Eight years ago, Westword added a very special component to Artopia: the MasterMind awards. Recognizing that the local arts scene needed a little fertilizer to really get going, and growing, we created a program that every year honors five cultural visionaries artists and organizations alike working to change the cultural landscape of metro Denver. And we decided to not just honor them, but to give them each substantial cash awards to use as they see fit.
The first seven classes of MasterMinds have done amazing things with their awards, frequently using them to help other, struggling artists along and creating major multipliers for the more than $120,000 that Westword has given away so far. "Winning the MasterMind was everything to me," says Eric Matelski a 2010 MasterMind. "I was working my ass off to make every art idea I had stick. I had to work a full-time day job, plus random second jobs to do the projects I believed in. I really enjoyed the artists I was working with and enjoyed the idea of promoting them in the most unique ways." When I won, I really did not expect it; it was such a shock. I needed the money, but the award at the time weighed heavier on my mind. This meant that people were paying attention to what I was doing in Denver and liked it."
Each year, the previous winners help choose our next class of MasterMinds at meetings as creative and freewheeling as many of the artists the awards commemorate. And like our earlier honorees, the 2012 MasterMinds are an extraordinary group. Through their work, they've helped to convince teenagers to write and perform slam poetry; created a potential world center for the study of design and textiles; made recordings of almost every local band concert available for free, just for the asking; helped turn Denver into a mecca not just for comedy, but for storytelling, as well; and put on shows lots of shows that have made Denver a far more entertaining place to live.
The 2012 MasterMind awards will be presented at Artopia at 8 p.m. on Saturday, February 18, at the Living Room, 1055 Broadway. And in a special ceremony this year, the MasterMinds will introduce a half-dozen artists and entrepreneurs who've inspired them: our 2012 MasterMinds' MasterMinds, who join the first group initiated last year.
The 2012 MasterMinds class:
The 2011 MasterMinds' MasterMinds were Chris Loffelmacher, Marilyn Megenity, Mondo Guerra, Rick Griffith, Dana Cain and Ginger White. Below are the previous MasterMind winners.
2011: Slam Nuba, Sarah Slater, Tricia Hoke, Illiterate, Tiffiny Wine
2010: Fallene Wells; Jennie Dorris; Jolt; Eric Matelski; Laura Goldhamer
2009: Brian Freeland/LIDA Project; Viviane LeCourtois; Ravi Zupa; The Denver Voice; Vicky Nolan
2008: Creative Music Works/Andrew Starr; RINO/Jill Hadley Hooper and Tracy Weil; Jason Bosch/ArgusFest; Art From Ashes/Cathleen O'Neill; Mona Lucero
2007: Jessica Robblee; Jimmy Sellars; Tony Shawcross/Deproduction, Denver Open Media; Vox Feminista; The Fabric Lab/Josh and Tran Wills
2006: Dragon Daud, aka Dave Denney; Katie Taft; Deb Henriksen; Cafe Nuba/Ashara Ekundayo; Johnny Morehouse
2005: Lauri Lynnxe Murphy; Emerging Filmmakers Project @ Bug Theater; Brandi Shigley; Denver Zine Library; Buntport Theater