Best Art-World Donor 2014 | Frederic C. Hamilton | Best of Denver® | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Denver | Westword

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.

Everyone discusses the "secret bathrooms" at Red Rocks in hushed, reverent tones, but those aren't even the best ones in the venue. That prize goes to the bathrooms in the Visitor Center, at the top of the amphitheatre. They are so luxurious that we frequently hear first-timers in there gushing over how fancy they are. There are private toilets with full walls and real, lockable doors in between, a lounge for families, and TV screens on the floor. Combine those amenities with an attendant who keeps things orderly, and you're left with an experience that more resembles hotel living than the bathroom adventure awaiting you at most concerts. Stay hydrated on the Rocks and experience sweet relief at the prettiest potties in town.

Inkmonstr turned the Exdo Event Center's parking lot at 34th and Larimer into a gigantic beach party with a trio of events last year. The Denver print studio brought in a couple of stages, a sixty-foot slip-and-slide, a dunk tank and a pool, along with booze and live music from Lama Squad, DJ Manos and a slew of others for three of the biggest summer blowouts in recent memory. A who's-who of Denver scenesters showed up, lingering late into the afternoon hours on the makeshift beach.

Now in its fiftieth year, Ziggies is Colorado's oldest blues bar. No surprise, then, that it's also Denver's main spot for catching the area's finest local blues talent every night of the week. But Ziggies brings in its share of national touring acts, too, and even some international players. While there's a flat-screen that displays upcoming events and specials, there are no TVs broadcasting anything else, one more clue that it's all about the music here. And like any blues club worth its salt, Ziggies is a great place for musicians to hone their skills: In addition to its legendary blues jam, it hosts three other weekly jam or open-mic nights.

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