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.

What's the best way to teach students how to run a hotel and events center? By having an actual hotel and events center right on campus, of course. And that's exactly what the Metropolitan State University of Denver's Hotel and Hospitality Learning Center accomplishes by doubling as a SpringHill Suites Marriott hotel. The swanky-looking combination classroom building and boutique hotel commands the corner of Speer Boulevard and Auraria Parkway. It was designed by Denver's venerable RNL architectural firm, which created a series of intersecting boxes set at various angles to one another. The walls are covered in a luscious purply-gray brick on the street sides, with buff brick used where the planar walls face the campus. In between is mirror-tinted glass, including a Mondrian-esque passage marking a doorway.

Nestled inside The Surface Beneath, a group show presented last summer, was a hallucination in the form of an installation by emerging artist Brandon Bultman. The unforgettable "Bufalo Blanco" consisted of a derelict upside-down '57 Buick station wagon with its exposed undercarriage planted with real prairie grasses. A thoughtful young artist, Bultman proved he's also ambitious with this piece; to get the car through the gallery doors, he had to turn it on its side, which he accomplished with the help of heavy-duty air bladders. He found the car, riddled with bullet holes, on a family farm, where those same kinds of grasses grow. To Bultman, the spectacular installation represented his childhood in Kansas — which apparently was pretty topsy-turvy.

Best International Film Organization Based in Denver

Design Onscreen

As a Colorado-based film organization, Design Onscreen functions on several levels: as a film-making entity, as a festival organizer, and as an advocate for the restoration of post-World War II architecture. The non-profit foundation also curates the Architecture + Design Film Series, culling documentaries that showcase architecture in film and include historical, cultural and stylistic subject matter. Design Onscreen then takes these movies around the world, to push a dialogue on America's recent architectural past.

Dazzle

Now in its fifteenth year, Dazzle has secured its spot as the premier place for jazz in Denver. But it's not just here that the club's been praised: Downbeat magazine listed it as one of the top 100 jazz clubs in the world — and with good reason. The level of talent that's brought in week after week makes it a really great venue. In the last year alone, Dazzle has hosted Joe Lovano, Esperanza Spalding, the Bad Plus, Vijay Iyer, Kurt Elling and the stellar trio of Ron Miles, Bill Frisell and Brian Blade. To top it all off, the walls here are acoustically treated, so the sound is top-notch, and sight-wise, there's not a bad seat in the house.

Dazzle

For a long time, guitarist Dan Schwindt ran the "Tuesday Session" jazz jams at Dazzle, one of the few spots in town to hold such get-togethers. Now hosted by drummer Todd Reid, these jams attract some of the heaviest players in town, as well as younger music students, who get to hone their chops in a live setting with Reid, bassist Ian Hutchison and a different special guest every week on guitar or piano.

Best Of Denver®

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