Meet the MasterMinds -- and help us pick the next creative class

Recognizing that the local arts scene needed a little fertilizer to really get going, and growing, eight years ago Westword created a program to honor the visionaries -- artists and organizations alike -- who are changing the cultural landscape of metro Denver.

And we decided to not just honor these creative geniuses, but to give them each substantial cash awards to use as they see fit: the MasterMind Awards.

The first seven classes of MasterMinds have done amazing things with their awards, frequently using them to help other, struggling artists along and creating major multipliers for the more than $110,000 that Westword has given away so far. And now we're getting ready to induct our eighth class.

We've been meeting with members of the seven previous MasterMind classes, talking about all of the exciting projects going on in this city and debating which individuals and efforts most deserve a grant this year. The awards are divided between visual arts, performing arts, film/video/multi-media, literary arts and fashion/design -- but an increasing number of artists blur the boundaries between all of these areas, and in a delightful way.

That discussion is far from over, so if you know of an artist or arts organization that you feel is deserving of a no-strings-attached cash prize, feel free to make a nomination in the comments section below (or, if you're shy, e-mail the name to editorial@westword.com).

We'll be announcing the next class of MasterMinds, once again sponsored by Metropolitan State College of Denver, at our annual Artopia event, set for Saturday, February 18.

Here is the roster of previous MasterMind winners, along with links to their bios:

2011 MasterMinds Slam Nuba Sarah Slater Tricia Hoke Illiterate/Adam Gildar Tiffiny Wine

2010 MasterMinds Fallene Wells Jennie Dorris Jolt/Guerilla Garden Eric Matelski Laura Goldhamer

2009 MasterMinds Brian Freeland/LIDA Project/Countdown to Zero Viviane LeCourtois Ravi Zupa The Denver Voice Vicky Nolan/Emily Griffith Opportunity School

2008 MasterMinds Creative Music Works/Andrew Starr RINO/Jill Hadley Hooper & Tracy Weil Jason Bosch/ArgusFest Art From Ashes/Cathleen O'Neill Mona Lucero

2007 MasterMinds Jessica Robblee Jimmy Sellars Tony Shawcross/deproduction, denver open media Vox Feminista The Fabric Lab/Josh and Tran Wills

2006 MasterMinds Dragon Daud, aka Dave Denney Katie Taft Deb Henriksen Cafe Nuba/Ashara Ekundayo Johnny Morehouse

2005 MasterMinds Lauri Lynnxe Murphy Emerging Filmmakers Project @ Bug Theater Brandi Shigley Denver Zine Library Buntport Theater

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