Best Gallery Show — Solo 2013 | Place | Best of Denver® | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Denver | Westword

Michael Brohman, who teaches sculpture at the University of Colorado Denver, is known for being outrageous. For his solo Place, mounted in fall 2012, the longtime Pirate co-op member presented some never-before-seen works that he'd done during a residency at the Jentel Foundation in Banner, Wyoming. The works, mostly made of found materials, represent contemporary takes on Western themes, like the screen door with the missing cross brace that brilliantly expresses its title, "Horizon." Brohman's often been on the cutting edge, so even if Western-style contemporary art is one of the latest crazes, it's important to remember that he's been at it for more than five years.

Keith Garcia

Tracks is more than just a gay bar — it's a veritable multiplex of GLBTQ-centered activities. The decades-old nightclub has it all, from Denver's largest ladies' night (First Fridays) to RuPaul's Drag Race watching parties to DJs from across the globe rocking its multiple dance floors. The adjoining EXDO Event Center space allows Tracks to offer the best live drag shows in Denver — when it's not serving as the premier party destination for corporate events, nonprofit fundraisers, weddings and more. At both venues, the door and bar staff are friendly and efficient, and the sound system keeps every party going, no matter the size of the crowd. From spring-break underwear parties to Pride weekend blowouts, Denver's vibrant GLBTQ community is in the spotlight at Tracks.

Giving movies that might otherwise never be seen a chance on the big screen, the Sie FilmCenter's ongoing Cinema Q series and annual film festival focuses on the wide-open world of GLBTQ cinema. I Want Your Love, which screened last year, might have been too pornographic for any other festival, but at Cinema Q, it got the attention it deserved. Programming director Keith Garcia continues to seek out topical and often controversial narratives, booking films by gay writers, directors and producers, documentaries about pivotal GLBTQ figures, and romantic comedies with complex plots, removing any notion that these are simply "gay" movies.

Don't think we're crowing just because Noah Van Sciver's work appears in these pages: The cartoonist would have made a name for himself in the comix world with or without our help — he's that good. Known to the rest of the world as the creator of the Blammo comic book and an accomplished old-school comic artist with a dense, heavily cross-hatched style, an ironic sense of humor and a slight taste for the macabre, Van Sciver has had work published in several compilations, in Mad and The Best American Comics 2011. But he reached his pinnacle — so far — with 2012's The Hypo: The Melancholic Young Lincoln, an impeccably drawn graphic novel published by Fantagraphics. Mining a little-known period in the life of Abraham Lincoln, when he was treated for a deep bout of depression resulting in a nervous breakdown, the book, which revisits the now-antiquated treatment options of the nineteenth century, is dark, but a glimmer of Lincoln's future can also be detected in the denouement.

This past winter, four young upstarts transformed Edge Gallery into a very edgy place. First was Estee Fox, represented by videos, disturbing performances and some great figurative works on paper. Then David Sole turned one space into an artificial back yard that included a gouged and graffiti-covered wall. Next up was Harry Kleeman, with some super-successful hybrids of paintings and sculptures that hung on the walls. Finally, there was Daniel Nilsson, who was all over the map with oddball attractions like silvered Coke bottles, a fur-covered ladder and some very elegant sculptures that relied on fluorescent lights. It's apparent that the next generation of Denver's art world has already arrived.

In anticipation of Continental Drift at MCA Denver, Jennifer Doran curated a quartet of solos by well-known Colorado artists that focused on new art about the West. Stephen Batura was made up of the artist's casein-and-acrylic paintings based on historic photos, like his famous train-wreck paintings. Edie Winograde mashed the past with the present through the artist's remarkable color shots of nerdy re-creations of historic events. Jerry Kunkel featured the painter's photo-realist pieces depicting Western scenes as though they were placemat images. Finishing things off was Gary Emrich, which combined a video with digital prints of mid-century Western-kitsch knickknacks. The strong foursome presented further evidence that contemporary art in the West is an up-and-coming national trend.

Hu$$la Entertainment's Saturday-night hip-hop party at Club Level attracts hundreds of people every week. One of the secrets to the night's continued success is its organizers, who treat every week like it's the first. They further foster goodwill with customers by treating them with grace and respect: While DJ Juanito and DJ RX spin the tunes, host Thomasito Vasquez greets each customer with a smile and MC Money keeps the crowd entertained. There's usually a line around the building by 11 p.m. — and it's easy to see why.

On the 35th anniversary of Elvis Presley's death, Jonny Barber — the artist formerly known as the Velvet Elvis, who channels the King perhaps better than anyone else in the world — chose to honor Elvis Presley in the most memorable and fitting way possible. While the rest of the world was in Memphis last August, Barber had the foresight to book some time at Sun Studios, where the King once recorded, and performed ten of the original Sun singles, along with an original of his own and a tune by Willie Lewis, the founder of Denver's Rock-A-Billy Record Company.

Kurt Bauer (Super Secret Messengers and Animal/Object), a fixture in the Denver avant-garde going back to at least the '80s, curated this event. He asked people in the scene who'd built their own sound-making devices to put together a set showcasing the capabilities of those home-crafted instruments. With numerous performances that included entomologist Aaron Spriggs's portable theremin, a piece performed by Mark McCoin and a partner called "In Utero," and Jacob DeRaadt's amplified piece of metal, this wasn't your typical concert. Not since S/O/A (bject) and the Carbon Dioxide Orchestra last performed has anything like it been seen in Denver. Gorinto was proof that outsider art of the sound variety is alive and well in our city.

Having an anarchist collective host musical events is not a new or unique occurrence in Denver: The Breakdown Book Collective put on multiple memorable shows at both of its locations, and the Pitchfork House was one of the very few places where you could see crust-folk outfits like the Fainting Fansies in their element. Post Pony Palace benefited from the habitation of Magee Headley of the Haircut and her diverse musical tastes, so we saw the likes of avant-garde duo Dark Blue Dark Green (from Columbia, Missouri), Kitty Crimes, Cap'n Fresh and the Stay Fresh Seals, and noise artist Lockbox all in a living room with a P.A. Naturally, Headley's own band played the house on more than one occasion, and when you went to the place, you really did feel like you were visiting a friend who invited punks and other weirdos in to play music.

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