The name Tomie dePaola reverberates loudly through the children's-literature industry, on the strength of his huge catalogue of picture books, which are beautifully illustrated in vibrant jewel tones. He'll be in town to introduce the latest entry in that catalogue--the autobiographical chapter book 26 Fairmount Avenue, which represents a new direction for dePaola--at several bookstores around the metro area. His Denver visits culminate this afternoon at Bookies, 4315 E. Mississippi, where he'll be joined by cast members of the Arvada Center's coincidentally current production of Strega Nona, a children's musical based on dePaola's stories. Meet the author--and some friends--today at 4:30; call 303-759-1117.
Denver's radiant Latino community will have its days in the sun this weekend when the annual Cinco de Mayo Festival returns, bringing back a wonderful round of whirling colors, spirited music and dance, spicy eats, folk art and more to Civic Center Park, Broadway and Colfax. The fiesta begins tonight at 5:30 with a concert featuring national Spanish-language rock group Pastilla. Events during the festival proper, which include an ongoing spectrum of live performances, storytelling and music on several stages, continue from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday and Sunday--and kick off with a "Celebrate Cultures" parade at 10:30 a.m. Saturday and a mariachi mass at 10 a.m. Sunday; admission is free.
The adventurous Museum of Contemporary Art/Denver continues to fill a unique niche in the city's arts community with The New, New Painters, an exhibition of works by a group of painters representing the modern progression out of the abstract-expressionist and color-field genres. Eleven of these artists, all concerned directly with the character of the media they use, will exhibit three works each; some will be on hand during an opening reception tonight from 5:30 to 8. The show continues through July 4 at MCAD's well-suited temporary space in Sakura Square, 1255 19th St. Call 303-984-9956.
If you haven't already turned over that earth and started your garden, it's time to do so. And in light of the fact that the weather may soon dry out, you'll want to be ready to mulch down those nice, fresh beds. So while you've got the shovel out, take advantage of today's Treecycle Mulch Giveaway. Denver residents can pick up free tree and branch mulch between 8 a.m. and 3 p.m. at three locations--Havana Nursery, at 10450 Smith Rd.; Kennedy Soccer Fields, at Hampden and Dayton; and Bear Valley Park, at Dartmouth and Lamar. Bring a pitchfork, containers and--if you have a truck--a tarp; for details call 303-640-1678.
Then, while you're still in the springtime spirit, your thoughts may return indoors, where the dust bunnies have been collecting in corners all winter long. Consider this: In the Victorian age, they did windows. And candlesticks and chimneys and carpets and floors. You'll learn all about the rigor involved while perusing Spring Cleaning: The Victorian Ritual of Housekeeping, a new exhibit opening today at the Astor House Museum, 822 12th St. in Golden. The show continues through June 30 (plenty of time for you to complete your own spring-cleaning rituals); call 303-278-3557 for museum information.
Nobody loves a run better than your dog, which is all the more reason to participate in the Furry Scurry, the annual two-mile walk and fun run for humans and dogs that happily--tail-waggingly--benefits the Denver Dumb Friends League. The doggy party begins this morning at 9 in Washington Park; the entry fee is $30. To register, drop by the league's shelters at 2080 S. Quebec St. or 305 Sheridan Blvd., Lakewood, or log on to www.ddfl.org. For more information call 303-696-4941.
Consummate Irish fiddler Martin Hayes and guitarist Dennis Cahill do, without a doubt, make beautiful music together. It simply doesn't get any better, so enough said--the duo performs tonight at 8 at the Swallow Hill Music Hall, 71 E. Yale Ave.; for tickets, $15, call 303-777-1003 or 303-830-TIXS.
Hey, kids! Thanks to the ingenuity of curators at the Buffalo Bill Memorial Museum, you no longer have to grow up to be a cowboy--you can be one right now! A new permanent exhibit, Kid's Cowboy Corral, opens today, offering hands-on insights into the wrangler's milieu, from calf-roping to branding. From noon to 4 today, Bill and other costumed characters of the American West will be on hand to tell tales and pose for pictures; the museum is at 987 1/2 Lookout Mountain Rd., Golden. Call 303-526-0744.
Today is also the day for music appreciation if you're a kid, because the Boulder Bach Festival is throwing a free Bach for Kids concert at the Boulder Public Library Auditorium, 1000 Canyon, Boulder. Featured will be the period-costumed early-music expert Linda Lunbeck, who will demonstrate sprightly Baroque-era dances with help from the audience. The annual children's concert begins at 3; call 303-494-3159.
How's this for a switch? Start your week by slowing down: It's a free day at the Denver Botanic Gardens, 1005 York St., making it a perfect time to stop and smell the flowers. Outdoors, you'll be able to enjoy new spring blooms, while indoors, you can traipse through the newly refurbished and redesigned tropical conservatory. Either way, the pastures are certain to be greener. The gardens are open from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. today; call 303-370-8187 for information about upcoming events.
When in Turkey, do as the Turkish do. If you're in the process of planning that trip to Istanbul, here's an opportunity to find out what that entails. The Hoy-Tur Folk Dance Group, an authentic ensemble performing dances popular not only in Istanbul but in all regions of Turkey, will demonstrate, with help from the musicians of Group Lachin, tonight at 7:30 at the Temple Events Center, 1595 Pearl St. Admission ranges from $15 to $20; call 303-830-TIXS.
Author Ellen Meloy is a scarce phenomenon in America, simply by way of the Four Corners region, the remote stretch of the Southwest she bravely calls home. It's also the subject of her many-faceted collection of new essays, The Last Cheater's Waltz: Beauty and Violence in the Desert Southwest, a combination of laid-back humor and environmental concern that covers numerous regional topics, from the lasting effects of A-bomb testing to the mating rituals of desert toads. Meloy will share some moments from the book, convincingly written in the Edward Abbey vein, tonight at 7:30 at the Tattered Cover Book Store, 2955 E. 1st Ave. Call 303-322-7727 for details.
Few jazz guitarists are as smartly prolific as John Scofield, an ever-changing technician who tempers his sheer skill with a bit of soul. His most recent recording foray, a funky trip into organ-trio country, featured the up-to-date sounds of Medeski, Martin and Wood, and we'll assume that's the territory he'll cover--albeit without MM&W--when he performs tonight at 8 at the Boulder Theater, 2030 14th St., Boulder. Tickets are $18 and $23.50; call 303-786-7030.