2006 MasterMind Awards

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This collaborative spirit and his passion for all things film make Morehouse our 2006 MasterMind winner in Film/Video/Multimedia.

Morehouse wasn't always an advocate for the art -- he started out as a journalism/mass communications student at the University of Denver, but after taking a few film classes, he was hooked. He moved to Portland after graduation, signed up for a few more courses at the Northwest Film Center and realized he'd found his calling. He missed Denver, however, so he came back to town in 1998, committed to helping nurture a homegrown film scene. "Portland was fun, but I wanted to get some stuff started here," says Morehouse, who loves to curl up with a good documentary.

"There wasn't too much going on when I came back, but there were pockets of things happening," he adds. "The scene is so vibrant now compared to back then. It's still rising, but it's in a good position. Plus, I love the non-snobbery of the creative folk of Denver, because I've seen some noses stuck up in the air in different cities."

You reap what you sow.

Performing Arts: Dragon Daud
Dragon Daud knows how to put on a spectacle. Whether through his flame-spitting robots, Burning Man installations or [email protected] art bus, he's a man with a strong sense of the dramatic. He's also been the backbone of Denver's underground arts scene for more than a decade.

"The part of the scene that I'm involved in used to be fragmented and splintered," Daud says. "When I started doing things in 1988, we were centered around Muddy's. I met a lot of people there, and those people have really formed the core of the community that I think of as my scene and the art scene here in Denver. But it's grown by leaps and bounds as we've brought in more cool people, and now we represent a lot of the really great art happening in town. What we do isn't commercial art; it doesn't belong in Cherry Creek. There are fine artists among us, but they are in pursuit of things that are less mainstream. In fact, we were blockaded by the police when we tried to take the bus to the Cherry Creek Arts Festival one year."

Certainly Daud is no stranger to controversy. Some galleries don't welcome his roving band of First Friday merrymakers, worrying that they are a distraction to the "real" gallery-goers (i.e., money-spenders). In fact, he was once surrounded by cops (again!) and firefighters while dressed in a bunny suit, because he had an open flame on top of the bus, a former Breckenridge ski bus that he bought in 2000. But over the past six years he's transformed the silver beast from a simple mode of transportation to Burning Man into true performance art.

He dreams up a theme for each First Friday (hence his bunny suit for the Easter Bunny vs. Jesus month), and crowds people onto the bus. The passengers (only people he knows; the public can't board at will) all dress according to the concept, which usually involves a lot of feathers, fake fur and sequins. The group then careens around town, checking out art and making some along the way. "I like people to stretch the theme idea out into something else," Daud says. "Sometimes you can't tell what they are, and you ask them and they have a whole story. That's the art: the story they're going to tell someone. I want everyone to find some way within their means to express themselves."

Now, though, his effort is threatened. The Colorado Public Utilities Commission sent Daud a nasty-gram on January 16, ordering him to either cease and desist or obtain a $5 million commercial-vehicle insurance policy. His crime? Charging his friends $5 a head to help pay for the biodiesel that fuels the party. Daud, although broke, is not down and out; he plans to appeal the for-hire classification and keep the performance rolling. "I'd like to see the art bus make it through this conflict and be recognized as a community-building thing and not as something to be squashed," he says. "I had a back injury a little while ago, and I've been laid up. But I'm almost recovered, and I'm really getting excited about finishing this robot I started last year. It's going to the best one yet."

That's the MasterMind spirit.

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