Best Halloween in a Cemetery 2010 | Halloween Cemetery Tour and Spirits of Riverside Art Show | Best of Denver® | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Denver | Westword

When the Friends of Historic Riverside Cemetery wanted to raise money to help restore Denver's oldest cemetery to its former splendor, they brought a host of historical city figures back to life on Halloween. Period-clad reenactors revived such characters as Sand Creek Massacre good guy Silas Soule, turn-of-the-century temperance worker and police matron Sadie Likens, African-American social climbers Barney and Julia Ford, brewer Philip Zang and many others as tour participants trekked through the burial ground; afterward, an FHRC-sponsored Spirits of Riverside art show reception at the Wynkoop Brewing Company featured Riverside RIP Ale and Riverside-inspired works by local artists.

Where better to celebrate the Day of the Dead than in an actual cemetery, right beside the holiday's honorees? The Chicano Arts and Humanities Council and Denver muertos artist Jerry Vigil put on a grave event worthy of the ancestors in Crown Hill Cemetery last November, complete with a sugar skull workshop for kids, Aztec dancing, mariachi music, fiesta food and an art show and lecture by Vigil. Not only did the event put the meaning of the celebration in clear perspective, but it was also a heck of a lot of fun. Kudos to Crown Hill for adding this to its ongoing series of community celebrations and to Vigil and friends for making it happen.

Popcorn and hot dogs might be classic cinema foods, but sometimes you hunger for more. And for those times, Cinebarre is the place to go. The Thornton theater offers first-run movies with a full menu (and bar!). There's nothing too fancy on the menu -- just pizza, burgers, sandwiches, salads, desserts and appetizers -- but it offers a solid selection of quality comfort foods with movie-themed names. The prices are reasonable, and you even get to sit at a real table. And traditionalists can still get a bucket of popcorn to munch on.

Mirada Fine Art Gallery Facebook

Back in the '20s, when the foothills town of Indian Hills was marketed as a "mountain getaway" for Denver's elite, George Olinger erected the Indian Hills Trading Post to serve as a general store, post office and sales office for the new community, which quickly gained a reputation as an artists' colony. Today the renovated building again welcomes artists, as the home of Mirada Fine Art, a new gallery in a great old space dedicated to exhibiting contemporary art from across the region.

In order to present two solos in the same space, William Havu Gallery often pairs a painter with a sculptor. This approach was stunningly successful when Monroe Hodder: Painting Metabolism!, a show of gorgeous post-minimalist paintings, was put together with Michael Clapper: New Sculptures, an equally stunning exhibit of abstract three-dimensional works. Monroe Hodder, who divides her time between London and Steamboat Springs, creates luscious striped paintings with complicated palettes, while Michael Clapper ingeniously combines stone and metal to come up with his ambitious sculptures. Though the artists work in their own distinctive styles, their pieces were absolutely wonderful together, making for a gallery show as good as any museum exhibit this year.

Courtesy RedLine Contemporary Art Center

RedLine was founded by Laura Merage, an artist as well as arts supporter, and the facility combines studio space with one of the most impressive exhibition galleries in the region. Though there hasn't been a regular schedule of shows here, many of the exhibits have been first-rate — and that was certainly the case with You of All People! Here of All Places!, which highlighted the accomplishments of the studio artists. The curating was done by committee, but Jonathan Saiz took the lead; both he and Merage were featured, as were Margaret Neumann, Bruce Price, Clark Richert, Jeff Page, Virginia Folkestad and a raft of others. Nothing linked these artists beyond living in Denver and having studios at RedLine, and the result was an eye-popping assortment of art in a wide variety of mediums. Here's hoping the exhibit becomes an annual outing.

For weeks before Indiana, Indiana opened, Buntport Theater Company was on Facebook, asking for Mason jars. From the moment you entered the theater, you could see why: The entire back wall of the set was composed of glass jars. These were filled with objects representing aspects of the protagonist's past: corks, dried leaves, yarn, used teabags, buttons, seed pods, sticks, bones. Buntport creates its theater pieces as an ensemble, and the physical and technical aspects — lighting, sound, furniture, walls and doors — are part of each play's meaning and are fully integrated into the performances. So the shimmering back wall melded seamlessly with other elements of the production, both human and inanimate, and while from the audience it wasn't possible to figure out just what the jars held, the mysterious shapes and colors within them added mystery and depth.

Steven Burge was a charmer in Fully Committed, a one-man show about Sam, a hapless employee manning the phones in the grubby basement of one of New York's snobbiest restaurants, the kind of place where Diane Sawyer competes with supermodel — and vegan — Naomi Campbell for a table. In addition to playing Sam in this Aurora Fox production, Burge provided the phone voices of dozens of characters, from kvetchy customers to panicked kitchen staff to Sam's kindly father. His timing was terrific, his memory prodigious, and he was very, very funny. But Burge was also vulnerable and sweet, which made it nice when Sam got his own little happy ending.Best Actress in a One-Woman Show

For three days in February, playwrights, critics, actors, theater lovers and theater professionals thronged the Denver Center Theatre Company complex, watching staged readings, attending performances, listening to panel discussions and holding animated debates of their own over breakfast pastries or lunchtime salads and sandwiches. The Denver Center's New Play Summit, which got its start in 2006, becomes more sophisticated and attracts more national attention every year. Several plays that began their life as readings at past summits have been staged by the company; artistic director Kent Thompson has selected three of this year's plays for his coming season.

Patrick Mueller of Control Group Productions (and its home, the Packing House Center for the Arts) thinks Denver hasn't been living dangerously enough — at least in its arts offerings. He aims to fill the gap by booking more challenging, fringe-style performance programming, from Butoh to multimedia to theater to Control Group's own Dance Night for Beginners series, which blends humorous instruction with dance performance. Mueller says he's looking for a bigger space and better opportunities for collaboration with other groups; in the meantime, look for the Stop. Crawl. Walk. Run. multi-arts festival, coming in May.

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