The urban landscape is inundated with hard-strapped creative kids whose dreams might just be a little harder to reach were it not for ArtLab, a branch of Denver's Arts Street economic-development program that offers paid training opportunities to at-risk youth artists at the collaborating PlatteForum Gallery. It seems there are few more efficient machines at work in this city: This summer, ArtLab participants, who earn a stipend for their work as artist/mentors, worked with PlatteForum's Emily vonSwearingen and Scott Slack, earning their keep by helping younger kids execute massive summer Arts Explosions! projects, including murals and Trash Monster sculptures created from recycled materials, all while working on their own personal digital films.
ArtLab will celebrate its accomplishments this week at two events: It will offer a sneak-peek film viewing at 6:30 p.m. tonight during an Arts Street Summer Showcase at Buntport Theater, 717 Lipan Street, which also includes short films and performances by another Arts Street endeavor, the Mind Gap Theatre Company; and tomorrow from 5 to 8:30 p.m., PlatteForum, 1610 Little Raven Street, will host a reception and full screening of the ArtLab films, which explore diverse topics from golf to racial profiling. Gallery-goers will also get a big taste of what's been going on at PlatteForum all summer. "The whole place has been transformed into a giant mural and sculpture garden," notes director Judy Anderson.
Admission on Thursday is $3. Call 720-865-5571 or contact PlatteForum at 303-893-0791 or www.platteforum.org. -- Susan Froyd
In the past, Mark Helprin mined fanciful and epic themes in such novels as Winter's Tale and A Soldier of the Great War with a graceful command of language and an understanding of the grand design of life. But Helprin's usually elegant fiction takes a comedic, even slapstick, turn -- though his knack for storytelling remains well in place -- in his new book, Freddy and Fredericka, an uncharacteristic novel that's picaresque and savage at the same time. Some will say it doesn't do him justice, but one has to figure Helprin's just having fun -- in this case, by lampooning the British monarchy and adventuring his way through a litany of American literary voicings. The author reads from and autographs Freddy tonight at 7:30 p.m. at the Tattered Cover Cherry Creek, 2955 East First Avenue. Call 303-322-7727 for information. -- Susan Froyd
Shop Till You Drop
Seventeen days of fabulously conspicuous consumerism.
To celebrate the ebullient nature of shopping on 17th Avenue, four boutiques along the strip are hosting open houses featuring food, fun and fabulous fare from 5 to 9 p.m. today. Here are seventeen more reasons to visit 17th Avenue:
17. Can successfully avoid confrontations with notoriously violent Sixth Avenue North Country Club Crips .
16. Opportunity to scour Dante Bichette's defunct cabaret for legendary lost fortune of shiny trinkets.
15. EZE MOP.
14. Purchases are 17 percent off for 17 days beginning July 17 at macymacy, 1612 East 17th Avenue, 303-320-1161. (You'll need to print the postcard at www.macymacy.com to get the savings.)
13. Ditto at Sparrow, 1608 East 17th Avenue, 303-321-1559. (The macymacy card works everywhere.)
12. Same for Talulah Jones, 1122 East 17th Avenue, 303-832-1230.
11. And Masten Fine Art Framing, 429 East 17th Avenue, 303-832-6565.
10. Less dangerous than shopping Martin Luther King Junior Boulevard.
9. EZE MOP.
8. Vast majority of crackheads too lethargic to make two-block trek from Colfax Avenue.
7. Annual East High School summer auction of incoming freshmen's dignity.
6. Disapproving, bohemian sneers from St. Mark's Coffeehouse patrons.
5. EZE MOP.
4. Breathtaking "5280" sculpture that majestically graces 17th Avenue.
3. Incalculable benefits of off-season, high-altitude shopping.
2. City Park sells geese by the scoop.
1. Everyone else is doing it. -- Adam Cayton-Holland
Calling All Superheroes
Belmar's Sensory Park is the new Hall of Justice.
If the kids are bored this summer -- or you're sitting home watching Dr. Phil, again -- head over to Belmar's new Sensory Park, where even the biggest couch potato can feel like a superhero.
Located in the main plaza of Belmar at Teller Street and Alaska Drive, the park includes five interactive sculptures that pretty much cover all the super powers belonging to everyone from Superman to Spider-Man. There's a periscope through which you can look at the world as though you were seven feet tall; the six-foot-tall giant ears amplify sound; the speaking tubes let you catch a secret that's being whispered 100 feet away; and the five-foot-long echo tubes let you see how long it takes your voice to travel. The most superhuman installation, however, is the eleven-ton black galaxy granite ball (the largest in the world) suspended in water. Feel your strength by moving the huge weight with a simple push.
"These five elements are structurally beautiful and provide children with a fun and interactive way to learn about their senses and to feel powerful," says Eliza Prall, director of marketing and community building for Belmar. "We think adults will enjoy the Sensory Park as much as children do."
For more information about Belmar, go to www.belmarcolorado.com. -- Amelia Langer