Art for art's sake: If only you knew Picasso like Lucien Clergue knew Picasso. The French photographer, known for his portraits of members of the modern Gallic intelligentsia such as Jean Cocteau and Roland Barthes, caught Pablo on film extensively over a period of twenty years, until the artist's death in 1973. You'll have a chance to see the genius of modern painting through Clergue's knowing eye and lens when the Camera Obscura Gallery, 1309 Bannock St., presents an exhibition of his photographs that includes some of the Picasso images. Clergue appears and signs copies of his book Picasso My Friend at the gallery during a reception tonight from 5:30 to 8:30; Camera Obscura will also be open to visitors during the Golden Triangle's First Friday Artwalk tomorrow from 5 to 9. The show continues through April 12; call 831-0304.
The riling class: Filmdom's staunchest working-class mouthpiece, Michael Moore, made his irreverent mark on American culture with his documentary Roger and Me and best-selling book Downsize This! Random Threats From an Unarmed American. A sequel of sorts to both, his new film, The Big One, begins where those works left off, with Moore continuing to needle the bigwigs at labor-unfriendly corporations while the camera is running. Moore appears this evening at a special screening to benefit the Labor Party, the Colorado Progressive Coalition and Jobs With Justice. See the film at 7 at the Mayan Theatre, 110 Broadway; admission is $15 ($10 for students) plus donations of canned goods for locked-out steelworkers in Pueblo. A reception with Moore follows down the street at the Hornet, 82 Broadway. Call the CPC at 866-0908 for reservations.
Hot Furtado: Hold it right there. What's a Grand National Banjo Championship winner doing playing slide guitar? Some guys just don't know where to stop, but in the case of whiz kid Tony Furtado, it's not to his detriment. The former member of bluegrass bands Sugarbeat and Laurie Lewis and Grant Street takes the gear switch in perfect stride, blending a rich vein of pure blues into his already fine acoustic-music repertoire. Furtado and band appear, along with ex-Subdude John Magnie, tonight at 8 at the Boulder Theater, 2030 14th St., Boulder; for tickets, $6, call 786-7030 or 830-TIXS.
High on the hog: If you're a dedicated follower of musical fashion, you're in luck: You can take your pick tonight between one next big thing or another. At the Fox Theatre, 1135 13th St., Boulder, low-tech camp rockers Southern Culture on the Skids update--or predate, depending on how you choose to look at it--the B-52s' high corn and beehive-'do shtick tonight at 9:30 as part of the Fox's ongoing sixth-anniversary celebrations. Tickets are $10.50; call 443-3399 or 830-TIXS. Meanwhile, Brit bleached-headed punk popsters Chumbawamba thump and bump into the Boulder Theater, 2030 14th St., Boulder, bringing their international dance hit "Tubthumping" with them. Scotland's A3 opens the show at 9; for tickets, $15, call 786-7030 or 830-TIXS.
Off the beaten tracks: You say you've heard it all, but until you've been to the CU-Boulder College of Music's Festival of New Music, you may still be behind the times, sonically speaking. This year's event fetes contemporary composer/teacher Ross Lee Finney, whose former students include Pulitzer Prize winners Leslie Bassett, George Crumb and Roger Reynolds. During the festival, which begins tonight and continues through March 17, the three master composers will preside over events, including discussions, panels and performances of their works. An electronic-music concert with an emphasis on Reynolds kicks things off tonight at 8 in Grusin Hall, Imig Music Bldg., 18th and Euclid, CU-Boulder campus. All events are free; call 492-8008 for a schedule.
A different drummer of another sort (actually, he's a guitarist), local bluesman and experimentalist Neil Haverstick introduces his new CD Acoustic Stick with "The Abstract Truth and the Blues," a trio concert sponsored by the Creative Music Works and the Lamont School of Music. Joined by percussionist Ernie Crews and bassist John Starrett, Haverstick demonstrates his patented 19- and 34-tone fretwork tonight at 8 at the Houston Fine Arts Center, 7111 Montview Blvd.; tickets range from $5 to $8. Call 759-1797.
Artists in wonderland: What if they put all of your favorite things--fine art, really great live music, gourmet food, martinis and microbrewed beers--together in one really big place for a night and said "Go for it"? You might think you'd died and gone to heaven, but it's more likely you'd be at Artopia '98, an event that includes all of the above and more. For a tariff of $20 in advance ($30 at the door), you'll be let loose in the Temple Events Center, 1595 Pearl St., where your senses will be stimulated nonstop from 8 p.m. to 1 a.m. Dance like a nut or sit in a corner and watch the action. Call 777-6887 for information, or log on at www.GoArtopia.com.
All you got to do is dream: Since kids dream up the wildest, most imaginative and, sometimes, most poignant things, Boulder's Imagination Makers Theater Company decided to cull the rich juvenile subconscious for its material. The result, Dreams, a play for children ages five to twelve, is stitched together from stories, songs and poems written exclusively by kids just like them. See the multicultural musical today at 2 p.m. at the Boulder Public Library Auditorium, 1000 Canyon Blvd., Boulder; admission is free. Call 441-3196 or 666-6218.
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Also this afternoon, the Arvada Center for the Arts and Humanities, at 6901 Wadsworth Blvd., presents yet another kind of dreamscape with Lazer Vaudeville, a flashy modern light show featuring live juggling and acrobatics performed against laser effects, black lights and strobes. Shows are scheduled at 1 and 4:30 p.m.; for tickets, $10, call 431-3939.
Wildwood flower: A sweet, quavery voice and backwater earnestness are the first things separating Iris DeMent from the rest of the pack of country/folk-singing women--but it's her utter and absolute purity that blows the competition cleanly out of her way. DeMent dishes out an evening of nothing but the real thing beginning tonight at 7 at the Bluebird Theater, 3317 E. Colfax Ave. Tickets are $15; call 322-2308 or 830-TIXS.
Leapin' lizards! Harold Gray's self-sufficient urchin Orphan Annie first came to life on stage in 1977, when little Andrea McArdle put on the red fright wig and belted out "Tomorrow" for God knows how many Broadway performances. That original production of Annie won its way into our hearts and the theatrical vernacular--but not before winning seven shiny Tony awards. A resplendent touring Annie returns to the Buell Theatre, 14th and Curtis in the Plex, tonight at 8 for the first performance of a run that con-tinues through March 22. What more could a theater-going family ask for? Admission ranges from $15 to $48; call 893-4100 or 830-TIXS for reservations.
Jumpin' jive: Few contemporary bands do the retro-rockabilly thing with more polish than Big Sandy and His Fly-Rite Boys, a California-based outfit sporting perfectly slicked-down ducktails and all the right musical references. Big Sandy and crew, always a favorite with the swing-dancing crowd, play tonight at 8 at the Bluebird Theater, 3317 E. Colfax Ave. Tickets are $8; call 322-2308 or 830-