The story of Denver is told by artists, comedians, writers, actors, musicians, politicians, curators, activists, poets, historians, illustrators and makers of all mediums. It's an ever-evolving tale, one that is built on the experiences of the people who take the time to stop and look around and share what they see. In 2015, the Mile High City saw some great moves made by residents and guests alike, and many of them shared their thoughts with me for Westword
. Below is a compilation of my interviews with just five of the great people I encountered doing radical things within the arts this year.
5. Kalyn Heffernan, Stacey Hendricks and Teresa Nguyen - "Going to Concerts is a Huge Hassle For People With Disabilities"
I've been friends with Kalyn Heffernan from local band Wheelchair Sportscamp for a while — but something we don't necessarily talk often about is her disability. However, it was a conversation about the total inaccessibility of the music venues we both frequent that opened my eyes to an issue that able-bodied people like me don't often think about. Forget worrying about getting good seats at a concert or wondering if a show will sell out — what if you had to think about whether or not you could get in the front door? This is the reality for Heffernan and her friends Stacey Hendricks and Teresa Nguyen, who graciously shared their experiences and frustrations around what it's like to go to a show in a wheelchair.
4. Lynda Barry - "Lynda Barry Discusses Image and Art at RMCAD"
Many art forms seems to have a focus on youth culture — Lynda Barry's books and illustrations do too, in the sense that they are often a look back at her life and experiences. The artist herself is many decades beyond teenage life, yet she levels with her audiences regardless of age. Talking to Barry reminded me just how cool and connected to the pop culture world we can continue to be through our own art.
3. Quinn Marchman - "Quinn Marchman of The Black Actors Guild on Doin' It In Denver"
I wandered into Su Teatro one evening and caught an incredible improv set from The Black Actors Guild, a group of young folks who blew me away with their talents. Later I sat down with Quinn Marchman, one of the founding members of this Denver-proud company, and learned this company's origin story. Recently, the group lost a member, Corin Chavez
— but The Black Actors Guild vowed to go on in his memory.
2. Nicole Cormier - "You Have to Be Tougher: Nicole Cormier on Writing About Hip-Hop"
Music critics don't often get interviewed about their craft, but as foundational Denver hip-hop writer Nicole Cormier was preparing to leave the city on a new adventure, I knew she had a story to tell. Though we didn't necessarily align on our approach to criticism, it was great to hear how a passionate fan of a global genre became the storyteller, commentator and expert on an often underrepresented corner Colorado's multi-faceted music scene.
1. Adam Lerner - "Adam Lerner on Beige, Creativity and MCA Denver's "I'm An Artist" Program"
When I called up Adam Lerner to talk about MCA Denver's revolutionary new program to give a thousand free memberships to working artists in Denver, I thought we would have a quick conversation about how "I'm an Artist" came about. Instead, Lerner dove into his feelings on the role art, artists and cultural hubs like the museum play in Denver's future. Lerner's work has always been about sparking citywide conversation and putting Denver on the global arts map and what he has planned for 2016 and beyond will only further that mission.
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