide variety of… More >>
  • Best Mural Project

    Carlos Fresquez and students

    These two fabulous murals might never have come to life were it not for artist Carlos Fresquez's Community Paint: The Mural class at Metropolitan State College of Denver, a beautiful nod to Auraria's former life as a vibrant Hispanic community. The class's two-fold project last fall was to create murals for the facades of Su Teatro, in the Denver Civic… More >>
  • Best Arts Merger

    Colorado Photographic Arts Center

    Our region doesn't lack good photography, but it's been lacking a good photography showcase since Hal Gould's Camera Obscura shut its doors a year ago. In the meantime, though, two of the area's biggest photography boosters — the then-homeless Colorado Photographic Arts Center and Working With Artists in Belmar — struck up a merger deal last summer that's still being… More >>
  • Best Art-for-Kids Boosters

    Denver Art Society

    You might have stumbled into the Denver Art Society on a First Friday, wondering what it was all about. Well, here's the deal: The nonprofit, which looks something like an art flea market and hallway art exhibit at a grade school during an open house, is all about advocating for kids whose schools lack sufficient arts programming. With that in… More >>
  • Best Public Art Happening — Large-Scale

    Frame of Mind and Design Pioneers: 3D Video Projection Showcase

    We couldn't help feeling like we were living in a big city last spring, when Create Denver brought digital media and 3-D video projection to the heart of the Denver Theatre District, making use first of the giant Colorado Convention Center LED screen at 14th and Champa streets before turning the whole wall of the Ellie Caulkins Opera House into… More >>
  • Best Public Art Happening — Small-Scale


    Art and design intersected three ways last summer at Microclimates, the product of a successful Kickstarter campaign launched by artists Samuel Schimek and Rob Mack. The installation, a sort of soundscaped walk through three environments — the woods, a cave, and a meadow inhabited by animal graphics and iconic images — spread throughout the garage that is Super Ordinary. At… More >>
  • Best Public Art-to-Be

    Over the River

    Even now, on the brink of total approval, the controversy still seems to rage around international installation artist Christo's dream to drape sections of the Arkansas River in southern Colorado with translucent fabric canopies. And though the Bureau of Land Management gave its okay to the project in November, clearing a major hurdle for Christo, and it seems likely that… More >>
  • Kilgore Books and Comics

    Best Unofficial New Public Art

    Kilgore Books and Comics

    In the alley heading north off the 600 block of East Colfax Avenue is the coolest unsolicited advertising in Denver. Local graffiti artist Theo took it upon himself to spray-paint a ten-by-twenty-foot love letter to Kilgore Books and Comics, a Capitol Hill institution at 624 East 13th Avenue. Featuring images of such bohemian writers as Kurt Vonnegut (creator of the… More >>
  • Best New Public Art

    "For Jennifer," by Joel Shapiro

    Though it appears to be on the front lawn of the new Clyfford Still Museum, "For Jennifer" is actually on land owned by the Denver Art Museum, which also owns the fabulous Joel Shapiro sculpture. A signature Shapiro, the 32-foot-tall, dazzling blue piece is a cross between minimalism and representation, with the rectilinear metal bars economically brought together in such… More >>
  • Best One-Woman Show

    Blind Date

    Canadian actress Rebecca Northan sat forlornly at a table on the stage of the Galleria Theatre wearing a tight dress and a red clown nose. She told us that her name was Mimi the Clown, that she had been stood up, and that she was going to select a new date from the audience. She did. And this wasn't one… More >>
  • Best Costume Design


    When the Arvada Center's new production of Hairspray opened last summer, everyone, but everyone, was checking out the costumes. That's because Denver hero and Project Runway superstar Mondo Guerra designed them, putting his way with fresh and professional looks to the test. But in fact, Mondo had worked behind the scenes at the center's theater long before he became nationally… More >>
  • Best Entertainment for Short Attention Spans

    Fast Forward Press

    You don't need pages and pages to tell a good story. In fact, a great story can be related in just six words. Fast Forward Press constantly proves this by publishing flash novels and annual anthologies devoted to literature that falls under the 1,000-word mark. From six-worders like "Seven cock-rings later, she kissed me," by Michael Flatt, to longer, more… More >>
  • Best Addition to Denver's Art District on Santa Fe

    Black Book Gallery

    Black Book brings urban and street-inspired art to Denver's Art District on Santa Fe in a big, bold way, hosting exhibits that showcase both local and national figures. One month you might see seafaring woodcuts by John Fellows, the next, sculptures and prints by Ravi Zupa; international names like Ottograph, Galo and 2501, who showed together here a year ago,… More >>
  • Best Set

    The Taming of the Shrew

    What was fascinating about the set created by David M. Barber for the Denver Center Theatre Company's production of The Taming of the Shrew, which was set in 1950s America, was how it melded broad and cartoony elements with others that were subtle and aesthetically pleasing. There was a big map at the back of the stage that tracked the… More >>
  • Best Arts District


    It's hard to beat the art heavyweights around the Civic Center, but by virtue of its vast scale alone, RiNo — the River North Art District — definitely does, and thus deserves the title of best arts district in Denver. Though pioneering arts outposts began to occupy the Upper Larimer section of the district three decades ago, only over the… More >>
  • Best Director

    Edith Weiss
    Vox Phamalia: Quadrapalooza

    A variety show like Vox Phamalia: Quadrapalooza, presented at the Avenue Theater, required a whole different set of skills from a director. The show was intended as a place where everyone in the PHAMALY company could find a home, regardless of singing or acting talent or level of disability. To achieve this, director Edith Weiss selected stories from those sent… More >>
  • Best Addition to Denver's Art Scene

    Clyfford Still Museum

    Clyfford Still, a pioneer of abstract expressionism and a giant in the history of modern art, died in 1980, leaving behind a will stipulating that his estate, comprising some 94 percent of his life's artistic output, would be given to an American city that would pledge to build a museum to display his work — and nothing else. In 2004,… More >>
  • Best Premiere

    The Whale

    When Samuel D. Hunter's The Whale was read at the Denver Center Theatre Company's New Play Summit in 2011, we all wondered how a work that centered on a morbidly obese man slowly dying while anchored to his couch would fare in full production — and the production mounted by the DCTC this season laid all those concerns to rest.… More >>
  • Best Production of a Musical


    Phantom is different from that Andrew Lloyd Webber behemoth, Phantom of the Opera. It's smaller in scope, stronger on plot and character, and has a more supple score — though the surging emotions and Gothic plot points are all still there. For this production, Boulder's Dinner Theatre fielded two leads with terrific voices, as well as a stage full of… More >>
  • Best Public Art at DIA

    "Mustang," by Luis Jimenez

    The creation of "Mustang," Luis Jimenez's 32-foot-tall rearing stallion in blue painted fiberglass, has all the elements of a good movie: Mature artist gets a major commission and attempts to create his masterpiece, but can't seem to complete it. More than ten years pass, with dueling lawsuits crossing between the artist and his patron, the City and County of Denver.… More >>
  • Best Production of a Comedy

    American Night: The Ballad of Juan Jose

    American Night tells the story of immigrants in America through a crazed mix of skits, historical references, inspired parody and moments of pathos and insight. As the play opens, the protagonist is studying for his citizenship test, and as he reads, a phantasmagoric tapestry of historical events unfolds. He witnesses the signing of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo in 1848… More >>
  • Best Gallery Show — Solo

    Myron Melnick

    It was an off-the-wall choice on the part of Singer Gallery curator Simon Zalkind to mount an important show dedicated to an artist who quit doing work years ago. But Myron Melnick: Taking Shape: Works with Paper turned out to be a fabulous exhibit. Zalkind sampled both wall sculptures and monotypes by Melnick that showed off his two very different… More >>
  • Best Theater Production


    Lynn Nottage's Pulitzer-winning Ruined is based on interviews that the playwright conducted in refugee camps with women from the Democratic Republic of the Congo — a lawless, bloodstained place where women are raped and mutilated by the thousands. She set the action in a whorehouse run by Mama Nadi, a raucous, tough-minded soul who both protects and exploits her girls.… More >>
  • Reclamation

    Best Gallery Show — Group


    Many artists are interested in environmental issues, and former Center for Visual Art director Jennifer Garner brought a bunch of them together for Reclamation, an exhibit dedicated to art made from trash. Though a group show, Reclamation zeroed in on California artist Ann Weber, who weaves cardboard strips to make big abstract sculptures that have a monumental presence despite their… More >>
  • Best Theater Season

    Curious Theatre Company

    If Curious Theatre Company had only brought us Clybourne Park — Bruce Norris's witty and insightful update of Lorraine Hansberry's famed A Raisin in the Sun — this season, well, dayenu, as we say at Passover: It would have been enough. If artistic director Chip Walton had seized only on Tony Kushner's Homebody/Kabul to introduce to Denver audiences, that might… More >>
  • Best Annual Festival

    Denver County Fair

    Last summer's inaugural Denver County Fair, which took shape in the fertile, never-say-never imaginations of event promoter/dreamer Dana Cain and artist/gardener/doer Tracy Weil (not to mention pie-making artist Chandler Romeo, who came up with the original concept), cut through every cultural cross-section you could think of. There was fashion. There was urban commerce. There were pancakes, chickens, a freak show,… More >>
  • Best Museum Exhibit


    In the spring of 2011, Jill Desmond, then a young curatorial assistant at the Denver Art Museum, looked at the contents of the permanent collection in the Modern and Contemporary department and realized there were a lot of high-tech pieces. Enough, it turns out, to pull off the blockbuster Blink! Light, Sound and the Moving Image, a show that rambled… More >>
  • Best Risk-Taking Evening of Theater


    Entering the Aurora Fox's black-box theater for K2, audience members were confronted by a steep cliff (a miraculous piece of design by Charles Packard), where two men were sitting on a ledge. Pakistan's K2 is the second-highest mountain in the world, and it kills climbers; these two men are stranded there. One of them has a gruesome injury on his… More >>
  • Best Clyfford Still Show

    Inaugural Exhibition

    Okay, the Clyfford Still Museum has only had one show, but it's so incredible, it deserves its own award. The spectacular Inaugural Exhibition was organized by Dean Sobel, the museum's founding director. Five years ago, Sobel was one of only a handful of people who had actually seen Still's work, since the artist was a major recluse. New discoveries on… More >>
  • Best Show Saluting Clyfford Still

    AB EX: Positions and Dispositions

    The opening of the Clyfford Still Museum inspired several other Denver venues to present shows tied to the momentous event, and several of these displays set a very high standard. The most gorgeous example was AB EX, at the museum-sized Robischon Gallery. Designed by Jennifer Doran, who owns the flagship space with her husband, Jim Robischon, AB EX covered a… More >>
  • Best Body Painter, Chalk Artist and Haunted House Actor

    Mythica von Griffyn

    That Mythica von Griffyn is a colorful character goes without saying once you've met her. That's partly because she holds down some of the rarest jobs on earth: She turns models into exotic birds, sidewalks into masterpieces and actors into the walking dead. And sometimes she simply is the walking dead, as a character herself in haunted houses. As a… More >>
  • Best Birdbrained Scheme

    Thinking About Flying

    People still flip out when they learn they can check out a pigeon at the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver — and we don't mean that they can just see one; we mean they can check one out like a library book, then take it home — with the stipulation that they then let it loose. These birds, part of… More >>
  • Best Historic Show — Solo

    Sandzen in Colorado

    For decades during the first half of the twentieth century, Birger Sandzén, a Swedish painter based in Kansas, spent his summers in Colorado recording the celebrity scenery in photos, drawings and, most famously, paintings. His signature style — characterized by wild flourishes of brushwork carried out in cotton-candy shades of thick paint — created a bridge linking post-impressionism to abstract… More >>
  • Best Poetic Justice

    Women of the World Poetry Slam

    Denver not only boasts the 2011 national champion slam-poetry team, Slam Nuba, but in March the city hosted its largest poetry event to date: the Women of the World Poetry Slam. And then a local won it: Longtime poet and 37-year-old mother of four Dominique Ashaheed, a member of the Slam Nuba team, held on to the first-place slot through… More >>
  • Best Gallery in a Garage

    Super Ordinary Gallery

    The trend in central Denver galleries, especially in RiNo, is to tout exhibit spaces as extensions of someone's home, as found at places like Hinterland and Pattern Shop Studio. But when Tran and Josh Wills rolled up the garage door on Super Ordinary last year, they inaugurated a new underground house-gallery: In the same space where their kids like to… More >>
  • Best Historic Show — Group

    Colorado Abstract Expressionism

    The late Vance Kirkland is unquestionably the most famous abstract painter in the history of Colorado art, making the Kirkland Museum the perfect place to mount a show about abstraction in this state. The four-part show, which is still on view, was conceived by museum director Hugh Grant, using his usual more-is-more style. With this loosely organized exhibit, Grant provides… More >>
  • Best Salute to a Forgotten Art Star

    John Haeseler Revisited

    The art scene we have today in Denver is rooted in the late '70s and early '80s. That's when the first co-ops were founded and a generation of galleries began coming on line, with a crowd of artists emerging to fill those places; the first First Friday celebrations even date to that era. Many of the people intrinsic to establishing… More >>
  • Best Temporary Outdoor Installation

    Manitou Chair Project

    Colorado Springs artist Sean O'Meallie managed to change deep-seated ideas about chairs in a single day. But it really took many months of hard work — planning, fundraising and chair-collecting — to bring the Manitou Chair Project to fruition. And it came off without a hitch last October, when about 700 chairs were lined up in a seemingly endless row… More >>
  • Best Snapshot of an Art Scene

    Faculty Triennial

    The University of Denver has featured important artists on its faculty since Vance Kirkland founded the department in the 1920s. Dan Jacobs, director of the Victoria H. Myhren Gallery at the school, is interested not only in DU's illustrious history but in its very vital present, and the latter provided the focus for Faculty Triennial. The university's most famous teacher… More >>
  • Best Compatible Duet

    Michael Burnett and Lewis McInnis

    It's not that easy to put together a coherent show with the works of two artists with distinct sensibilities, but Space Gallery definitely hit the mark with Dissection & Deregulation: Michael Burnett and Lewis McInnis. Michael Burnett, who owns Space, put his own pared-down compositions featuring repeated motifs alongside the smeary geometric abstractions that are the signature style of Lewis… More >>
  • Best Show About Our Hippie History

    West of Center

    The hippie movement of the '60s and '70s played an important part in Colorado history. Like other spots in the American West, this state was invaded by hordes of young free-thinkers in VW buses; they camped out in Capitol Hill, Boulder, Nederland and Manitou Springs, as well as more isolated spots. West of Center: Art and the Counterculture Experiment in… More >>
  • Best Incompatible Duet

    Roland Bernier and Bill Vielehr

    Except for the fact that they are both well-established artists, the two men featured in I Gotcha Covered: Roland Bernier and Bill Vielehr have nothing in common. Roland Bernier's visual language is actually language — in this show, giant letters in alphabetical order — which he uses as found compositions for his conceptual pieces. Bill Vielehr, on the other hand,… More >>
  • Best Followup to Marvelous Mud

    Katie Caron and Martha Russo; Jerry Morris

    One of the star turns in the Overthrown portion of Marvelous Mud was the outrageous installation "Apoptosis," which was later reconfigured and deconstructed for Oxytocin: Katie Caron and Martha Russo at Ice Cube. Using ceramic blobs that were internally lighted and connected by wires, Katie Caron and Martha Russo made forms out of clusters of smaller shapes; the tangle of… More >>
  • Best Sculpture Show

    Robert Mangold Retrospective: Time, Space and Motion

    Collin Parson hit it out of the park with Robert Mangold Retrospective: Time, Space and Motion, a show that's still open in the entire set of galleries on the lower level of the Arvada Center for the Arts. The center's exhibition designer, the twenty-something Parson served as curator of this show as well: The son of sculptor Chuck Parson, he… More >>
  • Best Group of Related Exhibits

    Marvelous Mud

    The marvelous Marvelous Mud, on display last summer throughout both Denver Art Museum buildings, was not a single show, but eight separate ones, all about clay — at least to some extent. The main display was Overthrown: Clay Without Limits, which showcased current trends in ceramics; Focus: Earth & Fire also concentrated on contemporary works. Then there were shows that… More >>
  • Best Photo Show

    Robert Adams

    A magnificent traveling show at the Denver Art Museum, Robert Adams: The Place We Live provided an in-depth look at one of the most important artists associated with Colorado. In the '60s and '70s, Adams revolutionized photography by depicting the local landscape. His shots of the breathtaking Colorado scenery also captured the tract houses and trailer parks set incongruously, and… More >>
  • Best Fiber Show

    Regina Benson: On Fire

    Regina Benson, who lives in the foothills above Golden, was among those evacuated in the face of an approaching wildfire last summer, and seeing the bright oranges glowing in the darkness of night inspired a new body of work. The centerpiece of Regina Benson: On Fire was "Passage," a curving pair of walls hung from the ceiling, made from cloth… More >>
  • Best Multimedia Show

    Bradley Borthwick

    For Bradley Borthwick: Not All Borthwicks Were Noblemen, artist Bradley Borthwick constructed an elaborate installation, staged a performance with deadly weapons, and acted nude in a film with an alternately pounding and haunting soundtrack meant to document a ritual he'd created. As it turned out, many of Borthwick's Scottish ancestors, all noblemen, had been slaughtered by the English using longbows,… More >>
  • Best Standout Piece in a Group Show

    "Chorus," by David Zimmer

    For MCA Denver's Another Victory Over the Sun, put together by museum director Adam Lerner and assistant curator Nora Burnett Abrams, all of the exterior light sources were blocked, making the interior fairly dark, with the works only minimally lighted. But that was enough to make pieces by Denver artist David Zimmer stand out. A wall installation called "Chorus" was… More >>
  • Best Highbrow/Lowbrow Art Mix

    Toy Stories

    William Havu, the director of his namesake gallery, came up with a frothy confection last summer that celebrated serious artists taking a lighthearted approach to subject matter. Many of these artists were riffing off toys or the idea of play, as indicated by the show's title, Toy Stories. The exhibit featured many amazing things, including works by Michael Brennan, Michael… More >>
  • Best Museum Shop

    Museum of Contemporary Art Denver

    Tucked into a corner of the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver's first floor, this gift shop serves two distinct camps: curious tourists and curious residents. There are more than 150 books on artists, art genres and just plain weird stuff; I Feel Relatively Neutral About New York vies for attention next to How to Be a Man. Staffed by four… More >>
  • Best Emerging Artist Show

    Joseph Coniff: This Is What It's Like - CLOSED

    While conceptual art can be really ponderous, it can also be really witty — at times downright funny — and super-smart. That was the case with Joseph Coniff: This Is What It's Like, a show at Rule Gallery that was the art-world version of a smirk. Coniff, a recent Rocky Mountain College of Art + Design grad, had his tongue… More >>