These five people (and places) are excellent at art and culture, according to Denver’s mayor

Honorees include a local author, a young musician and a local dance institution.
2 min. read
The Dia de Muertos parade along Santa Fe Drive on Friday, Nov. 1, in Denver. (Esteban L. Hernandez/Denverite)

Four local artists and one famed dance institution are this year's recipients of the Mayor's Awards for Excellence in Arts & Culture, the city announced Thursday.

Mayor Michael Hancock presented the awards with Denver Arts & Venues and the Denver Commission on Cultural Affairs. Since 1986, the awards have recognized people and organizations making "significant and lasting contributions" to the arts in the city, according to a press release.

Among the winners are author Kali Fajardo-Anstine, whose debut short story collection "Sabrina & Corina" was a National Book Award finalist. Fajardo-Anstine won the global award for her work. Her short story collection includes stories of Latinas of indigenous descent based in Colorado, including in Denver.

Cleo Parker Robinson Dance won the "impact" award. The famed dance school has been in business for nearly 50 years. The school promotes cross-cultural dance exchanges and has become an internationally esteemed organization.

Dancer Lisa Engelken won the innovation award for establishing Backyard Sessions and Breaking Barriers, two showcases involving dance, theater, music and poetry. The performances are interactive.

Photographer and co-founder of the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver, Mark Sink, won the "IMAGINE 2020" award. Sink is renowned for his photos of iconic figures like Andy Warhol and his work in contemporary fine art photography.

"Seven years ago, we asked Denver residents to envision the cultural landscape of the city through our IMAGINE 2020 cultural plan," Hancock said in the release. "Now, on the precipice of 2020, we celebrate the organizations and individuals who have brought us ever closer to realizing that vision."

Singer Raquel Garcia received the youth award. Garcia, 13, has participated in a community outreach and fundraising program that helps older adults. She currently hosts her own TV show on Estrella TV and a radio show on La Invasora 87.7 FM.

Thursday's luncheon also presented a friendly challenge to District 3 Councilwoman Jamie Torres and Councilwoman At-large Robin Kniech. The challenge is a competition between city councilmembers to bring arts and culture in their district during Denver Arts Week.

The two councilwomen partnered with local organizations including Su Teatro, Colorado Ballet and the Santa Fe Business Improvement District to host a First Friday/Dia de los Muertos celebration along Santa Fe Drive on Nov. 1.

Each winner received artwork created by artists from the Access Gallery and a $1,000 stipend.

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