Albuquerque has a working-class, blue-collar reputation that belies its artsy, sensitive soul. You might not know it from all the strip malls and less than stellar public art displays, but there are a ton of talented artists in this town and plenty of fine venues exhibiting art.
Burque will never be Santa Fe, but there's a sunny side to that truism: A much cheaper cost of living means artists creating on the fringes of society often find a welcome home here, whereas in Santa Fe, if you aren't painting Southwestern landscapes or Indian princesses on horseback, you're probably spending a goodly amount of time dumpster-diving for your dinner behind Furr's Cafeteria, poisoned with the kind of cancerous self-loathing that destroys all dreams of artistic accomplishment.
So at least we have that going for us. Actually, after you look through these winners, you'll see we have quite a few blessings for which we should all be thankful.
Best Movie Theater
Century Rio 24
Where's the best place to comfortably watch new movies? We’ll give you a hint. It’s big, kind of looks like a casino and with its stadium seating you don’t have to worry about a really tall guy sitting in front of you. In case it isn’t painfully obvious, Century Rio 24 is this year’s winner. Century 14 Downtown took second and indie cinemaphile heaven Guild Cinema took third.
Best Locally Shot Film from the Past Year
Did the Harley-riding slapstick in Wild Hogs really make that film of higher cinematic quality than, say, Employee of the Month with Jessica Simpson? Hmmm. Tough call. OK, so most of the films shot here in New Mexico haven't exactly been Oscar quality just yet. Second-place winner Beerfest did provide a few drunken laughs. Unfortunately, third-place winner Little Miss Sunshine--although nominally set in Albuquerque--was actually shot in Los Angeles. ... Still, it was better than Wild Hogs.
Best Theater Production from the Past Year
The Joan Crawford/Marilyn Monroe Christmas Carol
Finally, The Dolls get the recognition they deserve! This last holiday season, much like the one before it, The Dolls performance troupe relieved us from our holiday blues and took us back to 1960-something with The Joan Crawford/Marilyn Monroe Christmas Carol. As a sign of gratitude, voters named it the “Best Theater Production from the Past Year.” Second place went to Mamma Mia at Popejoy and third place was Kristen D. Simpson’s How To Conquer a Southern Woman, performed during UNM's Words Afire Festival.
Best Art Gallery
In Albuquerque, it seems like art galleries are opening as frequently as new Starbucks locations. Competition is always stiff, but Nob Hill staple Mariposa once again came out on top. In second was Weems and third went tothe Albuquerque Museum.
Solis' slam poetry résumé is so impressive, he doesn't even need to utter a word on stage to make a crowd go silent. He's been the Burque Poetry Slam Champion twice, taken the Boston individual slam four times, grabbed top honors at the Taos Poetry Circus Open Slam and has been part of two National Championship Poetry Slam Teams. (He even recently taught a love letter-writing workshop to benefit the New Mexico Friends of Foster Children Fund and Watermelon Mountain Ranch—awww.) Solis is joined on this impressive list by fellow poet Hakim Bellamy in second. Tony Santiago and author Tony Hillerman also got plenty of votes.
Stand-up comedy is no easy task, but Dana Goldberg doesn't care. She stands up, grabs that mic and makes audiences cry with laughter in her hometown of Albuquerque and around the world. Even simpler for Goldberg is her love for charity, appearing at local events such as the Friends for Life Benefit for New Mexico AIDS Services. Matt Peterson takes the silver mic and Jim Villanucci the bronze.
Best Live Performance Troupe
How big is the burlesque craze in Albuquerque? Find out next week when Marisa Demarco explores the issue in an in-depth Alibi cover story. Until then, just savor the fact that the lovely ladies of Burlesque Noir came in first in a category that's been dominated for 57 straight years by the talented Tricklock Company crew. (See our Lifetime Achievement Awards page for details on that one.) The community-oriented Keshet Dance Company got plenty of love in this category, too.