Years ago, I learned the meaning of art while walking the Cherry Creek Arts Festival in a sweaty Village Inn cartoon-bear suit, only to be ambushed by my older brother's friends -- who'd heard about my humiliating employment.
Thankfully, today I can shake off that trauma as the scent of acrylic paint and lobster pizza fill Cherry Creek North from Clayton to Steele streets, at the 15th annual Cherry Creek Arts Festival kickoff. An anniversary celebration from 6:30 to 10 p.m. tonight (public, but priced at $25) features former Best of Show and poster artists. The free festival gets splashing from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday, July 2, and Sunday, July 3, and from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Independence Day.
Aside from the 206 artists who made the juried cut, entertainment opportunities abound -- with everything from puppetry to painting demonstrations. "In recent years, we've focused on local talent," says executive director Terry Adams, "because there's so much here we don't need to look further." That talent includes local musical acts such as Opie Gone Bad, featured in concerts that start at 8 p.m. each night. The concerts are a "great opportunity to keep the festival alive into the evening," Adams says. And that's important for those who arrive late -- the better to beat the heat.
For information, visit www.cherryarts.org or call 303-355-2787. And for free advice, how about this: When a mob of cartoon bear-hating teenagers yells your name, pretend someone else is inside the suit and just keep walking. -- Ben Hiller
If your Shih Tzu is a chanteuse, grab her sheet music and head to Chow Down Pet Supplies, 3719 North Evergreen Parkway, Evergreen, where the Evergreen Players are hosting an open-call audition for caroling canines today at 10 a.m. Winners will receive "speaking parts" in the troupe's coming production of Lucky Stiff, which will run July 8 through August 7 at Evergreen's Center/Stage. But don't shell out big bucks for an extreme mutt makeover: Selected superstars will not appear on stage; their voices will be prerecorded for the show's sound effects. "We're looking for unique howls, cries, whines; dogs who can bark on command," says Stacy Gruen of Evergreen Players. Stupid pet tricks are encouraged, as a few doggie divas will be chosen for promotional roles. For more information, call 303-674-1151 or visit www.evergreenplayers.org. -- Debra A. Myers
Send in the Clowns
Copper Mountain is the ringmaster of a wild Fourth of July.
It's going to be a three-ring circus in Copper Mountain over the next two days. The ski resort's annual Three Ring Weekend brings together Cirque du Soleil-style shows presented by Fractal Tribe, Colorado's own performance-art group, with an array of circus-themed demonstrations and workshops covering everything from juggling to Chinese pole skills. If you're not a joiner, there's still plenty to see: Tumblers, contortionists and balloon artists will be working their magic today and tomorrow. And starting at 6 p.m. tonight, you can groove with the Village People, then hang out for fire jugglers and a fireworks display.
But the highlight of the weekend is the Copper Chase, a two-day team adventure race with a $6,500 prize, a Crisco-coasted obstacle course and blocks of ice that you use to slide down the mountain. The trek starts today at 7 a.m. and finishes tomorrow at 2 p.m.; the entry fee is $75 for a two-person team.
See a sci-fi Century.
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A few years ago, what Matt Chasansky thought about science fiction could be summed up in two words: "Star Wars." But sci-fi intrigued Chasansky, curator of exhibits for the Aurora History Museum. The result is Science Fiction Century, which opens with a free preview party from 5 to 8 p.m. tonight at 15051 East Alameda Parkway. (In the spirit of rockets, visitors can stay for fireworks.)
The show's topic isn't meant to suggest Aurora was a hideaway for visionaries such as author Jules Verne. "This is really about the importance of science fiction for our suburban culture," says Chasansky.
The title is a tribute to the anniversary of the publication of Verne's final novel in 1905. Museum staffers assembled hundreds of artifacts, ranging from an 1895 first edition of H.G. Wells's The Time Machine to Star Wars and Star Trek memorabilia. Visitors can also see vintage Buck Rogers space figures and plastic ray guns. The exhibit, which continues through September 18, challenges visitors to ponder how sci-fi in literature and film affected modern life. "We want to see if this will open minds," Chasansky says.
The museum is also sponsoring free sci fi movie matinees through the summer. For a complete schedule, call 303-739-6660 or log on to www.auroragov.org and click on "Residents," then "Museum." -- Ernie Tucker