Thrills for the week

September 25
Novel ideas: The last time author Lisa See came through these parts, it was to promote On Gold Mountain, a fascinating history/memoir of her multiracial Chinese-American family. With that story out of the way, See has switched over to fiction, and she should do just fine, considering the exciting twists and turns taken in her nonfictional work. See reads from The Flower Net, a suspenseful murder mystery set in Beijing, tonight at 7:30 at the Tattered Cover Book Store, 2955 E. 1st Ave.; call 322-7727 for details.

Art of the state: Eighty-one artists working in a variety of media, from colored pencil to sculpture, are showcased in this year's Colorado Art Open Exhibition, an annual Foothills Art Center affair that pays homage to the incredible scope of art created inside Colorado's borders. Juried by Bill Havu of Denver's 1/1 Gallery and University of Denver art-department director Bethany Kriegsman, the show--on view at the center through October 23--represents a fabulous mixed bag of creative genius. Not bad for a cowtown, eh? Foothills, located at 809 15th St. in Golden, is open to the public from 9 to 4 Monday through Saturday and from 1 to 4 Sunday; for information call 279-3922.

September 26
Song circle: It's no wonder songwriters are so valued in the community of musicians. A well-written song is like a special kind of poetry in motion--it's a story first, one that's then intertwined with a melody and sewn together with something from the soul. The Swallow Hill Music Association, which gives assorted songsmiths their due with its Writers in the Round series, dishes up three fine ones tonight at 8 at the Swallow Hill Music Hall, 1905 S. Pearl St. New England's Ellis Paul, a compatriot and follower of narrative songmaster Bill Morrissey who has a portrait of Woody Guthrie tattooed on his shoulder, heads up the bill, along with tunesmith/host Richard Dean and Boulder lyricist Karen Capaldi; for tickets, $12 ($10 members), call 777-1003.

A bunch of blowhards: Traditional jazz is all about blowing it--the horn, that is--and doing so to a sophisticated timekeeper's beat. So while the trumpets, saxes and trombones wail to the heavens, the drums, bass, piano and guitar keep the music down to earth. Summit Jazz, one of the area's most celebratory trad-jazz blowouts, sends a huge gust our way for the entire weekend, bringing a whole collection of musicians--the San Antonio-based Jim Cullum Jazz Band, France's Hot Antic Jazz Band, Denver's Alan Frederickson Jazz Ensemble and an international combo, the Jim Galloway Allstars--to the Hyatt Regency Tech Center, 7800 E. Tufts Ave., for a nonstop blast that starts tonight at 7 and ends Sunday evening at 6:30. Admission prices range from $25 for Saturday afternoon's concerts only to $90 for the whole shebang; call 670-8471 for information and tickets.

September 27
Bugged out: Kids can't help it--they love to mess with bugs. And few people do more to encourage that insectuous romance than Dr. Samantha Messier, a CU-Boulder entomologist who has a creepy-crawly way with kids and bugs alike. Her Dr. Sam's House of Buggin', complete with live insects to touch and edible insects to, um, eat, makes stops today at two Denver branch libraries. Catch Dr. Sam this morning at 10:30 at Field Library, 810 S. University Blvd.; this afternoon, it's bugs redux at 1:30 at the Ross-Broadway Library, 33 E. Bayaud Ave. Both events are free; call 777-2301 or 777-4845.

Keeping us posted: Through recent history, the infinitely charismatic genre of graphic poster art has often been the trendsetter for fine art, distilling tenets of art nouveau, Bauhaus, art deco and other modern movements into pure, eye-catching form. Paper Revolution: Graphics, 1890-1940, From the Norwest Collection, featuring close to fifty works and representing the first in a series of exhibits examining popular and functional artworks, gives viewers a crash course in contemporary design when it opens today at the Denver Art Museum, 100 W. 14th Ave. Pkwy. This leg of the three-part Norwest journey remains on view at the museum through next June; for more information call 640-4433.

Where there's smoke: A full spectrum of Asian cultures will shed its many colors this weekend during the fifteenth annual Passport to Asia Festival, taking place from 10 to 5 today and 10 to 4 tomorrow at Cherry Creek North's Fillmore Plaza, E. 1st Ave. and Fillmore St. And it all starts off in a cloud of good fortune this morning when an eighty-foot-long rendition of the traditional Golden Chinese Dragon Dance parades around the square. Cambodian and Hmong dancers, Japanese Samurai swordsmen, Indonesian batiks, a gamelan orchestra and miniature paintings of India are just a few of the Pan-Asian spectacles that will follow the event's opening ceremonies; in addition, restaurants including the Imperial and Sonoda's will serve up some of the best Asian food the city has to offer. Kids won't feel left out, either--the fest features a children's area just for them. Admission to the event is free; call 355-0710, ext. 20, for details.

Irish ayes: A perfect evening of traditional Celtic sounds--with a bit of Scotland thrown in for good measure--is yours when Celtic Events and Entertainment presents Belfast combo Craobh Rua (it's pronounced creeve ru-ah, means "red branch" in Gaelic and refers to the Red Branch Knights of Ulster) tonight at 8 at Cameron Church, 1600 S. Pearl St. Admission to the concert, which also includes the gifted team of songwriter Andy M. Stewart and multi-instrumentalist Gerry O'Beirne, is $16.50; call 830-TIXS or 777-0502.

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