Best Installation Show 2001 | Chuck ParsonVertical Garden | Best of Denver® | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Denver | Westword
Vertical Garden was the best of three solo exhibits mounted this past winter that showcased the most recent work of Lakewood sculptor Chuck Parson. An apparent workaholic, Parson created two complete environments for this show along with a group of related sculptures, all of which attempted to put a human face on our technological society. The tour de force was "Vertical Moment," a ceremonial space surrounded by a metaphorical fence and equipped with an acoustic baffle and amplifier, allowing viewers to hear their own footfalls on the walkway that leads into the piece. Parson is one of the state's most sophisticated artists, and this exhibit was one of the best last season.

Clark ov Saturn was a multifaceted contributor to Denver's scene before his 1999 move to New York City. His local-access cable show -- one teaching German, no less -- never seemed to get in the way of his ambient DJ gigs or the touring schedule of his techno/industrial unit, ph-10. Now ensconced as a DJ in Brooklyn coffee shop/vintage store Halcyon (its global prestige goes far beyond the dark roast), Clark has found time to expand his portfolio. Which explains why the Clarkster was found strolling through Manhattan, coffee in hand, in the guise of a dot-com superstar in one of Visa's Christmas commercials. Go, Clark.
The Robischon Gallery usually offers museum-quality shows, but few have matched Robert Motherwell: Early Drawings, which came down in early March. The late modern master was represented by some of his signature action paintings on paper as well as several examples of his later, and equally fine, color-field pieces. Many of the drawings, though quite small, had all the power and majesty of his larger and better-known works, such as those that are occasionally exhibited at the Denver Art Museum.

It's been a rocky start for the still-fledgling Museum of Contemporary Art/Denver: During the last few years, the museum has had two permanent directors and an interim one. Now a third permanent director has been hired: Cydney Payton, who rescued Boulder's Museum of Contemporary Art from obscurity during her glorious eight-year reign as its director. There's no doubt that Payton will have MoCAD -- which she plans to redub "MCA Denver" soon -- up and running again in no time.
Denver-based songwriter Mark Ledwig first penned Permanent Teeth as a classroom tool: An elementary-school teacher in Los Angeles, he knew his catchy numbers might help bilingual students comprehend such things as punctuation, the alphabet, multiplication and environmentalism. But after hauling some of his professional musician friends into the studio and recording under the name Natural Selection, Ledwig wound up with a recording that should appeal to fans of the Fab Four almost as much as the second-grade set. The CD is currently available exclusively through the Masterworks Music Services Web site, at, but it's definitely worth checking out from a music standpoint. As for the lyrics, who couldn't use a little refresher in the basics?
The time commitment required to see all of The Kentucky Cycle didn't deter area theatergoers from sampling Robert Schenkkan's nine-play, six-hour epic. Even though the evening could have easily degenerated into a Roots-length version of the old Daniel Boone television series, director Jeremy Cole staged the saga with economy, passion and clarity. And the splendid ensemble of actors triumphed where it mattered most, uncovering each play's unique flavor, each character's particular humanity and each time period's overriding sweep. Mostly, though, the effort amounted to a monumental achievement for the Hunger Artists ensemble.
A longtime member of Hot Rize and a well-liked member of the local music scene, Charles Sawtelle died in 1999 at age 52. But he touched a great many people while he was here, as Charles Sawtelle: Music From Rancho deVille (Acoustic Disc) amply demonstrates. Guest appearances by acoustic artisans such as Vassar Clements, Norman Blake, Jerry Douglas and Sam Bush, as well as by accordionist supreme Flaco Jimenez, ably supplement Sawtelle's own sublime picking.

The World Horror Convention 2000, held last May in Denver, wasn't for people with propellers whirling on their beanies; it was a feast for professional writers of horror. According to organizer Ed Bryant, generally accepted as the Colorado godfather of the genre, about 300 of the 500 people attending the convention were professionals: a group of editors, agents and writers that included such luminaries as Peter Straub, Steve Rasnic Tem, Dan Simmons, J. Michael Straczynski, Omni editor Ellen Datlow and the ever-argumentative Harlan Ellison. The conference provided panels and presentations as well as a wealth of networking opportunities. "There was a lot of talk about horror -- why we write it, is it a serious art form," says writer Melanie Tem. She herself reconnected with an editor she'd lost touch with and sold him two novels. Hmmm...a horror story with a happy ending.

Tucked away on a side street just a block from the 16th Street Mall, the Bovine Metropolis Theatre is a gem of a performance space, where comedy troupes like the Acme Comedy Players and the SansScript Players regularly bring out the laughs. Audiences can expect everything from improvisation to cleverly designed skits to nutty musical numbers; the theater, which also offers comedy workshops and classes, is the place to be for udder hilarity.

United Artists' vast, fifteen-house multiplex on the teeming 16th Street Mall may not be the most pleasing edifice, architecturally speaking, but when the lights go down and the credits come up, moviegoers can revel in every postmodern comfort: sculpted, well-cushioned seats arranged in the steeply canted, viewer-friendly "stadium" style, convenient cup-holders, and top-of-the-line projection and sound. Certainly, many suburban theaters boast similar high-tech facilities, but the Denver Pavilions 15 is downtown, and that's the greatest comfort of all for filmgoers who love city life.

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