—Image courtesy of FAVOREAT/Dan Lorber
If you needed a sign that Denver has officially made it as one of the country's cultural and artistic hubs, look no further than Monkey Town 4.
The immersive cinema, art, and dinner experience made its debut in New York a decade ago, followed by two subsequent incarnations. Denver's three-month engagement marks the project's first stop beyond the Big Apple. That's because when founder/curator Montgomery Knott was looking for his next venue, he headed home. The Littleton native doesn't have a background in art. (He studied philosophy in college.) But after years spent playing in an art-pop band—at heavyweight museums such as the MoMA—he started exploring video and film. "One day I was riding an airplane to San Francisco," he says, "and I drew this thing on a cocktail napkin."
"This thing" is an unprecedented, experimental combination of art and food as guests, 32 at a time, sit inside the perimeter of a floating cube (pictured, above) created by four projection screens. The two-hour program is made up of multi-channel works from 18 artists and filmmakers—half of whom are from Colorado. "It's a really heightened sensory experience," Knott says. "You're seeing a short film program but as opposed to just a single screen, you're seeing it where almost every piece is using multiple screens. It's one artist after the next." As the works play, servers shuffle in and out with three-, four-, or five-course meals (paired with wines)—the menu changes monthly—from The Populist, City, O' City/Watercourse Foods, and the folks behind Noble Swine. (For guests who want a truly heightened experience, marijuana edibles are available for free at some showings.)
It's a cinema-in-the-round experience new to the Denver audience—and one they won't soon forget. "I want people to see that there are forms of cinematic art that can be highly entertaining, highly stimulating, and impactful that aren’t what you see in the movie theater or what you see as an art film," Knott says. "The other thing is to expose people to really great food happening in each city. It’s obvious Denver has a rising culinary scene that’s really vibrant right now."
Details: Monkey Town runs through June 1. There are two seatings nightly (except Monday), at 6 p.m and 8:30 p.m. Tickets range from $50–$80, including tax and tip.
Follow associate editor Daliah Singer on Twitter at @daliahsinger.