Mayor's Arts Awards Include Special Honor for Mural Commemorating Murder Victims

Robin Kniech commissioned a mural commemorating three victims of an August triple homicide.
Robin Kniech commissioned a mural commemorating three victims of an August triple homicide.
Chris Walker
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At-Large Denver City Councilwoman Robin Kniech won a special IMAGINE 2020 District Challenge award when Mayor Michael Hancock announced the winners of the 2018 Mayor's Awards for Excellence in Arts & Culture on November 15.

Denver's thirteen council reps had been given grants by Denver Arts & Venues to use for projects that would infuse arts in their districts during Denver Arts Week. Kniech used her allotment to fund a mural dedicated to three people experiencing homeless who were murdered in August.

“This is a remembrance and a testimony to the healing power of art,” Kniech said on November 10, when the mural was created near the site where Nicole Boston, Jerome Coronado and Christopher Zamudio were killed. “This mural represents that when we connect with each other, we can grow our capacity to heal.”

Here are the winners in the five standard categories, along with descriptions provided by Arts & Venues:

Art From Ashes, Arts & Culture Youth Award Winner (and a previous Westword MasterMind!)

Art From Ashes youth empowerment programs allow marginalized young people to express their creative genius through poetry and spoken word (Phoenix Rising); visual and tactile art (Drawing on Air); and drama and creative play (Casting Shadows). Youth create in a non-judgmental space with caring adults and community artists. The workshops provide a forum through creative expression for youth to recognize and acknowledge previous negative experiences through storytelling. Participants break through the barriers that isolate young people, and experience health and hope rather than expecting further victimization.

Flamenco Fantasy Dance Theatre: Arts & Culture Impact Award

The Flamenco Fantasy Dance Theatre was created by René Heredia 28 years ago. As the Artistic Director of the Flamenco Fantasy Dance Theatre, as a solo guitarist, and with his Flamenco fusion group, René has produced shows and performed around the world, and has taught hundreds of dance and guitar students. This investment in a truly profound and distinct form of expression has exposed thousands of audience members to an experience they would not otherwise have seen or heard.

Dorothy Tanner: Arts & Culture Innovation Award

Through her 65-year art career, Dorothy Tanner has taught art to adults and children. Her dedication, with her late husband Mel Tanner (1925-1993) and her current team, brought the ever-evolving Lumonics art form to thousands of people from all ages and backgrounds in several regions of the United States since its inception in 1969. Lumonics consists of original light sculptures, live projection, video, electronics, music and performance, and intends to deeply affect people on physical, emotional and spiritual levels. Through Lumonics, Mrs. Tanner and her associates created an interactive field trip attended by more than 1,000 elementary, high school and graduate students.

El Teatro volARTE Youth Theatre: Arts & Culture Global Award

In August 2018, El Teatro VolARTE group (part of Su Teatro Cultural and Performing Arts Center) took the global stage at the largest arts festival in the world, The Edinburgh Fringe Festival through The American High School Theater Festival. They performed one of Tony Garcia’s first full-length plays about Denver’s Westside, “El Corrido del Barrio.” "El Corrido del Barrio" tells the story of the people of the Auraria neighborhood and their displacement during the pre-gentrification era of Urban Renewal. Representing Chicanos, The Westside and all of Denver, this theatre experience was life-changing for the youth participants.

Festival Colorado Ballet & Keya Trujillo-Clairmont: IMAGINE 2020 Award

Through “Moccasins En Pointe,” Colorado ballet partnered with Keya Trujillo-Clairmont, a Lakota dancer and 2016 Denver March Powwow Princess, to develop and perform an original piece. Through a free performance and reception, “Moccasins En Pointe” combined Native American culture, Fancy Shawl’s garb and footwork, a bit of ballet, and the singing and drumming of the Mandaree Singers from Fort Berthold, North Dakota. The program was also presented as part of the 2018 Denver March Powwow and expanded awareness, engagement, inclusiveness and diversity.

The Mayor’s Awards for Excellence in Arts & Culture were introduced in 1986 as a way to recognize individuals and organizations that have made significant and lasting contributions to the arts in Denver.

"It's an honor to acknowledge and recognize those who contribute to the artistic and cultural landscape of our great city," Hancock said at a November 15 luncheon honoring this year's winners. "The arts play an important role in our communities, neighborhoods and everyday lives, and Denver wouldn’t be the vibrant community it is without strong participation and support for the arts."

Find out more about the winners at artsandvenuesdenver.com.

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