Dale Chihuly looks like a man of the earth, with his dashing eye patch, wild hair and blue-collar demeanor, so it's not always easy to connect him with the torrid, delicate hand-blown fantasy worlds he creates from sand and fire. Chihuly could be called the swashbuckler of glass, a man who pirates color from the air and throws it, willy-nilly, into an explosion of impossible natural forms, from gilded and glowing Medusa-headed chandeliers to an orgiastic, seventy-foot rainbow of shell forms backlit on an open ceiling at the Bellagio in Las Vegas. See and you'll believe.
Coloradans will have the rare opportunity to do just that when Chihuly debuts this weekend for a long stay at the Fine Arts Center, 30 West Dale Street in Colorado Springs. Anchored by an impressive installation, Chandeliers, and featuring suspended masterpieces throughout the center, this is a mind-blowing, comprehensive exhibit of Chihuly's works. There is also the unprecedented pairing of his Southwest-inspired cylinder forms with samples of Native American art from the FAC's collection.
Chihuly opens with a public reception and opening celebration tonight from 6 to 9 p.m.; admission is $10 (members free), and reservations are recommended. The exhibit continues through August 14. For more information, call 1-719-634-5581 or visit www.csfineartscenter.org. -- Susan Froyd
First Look films have reel potential.
Filmmakers Josh Weinberg and Wade Gardner know that great ideas come from great beer, so when their student film Don't Mess With Texas didn't make the cut at their school's annual film festival, they headed straight to the taps for inspiration. Tonight the two moviemakers will present the results of a few serious rounds of beer and bluster as their fifth annual First Look Student Film Festival gets under way at the Starz FilmCenter.
The three-day short-film series will spotlight fifty films from more than forty schools, made by students coming from as far away as Bulgaria and Poland. Past celluloid scholars have gone on to screen at the Cannes, Telluride and Sundance film festivals, with one proud pupil even winning an Academy Award. "We knew that there were so many good student works that never saw the light of day," Gardner says. "We are extremely proud to fill that void."
First Look runs through Saturday night at Starz, 900 Auraria Parkway; each screening includes between eight and ten student works. Admission is $7 for individual screenings or $35 for an all-inclusive festival pass, with discounts for students, seniors and Denver Film Society members. Call 303-595-FILM or go to www.firstlookstudentfilmfestival.com for information and schedules.
As for the previously passed-over Don't Mess With Texas, it blazed at last year's Denver International Film Festival. -- Kity Ironton
Rock Spar Gods
Learn to be a rowdy rocker -- or just get to act like one -- at the first Denver Rock Fight, on stage today at the Ogden Theatre, 935 East Colfax Avenue. The all-ages, all-day event kicks off at 11 a.m. and promises to be an ear-blistering bout of high school bands competing for a grand-prize three-song-demo recording contract -- not to mention a cool five hundred bucks. William Bolton of Nobody in Particular Presents says that supporting young musicians is NIPP's way of keeping the scene fresh. "Being a star isn't easy," Bolton notes. "But we'll try to help 'em figure it out."
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Admission is $15; call 303-830-2525 or visit http://denverrockfight. com. -- Kity Ironton
These shorts give credit where it's due.
Though Pixar is working to change things, animation in this country is still wildly undervalued. We watch our Simpsons, we go see The Incredibles, but we see this animation as a source of idle entertainment rather than the vibrant art form it is. As a result, the medium remains underexposed. With the exception of a few breakout successes, animators' labors often go unnoticed. Let's be honest: When they announce the nominees for Best Animated Short at the Oscars, nobody has a freaking clue what's going on. Enter animators Mike Judge and Don Hertzfeldt and their Animation Show, which comprises funny, creepy and award-winning animated shorts from around the world. Here, overlooked treasures bump heads with films created at the outer limits of computer technology. Part of the University of Colorado's International Film Series, Animation screens tonight and tomorrow night at 7 and 9 p.m. in Muenzinger Auditorium on the CU-Boulder campus; tickets are $5, $4 for students. For information, call 303-492-1531 or visit www.internationalfilmseries.com. -- Adam Cayton-Holland