Kalyn Heffernan of Wheelchair Sports Camp felt the need to create a quasi-clandestine hip-hop showcase as a way to stay connected to the art form's true creative sources. With the assistance of longtime friend and collaborator Qknox, Heffernan put on the inaugural Quantized Fitness at a local DIY venue in late December and used the occasion to release Qknox's debut mixtape. Inspired in part by L.A.'s Low End Theory, Quantized Fitness will be a monthly curated event for which Heffernan and her crew bring in noteworthy artists from across the hip-hop underground.

American Museum of Western Art
American Museum of Western Art, 2nd Floor Gallery

Denver has been on a museum-building boom over the past several years, with the Clyfford Still Museum and History Colorado among the most recent projects. Unlike those glittering edifices, though, the American Museum of Western Art — the Anschutz Collection, which opened last May, is housed in one of the oldest buildings downtown, the Navarre, once a school for young girls. The beautifully renovated building is a fitting setting for Philip Anschutz's collection of Western art, which opened to the public last year. Anschutz started to gather up Western American art in the 1960s, paying pennies on the dollar by today's standards — but the collection that resulted is priceless. Anschutz relentlessly does things his way, so you can only see the AMWA by appointment two days a week, but it's well worth the trouble.

The mainstream and underground arts communities don't come together often enough, much less in collaboration with the city. But when the organizers of Unit E were approached about doing a music festival on the grounds of the Denver Performing Arts Complex, they jumped at the chance. With the help of the city, which shut down part of Champa Street for the occasion, they put together an impressive one-day event that included acts like Cody ChestnuTT, Wild Pack of Canaries and Nurses, as well as street art, interactive sound art and a tent featuring local noise artists. The festival gave many people a taste of a world they would not otherwise have seen or gotten to experience. If we're lucky, the event paved the way for future collaborations between the city and street-level artistry.

Grizzly Rock

In addition to being one of the state's best spots for country music, the Grizzly Rose has hosted its share of '80s hair bands. But when owner Scott Durland opened the Grizzly Rock last year in the former After the Gold Rush space, he started bringing hard rock back, starting with bands like Slaughter, Skid Row and Winger. And in addition to national and local rock groups, the 1,200-person Grizzly Rock has begun to book the occasional hip-hop act, like Naughty by Nature and Vanilla Ice.

Katy Taylor was an unassuming resident of Rhinoceropolis for a year or two, but her quiet, thoughtful demeanor hid a vivid imagination. Her project with Alphabets' Colin Ward, Sex Therapy, is a jarring and electrifying foray into confrontational performance art. As Crablab, however, Taylor reveals her own unique creative voice, utilizing unconventional guitar noises, synths and tape loops and effects on her voice to make the kind of collage music many other people use computers to achieve. Emotionally, Crablab can be disquieting and quietly unnerving in a fascinating fashion, with the way Taylor creates unexpected sounds with her voice. But mostly the music sounds like a vehicle with which to express and dispel a deep sense of loneliness and melancholy. At other times, Taylor's sound experiments seem to come from that primal part of the subconscious mind that operates outside of language.

Starting in 2001, father-and-son developers Mickey and Kyle Zeppelin began developing a campus of buildings meant to serve as offices, ateliers and residences for Denver's creative class. They started by renovating the 28,000-square-foot former Yellow Cab dispatch center — hence the name TAXI — before adding several new structures to the group and rehabbing other existing buildings. The latest structure to come on line is the sleek Drive building, set behind the famous landscraper (a horizontal skyscraper) called TAXI 2. Drive, designed by Stephen Dynia Architects with Barker Rinker Seacat Architecture, is very cool, with jutting forms covered in dark metal cladding that's set against raw concrete. The artful pattern of slit windows and window walls creates a contemporary-looking constructivist composition.

In remote southwest Denver, art of any kind has been hard to find. But this part of town has finally gotten its first piece of public sculpture: "Bridge," an elegant minimalist gateway by Stephen Shachtman. Constructed of two Corten steel upright forms connected by a heavy horizontal element made of polished black granite and sheets of laminated glass, the piece looks like an open doorway. "Bridge" is handsomely situated in the median of South Sheridan Boulevard near Lehigh Street, next to Fort Logan National Cemetery. The association of the Shachtman piece with the vast graveyard lends "Bridge" an otherworldly quality, which was apparently the artist's intention.

Denver loves its standup so much that, after packing themselves into a crowded club for a comedy show, fans will get into their cars and click on the local 24-hour comedy station, 103.1. During any given ten-minute segment, programming is apt to go from Abbott & Costello's who's-on-first routine to Louis C.K.'s black-people-can't-time-travel bit to Chris Rock analyzing women and their crazy ways to Lenny Bruce explaining why kids huff airplane glue. The station is like a hybrid of classic-rock radio's greatest-hits format and NPR's cerebral engagement — the difference being that you end up laughing like a hyena while the man in the next car silently judges you. And with its recent partnership with Comedy Works and the promise of local comics being featured, Comedy 103.1 is sure to gain an even wider audience. The yuks stop here.

Few bands put out their strongest album ten years into their career. But that's what happened when the Swayback released Double Four Time. Not only is the album an artistic leap forward for this already noteworthy band, but it sounds like a complete reinvention that incorporates what the group has been developing over the past few years. A diverse yet coherent collection of bluesy, psychedelically tinged post-punk, Double Four Time works through some heavy emotional territory with a rare grace, power and sensitivity. "St. Francis" sounds like a murder ballad as performed through the lens of Lee Hazlewood, while "Steamrolling" sounds like some boogie-rock song of old. Even the reworking and re-recording of older songs like "Die Finks" and "What a Pity Now" are imbued with an energized spirit. A startlingly bold and confident rock-and-roll album.

In Time Stands Still, at Curious Theatre, Tara Falk played Sarah, a photographer wounded by a roadside bomb in Iraq who has returned to the United States with her relationship with magazine writer James, both physical and emotional, nearly in pieces. In an intelligent, restrained and unsentimental performance, Falk made you believe fully in Sarah's injuries and slow recovery. She communicated every shading of her confused love for James, as well as the adrenaline hunger that drove her to venture into war zones again and again.

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