Meet the MasterMinds -- and help us pick the next creative class

Categories: MasterMinds

Poem on the range: Slam Nuba, a 2011 MasterMind winner
Recognizing that the local arts scene needed a little fertilizer to really get going, and growing, eight years ago Westword created a program to honor the visionaries -- artists and organizations alike -- who are changing the cultural landscape of metro Denver.

And we decided to not just honor these creative geniuses, but to give them each substantial cash awards to use as they see fit: the MasterMind Awards.

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 $110,000 that Westword has given away so far. And now we're getting ready to induct our eighth class.

We've been meeting with members of the seven previous MasterMind classes, talking about all of the exciting projects going on in this city and debating which individuals and efforts most deserve a grant this year. The awards are divided between visual arts, performing arts, film/video/multi-media, literary arts and fashion/design -- but an increasing number of artists blur the boundaries between all of these areas, and in a delightful way.

That discussion is far from over, so if you know of an artist or arts organization that you feel is deserving of a no-strings-attached cash prize, feel free to make a nomination in the comments section below (or, if you're shy, e-mail the name to

We'll be announcing the next class of MasterMinds, once again sponsored by Metropolitan State College of Denver, at our annual Artopia event, set for Saturday, February 18.

Here is the roster of previous MasterMind winners, along with links to their bios:

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/Countdown to Zero
Viviane LeCourtois
Ravi Zupa
The Denver Voice
Vicky Nolan/Emily Griffith Opportunity School

2008 MasterMinds
Creative Music Works/Andrew Starr
RINO/Jill Hadley Hooper & Tracy Weil
Jason Bosch/ArgusFest
Art From Ashes/Cathleen O'Neill
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

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