In 2000, artist Patricio Córdova produced a piece titled "Allegory of My Life," an assemblage of painted hearts, abstract lines and scenes from his family history in New Mexico and Southern Colorado.
A year later, the picture of Córdova's life changed dramatically. Hit from behind while stopped in traffic, he suffered a serious brain injury that produced a nightmarish range of ill effects, from blackouts and dyslexia to social anxiety and depression. Once a teacher, educator and leader of the Chicano Humanities and Arts Council, Córdova suddenly struggled to communicate, balance his checkbook -- and paint. He literally had to relearn the creative concepts and skills he'd taught himself and had spent a life refining. "For a while, I could only paint for a few hours a day, because my head would just start buzzing. I had to fight my way through it," he says. "I thought about the TV painter Bob Ross. I would just sit there and tell myself over and over: 'Okay, paint in the little trees.' It was very painful."
Fortunately, Córdova's condition has improved significantly, as have his prospects for the future. He hopes to return to teaching, incorporating some of what he's learned about creativity and the way the brain learns -- and relearns. Today, Córdova presents Full House, an exhibition and sale at his home studio, 3111 West 36th Avenue. Many of the works on display were created after Córdova's injury, and his series of "psycho-graphic self-portraits" -- wildly expressive patterns of line, dots and color that recall Jackson Pollock, Aboriginal dream art and pointillism -- are fascinating.
"I think of the show as a nice culmination of what I've done, but it's also a celebration," Córdova says. "It's my re-entry. I need to take a moment to pause and celebrate that." -- Laura Bond
Give the lowly mandolin its just props.
Things liable to make heads spin: Mayor Hickenlooper appointing "Cool Mom" to teach sex education in Denver public schools; Marcus Camby protesting the NBA's new dress code by wearing a pink dress to all December home games; 150 mandolins, mandolas and mandocellos playing together at the tail end of Mando Magic in the Rockies, the nineteenth annual convention of the Classical Mandolin Society of America.
Maybe an aural orgy of mandolins can't compete with athletes in drag or coital relations with your buddy's mom, but don't dismiss the mando family so quickly. Tuned like a violin and fretted like a guitar, the mandolin deserves a little street credit. Near the turn of the century, Bill Monroe, the father of bluegrass music, popularized the use of the mandolin. Irish punk-rockers Dropkick Murphys frequently use the instrument, and R.E.M. guitarist Peter Buck played one on the 1991 hit "Losing My Religion."
Starting today, the four-day Mando Magic event features workshops, concerts, vendors and jam sessions in diverse genres from classical to bluegrass and jazz. Day passes are $40; nightly performances cost $15. All the magic takes place at the Denver Grand Hyatt, 1750 Welton Street. Get schedules and more information at www.denvermandolin.com or by calling 720-934-0115. -- Drew Bixby
Sound of Music
Noise, beats and dance. Sounds like a recipe for rock, and yet DJ Peter Black dubbed his monthly party Rock Stars Are Dead! to shock the orthodoxy out of Denver music fans. But it isn't all talk. Black has assembled a multimedia lineup tonight that includes live sets by such riotous local groups as the Swayback and Stab!Heart!Kiss!Kill!, not to mention a mysterious performance-art spectacle from fashion troupe Polarity Twins. Of course, Black himself will spin an eclectic mix alongside DJ Wesley Wayne that incorporates rock, post-punk, Afro-beat and electro. It might not kill any rock stars, but with one-buck PBRs, some liver cells are going down. Doors open at 9 p.m., and admission is $6; visit www.hi-dive.com or call 720-570-4500 for info. -- Jason Heller
The Super 8 Film Show has a retro glow.
If you like it "cheap and raw," then Johnny Morehouse and Ben Kronberg have the show for you. Their annual Super 8 Film Show plays tonight at the Bug Theatre, 3650 Navajo Street, featuring a dozen short films shot with the retro Super 8 mm, which is celebrating its fortieth anniversary this year.
"Super 8 was invented by Kodak and marketed as a consumer-level film-capturing device," Morehouse says. "It's the '60s version of the '80s camcorder, but it was still film. People use it now because it's got a grainer, nostalgic effect."
Morehouse began shooting with the film after his mother found several of the original Super 8 cameras while antiquing. Since then, the format has become a passion of his, and he's connected with other Super 8 fanatics across the country. His one-night-only show includes documentaries, music videos, a silent film and some experimental work by fellow aficionados, several of whom are from the Denver area.
It's $5 to get in; the doors open at 7 p.m., and films start rolling at 8. Call 1-970-689-7469 for information. -- Amy Haimerl