Thrills for the week

October 9
Clay of the land: Not long after people discovered fire and started drawing with coals on cave walls, it's likely that they learned how to squish mud into utilitarian vessels. Pottery, like fine art, has grown up considerably in the interim, but its functionality persists--and that's the beauty of it.

Two new shows in the area pay tribute to the artful craft, beginning with Functional Work: American Potters, a national showcase opening tonight with a reception from 7 to 9 at the Arvada Center for the Arts and Humanities, 6901 Wadsworth Blvd. Featuring work by fifty artists, the show continues through November 16; for information and gallery hours, call 431-3939.

Decorative-arts junkies won't mind the drive north to Loveland, where Contemporary American Ceramics, another national exhibit calling attention to the more fanciful side of works in clay, opens tomorrow at the Loveland Museum/Gallery, 5th and Lincoln streets in Loveland. Minneapolis artist Aldo Moroni presents a slide show and talk during the afternoon reception (1 to 3 p.m.); the show remains on view at the museum through January 4. Call 1-970-962-2410 for details.

October 10
Out of this world: While Brad Pitt scales snowy peaks in the new film adventure Seven Years in Tibet, the Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts, established thirty years ago by the Dalai Lama to preserve politically endangered cultural traditions, will rocket through the region, bringing colorful music and dance of Tibet to Front Range venues over the weekend. Part of a benefit week of events sponsored by the Colorado Friends of Tibet in conjunction with the film's opening, the first of three concerts takes place tonight at 7 at the Temple Events Center, 1595 Pearl St. The group then performs tomorrow at Unity Church in Boulder and Sunday at the Lincoln Center in Fort Collins; for tickets, $15 in advance ($19 at the door), call 1-800-444-SEAT in Denver and Boulder or 1-970-221-6730 in Fort Collins.

Shifting gears (or, more to the point, longitudes and latitudes), the Swallow Hill Music Association and the Hungarian Club of Colorado join forces to bring traditional Eastern European folk music, provided by Hungarian ensemble Muzsikas, with singer/musicologist Marta Sebestyen to Cameron Church, 1600 S. Pearl St., tonight at 8. Sebestyen, whose haunting voice permeates the soundtrack of The English Patient, is the stunning focal point, while csardas dancers Zoltan Farkas and Ildiko Toth provide the visual backdrop. For tickets, $12 to $14, call 1-800-444-SEAT; for information, call 777-1003.

October 11
Hit the road, jack: It's October--time to kick those fat, lazy pumpkins out of the nest and into the real world, and there's no better place to do it than at the Denver Botanic Gardens' annual Pumpkin Festival. It's your civic duty--take that annual traipse through the pumpkin patch today from 9 to 4 at Chatfield Arboretum, 8500 Deer Creek Canyon Rd. For the park admission toll of $2 to $4 (children five and under admitted free) and a nominal pumpkin-pickin' fee based on size and weight, you can choose your jack-o'-lantern-to-be, drop it off at a convenient Pumpkin Daycare station, and go on to enjoy arts and crafts booths, hayrides and other family games and activities offered at the arboretum throughout the day. Gardens officials ask you to leave your pets at home, but they recommend bringing a wagon or wheelbarrow to tow your harvest back to the car. Call 973-3705 for more info.

The loft bank: Hey, suburbanites--residential LoDo really does exist. Here's your chance to find out how the other half lives--and after attending the LoDo Loft Tour and Information Fair, you might even come to the conclusion that urban living ain't such a bad idea. From 11 to 5 today or noon to 4 tomorrow, check out the nine private digs and four loft projects included on the tour; then you'll have an opportunity to chat with architects, designers, real estate brokers and (if you're serious) mortgage brokers, who will all be stationed in the old Dairy Building at 1855 Blake St. Tickets, $12 in advance or $15 on event days, can be purchased at Coffee on the Z, 14th and Wazee streets, or the Oxford Athletic Club, 1616 17th St.; for more information, dial the fair information hotline at 698-4677.

Star-crossed dancers: The original family feud leaps to romantic life at the Buell Theatre, 14th and Curtis in the Plex, when the Colorado Ballet opens its fall season with a classic weepy winner, Romeo and Juliet. Set to Prokofiev's impassioned score, the Shakespearean sob story puts on a tutu tonight at 7:30; five additional performances follow tomorrow, Wednesday and October 17, 18 and 19. To reserve tickets, ranging in price from $14 to $50, call 837-8888 or 830-TIXS--and don't forget to pack a hankie.

Gil force: One of the more fertile collaborations in jazz gets a big-band nod tonight from the Creative Music Works Orchestra, a local 21-piece ensemble led by director Fred Hess and featuring Ron Miles on trumpet. Performing under the auspices of the Creative Music Works and the Lamont School of Music, the band takes on the music of cool jazz composer/arranger Gil Evans, devoting more than half of the concert to works Evans molded to perfection in the '50s using the nippy trumpet work of a young Miles Davis for locomotion. The orchestra performs tonight at 8 at the Houston Fine Arts Center, 7111 Montview Blvd.; admission is $10 at the door ($6 for students and seniors). Call 759-1797 for information.

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