Comedians, actors, filmmakers and artists of all stripes have ensured that the next five days are riddled with entertainment opportunities. From gallery openings to game conventions and museum soirees, the weekend holds enough wonder to tickle every sort of fancy. Even better, thrifty readers can attend any of the following ten events for less than ten American dollars. Keep reading for the ten best free and cheap events in Denver this weekend.
Civic Center Art in the Park: Tree of Transformation
Thursday, January 18, 5 to 6 p.m.
Civic Center Park
In a welcome shift from the "giant blue animal" paradigm of public art in Denver, a new interactive installation called the "Tree of Transformation" is being unveiled today in Civic Center Park. Created by Denver-based artists Nick Geurts and Ryan Elmendorf of Yetiweurks, the Tree of Transformation combines light, sound, and touch for a multi-sensory experience sure to delight adults and children alike. Watch local musicians demonstrate the sonic potential of the Tree as the lovely yet ephemeral work of art makes its debut. Food trucks will be on hand to fortify visitors; "Tree of Transformation" will be on display in the park until April 15. Visit the Civic Center Conservatory's events page for more information.
Taboo Revue: Cirque 3000
Thursday, January 18, 6 to 8 p.m.
Syntax Physic Opera
If you prefer your dystopian-themed performance art with a dash of sex positivity, ConSensual Circus has the show for you. Set in the year 3000, where a cyborg-driven hierarchy has imposed Orwellian strictures upon their enslaved human populace in a quest for genetic perfection, the Taboo Revue: Circus 3000 celebrates the sensory wonder of art in open defiance of our future robot overlords. Enjoy a one-of-kind performance from a roving band of circus performers tonight at Syntax Physic Opera, a venue that thrives on this sort of inspired weirdness. Admission is $10 at the door; visit the ConSensual Circus Facebook events page to find out more.
Emerging Filmmakers Project
Thursday, January 18, 7:30 p.m.
Since 2002, the Emerging Filmmakers Project has culled the city for the best independently produced movies. A third-Thursday tradition at the Bug Theatre, EFP invites audience members to commune with filmmakers as they screen a selection of short films followed by an amusingly frank discussion. With eight films on the docket in January, including "Ducks 'a Million!," by Al Vigil, "Edibles and Uniballs," by Nancy Fingerhood, "Cardigan Sorrow," by Bradley Haag, it's an ideal way to get acquainted with the local film scene. Join host and local filmmaker Patrick Sheridan along with a gaggle of cinephiles and aspiring directors to celebrate a true crown jewel of Denver's DIY scene. Admission is $5 at the door; find out more on the EFP Facebook events page.
Thursday, January 18, 9 p.m.
The Deer Pile
Comedy shows are ephemeral beasts by nature, but Nighttime Tonight requires more sustained effort than nearly any local comedy endeavor. In addition to booking the show, writing a fresh topical monologue and sketch every month, host and producer Brian Flynn donates the entirety of the proceeds to a different worthy cause for each show. Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end, and Nighttime Tonight will take its final bow tonight. Join Flynn along with guests Olivia Schyling, Greg Hutt, Timmi Lasley, JD Lopez, Minori Hinds, Brett Hiker and a special surprise guest to have a giggle and raise funds for Trans Lifeline. Visit the Nighttime Tonight Facebook events page for more details.
Opening Reception: Robert Burnier, Justine Hill and Tobias Fike
Friday, January 19, 6 to 8 p.m.
David B. Smith Gallery
A trio of fine artists boldly experiments with form and space at a new exhibition debuting Friday, January 19, at David B. Smith Gallery. The main exhibit showcases the work of Chicago-based sculptor Robert Burnier, whose twisty aluminum creations contain linguistic dimensions (each piece is titled in Esperanto, a language created by nineteenth-century utopian idealists in an attempt to bridge cultural divides), and the off-kilter canvases of Justine Hill. In the gallery's project room, local artist Tobias Fike presents Stages, an installation that blends collage, shadows and sound in an experience that fully immerses guests in Fike's creative vision. Catch the first glimpse of the exhibits and mingle with the artists at an opening reception starting at 6 p.m. Both exhibits will remain on display until Saturday, February 24. Head over to the David B. Smith Gallery home page for more details.
Midnight Madness: My Neighbor Totoro
January 19 and 20, midnight
For a particular subset of cineastes, the heyday of Japan's Studio Ghibli ranks right alongside — if not above — the golden age of Disney in the field of animated achievements. Relive the magic of My Neighbor Totoro, one of anime auteur Hayao Miyazaki's finest early efforts, at Landmark Esquire's Midnight Madness, a screening series dedicated to the culty and quirky. Though Ghibli has sadly closed up shop, its works will endure for generations. To learn more and buy tickets, $9.50, visit the Landmark Esquire box-office page.
January 19 to 21
Northglenn Ramada Plaza and Convention Center
Old-school gamers can tabletop ’til they drop all weekend long at HexaCon Denver, a three-day celebration of role-playing, strategy and board games. The convention also has several events scheduled for miniatures and model-train enthusiasts. The games begin at 10 a.m. on Friday, January 19, and continue until Sunday at 8 p.m. While a con badge costs $25, many of the individual events offer free admission. For more details, visit the HexaCon home page.
Designated Drunkard: A Comedy Drinking Game
Saturday, January 20, 7 p.m.
El Charrito's Comedy RoomRoom
After watching the same comedians perform night after night, local open-mic hosts Caitie Hannan and Westword contributor Byron Graham can readily reel off comics' favorite jokes, as well as their unconscious verbal tics and gestures. With their monthly showcase Designated Drunkard: A Comedy Drinking Game, Graham and Hannan mine the obsessions and mannerisms of local standups for a rib-tickling and liver-pickling hybrid of comedy show and drinking game. The format is fairly simple: Hannan and Graham write notes about each comic on a large easel pad and prompt the audience to drink each time the comic on stage says or does something on the list. A First Saturday staple of El Charrito's Comedy RoomRoom, the next round of Designated Drunkard welcomes mirth merchants Andres Becerril, Lila Bear, Preston Tompkins, Minori Hinds, and Deacon Gray to the stage. Visit Designated Drunkard's Nighout page to buy tickets, $5, and find out more.
Pinkalicious: The Musical
Sunday, January 21, 1:30 and 4 p.m.
Lone Tree Arts Center
Enjoy an affably goofy afternoon of theater with Pinkalicious: The Musical, which premieres at the Lone Tree Arts Center for a pair of performances of Sunday, January 21. The tuneful tale of Pinkalicious, whose craze for cupcakes results in a whimsical pink-ening of her appearance, the Vital Theatre Company's presentation is a delightful part of the Center's Passport to Culture program. To buy tickets, $10, and learn more, visit the Lone Tree Arts Center's box office page.
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Spring Educators Night
Monday, January 22, 6 to 9 p.m.
Denver Museum of Nature & Science
While the public generally pays lip service to America's educators, actual currency is in dispiritingly short supply for the people responsible for shaping the next generation of learners. Fortunately, the Denver Museum of Nature & Science is offering teachers (and their guests) a preview of the museum's "At Your School" experiences, along with a chance to explore the grounds, see Space Tours Live in Gates Planetarium or catch an advanced screening of Jerusalem 3D on the IMAX screen. With light appetizers and a cash bar, it's an opportunity for educators and lifelong learners to mingle and enjoy one of the city's finest institutions of knowledge. Find more information on the DMNS box-office page.
Looking for more to do? Visit Westword's calendar online.