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.

In the musical Next to Normal put on by Ignite Theatre, Natalie was the confused teenage daughter of a bipolar mother. During the course of the action, she changed from a disciplined, Mozart-loving pianist and conscientious student into an angry, aimless, self-pitying drug abuser. Madison Kitchen brought a fine soprano to the difficult score, and her Natalie was the epitome of the troubled teen: innocent and jaded, gawky and beautiful.

As Sweet Storm began, Boas and Ruthie had just married, and he was carrying her over the threshold. Charming. Except that Ruthie was paralyzed from the waist down, and the threshold was the entrance to a treehouse that the naive Boas had constructed with his own hands as a romantic gesture. No sooner was Ruthie safely deposited on the bed than she said she had to "wee." Boas whipped out a bedpan. And so began their difficult life together. It took talent, delicacy and courage to act out a scene like this, and it surely helped that the actors were Michael and Rachel Bouchard, who are in fact husband and wife. Their relationship added an undefinable richness to Boas and Ruthie's struggle for intimacy and trust in the Miners Alley production.

Tracks
Keith Garcia

Over the past five years, Drag Nation has become the premier queen catwalk for moving local performers onto the national stage. Once a month, contestants pull out incredible stops: Birdcages drop from the ceiling holding radiant queens; human pieces of art strut their stuff; a bevy of dolled-up backup dancers creates a show with a Fame vibe. In addition to serving as a stepping stone for Denver's best talent, Drag Nation also attracts world-renowned performers like Amanda Lepore and Ongina. RuPaul's Drag Race favorite Nina Flowers is to thank for the fun: The supreme queen and expert DJ created the show's precursor, Drama Drag, and set the tone for Drag Nation. You queens rule!

Meadowlark

While the intimate Meadowlark hosts a stellar jazz jam on Mondays, its long-running Tuesday-night open stage has attracted a number of the city's finest singer-songwriters, who come to test new material or refine older songs. In more recent years, it was where Churchill and the Lumineers — then a duo from the East Coast — played before moving on to much bigger venues.

Landing an opening gig for a big-name band on tour is a big deal. Opening for a legendary act in an arena is an even bigger deal. Ask Flashlights and Lipgloss DJ boyhollow (Michael Trundle), who garnered a highly coveted slot opening for New Order during its visit to the 1STBANK Center last fall. Both acts owe a significant creative debt to New Order; each of the artists most likely spent significant chunks of their youth listening to the Substance album, or were part of the millions who made "Blue Monday" the best-selling twelve-inch single of all time. But Trundle and Flashlights earned their place in the slot, both having sufficiently developed their own unique styles and personalities in the local scene to warrant their representing our city to their heroes.

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