The Ten Biggest Arts and Culture Stories of 2017

Lawrence Argent, the artist who created "I See What You Mean," died in October of 2017.
Lawrence Argent, the artist who created "I See What You Mean," died in October of 2017. Marvin Anani

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An OFF Cinema screening at BMoCA.
OFF Cinema
6. BMOCA staff resigns en masse.
The Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art made a New York Times headline in June when writer Ray Rinaldi reported that most of the institution's staff had quit, blasting the museum for labor violations and accusing executive director David Dadone of abuse. The board investigated the staff's claims and determined that they weren't substantiated. Former staffers maintain the investigation was flawed.

7. The Denver Film Society joins an antitrust lawsuit against Landmark Theatres.
As Landmark Theatres — which owns the Mayan, Esquire, Chez Artiste and Greenwood Village theaters, along with dozens of other independent venues nationwide — introduces audiences to foreign and independent films that otherwise might never find a place to screen, it negotiates exclusive deals with distributors that prevent smaller, truly independent art houses like the Sie FilmCenter from booking foreign and indie hits. At least that's according to an antitrust lawsuit filed in September against Landmark by the Denver Film Society and theaters across the country.
Is the Big Blue Bear looking for weed?
Colorado Convention Center
8. Lawrence Argent dies.
“I See What You Mean,” better known as the Big Blue Bear, has watched over the Colorado Convention Center since 2005 and is one of Denver's most popular pieces of public art. The sculpture's creator, artist Lawrence Argent, died on October 4, from complications related to surgery. Argent, whose work graces other spots in Denver and cities around the world, was known for incorporating revolutionary technologies, including 3-D printing, into his creative process.

9. MCA announces an $18 million renovation.
In late October, the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver launched an $18 million fundraising campaign this year to expand its current facilities. A response to increasing attendance, the renovations will create more public space at the museum and more areas for music and cultural events that attract a younger demographic — the lifeblood of the museum's future and the largest population it serves. The museum, which was designed by world-renowned Ghanaian-British architect David Adjaye, will also begin aggressively commissioning works by Denver artists, build a rooftop performance stage, and increase its educational programming.

10. DAM shuts down the Gio Ponti-designed North Building.
The Denver Art Museum shuttered its North Building in November ahead of a major remodel that has closed the iconic building — named after its designer, legendary Italian architect Gio Ponti — for three years. The project, five years in the making, is expected to cost $150 million, a financial obligation that was helped in November by $35.5 million from a bond initiative that will be matched three-to-one by private funding. The building will reopen in 2021, in time to celebrate its fiftieth anniversary.

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Kyle Harris has been Westword’s Culture Editor since 2016, writing about the arts, music and film.
Contact: Kyle Harris