A Taste of Puerto Rico returns for a celebration of the Caribbean's charms.
A Taste of Puerto Rico returns for a celebration of the Caribbean's charms.
Bettina Wilhelm

The 21 Best Events in Denver, June 5 to June 11

It's summer in the city, which means one thing: festivals. From music festivals to Shakespeare to a celebration of Puerto Rico, there are plenty of festivals to go around this week. That's on top of the art shows, film lectures, sports games and just about anything else you could want to do. Here are our 21 best events this week.

Tuesday, June 5

As any literature fan will tell you, Hollywood doesn’t always do the best job of adapting books for the big screen. But sometimes the two mediums cross paths so perfectly, it’s as if they were made for each other. The Sie FilmCenter has been highlighting the best adaptations of novels in its Great Adaptations series, and its program on Tuesday, June 5, might be the best yet. Starring Harrison Ford and based on the Philip K. Dick novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, Blade Runner is a sci-fi classic from 1982 about a dystopian future — set in 2019! — about a cop named Rick Deckard (Ford) who reluctantly accepts a mission to hunt down a fugitive group of synthetic humans. Touching on the film’s themes, Colleen Donnelly, a professor of English at the University of Colorado Denver, will lead a pre-film lecture titled “What Makes Us Human?” The evening kicks off at 7 p.m. at the Sie, 2510 East Colfax Avenue. Get tickets, $7 for Denver Film Society members and $10 for non-members, and information at denverfilm.org.

Travis Hetman, whose motto as an artist is “In man’s struggle against the world, bet on the world,” a quote from Franz Kafka, created 35 major drawings inspired by musician Tom Waits and Instagrammed them every Tuesday for a year. A fine draftsman with a thing for the Waits persona, Hetman has now turned all 35 into affordable limited-edition prints, which go on view in Tom Waits Tuesdays, a one-week pop-up exhibition that opens on Tuesday, June 5, and runs through Tuesday, June 12, at Leon Gallery, 1112 East 17th Avenue. We have a sneaking suspicion that there are plenty of folks out there who share Hetman’s obsession, so we’re putting out the word. Get ’em while they last; Leon will host opening and closing receptions on the exhibit’s bookended Tuesdays, or visit during regular gallery hours. Find more information on Leon Gallery’s Facebook page.

Wednesday, June 6

Boulder does summer right, and on Wednesday, June 6, our neighbor to the north kicks off its famed ten-week summer concert series Bands on the Bricks with headliners the Long Run, an Eagles tribute band, who will take over the 1300 block of the Pearl Street Mall starting at 7 p.m. But skip work early and give yourself enough time to hit up Bricks’ other main events, which begin with a beer garden at 5:30 serving up Rio Grande margaritas and brews from a rotating local brewery, followed by the opening act at 6 and the headliner at 7. Best of all? The music’s free! Visit boulderdowntown.com for more information about future lineups.

For PlatteForum, Denver’s nonprofit artist/mentor program for at-risk youth, the best possible outcome of the project is if its workshop students continue to pursue the arts after their time there is done and gone. As a finale to PlatteForum’s 2018 fifteenth anniversary celebration, the organization will shine a spotlight on PlatteForum’s ArtLabalumni artists with unCANNY, a exhibit curated by alumni cohorts Ariana Romero and Harris Schweiterman. Comprised of works inspired by current topics, the show mirrors a non-traditional artistic approach to said concerns. UnCANNY goes on view on Tuesday, June 5, and runs through June 16 at PlatteForum, 2400 Curtis Street; attend the official opening reception on Thursday, June 7, at 6 p.m. Learn more at platteforum.org.

Carol Burnett might not have invented improvised comedy, but she certainly mastered it during The Carol Burnett Show, an Emmy Award-winning variety program that aired weekly between 1967 and 1978. One of the show's quirkier bits was its opening, when she would take questions from her live studio audience. The comedy queen will reprise that engaging format when she comes to the Bellco Theatre, 700 14th Street, on Thursday, June 7, for Carol Burnett Live: An Evening of Laughter and Reflection Where the Audience Asks the Questions. The all-ages show begins at 7:30 p.m.; find tickets, $59 to $175, and more information at axs.com.

The stereotypical image of a graffiti artist looks something like this: an unruly tank-top-wearing, testosterone-fueled adolescent boy half stoned on Krylon climbing around in a train yard or abandoned building and throwing up a piece before cops chase him away. Access Gallery, which aims to give arts opportunities to people with disabilities, has been hosting a street-art workshop led by artist Josiah Lopez with students who fall far from the graffiti-artist stereotype, including elderly students suffering from dementia. Lopez will join his students in presenting their large-scale murals and showing some of his own work in STREET ART: Graffiti Gives Back, which opens with a reception from 4:30 to 7 p.m. on Thursday, June 7, at Arts Brookfield, 1801 California Street. For more information, visit the events page on artsbrookfield.com.

Boulder celebrates the Bard during the Colorado Shakespeare Festival.
Boulder celebrates the Bard during the Colorado Shakespeare Festival.
Zachary Andrews, courtesy of Colorado Shakespeare Festival

Friday, June 8

Everyone should experience the Colorado Shakespeare Festival at least once in his or her life — it’s a sixty-year Boulder tradition bringing elegant Shakespeare stagings to the Mary Rippon Outdoor Theatre at the University of Colorado Boulder. Other fest offerings, some Shakespearean and some not, are staged indoors at CU’s University Theatre Building to fatten the repertory, and you can generally expect every play to be a gem. The 2018 season includes the Bard’s own Love's Labour's Lost, Richard III and Edward III, with Edmond Rostand’s Cyrano de Bergerac and the great screwball comedy You Can't Take It With You, by Moss Hart and George S. Kaufman, filling things out. CSF kicks off with Love’s Labour’s Lost at the Rippon, 277 University Avenue in Boulder, on Friday, June 8, at 8 p.m., and continues in repertory through August 12 on the CU Boulder campus. Individual tickets start at $20, with season-ticket packages priced from $36 to $188; learn more at cupresents.org.

Rediscover the wonder of Hans Christian Anderson's beloved fairy tale as the Danse Etoile Ballet Company presents a new interpretation of The Little Mermaid. A bold reimagining of the classic story, the ballet has an intriguing blend of classical and contemporary music, plus a new original score composed by Bruce Klepper. Journey beneath the waves on a voyage of sound and movement brought to life by Danse Etoile's graceful dancers starting on Friday, June 8, at the Dairy Arts Center's Gordon Gamm Theatre, 2590 Walnut Street in Boulder. Showtimes are 7:30 p.m. Friday, June 8, and Saturday, June 9, with an additional 2 p.m. matinee performance on Saturday. Visit the Dairy Center's box-office page for tickets, $20 to $25, and more details.

Is there anything better than a weekend of playing pinball, retro console and old-school arcade video games? From Friday, June 8, to Sunday, June 10, the Ultimate Colorado Pinball + Gamer Festival invites gamers of all stripes to play their favorites, including Big Buck Hunter World, Donkey Kong, Pac-Man, Atari 2600s, Nintendos and more at the Denver Marriott South at Park Meadows, 10345 Park Meadows Drive in Lone Tree. The festival will also include tournaments, guest stars in the gaming world and meetups for gamers to chat about their passion. Find more information and get tickets, starting at $33 for adults, at pinballshowdown.com. And start stretching those thumbs!

Prepare to use your senses to take in Colorado Springs installation artist Matt Barton's Soft Something.
Prepare to use your senses to take in Colorado Springs installation artist Matt Barton's Soft Something.
Courtesy of Matt Barton

If you’ve never seen the work of Colorado Springs installation artist Matt Barton, you’re in for an altogether different kind of experience. Get ready to use all of your senses when his exhibition Soft Something opens at Understudy for a run through June. A satellite event in conjunction with Stuart Semple’s Happy City art takeover, Soft Something is Barton’s idea of an idyllic rest stop from city life, where vibrating beds and burbling aquaponics systems will help participants loosen up, have some fun and emerge with a feeling of lightness and psychic engagement. Soft Something opens on Friday, June 8, with a reception from 5 to 8 p.m. at Understudy, 890 C 14th Street in the Colorado Convention Center plaza, and runs Wednesdays through Sundays from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily, through June 29. Admission is free, and the experience is all-ages; learn more at understudydenver.com/portfolio/softsomething.

It’s astonishing how many alternative comics and zines take on queer life and issues. Square Product Theatre’s TesserACT: Dimensions of Gender (or Queernomicon at Comic Con), a team effort with the national Non-Binary Monologues Project and Wild Imaginarium, will be performed at the 2018 Denver Comic Con, which runs June 15-17, as part of Page 23's LitCon programming, and this week audiences will get the chance to preview the show for free. It’s about two queer nerds on a quest, with performances by Ayla Sullivan and K. Woodzick and a collaborative script by the company and monologue submissions collected by the NBMP. Square Product will host two performances — at 7:30 p.m. Friday, June 8, and Saturday, June 9 — in Wesley Chapel, 1290 Folsom Street in Boulder. Reservations are recommended in advance at brownpapertickets.com; find more info at squareproducttheatre.org.

Jason Heller pays homage to David Bowie in his new book Strange Stars.
Jason Heller pays homage to David Bowie in his new book Strange Stars.
Courtesy of Melville House Books

Denver author, musician and retro DJ Jason Heller calls his new book, Strange Stars: David Bowie, Pop Music, and the Decade Sci-Fi Exploded (Melville House, $25.99), his “love letter and final farewell to David Bowie and his immortal body of work,” so you know every word comes from his heart. But it’s not just about Bowie. Strange Stars is also a history of ’70s music and pop culture from a personal point of view, focusing on the influence of the science-fiction canon on Bowie, as well as artists like Hawkwind, Rush, Blue Öyster Cult, Parliament-Funkadelic, Kraftwerk, Devo, Gary Numan and others. Heller will introduce the work on Friday, June 8, from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Tattered Cover Bookstore, 2526 East Colfax Avenue. Admission is free, but you know you’ll want to pony up for a copy. Find out more at tatteredcover.com.

Saturday, June 9

Whether you're just getting your feet wet in outdoor activities or have every form of gear and all kinds of adventures under your belt, Get Outdoors Day has a little something for everyone. This national movement, celebrated on Saturday, June 9, encourages folks to get outside, and this year's local iteration will take place at the north shore of Sloan's Lake Park, 1700 Sheridan Boulevard, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Bring the kids for all kinds of free adventures, including canoeing, climbing, biking, drawing, painting and more. The festivities will also include adaptive-recreation demos that will teach men and women of all capabilities and ages how to hand-pedal bikes and fish, climb or paddle; learn more at getoutdoorscolorado.org/ngod.

The summer trifecta of live music, beer and sunshine is what you'll find at the Sun Drenched Music Fest. From 2 to 9 p.m. on Saturday, June 9, Denver Beer Co.'s Canworks, at 4455 Jason Street, will transform into the festival, which will include beach games such as sand volleyball, beats by Con Brio, the Brevet, Roka Hueka and more, a bouncy house and, of course, all the beer your heart could ever desire. Tickets, $20 to $35, even include a free brew upon entry! Buy them and find more information at denverbeerco.com.

Thanks to the Glendale Raptors and a strong schedule of major-league rugby play at Infinity Park, the rough-and-tumble international sport has gained a following in these parts. That makes a metro Denver USA Eagles vs. Russia match — one of two test matches for the Emirates Airline Summer Series taking place in the U.S. — a real draw. At their last match with Russia in 2016, the Eagles stomped the opposing team for a 25-0 shutout victory (and their fifth consecutive win over Russia). Will Russia be able to turn it around this time? Find out on Saturday, June 9, at 6 p.m. at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park, 6000 Victory Way in Commerce City; for tickets, starting at $20, visit usarugby.org/summer-series.

Get trashy at Trash Fashion.
Get trashy at Trash Fashion.
Courtesy of Lonnie Hanzon

Lakewood artist and designer Lonnie Hanzon is known for his flair for creating immersive experiences, from his hands-on public-art installations and window decorations to Houston Zoo Lights, which he’s been mounting annually since 2012. Hanzon will now tackle the world of upcycled fashion, using cast-off miscellany and throwaways for the inaugural Trash Fashion Show, an over-the-top benefit for Denver PrideFest and the GLBT Community Center of Denver, as well as a reminder to all that recycling rules. Participating designers will compete in several campy categories, from “Little Black Dress” to “White Trash” on Saturday, June 9, at 8 p.m. at Exdo Event Center, 1399 35th Street. Doors open at 6 p.m. for VIPs and 7 p.m. for general admission, and a dance party follows at Tracks at 9 p.m. Find tickets, $25 to $125, at eventbrite.com, and more details at trashfashionshow.com.

Join the Playground Ensemble and get in gear for PrideFest at one of three LGBTQ-friendly Speaking of Pride composers’ showcases leading up to next weekend’s fest in Civic Center Park. For a taste, attend either of two free partial performances with limited seating: on Saturday, June 9, at 2 p.m. at the Denver Central Library, and on Wednesday, June 13, at 4 p.m. at the GLBT Community Center of Colorado, 1301 East Colfax Avenue. Or wait for the full impact at a ticketed performance on Thursday, June 14, at 7:30 p.m. at Invisible City, a West Colfax-neighborhood venue, which includes three semi-staged performances of music inspired by LGBTQ authors. For the price of a ticket, $15 to $18 at brownpapertickets.com, you’ll also get into an artist talkback and a wine reception with yummy desserts; visit playgroundensemble.org for the whole scoop.

The folks at the RiNo Art District have never taken their mascot’s name in vain. Of course it’s the rhino, an endangered species dear to RiNo’s heart that appears around the district as a public-art presence. This week, RiNo will give back to the animal by hosting RiNo for Rhinos, a fundraiser with a keynote by conservationist Matt Lindenberg and a silent auction of rhino-centric art by RiNo artists to benefit initiatives of the Global Conservation Corps. At the risk of sounding way too redundant, let’s just say that what’s good for RiNo will now also be good for rhinos; gather at RiNo Made, 3501 Wazee Street at Zeppelin Station on Saturday, June 9, from 6 to 8:30 p.m. for the party. Visit eventbrite.com for info and tickets, $15.

Sunday, June 10

Merengue your way down to Denver's Civic Center Park, Broadway and Colfax Avenue, on Sunday, June 10, for the Taste of Puerto Rico Festival, a daylong celebration of Puerto Rican culture that takes on an extra layer of poignancy this year considering the series of calamities that befell the island during and after Hurricane Maria. The fest, which is doubling as a fundraiser for survivors of the devastation, will showcase the fruits of a rich cultural heritage and will include live music, dancing and vendors selling unique arts and merchandise as well as an array of toothsome treats. The festivities begin at 11 a.m. and salsa their way through the day until 7 p.m. Visit atopr.com to learn more.

Hot on the heels of Chicken Fight! comes another fowl food event, this time at Ace Eat Serve: Wings & Whiskey. What can we say? People love the bird. Ace Eat Serve, at 501 East 17th Avenue, is hosting the event for the fifth year, and after last year's sellout bash, we expect this one to be bigger and birdier than ever. Music by Buffalo Wingmen will set the stage for the wing-eating contest, whiskey cocktails and, of course, unlimited wings from eight Denver chefs. The fun starts at 4 p.m.; snap up your tickets, $55 (VIP sold out), at aceeatserve.com.

The Witch Collective celebrates the new season at Summer Solstice Market.
The Witch Collective celebrates the new season at Summer Solstice Market.
Katy Zimmerman

Denver’s Witch Collective, a sort of a secret society for local under-the-radar artisans and spell-casters, has the buy-local vendor-market concept down at this point, offering a truly alternative spread of alchemists and artists at seasonal markets throughout the year. Its annual Summer Solstice Market is a case in point: Twenty or so vendors will peddle everything from jewelry to poke tattoos, while Stella Spellcraft serves “fresh botanical summer beverages and light refreshments” on Sunday, June 10, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Boxcar Gallery, 554 Santa Fe Drive. Admission is free, and 10 percent of all sales benefit the Satya Yoga Collective, a trauma-informed project offering community yoga and yoga teacher training for people of color. Sound like your kind of market? Learn more on the Witch Collective Facebook page.

Monday, June 11

Modern audiences know him best as creepy co-worker Creed Bratton from The Office, but Bratton first hit it big as a member of 1960s rock band the Grass Roots and has continued his musical career, releasing solo albums well into the aughts. Bratton will bring his comedic and musical prowess — and his treasure trove of stories from Tinseltown and beyond — to the Summit Music Hall, 1902 Blake Street, at 7 p.m. on Monday, June 11. Tickets are $20 in advance and $22 the day of the show at thesummitmusichall.com.

In order for an event to be considered for 21 Best, we need information at least three weeks in advance. Send it to editorial@westword.com.

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