Meet the MasterMinds MasterMinds, including cover girl Dana Cain, at Artopia

Seven years ago, Westword introduced the MasterMind program, which every year awards cash prizes to five artists or arts institutions that are changing the cultural landscape of Denver. This week, we revealed the 2011 winners, who will be honored Saturday night at Artopia. The next creative class? Slam Nuba, Illiterate, Sarah Slater, Tiffiny Wine and Tricia Hoke, all profiled here. But since we're dealing with true masterminds, the awards won't end there.

Every year, our previous MasterMind winners gather to discuss potential members of the next class of MasterMinds. The conversations are incredibly stimulating as we consider the meaning of art, the meaning of "dirt-poor," and the amazing projects blossoming all over Colorado, often tended by dirt-poor artists working with little more than good intentions and great talent.

The MasterMind awards -- which have handed out over $100,000 to artists and organizations over the last seven years -- are geared to these very grassroots projects, and often winners use their grants to help other struggling projects that are coming up.

But our winners are also very cognizant of those who have gone before, the people who've worked so hard to make this city a mecca for artists, creative entrepreneurs and everyone who appreciates their efforts. And so the MasterMinds have created their own MasterMinds MasterMind award, to honor some of the brightest lights in town, visionaries who illuminate the aesthetic landscape.

One of the first to be named a MasterMinds Mastermind, Dana Cain, is profiled in this week's cover story. We'll announce six more -- one for each year of the program -- at the Masterminds ceremony Saturday night. For ongoing coverage of art and culture in Denver, see our Show and Tell blog.

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