A new documentary explores the dangers of the beauty industry, gentrification is a hot topic at Regis University, and musicians tackle inclusivity. It's all in this week's 21 best events in Denver.
Tuesday, January 24
When next you hear the voice of God, it will sound strangely like the greeting you used to get at the Westword office. That’s because on Tuesday, January 24, talented Steven Burge, once our receptionist, will move from understudy to lead in An Act of God at the Garner Galleria Theatre in the Denver Performing Arts Complex. Burge is taking over for Wesley Taylor in the play written by God and transcribed by David Javerbaum, thirteen-time Emmy winner for his work as a head writer with The Daily Show With Jon Stewart. Which means that in his role as God/Michael, Burge will have plenty of material to work with — but he’s certain to give it his own hilarious twist. Heaven help us! Burge will stay with the show through March 12; find out more at denvercenter.org or call 800-641-1222.
Denver is suffering growing pains these days, and there’s no more painful subject than gentrification. The SEED Institute at Regis University has joined forces with the Alliance for a Sustainable Colorado for a three-night event, Gentrification in Denver: The Challenges, the Possibilities and the People, that will run from Tuesday, January 24, through Thursday, January 26. Each session goes from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Alliance Center, 1536 Wynkoop Street, and offers a lineup of stellar panelists; the first night will focus on the challenges Denver faces as its population rises and competition for housing increases. All of the sessions are free, but registration is encouraged; find out more on the News & Events page at regis.edu.
Wednesday, January 25
British-born artist Melanie Smith has long called Mexico City home, and it’s Mexico that informs her multimedia works, from installations to video and painting. And although she’s not among the artists taking part in Mi Tierra: Contemporary Artists Explore Place, which opens in February at the Denver Art Museum, that alone makes her point of view relevant as a prelude to the exhibit. She’s also fascinating, making her a not-to-miss participant in the DAM’s Logan Lecture series. Hear Smith speak on her work and the effect of physical place on Latin-American modernism beginning at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, January 25, in Sharp Auditorium at the Denver Art Museum’s Frederic C. Hamilton Building, 100 West 14th Avenue Parkway. A free meet-the-artist reception follows at the nearby Art, a Hotel. For information and tickets, $8 to $18, visit denverartmuseum.org.
Rock climbing comes with inevitable risks. Those pushing the boundaries of the sport and climbing unmapped routes put themselves in the cross-hairs of death regularly, all for a glorious ascent. Uncharted Lines tells the story of four such climbers — Paul Robinson, Jimmy Webb, Daniel Woods and Chris Sharma — as they take on some of the world’s most difficult ascents, including climbs in Russia, Zimbabwe and the Rocky Mountains. The cast and crew will be at the movie’s premiere, 7 p.m. Wednesday, January 25, at the Boulder Theater, 2032 14th Street in Boulder (doors open at 6). For information and tickets, $13 to $16, go to bouldertheater.com or call 303-786-7030.
Thursday, January 26
When times are dark, look to the light. At the third annual Breckenridge Fire Arts Festival, which runs from 5 to 9 p.m. every evening from Thursday, January 26, through Sunday, January 29, you’ll find plenty of light with large-scale flammable works of art, fire dancers, fire-breathing robots, raku- and wood-firing ovens and other sizzling sights all ablaze. Drive up to Breckenridge for a night’s show, take a day trip or make a long weekend of it: During daylight hours, there will be things to do whether you ski or not, including scoping out the progress of International Snow Sculpture Championships competitors starting January 28. (The final sculptures will be on display the following weekend.) The fire-art extravaganza is free to view; learn more about the fest online at breckcreate.org/faf.
Boulder’s Rayback Collective, at 2775 Valmont Road, has already cornered the market on laid-back dining in the Republic, combining revolving choices of food-truck fare with live music, movie screenings and thirty beers, ciders and wines on tap. You can add open-air art gallery to that list when the Rayback Art Park pops up for business from noon to 9 p.m. Thursday, January 26. More than 25 vendors will set up shop at the indoor/outdoor venue, offering fine art, handcrafted jewelry, home goods, body-care products, food items and more; Rayback will even host a traditional Chinese tea service. Stick around after dark, because fire spinners will add some dazzle to the grounds beginning at 8 p.m. Admission to the family-friendly event is free; visit the Facebook event page for more information and a list of vendors.
In 2015, the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver launched its “I’m an Artist” program to underwrite 1,000 free museum memberships for working artists. Now the MCA is building on the program’s success by adding 800 more complimentary memberships. To celebrate the expansion, the museum is throwing an I’m an Artist Relaunch Party from 5 to 9 p.m. on Thursday, January 26, at the MCA, 1485 Delgany Street. The bash costs only a penny (yes, one cent!) for non-members and includes admission to the museum. Bartender-in-residence Kevin Galaba of the Denver Press Club will be serving up drinks, and Vules Jerne will provide musical entertainment. For more information, search “I’m an Artist” on Facebook.
Keep reading for more of the best events in Denver.
Friday, January 27
Monthly after-hours final-Friday fun for adults returns to the Denver Art Museum after a holiday hiatus on January 27, with Untitled: Empire, a grab bag of themed hands-on activities throughout the museum, most related to exhibits currently on view. The DAM works with local creatives to plan the ten-month series; among other things, this month’s event will showcase artist Gregg Deal’s two-part performance, created in response to the Dakota Access Pipeline; a Star Wars quiz and role-playing games; and a reading by Denver sci-fi authors Brian Polk, Ricardo Fernandez and Hana Zittel, from Birdy magazine. And there’s a lot to look forward to in the coming year, including a costume-themed party in February, a Wild West night in May, summer-camp games in June and a night of risk-taking in August. Untitled runs from 6 to 10 p.m. on the last Friday of every month through October at the DAM, 100 West 14th Avenue Parkway. All activities are included in the regular museum admission of $8 to $10, and members and those eighteen and under are admitted free (two-for-one admission is offered at the door for students with a valid ID). Go to denverartmuseum.org for information.
Propaganda!, a Best of Denver winner, returns for a new season on Friday, January 27. Although producer Matt Monroe resides in Portland these days, he still books the lineups and promotes the show remotely while local mainstay Eric Henderson hosts in his stead. After years of Sunday nights at the Clocktower Cabaret, Propaganda! has relocated to the Soiled Dove Underground, 7401 East First Avenue, where it occupies the time slot of Monroe’s former Underground Comedy Showcase. With a lineup boasting such Denver favorites as Rachel Weeks, Nathan Lund and headliner Adam Cayton-Holland, the night should prove a fitting comeback for one of Denver comedy’s longest-running and most popular shows. Doors open at 7 for an 8 p.m. showtime; tickets are $10 at ticketfly.com.
Children’s Future International, a nonprofit that supports children’s rights and education for at-risk students in Cambodia, is hosting Cooks for Books, a hands-on cooking class at the Posner Center for International Development, 1031 33rd Street, from 6 to 9 p.m. on Friday, January 27. The night’s lesson will focus on Cambodian cooking, and participants will enjoy a three-course dinner prepared by the group, with both classic and fusion dishes on the agenda. Learn how to make Cambodian barbecued pork ribs (ch’ung chumnee ang), cucumber relish salad (chrourk trausak) and fried banana egg rolls (chaek k’tih). The $35 ticket includes an open bar and “warm, fuzzy feelings,” according to organizers. Purchase tickets at c4b.splashthat.com; buy one for a friend as well and save $10 on the total price.
Denverites don’t need much of an excuse to turn any weekend into a mini beer fest, what with so many craft breweries to visit and new beers to sample. But if you want to taste a broad range of beers in a specific style, let the pros handle the beer wrangling so that you can get down to drinking. The Winter Brew Fest gathers the best seasonal beers from Colorado and beyond under one roof at Mile High Station, 2027 West Lower Colfax Avenue, from 7 to 10 p.m. on January 27 and 28. Tickets are available at eventbrite.com; pick a night for a $35 general admission ticket or spring for VIP at $45, which gets you in the door an hour early and includes a beer-and-cheese sampling. Otherwise, you can take your chances at the door for $10 more (cash only).
The national slam-poetry scene comes alive every March with the annual Women of the World Poetry Slam, a gathering of women’s voices from across the U.S. and abroad. Denver poets who’ve made their way through a tough qualifying process will fight for the opportunity to compete at this year’s event in Dallas at Slam Nuba’s WOWPS Representative Selection Slam, on Friday, January 27, at Crossroads Theater, 2590 Washington Street. Doors open at 7:30 p.m., an open mic kicks off at 8:15, and the big slam-off between competitors goes down at 9. There’s a $10 cover at the door to cheer them on(or $5 for students with a valid ID); visit slamnuba.com for information. Can’t get enough of Denver’s powerful women poets? Take a seat at the Mercury Cafe, 2199 California Street, from 7:30 to 10:30 p.m. on Sunday, January 29, for the Denver Mercury Poetry Slam’s WOWPS finals. Learn more on the Facebook event page.
Because Boulder’s Catamounts theater company believes food and drink help us to better digest drama onstage, the troupe cleverly changes things up by periodically inviting audiences to the table for its FEED events, which consist of a bite and a sip, with a sprinkling of performance and music. FEED: Darkness, the event's eighteenth installment, will channel the dark side of the year with cocktails mixed with small-batch spirits by by Still Cellars, four courses of small plates from Le Frigo Deli and performances by the Catamounts’ Jason Maxwell and Control Group’s Patrick Mueller, with contributing writer Mickle Maher of Chicago’s famed Theater Oobleck. Enjoy FEED, hosted at Still Cellars, 1115 Colorado Avenue in Longmont, at 7:30 p.m. January 27, 28 or 29. Reserve tickets, $45, online at brownpapertickets.com; packages including other Catamounts performances are also available for $75 to $180. Learn more about the Catamounts at thecatamounts.org.
Saturday, January 28
Every month, members of Denver’s music industry and others meet over breakfast to discuss how they can make Denver’s scene stronger and more inclusive. This month, their get-together, called Balanced Breakfast, will be hosted by the Mercury Cafe, 2199 California Street, at 11 a.m. Saturday, January 28. The networking event, which originated in San Francisco, is open to anyone interested in discussing music in the Mile High City; in addition to the Mercury’s delicious breakfast menu, food for thought includes guest speaker Harry Tuft, well-known folk musician, founder of the Denver Folklore Center and 2012 Colorado Music Hall of Fame inductee. There’s no charge — except for the food you eat.
Explosive things can happen when Denver’s talented cartoonists get together, so grab a ringside seat at the inaugural Doodle Fights! from 8:30 p.m. to midnight Saturday, January 28, at Deer Pile, 206 East 13th Avenue. Damian Alexander Burford will host this friendly elimination competition showcasing a crew of local artists; “Doodle fighters” will take subject cues from audience members and work madly behind the scenes while their cohorts read comic excerpts on stage — and the winners will be determined by a vote from the crowd. Very democratic! Admission is free, but because of the possibility of inadvertent adult material, leave the kids at home. Get more info on the Facebook event page.
Leon Gallery begins a new era under the leadership of Eric Nord and Allison Bartholomew with You Already Know How This Will End, a well-rounded solo show of sculptures, paintings and drawings by Colorado-bred artist and master draftsman Michael J. Dowling. According to the artist, the works may be in different mediums, but they’re interrelated and interactive, so be prepared to tackle them accordingly. You Already Know How This Will End opens with a reception from 6 to 10 p.m. Saturday, January 28, and runs through March 5 at Leon, 1112 East 17th Avenue; learn more about Dowling, who honed his trade at Il Instituto de Art, Scuola Lorenzo de Medici in Florence, Italy, at leongallery.squarespace.com.
Whether you’re young at heart or merely trying to help your children set their geekiest foot forward, wonders will abound at the Mini Comic Con kicking off at 9 a.m. this Saturday, January 28, at Landmark Academy at Reunion, 10566 Memphis Street in Commerce City. At the con, you can visit 22 different vendors showcasing the work of local publishers, authors and artists while kids can create their own heroes at a crafts table, participate in a costume contest or claim victory in a sealed-deck Pokémon tournament. Admission is free, but adults are encouraged to donate $5 to benefit the Club/School Foundation. Find out more at the Landmark Comic Book Club Facebook page.
Sunday, January 29
Denver’s Base Coat Nail Salon, which is fighting the use of toxic chemicals in the nail-care industry, will sponsor a screening of the documentary Painted Nails , a behind-the-scenes exposé of the health risks that manicurists — and their customers — take in the name of beauty. Showing at 3:30 p.m. Sunday, January 29, at the Sie FilmCenter, 2510 East Colfax Avenue, as part of the United Nations Traveling Film Festival, the movie by Dianne Griffin and Erica Jordan explores the awakening of a Vietnamese salon owner who grows to acknowledge the risks and becomes a voice in the movement to ban the use of toxic chemicals in personal-care products. Get details and tickets, $6 to $8, at denverfilm.org.
The town’s premier cannabis trade show is back for its fourth year. The Indo Expo is designed to build relationships between growers, manufacturers, wholesalers, retailers and the public; more than 3,200 people came together last year to learn about new businesses, meet up with old friends and make connections. This year’s show at the Denver Mart, 451 East 58th Avenue, is bigger than ever; it’s open to industry professionals only on Saturday, January 28, and is open to everyone on Sunday, January 29. A two-day professional badge is $199; one-day general admission is $50 and includes access to both the expo and seminars. Find out more at indoexpo.com/denver.
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Monday, January 30
When Bob Dylan won the Nobel Prize in Literature, it sent shock waves through the literary community. Some called his victory long overdue; others viewed it as an affront to novelists and poets who already have too few opportunities for recognition. When Dylan decided not to show up to collect his prize — much less contact the organizing body — even more people disputed his legitimacy as a Nobel laureate. Whatever your thoughts, you should find University of Colorado Boulder English professor (and Westword cover subject) Adam Bradley’s discussion of the win fascinating. The conversation, part of the school’s Nobel Lecture Series, begins at 7 p.m. Monday, January 30, at the Boulder Bookstore, 1107 Pearl Street. The event is free — and, no, Dylan will not be there. For more information, go to boulderbookstore.net.
Accomplished author Ottessa Moshfegh has had short stories published in the New Yorker and the Paris Review; her work has won such prestigious honors as the Plimpton Discovery Prize, the O. Henry Award and a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. Her debut novel, Eileen, won the PEN/Hemingway Award and topped several critic’s lists. One of the most exciting voices in contemporary literature, Moshfegh is back with another collection of short stories, Homesick for Another World: Stories. She’ll read from it at 7 p.m. Monday, January 30, at the Tattered Cover Colfax, 2526 East Colfax Avenue. Admission is free, and books will be for sale; find more details at tatteredcover.com.