Best Display of Theatrical Community 2014 | Denver Actors Fund | Best of Denver® | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Denver | Westword

John Moore, the onetime Denver Post theater reviewer who now works at the Denver Center, started the Denver Actors Fund last year to help theater people with medical crises. The goal, he says, is "immediate, situational relief" in cases of "great and sudden medical need." The amounts of money aren't huge, but they're enough to cover wheelchair rental, for instance, or other medical supplies — and anyone who has lived in the area three months or more and worked at a theater in some creative capacity is eligible for help. Moore's idea galvanized the theater community: Several companies have donated a percentage of ticket revenues, other supporters have mounted benefits; and there's an online merchandise store selling posters, puzzles and T-shirts. Moore is now staffing action teams with volunteers who will run errands, plan meals, organize fundraisers and help with needed construction projects, such as ramps and railings.

Professional concert promoters are rarely seen at their own concerts. They're so busy (or jaded) that fans almost never catch them in the crowd or at the bar, let alone swinging windmill fists in the mosh pit. But Zach Smith is not your average concert promoter. He's not even a professional in the strictest sense: At 24 years old, Smith has promoted concerts at "unofficial" venues in New Mexico and Colorado since before he could legally sign a contract. Denver's hardcore scene has benefited to the tune of at least one or two extra ten-dollar shows per week featuring rowdy local bands, touring acts that could not get booked elsewhere, and groups that would rather play a warehouse than a bar. Zach faced adversity in 2013 as property owners forced him from two different locations, but he continued undaunted to Helm's Deep II. It's a venue that touring bands would write home about — if only they could give out the address.

DJ Ktone was once dubbed "The Turf DJ," and even though he rarely uses the moniker these days, he is still Denver's favorite turf DJ. Every year at the beginning of March, the often disparate corners of urban culture join together to celebrate Ktone's birthday, bringing out old favorites and new blossoming stars. This is the sound of Denver music, encompassing West Coast and East Coast, R&B singers and street characters alike. Every year, Ktone gets a break from the tables while fellow DJs take over. Last year's host was Turner Jackson, who caught the crowd off guard with his energy and style. But rapper Foo Man stole the show, performing his song "Me So Horny" in a bathrobe.

Cold Crush is a little slice of hip-hop heaven, layered with morsels of goodness at every level. You might accidentally catch a legendary DJ there, just doing his or her thing on the wheels. DJ Muggs from Cypress Hill stopped in on June 22, delivering a truly surprising set that went way beyond his more well-known production work. If you're headed to the popular bar/juice bar/venue, arrive early. The place fills up with patrons of all backgrounds, and you never know what big names might walk in.

In recent years, Denver's electronic-music scene has gained a reputation as the place for new and rising talent. Success stories like Big Gigantic, Pretty Lights and Paper Diamond have drawn both emerging and established artists to the area. And thanks to the Sub.Mission crew, those newcomers have an outlet. Electronic Tuesdays has thrived where other weekly events have failed, thanks to Sub.Mission's careful curation of fresh faces. "E-Tuesdays" does an exemplary job of showcasing new producers' music to fans whose tastes change as quickly as the bipolar Colorado weather.

The Beauty Queen of Leenane is a high-octane, savagely funny play about desperate, isolated lives. Mother and daughter Mag and Maureen live together in a state of mutual dependency and mutual loathing. Their neighbors are a pair of brothers: sweet-natured Pato, who just might bring a ray of joy into Maureen's bitter life, and insanely irrational Ray. The script is by Martin McDonagh, so you know violence will erupt. Edge Theatre Company's production was one of the most shocking and entertaining shows of the year: Between Michael Stricker's direction and a powerhouse cast willing to go balls-out, the audience was left breathless — though whether from laughter or sheer horror, it was sometimes hard to tell.

There is no one quite like Koffi Toudji. Depending on the day, the drummer, dancer and teacher can be found sharing his fancy footwork and rhythm skills at Cleo Parker Robinson Dance; playing music with the West African Drum and Dance Ensemble or his thirteen-piece Afro-fusion band Koffi Togo Vibe; or organizing family-friendly music and arts events to fund the cultural center he's building in his home country of Togo in West Africa. And here in Denver, Toudji's work with kids and adults alike in the realms of music, dance and cultural education brings nothing but positive vibrations.

This knockout show of neo-abstract paintings and sculptures done by the husband-and-wife team of Conor Hollis and Amorette Lana and ably curated by Adam Gildar, was eye-dazzling with all its toned-up colors and in-your-face forms. The paintings combined freely executed automatist passages with carefully rendered extensions of them. Interestingly, the compositions were completely unified despite the touch of two different pairs of hands. The paintings provided the perfect backdrop to the sculptures, in particular the large tabletop one, "Alterity," which was made of extruded and painted foam. It was an unforgettable debut for the couple.

Edge Gallery underwent some transition last summer when many longtime members quit and were replaced by a group of new ones. Heralding this change was Conceptually Scattered, featuring work by the new generation of Edgesters, almost all of them up-and-coming artists new to the scene. The majority of the pieces showed tremendous talent and great skill, with all of the artists having contributed things worth looking at. The show included pieces by Nouman Gaafar, Faith Williams, Michael McGrath, Jessica Loving, Dennis Stowell, John Cross, Rachel Prago, Genevieve Yazzie and Frederick Pichon. Edge has long been one of the co-ops in town, and surely the secret to this success is the way it constantly reinvents itself.

The MCA's Adam Lerner has a thing for art propelled by socio-political movements, and that predilection threw him in the direction of Devo musician/composer/artist Mark Mothersbaugh, a man who Lerner says is the most creative person he's ever met. Those are strong words to describe a pop-culture anomaly who can't let a day pass without churning out twenty or so postcard-sized drawings (he's been creating them for dozens of years). In the interest of sharing Mothersbaugh's postcards, quirky compositions and installations with the public, Lerner coaxed the object of his obsession to let the MCA put together the show Myopia. This will be Mothersbaugh's first-ever exhibit in a museum — in fact, at a series of museums, since it will travel to other venues after its inaugural run at the MCA this fall.

Best Of Denver®

Best Of