Tie, tux and...high-tops? That's the ticket at the annual Sneakers Ball gala, a benefit for the Attention Homes emergency youth shelter. This year's theme, "Kitschy Loungewear With Swanky Sneakers," will have lounge lizards slinking out of the woodwork at the Boulder Theater, 2032 14th Street in Boulder, beginning at 7 p.m. tonight. To top it off, a sneaker-decorating booth, a sneaker contest and an entire smorgasbord of local entertainers -- including blues-bawlin' hostess Hazel Miller; mambo combo Diosa (an offshoot of the larger Cabaret Diosa ensemble); and drummer Brian Nevin of Big Head Todd and the Monsters, performing with the Boulder High Drum Corps -- will keep things lively. For tickets, $60 in advance/$70 at the door, call 303-447-1206 or visit www.sneakersball.org.
Friday, May 13
The kitchen is akin to the center of the universe in most homes, which probably explains why it's usually the first room to get a major makeover when the redecorating bug bites. Everyone can use a few great ideas, and there will be plenty to go around during Kitchens on Fire, an annual self-guided Boulder kitchen tour that benefits the Dairy Center for the Arts. You'll see the finest in contemporary kitchen materials, including stainless steel and granite, concrete and subway tile, as well as specialty elements such as rice-paper cabinet doors and hard-core Viking stoves. (Keep your drool to yourself.) A free Concrete Revolution Show and Tell, offering tips on what's hot, hot, hot in the kitchen, awaits at the tour's fourth stop, Studio3 Kitchen/Bath/Design, at 741 Pearl Street. Fan your fantasies today or tomorrow from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.; tickets, $15, are available in advance at Studio3 and the Dairy Center, 2590 Walnut Street, or online at www.thedairy.org.
The list of contemporary artists who've pulled prints with master printer Bud Shark at his Lyons-based Shark's Ink studio -- a brilliant star on Colorado's Front Range that's appreciated by artists and collectors alike -- is long, impressive and eclectic, a tribute to the man's technical skill and his ability to realize the visions of others. See some of the fine results of Shark's exacting collaborative process when Boulder's new Exhibitrek gallery, 1711 15th Street in Boulder, debuts with Shark & His Ink, touted as the first Shark show in Boulder in nearly ten years and featuring new prints from a variety of artists who've utilized the printmaker's expertise. Attend a reception tonight from 6 to 10 p.m., or view the show through June 16; for details, call 303-998-1711 or visit www.exhibitrek.com.
Saturday, May 14
It's a long way, psychologically, if not physically, from the hills of Appalachia to the Iowa Writer's Workshop, but that's the path that author Chris Offutt took, more or less, on the road to becoming one of our finer fiction writers and memoirists. A storyteller in the spare Carver style who may be best known as a teacher, Offutt will wear both hats this afternoon at the Bug Theatre when he guests at Inside the Writer's Studio, a mixed bag of readings and conversation hosted by the Lighthouse Writers local creative-writing school. Whether you're an aspiring novelist or you just like to read, Offutt's wisdom on words will be a delight to share. The serious talk starts at 2 p.m. at the Bug, 3654 Navajo Street; for tickets, $8 in advance/$10 at the door, call 303-297-1185 or go to www.lighthousewriters.org/order.htm.
Choreographer Deborah Reshotko spends a good part of every year working with community members and kids to stage free intergenerational dance concerts. But every now and then, she drops her teaching role to do her own thing professionally with her Speaking of Dance ensemble. This spring, Reshotko and troupe will strut their stuff during The Puzzle and the Path: New Dances to Live Music, an evening of diverse dance works that intertwine with music. The program comprises original and commissioned scores, improvisations by Jesse Manno, singing by the ASTER Women's Chamber Choir and more. SOD dances tonight at 7:30 p.m. and tomorrow at 2:30 p.m. at the Lakewood Cultural Center, 470 South Allison Parkway in Lakewood; for tickets, $10 to $15, call 303-987-7875 or visit www.lakewood.org.
Sunday, May 15
The Swallow Hill Music Association strung up a winner last year with its inaugural Artists in Resonance silent auction, which featured guitars fancied up by local artists who'd been given carte blanche to bring the old instruments back to life. This year, a batch of 24 gussied-up guitars will go on the block during the Colorado Arts Festival, which takes place at the Denver Pavilions, 500 16th Street, over Memorial Day weekend. But interested bidders can sneak a peek through May 26 at the Pavilions -- where the guitars, which range from ultra-modern to utterly whimsical in theme, are on display in store windows -- or online, at www.swallowhill.com/ AIR2005. For more on the Colorado Arts Festival, go to www.coloradoartsfestival.org.
Monday, May 16
The real secret of Elmore Leonard's success as a writer? "I try to leave out the parts that people skip" is his oft-quoted reply. What's left, of course, is the non-stop volley of action, laughs and smart dialogue for which Leonard is known, a fail-safe combo we can only hope repeats itself in his latest, The Hot Kid, a Prohibition-era piece awash in blackmail and bank robbers. Speak softly and carry a big tommy gun? Leonard will read from and sign copies of the comic thriller tonight at 7:30 p.m. at the Cherry Creek Tattered Cover, 2955 East First Avenue; free tickets will be handed out beginning at 6:30 p.m. Call 303-322-7727.