Show some retrospect: Celebrating its twentieth anniversary this year, the Arvada Center for the Arts and Humanities can look back on a job well done. Along with its stellar track record of music, dance and stage performances, the center also enjoys continued excellence as a fine-art venue by bringing together well-conceived shows focusing on regional artists. Now, 48 of those artists return to participate in 20/20 Vision, an exhibition of current works opening today. Join the artists in a look to the future when a reception kicks off the show tonight from 8 to 10; works will be displayed through September 8. Also beginning today in the center's outdoor amphitheater is a production promising light entertainment befitting the season--the Cole Porter musical Anything Goes (remember belter Ethel Merman as nightclub chanteuse Reno Sweeney?) opens tonight at 7:30 and continues daily except Monday, through August 11; tickets range from $8 to $18. The Arvada Center is located at 6901 Wadsworth Blvd.; call 431-3939.
Giant steps: Boulder's annual Colorado Dance Festival, no stranger to the creative-movement vanguard, wraps up this year on a trendsetting note when it presents Ronald K. Brown, a choreographer recently named by the New York Times as one of thirty artists under thirty most likely to have an impact on culture during the next thirty years. Brown and his company, EVIDENCE, combine spoken word, athletic motion, music and social commentary in a dance/theater hybrid, Lessons, to be performed at 8 p.m. today through Saturday and 7 p.m. Sunday at the Irey Theater, CU-Boulder campus. Admission ranges from $18 to $20; call 449-1343 for tickets.
Good vibes: The great Milt Jackson hardly needs introduction. The polished jazz vibraphonist, a co-founder of the Modern Jazz Quartet and widely considered a pinnacle of his breed, is immediately recognizable to jazz lovers everywhere--he's warm, refined and positively debonair, with impeccable musicality and chops. In other words, "Bags" is a living legend. Jackson and a superb quartet, including drummer Mickey Roker, bassist Paul West and pianist Michael Ledonne, make a rare Denver appearance tonight at 7:15 at the Denver Botanic Gardens outdoor amphitheater, 1005 York St.; admission is $20 ($17 DBG members). Another brand of good times will roll at the Boulder Theater, 2030 14th St., Boulder, when Terrance Simien and the Mallet Playboys perform tonight at 8. Accordionist Simien ("Mallet" refers to his Louisiana hometown, not a percussion instrument) says he's insulted if folks at his shows don't dance, so be prepared to give proper homage; admission is $10.50 and a gallon of sweat. Take your pick: suave jazz or rollicking roots music. To reserve tickets for either show, call 777-3836.
Bench marks: If you've ever wondered how those fancy bus benches parked on the 16th Street Mall or in front of LoDo and Boulder galleries got that way, here's your chance to observe the artful genesis of a brand-new batch. Professional artists from around the region will design and paint up a fresh crop when Art in the Streets--an event first held in 1986 in a vacant lot in Denver's Highland neighborhood--sets up shop today and tomorrow in Boulder's Central Park, across the street from the Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art, 1750 13th St. By the way, if you take a fancy to a particular pavement pew in progress, they go for $750 apiece; benches can also be commissioned or bought, sight unseen, in advance. Any bench not sold by tomorrow afternoon will be auctioned off beginning at 4; proceeds benefit BMoCA. For details call 443-2122.
Soukous story: As grand old men go, Tabu Ley Rochereau is one of the grandest. A pioneer and veteran of Zaire's happy-go-lucky, rumba-inspired and guitar-heavy soukous music since 1955, his distinctive voice provides the yardstick by which his musical descendants are measured. Rochereau, now residing in the States, brings his eleven-piece L'Orchestre Afrisa International, a total package replete with singers, dancers and musicians, to the Bluebird Theater, 3317 E. Colfax, tonight at 8. Tickets, $14 to $17, can be purchased in advance by calling 1-800-444-SEAT; for information call the Swallow Hill Music Association, 777-1003.
Second bloom: Here's a fine example of backward thinking: The Blue River, choked by decades of dredge mining in the Breckenridge area, has experienced a slow renaissance since a restoration of mountain flora along its banks was instigated in the '80s. The prize-winning project will be officially recognized this weekend during Return of the Wildflowers: A Celebration of Ecological Restoration, a community festival highlighted by tours, seminars and concerts. Revolving around Breckenridge's Riverwalk Center performance facility, itself a project showpiece, daylong events will take place beginning at 9:30 a.m. today and Sunday, followed each evening by live music. Riverwalk is located at 150 W. Adams St.; call 1-970-453-2120 for more information.
Beat 'em to the punch: Abridging gaps seems to be the forte of the Reduced Shakespeare Company, a comedy troupe well-versed in, but impatient with, historical strata and classics of world literature. After abbreviating the finer points of American history and the lauded works of William Shakespeare into a series of irrepressible horse laughs, the group, sort of an oral Cliffs Notes of comedy, now gets down to business with one of man's earliest works--The Bible: The Complete Word of God (abridged). The troupe's latest takes on the good book reveal a satiric touch that's nothing short of hysterical. Find out whether or not Adam and Eve had navels or if Moses actually looked like Charlton Heston, tonight at 8 at Chautauqua Auditorium, 900 Baseline Rd., Boulder; tickets for the one-night-only performance are $18 general admission or $20.50 to $23 reserved. Call 440-7666 or 830-TIXS.