Denver might be some 1,300 miles away from New Orleans, but that doesn't mean we can't celebrate Mardi Gras. Check out the Mile High's take on Fat Tuesday and other lively events around town this week, the best of which we've collected here.
Tuesday, February 28
Live it up on Mardi Gras — that’s Tuesday, February 28 — before you give it up for Lent. The NOLA Voodoo Tavern & Perks, 2231 Bruce Randolph Avenue, is run by New Orleans native Henry Batiste, who opened his first restaurant in Louisiana in 1985. Batiste now calls Denver home, but brings a slice of his home town to north Denver with welcoming service and recipes from his mother, Vivian. The Voodoo Tavern is about as authentic as Big Easy style gets in Denver, so head over from 3 p.m. until last call for good times, live music and a crawfish boil with more than 200 pounds of shellfish. Find out more information at noladenver.com. Laissez les bons temps rouler!
Wednesday, March 1
ArtSpace, one of the nation’s largest nonprofit developers devoted to creating spaces for artists, is considering opening an artist live/work community in the Aurora Cultural Arts District, which encompasses the stretch of Colfax Avenue between Chester and Geneva streets. Representatives from the organization are coming to town to determine whether the city is a good site for such a development, and will host a public meeting with the city on Wednesday, March 1, from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at Vintage Theatre,1468 Dayton Street in Aurora. ArtSpace representatives will explain the project and present models from around the country and discuss their economic and cultural benefits and challenges. Feedback from the meeting will be used to help ArtSpace determine how to proceed. For more information, contact the City of Aurora’s Development Services at 303-739-7483.
Thursday, March 2
Dancer and choreographer Laura Ann Samuelson’s newest work, practicing, comes to Denver’s Buntport Theater for three days starting Thursday, March 2. Presented by Boulder-based experimental-dance group Hoarded Stuff Performance, practicing is inspired by “dealing with how to organize around a void — around something that has no center,” she recently told Westword. “I started working on this solo, really interested in zeroing in on the dynamic between things that conjure feelings of meaning and meaninglessness, and how the accumulation and breakdown of patterns and logic within a piece shape the content.” For more information and to buy tickets, visit lauraannsamuelson.com/practicing.
From the Thursday, March 2, opening-night screening of British romantic comedy Their Finest to the Colorado premiere of underwater doc Chasing Coral to close on March 5, the Boulder International Film Festival is back in 2017 for another long weekend of new film in all its variety, from shorts to unexpected hits. Interspersed between screenings will be parties to remember, and for something different, experience a bit of the future on Friday and Saturday in the free BIFF 2017 Virtual Reality Pavilion, hosted by Galvanize Boulder, or chow down during CineCHEF at Boulder’s Rembrandt Yard gallery, where local chefs will whip up movie-inspired dishes. (Your $95 CineCHEF tickets includes a screening of Ella Brennan: Commanding the Table, which documents a maven of New Orleans cooking.) BIFF screenings and events take place at the Boulder Theater and other Boulder County satellite locations; purchase tickets and find a complete schedule of films and special events at biff1.com.
Friday, March 3
The really serious Philip K. Dick enthusiasts out there all know that the revered and self-destructive sci-fi author of The Man in the High Castle and Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (the inspiration for Blade Runner) is buried in his father’s home town of Fort Morgan, next to his twin sister, who died at the age of six weeks. That’s why the Philip K. Dick Festival will take over the town on the plains over two days starting Friday, March 3, for screenings, panels, lectures, an art show and a fan expo. Special guests include PKD’s widow, Tessa, and naturally, a twilight visit to the late author’s grave in Fort Morgan’s Riverside Cemetery is also part of the weekend agenda. Events are free; for more information, visit philipkdickfestival.com.
6Degrees Collaborative has been dancing around northern Colorado for five years, and now it’s presenting its first performance in Denver, Gods and Monsters: An Odyssey, at the Bug Theatre, 3654 Navajo Street, at 7:30 p.m. Friday, March 3. In the show, the grassroots company will mix modern and acrobatic dance with modern and classic rock — not to mention “ancient Greek characters from The Odyssey,” according to dancer Leah McDaniel. “Think of it as a music video brought to the stage and to life!” Tickets are $20 in advance, $25 at the door; find out more on the 6Degrees Collaborative Facebook page.
Director Rick Yaconis camps it up beginning Friday, March 3, at Edge Theater with a veteran cast for the regional premiere of Douglas Carter Beane’s The Nance, set in burlesque’s ’30s heyday. Warren Sherrill stars as gay burlesque host and comic Chauncey Miles, who’s all smiles and double entendres on stage, but a man trapped by the times in real life, in a show embedded with authentic vaudevillian routines and burlesque acts. The Nance runs Fridays, Saturdays and most Sundays through April 2, as well as on Monday, March 20, at Edge, 1560 Teller Street in Lakewood. Purchase tickets, $28, online at theedgetheater.com or call 303-232-0363.
Break out your heels and trashiest clothes, and get ready for an evening of gender-bending, bawdy, sexy, sing-a-long scandal, as CU Boulder’s theater season continues with the cult-classic sci-fi musical The Rocky Horror Show. While you might be used to predictable productions that nod back to the 1975 movie starring Tim Curry as Dr. Frank N. Furter, the university will stage Rocky Horror in the Victorian era, replete with period costuming and sets. Tickets are $24 (some student discounts apply) and are available at the CU Presents box office, at 972 Broadway, or by phone at 303-492-8008. The production opens Friday, March 3, at 7:30 p.m. and runs through March 19. For more information, go to cupresents.org under Theatre and Dance.
Women artists and performers kick butt in the Denver metro, and that news is the heart and soul of Angela Astle’s Athena Project Festival, which strives to showcase local women in the arts each spring over a month of theater, music and dance events. It all kicks off with a free artist meet-and-greet reception starting at 6 p.m. Friday, March 3, at Carol Mier Fashion, 754 Santa Fe Drive, where Mier will host a pop-up fashion show enhanced by wine and samples from Lady Justice Brewing. The Wave That Set the Fire, a world-premiere play by Ellen K. Graham, opens a week later at the Newman Center for Performing Arts, 2344 East Iliff Avenue, and then the fest is off and running through April 9 with an intensive schedule of panels, concerts, parties, mixers, plays in progress and theatrical table readings. Prices and locations vary (some events are free); purchase tickets and find a complete festival rundown at athenaprojectfestival.org.
Since 2007, Ken Hamel has been something of a legend in the Denver art community, where he’s devoted his spare time to singlehandedly running denverarts.org, an online resource listing weekly openings at galleries big and small throughout the metro area. And on top of that, he’s everywhere, attending those openings as a documentarian, shooting portraits of local artists and their work. After ten years of denverarts.org, there are thousands of images in Hamel’s portfolio, and he’ll now share a piece of that wealth for DenverArts.org: Decade, an exhibit curated by photographer and Westword contributor Anthony Camera in conjunction with Month of Photography 2017. A distilled collection of fifty of Hamel’s best portraits, accompanied by a more comprehensive grid with hundreds of smaller four-by-six images, the show opens with a reception from 6 to 9 p.m. Friday, March 3, at Vertigo Art Space, 960 Santa Fe Drive, and runs through April 8. Learn more at denverarts.org or mopdenver.com.
March blows into Lakewood’s 40 West Arts District with a First Friday Art Walk to remember, anchored by 40 West Gallery’s annual Art of the Streets exhibit, a group paean in paint to Colfax Avenue, in all its glory and grit. The district will host a reception from 5 to 8 p.m. Friday, March 3, at the gallery, 1560 Teller Street, where the performance group Bad Asstronauts will also be strolling the street in jellyfish costumes — catch one if you can. Art of the Streets takes a walk on the sleazy side through March 25, but only on First Friday can you also conga-line your way through multiple galleries and creative businesses serving up food and drink; for more information, go to 40westarts.org.
Saturday, March 4
Month of Photography 2017 reaches into every corner of the city, including the hole-in-the-wall gallery space at Buffalo Exchange at 51 Broadway, where local wet-plate photographers Sev Collazo and Amaury Orozco, aka Brown Film Photographers, will present Up in Smoke, a selection of new in-the-moment images made the old-fashioned way, without the aid of enhancements or technology. The exhibit opens with a reception from 6 to 10 p.m. Saturday, March 4; see how the historic methods of slow photography capture street life in the present, through the end of the month. Get more info at facebook.com/events/1645669472394482.
Enjoy an evening of fine dining paired with cannabis on Saturday, March 4, from 6 to 11 p.m. at Cultivated Syngery, 2901 Walnut Street. The March Hare Dinner is four courses of fine food prepared by award-winning chef and Blackbelly owner Hosea Rosenberg, hand-crafted cocktails, live music and cannabis. Marijuana will not be available for purchase at the event, but you’re invited to BYOB (bring your own bud), as organizers have partnered with a local dispensary to match strains to the meal. The event is $150 and open to the public, but attendees must e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org for tickets and more information.
RULE Gallery jumps into the Month of Photography with Basic Pictures, an exhibit featuring abstract paintings by Joseph Coniff that were created using photographic techniques. Coniff starts by layering objects on photographic paper and drawing on it with a Sharpie, creating images that he then blows up, crops and recomposes. The final product evokes the geometric paintings of Piet Mondrian and the self-aware scrawl of Keith Haring’s crude line drawings, minus the figures. An opening reception will be held Saturday, March 4, from 6 to 9 p.m at RULE Gallery, 530 Santa Fe Drive; the show runs through April 15. For more information, call 303-800-6776 or go to rulegallery.com.
While preparing for bigger things from his own company later this spring, Patrick Mueller of Control Group Productions will host Home — Where Dance Lives, a showcase of Colorado Conservatory of Dance resident artists and a sprinkling of other local dance talent, at 7 p.m. Saturday, March 4, and Sunday, March 5, at the Colorado Conservatory of Dance, 3001 Industrial Lane, Unit 12, in Broomfield. Spotlighting new and in-progress performances by Art as Action, Life/Art Ensemble, Sumi Clements/Summation Dance, Whitney Waugh Dance and a collaborative creation by Kat Gurley (Wild Heart Dance) and Patrick Mueller (Control Group), the show offers a rare look into the process of dance. The price is right for this much entertainment: Tickets are $10 to $14 at eventbrite.com. Learn more at controlgroupproductions.org.
Heat up the first weekend of March with Zach’s Chili Challenge, a judged chili cook-off on Saturday, March 4, at the McNichols Building, 144 West Colfax Avenue. Some of Denver’s top chefs will “bring the heat and bring the hope,” and there will also be plenty of Colorado craft beers and spirits available to help quench the fire. The event is named in honor of the nephew of Colorado Springs chef Michelle Giancamilli, who has battled medulloblastoma since 2008. Proceeds from ticket sales will benefit the Morgan Adams Foundation and pediatric-cancer research. General admission tickets run $50 each and allow entry to the event at 6 p.m. For $100, you can buy a VIP pass, which includes 5 p.m. admission. Head to the Zach’s Chili Challenge website, morganadamsfoundation.org/zachschilichallenge, to purchase tickets and view a complete list of participating restaurants, breweries and distilleries.
If you’ve ever been called a beer nerd, we’ve got just the event for you. On Saturday, March 4, from noon to 4 p.m., Wynkoop Brewing, 1634 18th Street, is throwing its first-ever Day of the Dorks beer festival, where the brewery says it will pour “the geekiest and most whitewhaley craft brew in all the land.” Sip special suds from more than thirty regional breweries while taking tasting notes and ranking your favorites. Nerd attire is encouraged, and Wynkoop would also love it if you would bring new pens, pencils, notebooks and other school supplies, which the brewery will donate to local elementary schools. The $25 ticket (or two for $40, as if you could land a date) includes unlimited samples, a commemorative glass and beer-friendly snacks. Get yours at eventbrite.com.
Keep reading for more of the best events in Denver this week.
Sunday, March 5
Since forming nearly a year ago, Denver Artists for Rent Control (DARCO) has been hashing things out privately, weighing such issues as gentrification, zoning choices, renters’ rights and homelessness while working with similar organizations on an action plan aimed initially at overturning the Colorado statute banning rent control for housing. DARCO is now ready to meet the public with its findings and to that end, will host a Plan of Action Forum from 2 to 4:30 p.m. on Sunday, March 5, upstairs at the Mercury Cafe, 2199 California Street. Learn more about the organization’s research and strategies from DARCO committee members and founder Roseanna Frechette, hear guest speakers, and gear up for a letter-writing campaign and an April rally. Admission is free. Find more information at facebook.com/events/286458731768522.
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Go to any Mile High City bookstore’s Denver section, and you’ll see shelves lined with tomes about the city’s history from the charmingly irascible historian Phil Goodstein. While other scholars of the city make a living in academic institutions, Goodstein has created a cottage industry of tours of neighborhoods and buildings. On Sunday, March 5, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., he’ll lead a bicycle tour through the Mayfair neighborhood, which largely formed in the wake of World War II (though some parts of the neighborhood stretch back to the 1880s). The tour begins at the benches on the west side of the 1000 block of Jersey Street in Mayfair Park, six blocks west of Monaco Street Parkway. For tickets, $20, and more information, call 303-333-1095.
Monday, March 6
The twelfth annual Colorado Poetry Out Loud recitation contest will bring together high-school students from across the state for the ultimate oral exam on Monday, March 6; the winner will go on to the Poetry Out Loud finals in Washington, D.C., April 25-26. Colorado Creative Industry has partnered with Lighthouse Writers Workshop on the competition, which celebrates the resurgence of poetry as performance. Prepare to get slammed by all the young talent you’ll see on stage; the event runs from 1 to 9 p.m. at the Lakewood Cultural Center, 470 South Allison Parkway in Lakewood, and admission is free. Find out more at coloradocreativeindustries.org.
Best-selling Colorado author Peter Heller (The Dog Stars and The Painter) throws himself into the suspense game with Celine, a new novel about a private eye specializing in tracking down missing persons. Heller’s mastery of words and characterizations uplifts the plot, in which Celine, a character loosely based on the author’s own mother, heads to Yellowstone National Park in search of a photographer who disappeared into the wilderness, leaving behind a grieving daughter. Heller will read from and sign copies of Celine at 7 p.m. Monday, March 6, at the Tattered Cover Book Store, 2526 East Colfax Avenue. Admission is free, and the book will be available for purchase for $25.95. Visit tatteredcover.com or call 303-322-7727 for more information.