The stuff of dreams: Artists find inspiration in the strangest places. But they also find a lot of other cool stuff. Intimate Connections: Artists/Art/ Collections, a new exhibit opening today at the Arvada Center for the Arts and Humanities, examines the stuff--from Bill Kastan's ray guns to Sandra Kaplan's cactus characters--stockpiled by several local artists for their personal enjoyment. Folk art, masks, specimens and toys are just a few of the other items displayed, giving viewers a new perspective on what provokes the creative spirit. A perfect companion exhibition, This End Up: Selections From the Robert J. Shiffler Collection, also opens today and sums up everything nicely: The fabulous spectrum of postmodern works, ranging from photographs to installations, gives a startling indication of where that creative spirit is headed in the '90s. Both shows continue through July 27; a joint reception takes place from 7 to 9 on June 5. The Arvada Center is located at 6901 Wadsworth Blvd.; call 431-3939.
Beyond her wildest dreams: Almost sixty, leggy R&B queen Tina Turner shows no signs of slowing down. But that isn't to say she doesn't do ballads. Give the woman a ballad and she'll turn on the smoke machine full-tilt, giving it her best sultry interpretation. And we all know what she can do with a rave-up rock number. (Just ask Mick Jagger--she upstaged him good a few years back at Live Aid.) When Tina highsteps into Fiddler's Green, 6350 Greenwood Plaza Blvd., tonight at 7, get ready for the ride: You'll get some of each as she stomps through old favorites and new material from her latest release, Wildest Dreams. An added treat, rebounding eccentric songstress Cyndi Lauper, opens the show. Tickets range from $17.50 to $22.50; call 830-TIXS.
Spread some cheers: Hundreds of athletes will gather at Colorado State University in Fort Collins over the weekend to compete in the Colorado Special Olympics Summer Games, which include swimming, track, gymnastic, weightlifting and soccer events. The difference between this and other such games? Not much, except that the majority of those participating do so regardless of their developmental disabilities. The amazing jocks--some in wheelchairs--have their chance to shine in the field beginning at 7 tomorrow morning; an opening ceremony on campus with CSU football coach Sonny Lubick starts things off tonight at 7. Events continue through Sunday, wrapping up with closing hoopla at 2:15 p.m.; call 1-800-777-5767 for information.
Nothin' but the blues: You can expect a ton of screamin' and hollerin' this weekend down in the Golden Triangle neighborhood, adjacent to Civic Center. That's because the Denver Blues Festival, set to jolt Acoma Street between 11th and 12th avenues for two consecutive high-energy days, is coming to town. The fest's incredible lineup of sizzling guitarists and singers includes the incomparable Luther Allison, headlining today along with Otis Taylor, Guitar Shorty, Kelly Joe Phelps and others; Lonnie Brooks and Francine Reed (who earned her stars singing stinging backup behind Lyle Lovett) top the bill tomorrow. Gates open each afternoon at 12:30 (with music, barbecue and jambalaya until 11 today and 7 tomorrow); festival tickets, an unbelievable steal at $10 in advance for a two-day pass (daily admission ranges from $5 to $10), can be purchased by calling 830-TIXS. For general information, call the festival hotline at 478-BLUE.
Braver newer world: Cross a gentle soul with a wandering nature, toss in a sweet, tumbleweedy voice from the Hank Williams mold and you've got Jimmie Dale Gilmore. The wiry Texas tunesmith brings his matchless and classic repertoire of great songs--the kind other folks love to record--to the Bluebird Theater, 3317 E. Colfax Ave., tonight at 9. Tickets are $13 in advance ($15 day of show); call 322-2308 or 830-TIXS to reserve yours.
Over under sideways down: Get ready to twist and turn and/or shake, rattle and roll. Whether you choose to spectate or participate at the two-day ESPN X Games Xperience Tour, you're gonna have to be light on your feet just to keep up with the action. The extreme-sports extravaganza, happening today and tomorrow at Boulder Reservoir, isn't just to watch: A rock-climbing wall, bungee-jump simulator and Xtreme Street Course for skateboarders and in-line skaters will all be open to a willing public. In addition, top extreme McTwisters, including cyclist T.J. Lavin, in-line skater Adam "The Bomb" Buchter and 'boarder Serge Ventura, will demonstrate how they turn things upside down, while live bands Cellophane, Sister 7 and Fluffy entertain on a music stage. Best of all, the only price you pay is that bump on your noggin: Admission is free. Gates open at 11 daily; grind to your heart's desire until 6 tonight or 5 tomorrow.
At the Air Show Colorado, today and tomorrow at the Jefferson County Airport, all legerdemain takes place way up in the air, where military Harrier jets and stealth bombers, aerobatic teams, wing-walkers, parachutists, dog fighters and the like loop, buzz and drift through the sky with the greatest of ease. On the ground there'll be food, drink, vintage-aircraft displays and a KidsPort interactive play area--just in case your neck gets too sore from all that looking up. Gates open at 9 a.m. each day. The airport is located south of Hwy. 36 and Wadsworth Blvd.; admission is $8 to $10 for adults and $3 to $5 for children ages five to twelve (children four and under free). For information call 469-7479.
Open your art: A whopping eighty local artists invite the rest of us into their studios during the annual Alternative Arts Alliance Open Studio Tour, taking place from noon to 6 today (studios south of Colfax) and tomorrow (studios north of Colfax). You'll not only see an astonishing variety of media, styles and environments along the way, but you'll also get to meet the makers where they are most comfortable. Free guidebooks are available at several locations, including the Wynkoop Brewing Company, Coffee on the Z, Denver Art Supply, Guiry's stores and others; for more information call 433-9359.
Artists also team up in a different capacity by donating artworks to be auctioned off from 6 to 9 this evening at the annual Art Against AIDS event, a fundraiser for the Colorado AIDS Project. Bid on the varied array of prints, sculptures, art glass, pottery and jewelry at Stapleton 2000, 3090 Syracuse St.; tickets are $20 in advance ($25 at the door). For details call 837-0166, ext. 502.
Big man in town: We had the pope. We had the president. Now we have the Dalai Lama. The human-rights activist, Nobel Peace Prize laureate and exiled Tibetan Buddhist leader makes a public appearance tonight from 5:30 to 7 during an interfaith celebration at McNichols Arena. A program featuring musical groups from Nepal and Tibet, Native American dancers, the Colorado Children's Chorale and sacred prayer chanting completes the evening; for tickets, ranging from $10 to $40, call 1-800-444-SEAT. For more information about Tibet or the Dalai Lama's Denver visit, call Colorado Friends of Tibet, 499-4168.
Built to scale: In May 1996, on the downside of an Everest climb, adventurous journalist Jon Krakauer barely escaped catastrophe when a rogue storm, pushed by seventy-knot winds, whistled over the massive pinnacle. Exhausted, frozen and oxygen-starved, Krakauer made it to camp before the worst of the blizzard descended upon the treacherous mountain walls. Some of his companions weren't so lucky: Of the six left dangling on Everest's rock faces, five died and one lost a hand to frostbite. Now Krakauer chronicles the story with an eyewitness's precision and a friend's concern in Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mount Everest Disaster. He'll appear tonight at 7:30 at the Tattered Cover LoDo, 1628 16th St.; tickets for a seat and place in line will be given out beginning at 6:30. Call 436-1070 for details.
Neatness counts: Even great world powers need to straighten their ties once in a while, and nobody knows this better than Barbara Kinney, who's captured several of them in the act. In fact, her photo showing President Clinton and other leaders tightening their knots was voted a World Press Photo of the Year in 1995. One of four official White House shutterbugs under the Clinton administration, Kinney displays a keen eye and a liberal sense of humor in her candid shots of the country's political inner sanctum. You can enjoy a number of those shots when a fascinating Kinney exhibit, A View From the Other Side, opens today at the Colorado Institute of Art, 200 E. 9th Ave. The show remains on display through June 30; call 837-0825.
Not just idle talk: Do not adjust your set--some films were actually made to be seen and not heard. Before there were talkies, there were non-talkies, some of which stand among the most creative works ever committed to celluloid. These days, the opportunities to see them are few and far between--just one little reason to celebrate the annual return of the Colorado Chautauqua Silent Film Series. A sweetly comic Buster Keaton parodies the whodunit in Sherlock, Jr. when the series gets off the ground tonight at 7:30; Hank Troy accompanies on piano. Admission is $4 ($3 children).
On the other hand, good listeners can still take heart: Also starting up today is Chautauqua's summer Forum Series, a free weekly discussion covering a variety of issues. The season-opening talk, Public Lands in the Front Range: Playgrounds or Preserves?, begins at 4:30 in the Community House on Morning Glory Drive. Chautauqua is at 900 Baseline Road in Boulder; call 440-7666.