This Week's Day-by-Day Picks

Thursday, February 10The colorful community-oriented murals that dot today's Hispanic barrios are only a stone's throw, aesthetically and culturally, from the monumental twentieth-century works of politically driven leftist Mexican innovators such as David Alfaro Siqueiros. Siqueiros, along with Diego Rivera and José Clemente Orozco, was considered one of Las Tres Grandes (the Three Great Ones) of Mexico's muralist movement. And the intentions of modern muralists who have been influenced by that groundbreaking trio remains the same: to create large-scale art that speaks to and for the masses. Siqueiros's dynamic, swirling style visually underlined a turbulent life marked by his fierce and controversial dedication to activism. His works will rule the galleries at Museo de las Américas, 861 Santa Fe Drive, beginning tonight, when Siqueiros: Spirit of a Revolutionary opens with a reception from 6 to 9 p.m. The exhibition's pieces are on loan from the Museo Soumaya in Mexico City and include more than twenty works spanning several decades. Siqueiros continues through April 23; call 303-571-4401 or visit www.museo.org for details.

Friday, February 11Spring dance concerts are popping up like early crocuses, groundhogs be damned. That includes Ballet Nouveau Colorado's annual Nouveau Showcase, a treasury of Colorado choreography that spotlights original works by eight regional dance designers, including Colorado State University's Chung-Fu Chang, previously of the prestigious Cloud Gate Dance Theatre of Taiwan; former New York City Ballet member Vicki Psihoyos; and Ballet Nouveau's own ballet master, Robert Mills. The program begins its tour of three north-metro venues tonight at 8 p.m. at the Parsons Theatre, Northglenn Recreation Center, I-25 and 120th Avenue, Northglenn; shows continue there through Sunday, then move on to the BNC Performance Theatre in Broomfield next weekend and to Boulder's Dairy Center for the Arts from February 25 through 27. Tickets are $18 to $20; call 303-466-5685 or go to www.balletnouveaucolorado.org for reservations.

A horde of local celebrities -- including Mayor Hickenlooper, dance maven Cleo Parker Robinson, actress Pam Grier and siblings Gina and Rob, and several media personalities -- are pumped up this Valentine's season to create signature artworks out of plain wooden hearts. And what's got all those pulses pounding is tonight's Milagros del Corazon gala and auction, a heart-themed benefit for community-minded Denver art organization the Chicano Humanities and Arts Council. Bid on your favorite heart art tonight from 6 to 10 p.m. at the Walnut Foundry Event Center, 3002 Walnut Street. For tickets, an easy $5 to $7 that will leave plenty of cash at your fingertips, call 303-394-3672 or go to www.chacweb.org.

Saturday, February 12The Year of the Rooster officially hatched on February 9. However, unlike our annual Western-style New Year's spectacle, the Chinese New Yearcelebration stretches over a period of several days, from new moon to full moon. During that time, a whole string of traditions is observed, from preliminary house cleaning in homage to the gods to the concluding Lantern Festival. Most folks outside the loop, however, commonly associate the holiday with firecrackers and the colorful gyrations of dragon and lion dancers parading through the streets; those are simply not-to-miss customs, regardless of your culture. Here in the Denver-Boulder area, we're lucky to have a first-rate troupe, the Boulder-based Shaolin Hung Mei Kung Fu Association, which tours the region's Asian strongholds each year for an exhausting round of performances. One of their most popular stops is the Far East Center, 333 West Federal Boulevard, where the group puts on an incendiary, acrobatic Lion Dance show in the parking lot to bless the strip mall's businesses. This year's free program is at noon today, weather permitting; the King Fu crew will also show off martial-arts moves as the endless M-80s crackle and pop. For more information, go to www.shaolinhungmei.org.

Sunday, February 13The assumption that Denver jazz musicians toil in anonymity far from the limelight really isn't accurate. Sure, their careers are low-key successes, but their skills do get noticed, at least among critics and peers. Such is the case with saxophonist Fred Hess, a player and composer whose day gig at Metropolitan State College of Denver has led him into fruitful collaboration with trumpet player Ron Miles. Hess, whose influences run the gamut from Phil Woods to Anthony Braxton, celebrates the release of his new CD, Crossed Paths, today at 3 p.m. at St. Cajetan's Center, Ninth and Lawrence streets on the Auraria campus, with a concert featuring a hand-picked, homegrown band that includes Miles, pianist Marc Sabatella, bassist Ron Rohovit and drummer Dave Benitez. The album, dedicated to late soprano-sax artist Steve Lacy, contains a number of works inspired by his style. Call 303-556-3180 for details.

Monday, February 14When it comes to being single, the thrill is in the hunt for a mate. Or so it would seem, according to the folks at the Denver Hunt and the Eight at Eight Dinner Club, who will combine forces tonight to bring you the Be My Valentine Treasure Hunt for single professionals. Groups of six will be dispatched at 6 p.m. from the Rattlebrain Theater, 1601 Arapahoe Street, with a riddle that leads to instructions for perusing downtown Denver for treasures and more clues. You never know what -- or who -- you'll find as the evening unravels. Admission is $45; call 303-369-3888 or log on to www.8at8.com for registration details.

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