It’s two days until the new year, and, man oh man, has 2016 been a doozy in the world of arts and entertainment. The relentless obituaries have been stacking up as the Grim Reaper has come to call on the likes of David Bowie, Gene Wilder, Prince and, just within the past few days, George Michael and Carrie Fisher and her mom, Debbie Reynolds.
Despite the seemingly frequent bad news, there is one big old bright spot, however: The local arts and entertainment scene had a pretty good year. The annual shows and festivals the community has come to expect and love continued, some local authors saw success in the printed word, and a couple of people were inducted into halls of fame for their work.
Not too shabby for an otherwise cruddy 2016, Durango.
Here’s a look at some of the cool things that happened in the past year:
We totally know how to throw a partyIt was back to the ’80s for the 38th Snowdown celebration during the last week of January. The week included the usual good-natured mayhem: Fashion Dos and Don’ts, light parade, Follies (kids and adults), Spellabration and a host of other events. This year, prepare for takeoff when Snowdown goes Intergalactic.
HonoredOn Oct. 16, music icon and part-time Durango-area resident Charlie Daniels was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame. Daniels was surprised by the honor: “You never know when your name’s going to be brought up or not. So you just don’t know; it’s completely unexpected when it happens,” he said, adding that if he could pick one word to describe the whole thing, it would be “humility.”
Also in October, Mancos sculptor and painter Veryl Goodnight was inducted into the National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame in Fort Worth, Texas. She was in good company, joining about 220 cowgirls from the American West that included former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor.
On stageIn March, Fort Lewis College staged a gritty “Trojan Women: A Love Story,” while the young actors at Durango High School put on “Legally Blonde the Musical” and Thomas Heuser became the fifth music director for the San Juan Symphony, replacing Arthur Post.
Over the summer, the Strater Hotel’s long-running summer show offered a new format, and ”You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown” opened at the Durango Arts Center in July. And most recently, Merely Players and 20Moons Dance Theatre combined forces for a really cool staging of the classic “A Christmas Carol.”
Men of wordsFormer Durango City Councilor Scott Graham released the third book in his National Park Mystery series, Yellowstone Standoff.
Writing books is “tough, in a great, fun, fascinating way,” Graham said. “Each one is getting easier because I’ve kind of learned – it’s just like anything, repetition helps. So they’re getting easier, but still a wonderful challenge. I’m having the time of my life.”
And in July, Blake Crouch was back with Dark Matter, a genre-defying novel that will eventually be made into a movie. Crouch has written more than 25 books and has written the screenplay for the TV shows “Wayward Pines” and “Good Behavior.”
On a more serious noteAugust had the dubious distinction of being the one-year anniversary of the Gold King Mine spill that in 2015 saw the water in the Animas River turn a mustard yellow when the sludge from north of Silverton made its way downstream. The effects of the spill didn’t go unnoticed by local artists. In fact, Karyn Gabaldon dedicated a show of her paintings to the river.
The spill “affected me to the core,” she said. “I think it made me much more aware of the river. We live on the river, so I think it just made me really tune into it like never before.”
Saying goodbyeIn June, Open Shutter Gallery owner Margy Dudley announced that, after a 15-year run, she was closing the gallery’s retail space in November. The space didn’t go quietly; continuing to show new exhibits through the closing.
Happy New Year, and here’s to a cool 2017.