One step into the Brass Tree house and what sets this makeshift venue apart is immediately apparent: There are cameras everywhere. The free shows at the house venue are all recorded and quickly turned around as short, film-style pieces of music history. Only three episodes into its series, Brass Tree has already captured legendary performances by Hot White, Thee Goochi Boiz and SAUNA. Just goes to show what dudes with cool day jobs can do when they combine those skills with a passion for music.

Best Addition to the Local Hip-Hop Scene

Sole

When Sole, aka Tim Holland, split from Anticon and moved to Denver, the city got an unusual treat — not just a stellar addition to the hip-hop scene, but a live performer whose progressive attitude toward the music industry has subsequently given us plentiful releases of both the free and for-purchase varieties. His attachment to multimedia projects, public-speaking events and social networking has made Sole a clear, well-spoken voice in the community.

Tjutjuna's type of psychedelic space rock is a richly realized alloy of edgy darkness and playful exuberance swirling around a bright center of rippling melodies. But rather than go in for one of those retro cover designs that seem to grace the albums of most neo-psychedelic bands lately, the members of Tjutjuna approached their friend Milton Melvin Croissant III, one of the founders of Rhinoceropolis, to create a piece of art that perfectly suited the music within. Appropriately, it features a smiling, rainbow-bespectacled xenomorph that matches the band's name.

Denver's hip-hop roots run deep. And if there's one b-boy who's doing his part to keep that culture alive, it's Delfino Rodriguez. Better known in hip-hop circles as Fienz, the graf writer, gifted dancer, Bronx Boys member and Lords of Finesse co-founder is teaching a whole new generation the ways of hip-hop and reaching a whole new audience with the Mighty 4 Denver b-boy summits he's been pouring his heart, soul and money into for the past three years. The free, annual community event not only creates mainstream exposure for the thriving members of the underground, but it gives cats a chance to meet and chop it up with such b-boy legends as Tony, Trac 2, Mr. Freeze, Paulskee, Yknot, Jojo, Aby and Troll, among others. Hip-hop don't stop.

The Treehouse Collective is known around town for its old-school vibe and crew of talented DJs — and, of course, for the wicked-awesome parties it throws for house-heads. If you only go to one THC party this year, make it Pitch A Tent, the annual Labor Day house-music extravaganza set in the mountains near Idaho Springs. The 2010 admission price was $10, a steal considering what you received: music blasting all night and well into the morning, a stage setup (with a dance floor), and nearly unlimited camping space where you could, well, pitch a tent. The organizers provided the tunes and good energy, you provided your own food and beverages — and a good time was definitely had by all.

RedLine Contemporary Art Center
Courtesy RedLine Contemporary Art Center

The work of Viviane le Courtois is all about community, waste, decay and everyday things, and those themes followed through in her RedLine installation How to Eat an Artichoke?, a complex study of the community of eating and its by-products. The exhibit began with an elaborately set, completely hand-built beetle-kill pine table, set with homemade ceramics and other accoutrements made of natural materials, including baskets of sumac branches, yucca and mulberry paper. A group came together to eat artichokes at the table; the scraped artichoke leaves that remained from their feast were left in the baskets to dry and curl up. While film documented the lovely, communal breaking of bread, the leftover leaves spoke of what happens after the feast. The whole thing was beautiful food for thought.

RiNo District

Sculptor Mike Whiting's monumental, weathered and pixel-shaped "Rhino," installed last year at 24th and Larimer streets and sponsored by the Broadway Viaduct Lower Maintenance District, creates an incredible entry to the RiNo Art District. The tough-as-nails, sky-blue steel ungulate polices the intersection fiercely yet comically, as if daring you to come in. Don't mind if we do.

Wazee Union

S. Brian Smith and Neil Adam wheel and deal real estate, but to them, a building isn't just a building. When they saw an empty warehouse and former factory wasting away down by the railroad tracks off of Brighton Boulevard, they envisioned creating something modern and bold, a community-builder with a concrete floor. And so Wazee Union was born. Inspired by such communal artist colonies as the Third Ward in Brooklyn, they sectioned off nearly fifty studio spaces of varying sizes and rented them, cheap, to artists, crafters, designers and creative small businesses. Not surprisingly, those spaces were snapped up like that and are now rarely empty for more than a couple of days. But artists don't just work here; they also show their work: The thriving community hosts juried gallery shows, Second Saturday open houses and other arts-oriented events. The project has been so successful that Walnut Workshop, a sister enclave, is now open right across the tracks, and Smith and Adam have plans for more retooled properties in the works.

Slapped up boldly on the backside of the Ellie Caulkins Opera House along Champa Street, the massive "Faces of Colorado Art" is a tribute to the region's talented creative pool, a who's who checkerboard of local artwork and artist portraits. Thank the Denver Theatre District, which worked with Plus Gallery's Ivar Zeile to put the cultural patchwork together, for a beautiful reminder that Denver artists rock.

The underground creative collective of Tuyet Nguyen, Matt Scobey and Tony Farfalla excels at kicking ideas around. One of them, to tear down gallery walls, both real and subjective, and hang art in the streets, took shape when they traveled down to Miami Beach with an artist entourage to do that very thing, during the annual citywide arts fair Art Basel Miami Beach. They hauled in a batch of submitted Denver artworks, hit the dollar store for buckets and wheat paste, found a wall and went to work, pasting up the art in an alley in the dark of night and documenting it all on video. Talk about an art attack!

Best Of Denver®

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