Get ready for the 2013 MasterMinds

Denver is full of aesthetic adventurers and artists who are changing the cultural landscape. They're among Denver's greatest assets, the reason this city attracted more of the desirable 25-to-34-year-old demo than any other area in recent years. They're Colorado's creative capital.

Although sports stars get all the attention, Denver's artists are the real hometown heroes. Although they score big wins for the metro area, they all-too-often are compensated in inverse proportion to what they contribute. Recognizing that artists need not just creativity, but money to help things go -- and grow -- Westword started the MasterMind Awards program in 2005, to honor this city's creative geniuses in the categories of literary arts, performance, multimedia, visual arts and fashion/design; we've inducted a new class every year since.

And later today, we'll announce the five local artists/entrepreneurs who have been chosen as 2013 MasterMinds -- an honor that comes not just with a title, but with a $2,000 grant. Money with no strings attached, money they can use for anything -- to make art, to pay rent. Whatever will buy them some creative breathing space.

With this announcement of the ninth class of MasterMinds, we will have honored 45 artists and arts organizations since 2005, giving grants that total well over $130,000.

But what's been most gratifying about the MasterMind program is that the award winners, too, share the wealth -- often taking much of their unexpected cash award, if not all of it, and spreading it around the community. In fact, three MasterMinds are now banding together to create residencies at Powerhaus, and this year's winners will be given memberships to Denver Open Media as well as their cash prize, courtesy that 2007 winner. And our past MasterMinds are just as generous with their time and praise of other artists when they gather every year to help choose the next class of MasterMinds in a series of meetings as energizing as they are eye-opening.

We'll be updating you on their activities through the week on our Show and Tell blog. In the meantime, here's a recap of our past MasterMinds:

2012 MasterMinds Hinterland Ken Arkind/Minor Disturbance Andrew Orvedahl Dianne Denholm Lance Stack/Flat Response

2011 MasterMinds Slam Nuba Sarah Slater Tricia Hoke Illiterate/Adam Gildar Tiffiny Wine

2010 MasterMinds Fallene Wells Jennie Dorris Jolt/Guerilla Garden Eric Matelski Laura Goldhamer

2009 MasterMinds Brian Freeland/LIDA Project Viviane LeCourtois Ravi Zupa The Denver Voice Vicky Nolan

2008 MasterMinds Creative Music Works RINO/Jill Hadley Hooper and Tracy Weil Jason Bosch/Argus Fest Art From Ashes Mona Lucero

2007 MasterMinds Jessica Robblee Jimmy Sellars Tony Shawcross/Deproduction/Denver Open Media Vox Feminista The Fabric Lab/Josh and Tran Wills

2006 MasterMinds Dragon Daud, aka Dave Denney Katie Taft Deb Henriksen Cafe Nuba/Ashara Ekundayo Johnny Morehouse

2005 MasterMinds Lauri Lynnxe Murphy Emerging Filmmakers Project @ Bug Theater Brandi Shigley Denver Zine Library Buntport Theater

More from our Calhoun: Wake-Up Call archive: "Sand Creek Massacre story has universal importance."

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