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Medical marijuana pays off for local artists

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Call it pot luck: Colorado's medical marijuana business is paying off in a big way for local artists. The Chronic-le, Westword's quarterly medical marijuana supplement, is now the sponsor of the MasterMind awards -- and when the 2010 class of MasterMinds was announced this past weekend, it pushed the program well past the $100,000 mark.

If you want to cultivate the arts in your back yard, you really ought to give them a little fertilizer.

A year ago, Colorado was home to only a handful of medical marijuana dispensaries. But over the past twelve months, pot has inspired a rush to the Rockies almost as dramatic as the Gold Rush of 150 years ago. In the Gold Rush days, however, pioneering entrepreneurs soon settled down, helping to create a real community. And the same is true of Colorado's medical marijuana industry, as exemplified by the Chronic-le's sponsorship of the MasterMind awards.

The metro area doesn't just attract dispensaries: It's full of artists, innovators and entrepreneurs who are changing our creative and cultural landscape. In recognition of this, Westword created the MasterMind awards to honor aesthetic adventurers by giving them substantial cash grants, so they can continue to pursue their cutting-edge art.

Over the first five years of the program, Westword has awarded close to $100,000 to a total of 25 MasterMinds, who used their awards in different ways -- sometimes to pay the rent on a studio, sometimes to cover a payroll, but most often giving back to the communities that had supported them. They shared the wealth.

And now the Chronic-le is doing the same thing, funding this year's MasterMind program with grants totaling $10,000 awarded to five deserving artists and organizations. The winners -- Laura Goldhamer, Jennie Dorris of Telling Stories, Jolt and his Guerilla Garden, Eric Matelski and Fallene Wells -- were announced in the February 18 issue of Westword (read their bios here), and celebrated on Saturday, February 20, at Westword's Artopia.

The next edition of the Chronic-le hits the streets on February 25. Potluck, indeed.

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