As a kid, I hated, hated Lakeside Amusement Park. It probably had something to do with the early trauma of riding that godforsaken roller coaster known as the Chipmunk. And even though my grandfather took me on the Cyclone every year on Samsonite Day -- promising me that no, we would not in fact plunge to our deaths in the lake -- I still wanted to go to Elitch's. Where my friends went; where the cool kids went. Fast-forward twenty years, and you can't force me to set foot inside that corporate theme park known as Six Flags Elitch Gardens. I'm straight-up a Lakeside girl. It's still got the old-school rides and carny atmosphere that remind me of a great county fair. The place just doesn't get enough respect.
Starting tonight, Denver artist Christina Ianni gives Lakeside its props with her photographic exhibit Tilt-a-Whirl World, at the Kirk Norlin Gallery, 4430 Tennyson Street. But there aren't just glamour shots on display. Part of the allure of Ianni's work is the cheap toy cameras she used to snap the images.
"None of them I can focus with; you just shoot," Ianni says. "I was at this antique store, and I came across this photo of Lakeside, probably from the 1930s, and I figured somebody took it with a plastic cheapo camera back then, so why not do it now and see what you get?"
What she got were rich, magical photos that capture the beauty and nostalgia of one of Denver's great cultural legacies. The images of the groovy coasters and other crowd favorites are on display through October 30, but tonight's opening reception from 6 to 11 p.m. features the added bonus of popcorn and cotton candy. And for just $75, you can take home your very own framed piece of local lore. The hard part will be choosing which one.
For me, it sure as hell won't be a photo of the Chipmunk. I still haven't forgiven that beast. Call 303-477-1847 for information. -- Amy Haimerl
Poking at the Political Paradigm
Vision for America seeks focus
Shake it up. That's the intent behind Vision for America, a three-day conference of film and rap sessions with local and national leaders from all points along the political spectrum.
"There's probably more common ground regarding the issues than people know," says Heather Larrabee of the sponsoring group Organizing Political Education With Non-Partisanship. "We want to get people talking across political lines and create dynamic change in our community."
The symposium features seventeen film screenings and seven panel discussions. Those who've grabbed a panel seat at the political parley are State Board of Education member D. Rico Munn, former Denver councilwoman Susan Barnes-Gelt, Colorado Freedom Report's Ari Armstrong, Colorado GOP communications director Bill Ray and former CIA official Herbert E. Meyer. Vision for America opens at 7 p.m. tonight at the Colorado Convention Center, 700 14th Street, with a screening of Mark Wojahn's What America Needs, followed by a discussion with Wojahn; tickets are $8. Conference tickets, $15 to $30, are available at all TicketsWest locations. For details, call 720-841-6165 or visit www.opencolorado.org. -- Kity Ironton
"Life Is," a print from photographer Theodore Lau, is one of more than 120 pieces being auctioned in Art for Life. The title of Lau's black-and-white image of food seems particularly appropriate because the proceeds from tonight's third annual benefit support Project Angel Heart, a nonprofit that delivers meals to the homes of patients with HIV/AIDS and other illnesses. The gala is from 5 to 9 p.m. at Abend Gallery, 2260 East Colfax Avenue. And that's not all: On Sunday, October 3, Angel Heart supporters can enjoy another auction and hear live music at Sambuca, 1320 15th Street, from 6 to 9 p.m. To view auction pieces or to purchase tickets, $25, visit www.projectangelheart.org. To reserve a table at Sambuca, call 303-629-5299. -- Caroline Bankoff
An Elephant Never Forgets
The circus is back in town
When the 134th edition of The Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Greatest Show on Earth shuffles into town today, it will be touting the new slogan "Tempting Fate Daily." Cocky, fellas, very cocky. Seeing as Denver just voted on an ordinance prohibiting the display of wild or exotic animals for public entertainment and amusement, such a slogan might seem like a slap in the face to those who unsuccessfully voted to ban the circus. Not at all, says the circus; the fate that is tempted occurs when a madman risks life, limb and spangled tights by performing atop a harrowing high wire and doing other zany circus tricks.
And here I was thinking they meant beating elephants and lions in a just barely visible manner.
For better or for worse, the circus will be at the Pepsi Center, 1000 Chopper Circle, through October 10, and the Denver Coliseum, 4600 Humboldt Street, from October 13 through 17. Opening-night shows are $10, regular performances, $13; tickets are available at arena box offices or at 303-830-TIXS.
Enjoy your tough animal love. -- Adam Cayton-Holland