Best Annual Festival 2014 | Denver County Fair | Best of Denver® | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Denver | Westword

Pin a blue ribbon on fair directors Dana Cain and Tracy Weil: The Denver County Fair is our winner — and still champion! If the goal of the fair, now in its third year, is to represent every stratum of our city's culture, it's no surprise that at this year's edition, August 1-3, there will be a paean to pot: the first county-fair Pot Pavilion in the nation and probably the world, where blue ribbons will be handed out in such categories as "Most Potent Bud," "Best Brown Infused Recipe" and — ta-da! — "Best Homemade Bong." Though there will be no actual weed in the building, its legal presence will still be felt, and the adults-only pavilion will also house live music, tie-dye and paraphernalia vendors, light shows and comedy. And right next door: The Beer Pavilion, also new, with tastings and a slate of blue-ribbon contests of its own.

Patrick Dupays of Z Cuisine is as much an aficionado of local artists as he is a great chef, which is why it's not surprising that he turned the hole-in-the-wall spot between Z and its sister brasserie, À Côté, into a gallery space where artist friends — many of them also his restaurant patrons — could show their work. Entre Nous — which means "between us," in the coziest, most private sense of the words — opened last fall, giving the block a new element of high-street society as well as a place to hang out before or after eating. The wait for an open table has never been so pleasant.

Adam Milner: Wave so I know you're real was a conceptual exploration of the world as seen through the quirky filter of the artist's everyday life. The initial impression of the exhibit was of a quiet, contemplative world, something like a library or an archive. But as you looked closer, it got pretty wild — as with the video of people, mostly men, masturbating online, or the one in which Milner's open mouth catches the light reflected off the chrome on a public urinal. Both pieces were charged with sexual content but had been abstracted to such an extent that they came off as smart rather than vulgar, which was quite a feat.

When money was being raised for the Daniel Libeskind-designed addition to the Denver Art Museum, oil zillionaire Frederic C. Hamilton, then chairman of the board of trustees, met the challenge by throwing $26 million into the pot. That's why the addition is called the Frederic C. Hamilton Building. But Hamilton wasn't done. A couple of months ago, he announced that he was turning over his collection of impressionist paintings to the DAM, including pieces by Cézanne, Monet, Manet and all the other big names. The Hamilton paintings were on display in Nature as Muse when the announcement was made, allowing everyone to understand how the bequest beefs up the museum's impressionist holdings and makes the DAM a major repository of the style in the American West.

The project of artist Donald Fodness, Showpen provides low-cost housing and studio space where select young artist-residents can build and exhibit bodies of work for a given amount of time. Showpen's success rate is its best advertisement: The majority of its "graduates" move on from the incubator to grad schools, teaching jobs or other art-related work. But the real beauty of Showpen is that it's something Fodness does not because it's his job, but just because he wants to. His reward lies in the work that results: Showpen makes champions.

Courtesy RedLine Contemporary Art Center

Back in 1974, a group of women in Boulder who also happened to be artists noticed that they were routinely rejected from exhibits because of their gender. Motivated by feminism, and as part of a national movement, they formed the advocacy group Front Range Women in the Visual Arts. Times have changed a lot, something that was demonstrated well by the decision of two members — Margaretta Gilboy and Sally Elliot — to approach William Biety and ask him to put together a fortieth-anniversary show for the group, which includes artists who embrace a wide variety of styles. That's right: These old-line feminists asked a man to curate, which is a pretty post-feminist thing to do. The poetically dubbed Transit of Venus kicked off a series of shows on women and art at RedLine.

Northwest Denver is changing fast — in fact, most of the southern end of the 3600 block of Navajo Street has been scraped flat. But the other end remains home to one of Denver's first art districts. Pirate: Contemporary Art got its start as an artist co-op for rebellious types more than three decades ago, and when it moved here, it quickly established this block as the best place in the city to catch up-and-coming painters, sculptors and multimedia artists. And so it remains today, with Pirate joined by the well-established Edge, Next and Zip 37 galleries, plus the Bug Theatre, Clear Creek Jewelry Academy and Patsy's, the family-owned Italian joint that's been slinging red sauce since the '20s. First Fridays are always off the hook on Navajo, but our favorite event is the district's annual Día de los Muertos celebration. Long live the Navajo Street Art District.

Just as Month of Photography overtook Denver galleries across town last March, Mo'Print 2014 — aka Month of Printmaking — did the same this year, sharpening its focus on the art-world's most underappreciated skill set. The centerpiece, the Open Press 25th Anniversary Exhibit, at the McNichols Building, is as much a 25-year retrospective of the local art community as it is a tribute to the longevity of Mark Lunning's fine-art printmaking studio (see it through April 12). Though its reach is more subtle than MoP's, Mo'Print is bringing a cascade of amazing work by artists around the region before the public. Keep the presses rolling.

The form of the Broadway Triangle, by Mike Moore and his tres birds workshop, is fairly rational: a cluster of volumetric rectangles held in place by dark-painted girders overriding the outside. But then the craziness begins. The lower parts of the walls have been clad in salvaged bricks, with random ones having been painted in garish colors. Above that is a changing set of murals, with the first batch, organized by Melissa Belongea, having a street-art kind of flair and including individual works by Jolt, Jonathan Lamb & Michael Ortiz, the collective Palabros/Collabros, and Deepti Nair & Harikrishnan Panicker. Dada Art Bar, inside the building, is all arty, too, intending to present exhibits in addition to cocktails. The whole thing is set off on the 25th Street side by a cluster of lighted directional arrows on a spike, called "One Way," by Mike Mancarella. That piece has been there for years, but it feels like part of the project.

The punk band Wiredogs finally found a name to fit its sound, just before releasing last year's The Resistance. Frontman Dan Aid and his crew of mighty punk men finally got it right, as the handles they'd used in the past didn't quite fit. As White Leather, the band could have been mistaken for an '80s outfit like A Flock of Seagulls. The Hate captured the group's ferocity, but casual observers might have taken it for an emo band on a tirade. Wiredogs fits just right.

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