2007 MasterMind Awards

Page 2 of 4

He was also experimenting with what would become his signature work: photographs of G.I. Joe dolls. His first show featuring the action hero was at the Center for Contemporary Arts in Santa Fe, and several hundred people turned out. "But then they all left for one of the movies that were playing," Sellars says, laughing.

That good humor has carried him over the hurdles of starting his own business, closing it and now restarting it as sellarsprojectspace, located behind the Oriental Theater. He's also formally assisting fellow creative types with their marketing and websites, even scouting potential galleries for them. And while he's working to create a Tennyson Street Arts District, he's also keeping an eye on the scene as a whole. "What I've seen, and I've always proclaimed this, is that we've always had an incredible arts scene," he says. "Being in one of the states with the lowest funding for the arts, it's amazing how much the artists have chipped in to make it as vibrant as it has been. People around the world have started to notice what is happening here, to invest more into what we do. This is really such an incredible community. I always feel fortunate to be a part of it."

And the community's fortunate to have him.

Fashion/Design: The Fabric Lab
The Fabric Lab and its owners, Tran and Josh Wills, are walking inspirations, proof that you can live your artistic dream -- even when you have no money and three kids to feed.

They started their local-designers-only boutique three years ago in the basement of Babooshka, a hair salon next to the Bluebird Theater on East Colfax Avenue. Since then, they've expanded from eight artists to fifty, moved into their own storefront just down the block at 3105 East Colfax, and even joined a collective that opened the A++ Boutique de Force store in Belmar.

"I always wanted to do this, but when you're a young mom, people look at you like you have no worth," Tran Wills told Westword when she first opened the Fabric Lab and was working in a medical office to pay the bills. "We wanted to prove to everyone we weren't going to be like that. I'm doing this for my kids. If it weren't for them, I'd probably be working a job that I hate."

Instead, she's got a job she loves, and the kids -- ages eight, four and one and a half -- help out at the store. That's where you'll usually find Tran, juggling the local merchandise that overflows the space, planning fashion shows that use Colfax as a gritty catwalk, and creating art with the Yummies, the performance-art group that shares space with the Fabric Lab.

In her spare time, Tran is also teaching "Tee Party" classes for the Denver Art Museum, showing members how to cut out their own stencils and screenprint them on T-shirts. "The last class, we had pretty young people to people in their fifties," she says. "It was cool, because they got to go through the museum and take pictures and then come back and cut out a design from the image and make it into a stencil. People did not want to leave."

Just like people don't want to leave the Fabric Lab, which is filled with one-of-a-kind couture -- some of it created by Josh -- as well as handbags, accessories and great limited-run T-shirts, including the infamous Colfax version. "I'm getting a new designer a week," Tran says. "People are becoming more eco-friendly and more conscious of what they're making.

"We really want to keep showcasing all of our artists and pushing local design," she continues. "I think we're finally getting somewhere, and we want to help them get to where they want to be in their careers."

In doing so -- in recognizing new designers and encouraging them to realize their potential -- Tran and Josh Wills make the Fabric Lab live up to its promise: "We keep it realer."

And real local, which is sheer genius.



Literary Arts: Vox Feminista
The Last Supper. Nutricide: The Last Supper. Nutricide: The Last Buffet. Just over a month before their annual spring performance, the eight women at the core of Vox Feminista are still debating the name of the show. They've set the bar high, having come up with many literary delights since their first show at the original Penny Lane in Boulder just over seventeen years ago. There's been White Noise: Asleep in the American Dream; Shooting Stars in Retrograde, Alienated on Earth and even Y2K-Y Jellymamas Dancin' the Apocalpyso. And the politics of food deserves no less a title than any of the other modern-day issues that they've tackled together.

KEEP WESTWORD FREE... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.