Talking Shop

Ways to beat the pre-holiday shopping crush

By Susan Froyd

On your marks, get set... Halloween's over, and the holiday shopping season is here. But while everyone else is waddling through the mall like a flock of penguins in a sea of molasses, you'll run with a crowd of a different color, and your gift coffers will bulge with out-of-the-ordinary items before Thanksgiving hits. Herewith a few shopping alternatives available to savvy consumers this month:What better place to start your alternative-shopping spree than at the annual Park Hill Congregational Church's Alternative Gift Market? Featuring handmades, cards and donation gifts, the non-profit sale benefits artisans and organizations committed to human development; give a little and get a little from 12:30 to 3 p.m. Saturday or 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday at 2600 Leyden Street. Call 303-322-9122 or log on to www.phccucc.org. For garden-oriented gifts certain to cheer winter-locked flower lovers, the Denver Botanic Gardens 2003 Gift and Garden Markethas it all, from homemade vinegars infused with DBG-grown herbs to colorful Chinese folk-art paintings. Shop the Gardens, 1005 York Street, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday and Saturday, or from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday; call 720-865-3500 or log on to www.botanicgardens.org. Meanwhile, the annual Gifts for Yulesale at the Denver Turnverein, 1570 Clarkson Street, will have a slightly different look this year, beginning with the newly spiffed-up Turnverein itself. But you can count on the eclectic gathering of craft and gift vendors to include jewelry, handmade children's clothing, folk art, jellies and condiments, artisan handbags and more; shop from noon to 6 p.m. Friday or 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday.

And try to save yourself for a few of next weekend's offbeat shopping opportunities, beginning with the Artful ReCreations Holiday Fair, featuring frames made from old bicycle tires, clocks built from computer parts, and purses fashioned out of used drink pouches. Peruse the recycled works from 7 to 9 p.m. November 14 (a special evening spotlighting prize-winning eco-artist Cha Cha) and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. November 15 at the Eco-Cycle/Broomfield Recycling Center, 225 Commerce Street, Broomfield; call 303-404-2839. You'll also find a more refined selection of items from various non-profit and museum gift shops at Marketplace Mosaic, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. November 15 and 16 at the Jefferson County Fairgrounds, 15200 West Sixth Avenue, Golden; call 303-594-7767.

For even more ideas, see the Night & Day Community Events listings at westword.com.

Visualize This!

At least you know where the folks at the third annual Visualized Film Festival stand. Their Web site says the five-day event is "dedicated to screening revolutionary, progressive, leftist, radical, anarchist, socialist, anti-racist, feminist, visionary, counter-hegemonic, organic works."Whew. A little strong?

Not really, says festival co-organizer Jill Dreier: "We want it to be an open invitation to everyone."

"If all you do is watch the news on TV, you don't know anything about what's going on in the world," Dreier explains. "Visualized films are made by independent activists who use their work to draw attention to matters ignored by traditional media. Subjects this year include everything from hip-hop culture in Colombia to human shields in Iraq."

The Denver-based festival, she adds, is "aimed at people who turn on the evening news at night and say to themselves, 'This isn't right; this can't be what's happening. They can't be shoving this down our throats again.'" It's for those who "don't want to be spoon-fed and told what to think."

Visualized runs nightly through November 9, with an additional screening on November 13. Films will be shown at the Mercury Cafe, 2199 California Street, and in room 1130 of the North Classroom Building on the Auraria campus. Tonight's festival opener takes place upstairs at the Merc starting at 7 p.m.; the evening will include music, poetry and a slate of nine short films, beginning with Denver Janitors Get Their Healthcare. All presentations are free. For a complete schedule, call 303-294-9281 or visit www.visualized.org. -- Hart Van Denburg

High-Octane Fashion

Lynne Bruning's studio, the Gas Station, is a little piece of SoHo tucked away in Five Points. The former service station turned nightclub turned fashion gallery at 30th and Welton streets is spacious and sparse, alluring in the way that only Über-hip boutiques can be. Fluid, figure-flattering bias-cut dresses, coats and skirts hang from the electric-hued ceiling and walls. And today they're all on sale. Deep sale. We're talking that great Manhattan tradition, the sample sale.

Bruning rounded up a group of Denver designers for this one-night only fashion fest, which will feature her own wool and silk confections, Marla and Lisa Bachar's bobo bag line, Nicole Lorentz's Solange d'art Jewelry and Baby Doll vintage clothing by Lynne Buchenau and Darci Brumm.

"I did one back in May, and it went over well," says Bruning, whose strong, simple lines reflect her background in architecture. "So I expanded to other designers. All my samples have to go, and they're priced to move."

The sale will take place from 4 to 9 p.m., but the good stuff goes early, natch. (Catfights should be left on the island.) Call 720-272-0956 for more information. -- Amy Haimerl

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