The DEVO award goes to …

Navigating 2009’s arts battlefield in Che’s Tank.

Navigating 2009’s arts battlefield in Che’s Tank.

The 2009 Arts DEVO awards

Ladies and gentlemen, it’s time once again for Arts DEVO’s year-end, random, local arts-awards ceremony. The envelope, please …

Best Guerrilla Arts Organization Reunion: The Butcher Shop

Over Labor Day weekend, 15 years after their first production, the original convention-smashing crew of theater freaks (and Blue Room Theatre founders) came home from all parts of the country for two exciting nights of experimental theater, live music and glowing reunion in an orchard on the south side of Chico.

Best Box: Butte College’s Black Box Theatre

The brand-new, 400-seat theater lived up to its promise with an energetic opening production of the Broadway musical Rent.

Best Live Music Performance: Four-way tie:

The Mai Shi at TiON (April 1); MaMuse at CAMMIES showcase at Café Coda (April 9); Garr1son at Café Coda (April 26); Mark Growden at The Frame (Nov. 19).

Best Tank: Che’s tank

Famed Burning Man temple-builder, sculptor/architect David Best worked with Chico State art students to build a functioning replica of a tank originally made by Cuban revolutionaries for Che Guevara. Which is undeniably badass.

Best Local Band for Dancing: Double Zero Band (aka Rock Scarz)

You’ve seen the acoustic version of the Cajun/rock crew at the farmers’ market on Saturdays, but if you haven’t been part of the full-volume, full-drum-set party, then your fun hasn’t even started.

Best Artist Response to Crappy Local Economy: Hit the road.

If your work involves performing in a band or making giant metal sculptures, and you are trying to survive solely on what Chico can shell out, you’re probably not surviving. Nearly every working Chico artist has his or her hands in projects outside Chico’s limits. Multidiscipline art couple Pat Collentine & Susan Larsen, sculptors Sheri Simons and Michael Bishop, among others have made big works in Sacramento; beloved local printmaker Jake Early set up an additional shop in Santa Barbara; and any local bands wanting to break out of the day-job/night-gig grind must hit the road.

Best College Try: CN&R’s Art First Saturday

Maybe it was the crummy economy, maybe it was a lack of overall interest by local venues, but after three years of trying, the CN&R pulled the plug on its promotion of the declining art walk. The good news? The new, nonprofit, arts-advocacy group Chico Visual Arts Alliance (ChiVAA) has made its own art map that is available at local galleries and online at

Best Place: Café Culture

Where you can buy a hand drum, learn how to make some beats with it while also learning how to dance along, and finally, perform your world beats in front of a live audience.

Best Trend: Film fests

The 1078 Gallery debuted its new multiformat film fest, joining the University Art Gallery’s returning Narrative Shorts fest and the annual FOCUS Film Fest.

Best of Chico’s Best: Arts DEVO’s top five:

1. Chikoko design/performance collective; 2. Café Coda’s live music calendar; 3. 1078 Gallery’s busy calendar of film, local and touring visual art, live theater and music; 4. Chico Performances’ crazy-eclectic calendar of world-class performers, from Merle Haggard to Pilobolus dance troupe; 5. Local theater glut: Rogue, Blue Room, Chico Cabaret and Chico State are all crafting energetic and varied calendars of almost too much theater to handle. (Honorable mention: Lyon Books local writers’ events.)

Rest in Peace in 2009: Harp-master Norton Buffalo (Oct. 30).