Fifteen best Denver ART moments in 2011


6. Carnivalesque, Niza Knoll Gallery, October

A small show, and maybe not one that people would say changed the world, Penney Bidwell's group effort sweetly unpeeled an amazing personal story: Bidwell comes from three generations of circus stock, and her great-grandmother was a tattooed lady. Carnivalesque both celebrated and laid bare the innate sadness of her family history, and during its run, Bidwell and friends put on some crackerjack carnival-themed receptions parties, complete with Ferris wheel.


5. Manitou Chair Project, Manitou Springs, October 9

Colorado Springs artist Sean O'Meallie wasn't really asking for much. He just needed 1,000 chairs and a lot of volunteers to kickstart the Manitou Chair Project: a plan to line the main drag in Manitou Springs with an endless row of chairs to catch the sun's first rays at dawn. He didn't end up with quite that many chairs, but nearly 700 of them did the job in spectacular fashion, and the event was well-documented by a crew of photographers. Some of the best images have now been released as posters touting the charms of Manitou, available through the Business of Art Center in Colorado Springs; see them at the chair project website.


4. PlatteForum is presented a $10,000 national grant by Michelle Obama, November 2

It was no small feat in PlatteForum history when a small delegation from the nonprofit gallery that pairs at-risk ArtLab students with artist/mentors to produce ongoing exhibitions landed in Washington, D.C. for a trip to the White House. They'd won a 2011 National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award, one of only twelve delegated annually across the nation, fair and square, and were ready for the moment when Michelle Obama handed it to them. As student Salvador Flores-Martinez, who was along for the ride, noted in a statement: "Without PlatteForum, I know I would be in a dead-end job, on the street slanging drugs. I know it sounds rough, but it's the straight-up truth. Having a chance to represent my peers in accepting this award from the First Lady of the United States in the White House is an experience I'll never forget. It showed me that a program like ArtLab that can change kids' lives is recognized and valued." Amen.

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