The 2007 DEVO awards
Sit and stare as Arts DEVOté peels back the envelope on a dozen random distinctions drawn from 2007’s stories in the arts.
Best Live Theater Experience: Angels in America at the Blue Room Theatre
This wasn’t the Blue Room’s smoothest production of the year, but it was freakin’ Angels in America! Tony Kushner’s epic Tony Award-winning play about the transition of generations during the Reagan years was a huge and commendable undertaking for director Joe Hilsee, stage manager Delovely Delisa and the actors—Jessie Mills, Erik Pedersen, Jerry Miller and J.J. Hunt, to name a few. The sparse, complex and emotionally charged production still resonates.
Represent Chico Trophy: Troy Jollimore
The Chico State philosophy professor’s book of poetry, Tom Thomson in Purgatory, won the prestigious National Book Critics Circle Award for Poetry. Big ups!
Best Seamless Transition: Crux Artist Collective switchover
The Crux replaced its founding crew of fun makers with a mellower—but no less funky—collective of Chico originals who kept the art space’s tradition of challenging art and fun events rolling. Squirrels fired lasers. Forty-eight hours straight was spent art-making. Erotic art breathed and sweated, and squirrels fired lasers. They really did.
New Coke Award: Blue Room Theatre overhaul
In mid-2007 the Blue Room changed over from Artistic Director Joe Hilsee to Executive Director Gail Holbrook (losing the entire company of actors in the process), so it is too early for anything but preliminary analysis: The new theater seems very similar to the old, a little sweeter maybe, with a little less of the Classic bite. We’ll see how the public responds.
Best Art Genes: Paul and Anthony DiPasqua
Educator and found-object artist Paul DiPasqua is an art-making machine, creating original work at such a rate that he can afford to put truckloads of it up for mass public consumption at his annual Cheap Bastard Sale at the 1078 Gallery. And his son Anthony is just plain Handsome. Handsome Gorgeous, that is, ringleader of the Gorgeous Armada supergroup and producer of the music/theater/film extravaganza Sleigh II Again at Chico Cabaret.
Chico Arts Royalty Keeping it Fresh Award: Multiple winners
Local visual art mainstays with new shows this year: Peter Jodaitis; Patrick Collentine and Susan Larsen; David Hopper; and James Kuiper. Bonus, the late Ken Morrow’s work came back into the light for a rare showing at Chico Art Center in the spring.
New-School Visual Artists to Keep An Eye On:Rachel Mosley, Celina Paul and Christine Fulton (aka Sea Monster)
All three women had solo shows in the month of July, and all three were featured in the Chico News & Review—take that, haters who say the CN&R only cares about music!
Best Public Art: Vacuum Christmas Tree
It goes without saying that a sculpture made from appliances (see it at Cathy’s Sew & Vac) will rule the universe—the DEVO universe at least.
Independent Spirit Award: Rogue Theatre
Blue Room Theatre ex-pats kept fighting the good fight, starting the appropriately named Rogue Theatre and staging productions (Vampire Lesbians of Sodom, Martin McDonaugh’s Pillowman) on any stage that would have them, from Lost on Main to the 1078 Gallery.
The Big Balls Award: Ensemble Theatre of Chico
Moving the popular Shakespeare in the Park series from Bidwell Park to the new City Plaza took cojones. It’s just the attitude needed to start a new Chico tradition.
Best Visitor From Another Time: Gary Snyder at Chico State
One of the original Beats, speaking in Chico (for free).
Award for Using Their Powers for Good: (tie) City of Chico, Chico Arts Commission and CN&R
The city put its money where its arts-tourism mouth is with funding for the growing Artoberfest celebration; the Arts Commission spread the wealth wide by granting a dozen $1,500-$2,000 mini grants to individual artists; and the CN&R a pretty bow around local galleries with the monthly Art First Saturday art walk.
Fellow journalist and Buzz theater critic Holly Vinson died March 22, leaving Chico without one of its most dedicated arts voices. And after four decades of bringing quality theater to Chico summers, Chico State’s Court Theatre program closed shop for good.