FRI, 5/23 Take down that ratty-edged Ansel Adams print you've had since college and banish your Scarface poster to the basement. The organizers of the Colorado Arts Festival want to encourage everyone -- from first-timers to high-end collectors -- to purchase works by local artists. "People should appreciate the value of owning something original and unique," says D Michaels, one of the founders of the five-year-old street extravaganza sponsored by Celebrate Colorado Artists. "Many people have the misconception that what's in our own back yard is inferior, but that is simply not true."
More than half of the juried show's 155 exhibitors are new this year. "Primarily, we're showing Front Range artists, but we're getting more and more entries from the Western Slope and down south," explains Michaels. "We want to make buying art fun and easy, which is why you can find quality art in every medium for reasonable prices."
But the festival, which begins today and runs through Monday, is not just about oil paintings and ceramic mugs. It's also about education, and to that end will feature public art demonstrations as well as interactive creative activities for kids of all ages. Among the attractions are Construction Junction, a Habitat for Humanity playhouse that needs to be painted and decorated before being donated to charity, and The Great Wall of Art, where both young and old can leave their permanent marks.
Music will also abound at this year's fest, which takes place at the Denver Pavilions on the 16th Street Mall. The Main Stage will rock with headliners Hazel Miller, Opie Gone Bad, the Erica Brown Band, Yo, Flaco! and others; elsewhere, the Culture Stage will showcase the Low Flying Knobs Marimba Band, Fiesta Colorado, the Colorado Ambassadors Gospel Choir, Perpetual Motion and more. "It's basically one big, fabulous party," says Michaels. "We have so many extraordinarily talented groups lined up."
A silent auction, food vendors and Colorado wine and beer tastings will also be a part of the four-day happening. For information and a complete schedule, visit www.coloradoartsfestival.org or call 303-388-2137. "It's Memorial Day weekend; come honor our country, our people and our arts," says Michaels. "By supporting the arts in your own community, it makes it a much nicer place for us all to live." -- Julie Dunn
Hot grills of your dreams
Memorial Day marks the unofficial start of summer -- and summer parties. One way to make sure your backyard do is smokin' is to hotfoot it to Outdoor Kitchen for a souped-up new barbecue grill. The store features a wide variety of cookers, from $200 portable charcoal versions to huge, stainless-steel rotisserie models that run $5,000 or more. "Grilling purists still go for charcoal," says Jennifer Miller, Outdoor Kitchen's retail manager. "But for pure convenience, gas is as easy as flipping a switch." Founded in 1984 and locally owned, the 'cue mecca also sells patio furniture, grill parts and even firey sauces to spice up your summer nights. "There is a huge difference between a Kmart special and what you can get here," Miller says.
Get cookin' at Outdoor Kitchen's showroom, at 2020 South Havana Street in Aurora, at the company's Web site, www.outdoorkitchen.com, or by calling 303-695-7799. -- Julie Dunn
The Grape Outdoors
It's not odd to see people drinking in front of liquor stores, but at Takin' It to the Streets: Front Range Parking Lot Tastings of Colorado Wines, the paper bags will stay inside. "It's always more effective to get people to buy wine when they can taste it," says Doug Caskey, executive director of the Colorado Wine Development Board and organizer of the ongoing event. "Tastings in front of a liquor store lead to sales."
Held from noon to 4 at Pettyjohn's Wine and Spirits, 613 South Broadway in Boulder, today's sampling will feature representatives from Bookcliff and Two Rivers wineries. "In 1990, we had five wineries in the state. Now we have almost fifty," says Caskey. "It's growing really fast, which I think is a surprise to most Coloradans."
For more information and a schedule of upcoming locations, visit www.coloradowine.com. -- Julie Dunn
A Gaylord Time
If your Memorial Day plans call more for urban loafing than high-country athleticism, then spend a lazy afternoon wandering around the 24th annual Old South Gaylord Festival. Taking place today through Monday on South Gaylord Street between Tennessee and Mississippi Avenues, the event offers more than seventy arts-and-crafts booths to peruse, zydeco, jazz and bluegrass music on two stages, and turkey legs, waffles and ice cream galore.
"From a sidewalk sale in 1979, we've grown into this huge, family-oriented street festival," says coordinator Andrew Goldberg. "The challenge is to make it new and special each year, and this year is definitely going to be tops."
The free party will run from 10 to 6 daily; to alleviate parking headaches, shuttle buses will run from the South High School parking lot at Franklin Street and Louisiana Avenue. For more information, go to www.merchantsofsouthgaylord.com. -- Julie Dunn