It's hard to imagine a more beautiful place to swirl, sniff and sip fine wines than the Denver Botanic Gardens, which is delicately heady, colorful and fragrant near the height of its spring bloom. The urban Eden will be its own best advertisement during tonight's Wine on the Vine. The annual evening pairs wines from more than a hundred vineyards worldwide with trendy eats provided by such local bistros as Moda and the Fourth Story. Musicians located throughout the grounds will finish out the event's triangle of sensory delights. The DBG benefit takes place from 5:30 to 9 p.m. at 1005 York Street; tickets are $65 to $90 in advance or $100 at the gate. For reservations, call 720-865-3554 or log on to www.botanicgardens.org.
Friday, May 21
The Museum of Contemporary Art/Denver, 1275 19th Street, greets the summer with a tribute to a Denver artist. Dots, Blobs and Angels: John David Rigsby, 1950-1993 provides a retrospective of the late painter/sculptor Rigsby's work. He was a notable alternative-gallery mover and shaker here in the mid-'80s and worked in Colorado for more than twenty years. The exhibit opens today with a reception from 6 to 9 p.m. and continues through September 19; for details, call 303-298-7554 or log on to www.mcartdenver.org.
Meanwhile, the CU Art Museum, in the Sibell-Wolle Fine Arts Building on the Boulder campus, offers a different take on art-museum fare with scraps as it were: Binding Memories, an exhibit developed at the university by Dr. Claire Farago's interdisciplinary Idea of the Museum graduate seminar class. Essentially an exposition on the art of curating, the show is drawn from materials found in historical scrapbooks in the museum's archives and items from CU photography professor Alex Sweetman's private collection. Scraps opens tonight with a reception from 5 to 7 p.m. Visitors to the museum are invited to bring their own printed ephemera for inclusion in the exhibit's culminating scrapbook; call 303-492-8300 for details.
A chance to dance your booty off is just part of this year's African Liberation Day celebration in Boulder. The real winners will be a variety of humanitarian organizations that were founded in Africa. A celebration of Pan-African unity, the ALD party will feature live music and dance with a host of talented Africans living and working in this region, including Senegalese Afro-pop musician and jam organizer Boubacar Diébaté and his band, Dialy Kounda. Performances begin at 8 p.m. tonight at the Flatirons Theater, 1089 13th Street; for tickets, $10 to $12, call 303-499-6484 or log on to www.dancingcircle.com.
Saturdayday, May 22
Arf and running: The Larimer Street Market will team up with Mile High Mutts today to present the first Puppy Play Day, a free downtown happening for dogs and dog lovers that features specialty dog merchants, an agility course, Fly Ball and Rally-O demonstrations, canine psychic readings, contests and more, all taking place during the market's weekly Saturday hours of 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. And, of course, if you tire of doggy doings, you can always peruse the open-air market's standard array of fresh produce and flowers, baked goods, arts and crafts, antiques and live entertainment. The market is at 2301 Larimer Street (at Park Avenue); for details, call 303-808-0804 or log on to www.larimerstreetmarket.com.
Sunday, May 23
Make a weekend of it, and fetch even more Fido fun at the Westmuttster Dog Day Afternoon, an Idaho Springs benefit for the Clear Creek Animal Rescue League. As the title indicates, there'll be nothing snooty planned for the afternoon: prizes will be awarded for such animal attributes as Worst Breath and Best Tail, and lack of breeding simply won't be a problem. Open to all ages and all dogs, Westmuttster takes place from noon to 4 p.m. at the Idaho Springs football field (take Exit 240 off I-70); entry fees are $5 per dog/handler team, $5 for each additional dog, or $2 for handlers only. Children ages twelve and under will be admitted free. Call 303-567-2546.
Entire families are invited to get in the act at today's Denver Center Theatre Academy Family Fun Forum, a free afternoon featuring opportunities to walk a tightwire, learn to juggle or attempt to sing an aria. Kids attending the series of interactive theater workshops can learn skills to earn tokens, which can be redeemed for face painting, balloon animals, food and other prizes. The open house gives families a look at the academy's diverse educational offerings; it takes place from noon to 2 p.m. in the Historic Tramway Building, 1101 13th Street. For required reservations, call 303-446-4892 or log on to www.denvercenter.org.
Longmont artist, activist and Native American Renaissance man Bunky Echo-Hawk hit a solid bull's-eye with his recent work, a series of acrylic paintings aimed at reaffirming a Native American presence in a nation that seems to believe one doesn't exist. The boldly colored poster-style works, including one visual barb poked at the late John Wayne for his notorious statements supporting the American conquest of Indian lands, take on stereotypes and cultural contrasts in the Polly Addison Exhibition Space at the Dairy Center for the Arts, 2590 Walnut Street, Boulder, through June 11. Echo-Hawk will be on hand tonight for a reception from 5 to 7 p.m.; call 303-440-7826 or log on to www.thedairy.org.