This Week's Day-by-Day Picks

Thursday, September 4Puttin' on for dogs: Audience members willing to plunk down a few bucks tonight will be treated to an evening of partying down with Denver-area bands, but down-on-their-luck canines will be the main recipients of Music for Mutts, hosted by Camp Bow Wow as a benefit for various local dog charities. Starting at 8 p.m. at the Bluebird Theater, 3317 East Colfax Avenue, you can dance to the Beloved Invaders, the Sleepers, What Tribe and the Barrys; tickets are $7 in advance (available at www.nipp.com or any Camp Bow Wow location) or $9 at the door. For more about Camp Bow Wow, log on to www.campbowwow.tv.

Friday, September 5People get ready: Fans on a budget can splurge a little in anticipation of new seasons for their favorite Pepsi Center-based teams, including the Colorado Avalanche, the Denver Nuggets, the Colorado Crush and the Colorado Mammoth, when the Pepsi Center Trading Company, located in the facility's Grand Atrium, throws its big Team Rally Sale today through September 7. In order to make room for new merchandise, discounts of up to 60 percent will be offered on discontinued memorabilia, ranging from keychains to T-shirts; player-used Avalanche equipment will also be sold. Hit the shop from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. today or 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. The Pepsi Center is located at 1000 Chopper Place; parking for shoppers will be free.

Some very special art will go on the block for Very Special Arts -- a Colorado nonprofit that provides educational arts activities for people with disabilities -- at the fifth annual VSA Fine Arts Auction, tonight from 6:30 to 10 p.m. at the William Havu Gallery, 1040 Cherokee Street. This year's event, Between a Rock and a Hard Place, features works donated by dozens of local artists (including some with disabilities), along with enough nibbles and sips from LoDo and Golden Triangle restaurants to sustain you as you raise your finger to bid. Admission is $50 in advance or $75 at the door; for details, call 303-777-0797. To view artworks in advance, log on to co.vsarts.org.

We all have a soft spot for animal art -- those playful images of pooches, pussycats and peacocks designed to lend a sense of whimsy to any wall. Animal Crackers: Creatures and Critters at Play, with works by twenty Colorado artists, celebrates the animal world with a reception tonight from 5:30 to 7 p.m. in the lobby and concourse at Republic Plaza, 370 17th Street; the show continues through October 25. For information, call 303-832-6766. And on a more human level, an exhibit debuting at the Museo de las Américas, 861 Santa Fe Drive, offers a comprehensive look at the best of contemporary Mexican art. Miradas del Arte Mexicano/A Vision of Mexican Art, conceived by the Group of 16, a philanthropic organization dedicated to raising money for charity through the sale and promotion of art, features works in all media by Mexican artists from the past forty years, including Francisco Toledo, Alfredo Castañeda, Manuel Felguérez, Perla Kruse and others. The show opens with a reception tonight from 5:30 to 8 p.m. and continues through October 29; call 303-571-4401.

Saturday, September 6Olé, Olé, Olé...O-lé, O-lé! Get your kicks tonight at the third annual Run the Rapids, a 5K benefit run/walk for the Colorado Rapids Community Care Foundation. Not only does the 5 p.m. family run offer a rare chance to set foot on the turf at Invesco Field at Mile High, but entry fees also include free tickets for children ages twelve and under and discounted adult tickets for tonight's soccer match between the Rapids and the Dallas Burn, starting at 7 p.m. As anyone who's spent an evening at a Rapids game will tell you, there's no sporting event in town that's more fun and laid-back. Registration ranges from $15 to $25; call 303-694-2030 or log on to www.bkbltd.com.

Sunday, September 7The Mizel Center for Arts and Culture makes a splash with its first big show of the fall: Symbols of the Big Bang, with paintings, mixed-media collages and drawings by Russian expatriates Vitaly Komar and Alexander Melamid. The notorious arts tag team inspired a Soviet pop-art movement in the '60s before moving on to America in the '70s, where it has continually shocked and delighted the art world with its tart, leftist conceptual creations (including a series of works based on the results of detailed marketing surveys and another series of paintings executed by elephants). Now the duo has turned to creating mystical geometric images composed of archetypal symbols. The exhibit opens today with a reception at 3 p.m. in the center's Singer Gallery, 350 South Dahlia Street in the Robert E. Loup Jewish Community Center, and continues through November 2. The artists themselves will speak at the center on October 23 (admission is $5); for details, call 303-316-6360 or log on to www.mizelcenter.org.

Monday, September 8As the second anniversary of September 11 approaches, with its roller coaster of tough memories for conflicted Americans, PBS's American Experience airs The Center of the World, the eighth episode of New York: A Documentary Film, by Ric Burns. A comprehensive history of the World Trade Center from its conception to its demise, this installment also explores the profound historical shift prompted by the unfathomable attacks of two years ago, offering personal views of the towers -- both going up and coming down. As in previous episodes, insights and perspective will be provided by such notable New Yorkers as Pete Hamill, Mike Wallace, Robert A. M. Stern and Ada Louise Huxtable; the program airs tonight at 8 p.m. on KRMA-TV/Channel Six.

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