Pet project: It's hard to understand how the animal urge ever got stuck with a negative connotation. After all, the birds and beasts have a much better grip on the natural order of things than humans do, and they exercise their urges merely because they're supposed to. It's those human urges that cause all the problems. On that note, why not get in touch with your inner critter? A good place to start might be A Show of Kindness, an animal-themed benefit exhibit for the Humane Society of Boulder County opening today at Boulder's MacLaren Markowitz Gallery, 1011 Pearl St. The show, which features paintings, weavings and three-dimensional depictions of fun and functional fauna, runs through November 30. Attend an artist reception tomorrow evening from 6 to 9; the celebration continues from 1 to 3 on Saturday with demonstrations and poster signings. Call 449-6807.
Pot o' gold: Sad, but true--it's beginning to feel a lot like Christmas, holiday shoppers. Handmade pottery makes a thoughtful gift that's often as functional as it is fun or beautiful, and you'll have plenty to choose from this weekend at the Colorado Potters Guild Fall Show and Sale, which gets under way at the Hellenic Community Center, 4610 E. Alameda Ave., tonight from 6 to 9. The show/sale continues from 9 to 9 Friday and 9 to 5 Saturday; call the Colorado Potters Guild at 733-3003 for additional information.
Dark shadows: Put a pencil in Bill Amundson's hand, slip him a sheet of drawing paper and you'll get back portentous personal visions. The local draftsman's latest series of graphic social comments, a suburban nightmare called Billboards and Playlands, opens tonight at the Zip 37 Gallery, 3644 Navajo St., with a reception from 7 to 11; a slightly less disturbing selection of affordable colored-pencil drawings rounds out the show. Amundson's work remains on display through November 23; call 477-4525 for gallery information.
At home on the range: When singer/songwriter and fourth-generation Coloradan Jon Chandler sings country-Western, the emphasis is on Western: Chandler's got a voice shaped precisely like a moonlit, coyote-howlin' night around the campfire on some godforsaken, tumbleweed-strewn prairie in the middle of nowhere. On top of that, he loves being there: Preserving the range experience in song is something of a mission for this consummate singing cowboy. Chandler brings a crack band, local country diva Celeste Krenz and special guest John Schikora along to Cameron Church, 1600 S. Pearl St., when he performs tonight at 8. Tickets are $10 to $12; call 1-800-444-SEAT to reserve yours. For more information call the Swallow Hill Music Association, 777-1003.
Great sax: No use crying in your beer for missing out on John McLaughlin's sold-out show tonight at the Boulder Theater: The Joe Lovano Quartet, performing at 8 at CU-Boulder's Macky Auditorium, is certain to provide audience members there with a stellar musical experience. Cleveland-born saxophonist Lovano moves smoothly from one end of the modern jazz canon to the other, absorbing its varied vocabularies. Remarkably, what comes out of that brew is completely original and stacked with rich tone. He's as likely to join up with Manhattan's cutting-edge players as he is to record a dreamy tribute to Sinatra; he brings a hand-picked combo with him to Boulder tonight. Admission ranges from $10 to $30; for reservations call 492-8008.
Transfigured night: Concert pianist Misha Dichter, Shanghai-born and Juilliard-trained, earned his international reputation simply by being a man of the world. Of course, his talent didn't hurt. Dichter cuts loose with the Colorado Symphony Orchestra on Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 5 tonight at 7:30 at Boettcher Concert Hall, 14th and Curtis in the Plex, but not before the CSO's interpretation of Arnold Schoenberg's impassioned Verklarte Nacht--along with Weber's overture to Oberon--takes shape during the concert's first half. The program repeats tomorrow at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 2:30 p.m.; for tickets, ranging from $5 to $40, call 830-TIXS.
They shoot horses, don't they? This is the kind of rerun you'll always tune into, no matter how late it's on. Doll yourself up and put on your game face for the Swingathon, a marathon swing dance event taking place into the wee hours at the appropriately atmospheric Casino Cabaret, 2633 Welton St. You'll have two dance areas to choose from--one laid-back and the other joint-dislocation-prone; the Dalhart Imperials and Savoy Jump Swing Band, alternating on stage throughout the night from 8 p.m. to 3 a.m., will propel the action with swingin' sounds. Those not yet worn out can wind down with DJ Kurt Ohlen, who'll spin platters until 4 a.m. (whew!)--after that, you'll have to hobble on home. Tickets are $10 at the door; call 733-4140 for information.
Up and down: Going up? Warren Miller, America's favorite ski-adventure filmmaker, will take you higher--again--with Snowriders 2, his 48th ski feature in as many years. This year's model, an extreme extravaganza that travels around the globe from Alaskan slopes to New Zealand mountaintops, spotlights no end of boarders, shredders, windsurfers and even heli-skiers, backed by an up-to-date soundtrack that perfectly matches the action. Miller's icy thriller screens tonight at 5 and 8 at the Arvada Center for the Arts and Humanities, 6901 Wadsworth Blvd.; further screenings take place during the coming weeks at the Paramount Theatre (November 13-15), CU-Boulder's Macky Auditorium (November 20) and the Boulder Theater (November 21-22). Call 830-TIXS for showtimes and reservations.