Carlos Frésquez was part of this city's burgeoning Chicano artists' movement of the '70s and '80s, creating works that specifically referred to the Mexican-American experience. In the '90s, he started to conflate the dreams of Aztlán with postmodernism, and his paintings grew into installations, setting the stage for his latest triumph, "Un Corrido Para la Gente." This funky piece, the title of which means "A Ballad for the People," consists of a giant guitar, a huge bicycle wheel topped by a crown, and a string of papel picado banners running between the guitar and a monumental shovel handle. Installed this past year at the intersection of Morrison Road and Sheridan Boulevard, it serves as an entry marker to the Westwood neighborhood, and its imagery fits the surrounding Mercado district like a glove.

Though they are neighbors, the Denver Public Library, the Denver Art Museum and the Colorado History Museum rarely cooperate on programs — but Allen True's West, highlighting the career of one of Denver's most important artists, was one of those rare win-win-win collaborations. True's chosen subject was the way the American West was rapidly changing before his eyes, and the trajectory of his career led him from charming book illustrations (shown at the DPL) to powerful easel paintings (at the DAM) to the most significant work of his lifetime, his stunning murals (at the CHM). It took a lot of walking to see it all, but given the high quality of True's work on display, the extra effort was definitely worth it.

Plus Gallery

One of the area's most clever young artists, Colin Livingston has been pondering art as commodity. In pursuing this, he's done all kinds of conceptual works — including having clients pick from sets of palettes, patterns, logos and slogans, becoming full partners in his paintings. With this show, he pushed the idea even further by creating an installation that aped a retail store, with his paintings the merchandise in custom-made display cartons, some with tabs so that they could be hung from open-front cabinets, à la Home Depot. The exhibit was incredible, worthy of display in a museum before its parts are sold off piecemeal.

Curious Theatre Company

Dorian is a brilliant but unstable musician, the most troublesome member of the musical quartet featured in Opus, a man who seems to channel Mozart when he plays. In the Curious Theatre Company production of this play, Hahn brought his usual intensity to the role, but he also gave the character an out-of-world quality, the dreaminess of a man lost not only in music, but in the dissonance of a sometimes unhinged brain — until, that is, the final scene brought an unexpected transformation.

Among all the characters in Eccentricities of a Nightingale, a passionate, sometimes overwrought play, the protagonist's insane mother comes closest to old-style Southern Gothic, and Erica Sarzin-Borillo played her large and theatrical in this Germinal Stage Denver production. But she also acted with such precision and emotional richness that her very staginess hinted at inarticulable and otherwise unreachable truths.

BINDERY Space

After rehearsing for eleven months, Aluminous Collective — a company formed by director Colleen Mylott and a group of onetime Naropa students — brought Charles Mee's Big Love to Denver. It's a fascinating play: The plot, liberally based on Aeschylus, concerns fifty sisters who have been promised by their fathers to fifty grooms and have fled from Greece to Italy to escape these marriages. The company's approach to this script was imaginative and full of resonant images: a four-man band; women in wedding dresses walking slowly, one by one, toward center stage, each carrying a sieve full of water; a couple expressing their love in a gliding, swooping dance on roller skates. Here's hoping we'll see more of Aluminous soon.

Last summer, the women behind Black Box Burlesque — Reyna Von Vett, aka Cora Vette, and Westword contributor Michelle Baldwin, aka Vivienne VaVoom — experienced some issues with the space they'd been renting at the Denver Civic Theatre. And by "experienced some issues," we mean they paid $2,500 in monthly rent to the facility's sub-leaser, and when said sub-leaser was evicted for not paying his rent to the landlord, Black Box Burlesque had to go, too. But now the ladies are back on their high-heel-clad feet and better than ever: They made a deal with Bender's Tavern to put together themed burlesque shows, and you can now catch Cora, Vivienne, Petra Puse, Annabella Lafontaine, Frangelica Love and others strutting their stuff to seasonal and always-amusing themes. The ladies encourage catcalls and other such hooting and hollering; head to Bender's every Thursday in April to experience the latest installment, Girls in Space: 2010, A Burlesque Oddity. It's bound to be a booty-shaking good time!

Lindsay Thorson of Dream Wagon isn't exactly a household name. For that matter, she's not that well known, even in Denver's underground scene. But she deserves to be, for her innovative Denver Show and Tell Project alone. Launched in May 2008, the project took shape as Thorsen solicited songs from fellow musicians, offering different themes each month. So far, the roster of contributors has included Littles Paia, nervesandgel, BDRMPPL, Pina Chulada, Dang Head, Emily Frembgen and other adventurous musicians with a sense of playfulness. Thorsen continues to be excited about each installment, and a more interesting sampling of local songwriting creativity would be difficult to find. More of Denver should know about this Show and Tell.

We love music. We love free stuff. So it stands to reason that Danny de Zaya's One Track Mind has become a daily destination around here. Every day, One Track Mind offers a free, legal MP3 download of a new track from some hot new band or artist, in styles ranging from electronic to indie. Every track is reviewed and rated, so you know what you're getting. And once a month or so, all the tracks get packaged up in an easy-to-download zip file in case you're too lazy or forgetful to visit each day. Plus, there's a monthly podcast. And as if all of this wasn't already an embarrassment of riches, the blog is also beautifully designed.

The world is getting wise to the ways of the big labels, and the ways aren't working, anyway. Which paves the way for enterprising little bands like Candy Claws, which started with the one thing you absolutely must have before any self-promotion technique has a shot: great music. In the Dream of the Sea Life, released last year, is a record with beauty and depth, and the act debuted music videos for each song on a different music blog around the world. Something's working — the group signed with Indiecator Records in Dublin — and we're guessing the sleeve has not been emptied of tricks.

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