Carl Sagan once said, "Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known." At the Denver Museum of Nature & Science, the time is now, and the place is the new Space Odyssey exhibit, which opens at 9 a.m. today. "Science is the creative exploration of the world and universe that we all share," says Raylene Decatur, president and CEO of the museum. "We've taken a very hands-on and immersive approach. Through live programming, we're able to engage you with the contemporary stories of space exploration."
The $50 million exhibit is extremely interactive. Visitors can pretend they're astronaut cadets at a mission briefing, build a star and watch its life cycle, or try docking a model of a space shuttle on the moon via remote control -- not as easy as it looks.
"Space is a very dynamic subject; there are several launches each month, new milestones being discovered all the time," says Dr. Laura Danly, chair of the museum's Department of Space Sciences. "We're trying to bring space stories to life. Something static on the wall can't tell you what happened yesterday, what's coming up tomorrow. We can, because we have a very flexible infrastructure."
By far the most far-out component of Space Odyssey is the Mars Outpost diorama, a life-sized re-creation of an actual Martian canyon, where you can make your own crater, pilot a digital probe or ask questions of the space-suited performers carrying out "research" on the rocky landscape. "The goal is to excite people about space in a new way," says program director Vince Wolfe. "We've created a very unique learning environment where we're able to update everything very quickly as new information becomes available."
And you can't have a space exhibit without a planetarium show. The DMNS is also unveiling its recently renovated Gates Planetarium, which uses new, all-digital technology developed by the museum to blast you into galaxies far, far away. "It's like you're sitting on the nose of a rocket traveling through the cosmos," says Wolfe.
General admission to the museum is $9 for adults and $6 for kids ages three to ten and seniors sixty and over; Gates Planetarium ticket prices range from $4 to $8. Visit www.dmns.org or call 303-322-7009 for further information. -- Julie Dunn
Sixty years ago in East L.A., the infamous Zoot Suit Riots broke out: After a handful of WWII-era sailors accused a group of vatos in zoot suits of attacking them, hundreds of servicemen went on a three-day rampage through the barrio, beating pachucos, snipping their ducktails and stripping them of their spiffy, oversized gear. Surprisingly, the jury is still out on what happened. The suits themselves represented both cultural defiance and a material embrace of the American dream; their milieu created a basis for the gang culture that remains intact today, but it also stood for a streak of cultural pride that has expressed itself again and again through the decades. And for Denver artist Carlos Frésquez -- and many other Chicanos of the baby-boom generation -- the pachucos also represent an intimate leaf of family history.
Frésquez and several friends attempt to untangle the angles, tell a few stories, celebrate and, sure, have a good time with Chucas y Chucos -- Pachucos: A Historical Update, a group exhibition opening at 7 p.m. tonight and continuing through June 21 at the Chicano Humanities and Arts Council, 772 Santa Fe Drive. You're invited to wear your billowing best or bring a sample of your own pachuco art; for information, call 303-571-0440 or log on to www.chacweb.org. -- Susan Froyd
Blushing brides-to-be can peruse the competition from a century ago at Summer Brides, the Molly Brown House Museum's new exhibit showcasing bridalwear from the 1880s to the 1920s. "In Victorian culture, June was the month to get married, so we thought now was the perfect time to put it all out," says Kerri Atter, director and curator of the museum. "The dresses are just spectacular."
Not all of the nine eclectic wedding gowns are ivory and cream decked with lace, however. The exhibit, which runs through September 7, also features olive-green and navy-blue frocks. "Out here in the West, a lot of farm brides wore dark colors," explains Atter. "Dresses were very expensive, and you had to wear them again and again for special occasions. White was impossible to keep clean."
Two bridal trousseaus have also been trotted out for viewers to ooh and aah over. "Back then, guests didn't give presents like they do now," Atter explains. "It was the woman's job to bring the china, linens and sexy undergarments with them."
The Molly Brown House is at 1340 Pennsylvania Street; call 303-832-4092 or visit www.mollybrown.org for more information. -- Julie Dunn
Tamarind's artistic legacy thrives
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The Tamarind Lithography Workshop opened its doors just over forty years ago in Los Angeles, with the intent of reviving what founder June Wayne called a dying art. Despite the labor- intensive technicalities of lithography, in the years since, a spectacular list of contemporary artists have passed through what later became the Tamarind Institute at the University of New Mexico, all with the same goal: to put, as Wayne once said, "the kiss of an inked stone on a sheet of velvet-white paper." The works of over fifty artists, including such names as Josef Albers, Bruce Conner, Sam Francis, Louise Nevelson, Philip Perlstein and William T. Wiley, will reflect on Tamarind's greatest impact on the art world -- the ongoing creation of accessible high-quality art -- in the traveling exhibit Tamarind: Forty Years, opening tonight with a reception from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Metro State Center for the Visual Arts, 1734 Wazee Street.
"It's an opportunity to bring many artists of stature together in one place," gallery director Kathy Andrews notes, "but it also shows what the depth and breadth of lithography can be."
An astonishing overview of what's possible within the constraints of the medium, Tamarind, which includes works that range from painterly or richly layered to boldly graphic, continues through July 19; a Printmaking Family Day takes place in conjunction with the exhibit from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, June 28. For details, call 303-294-5207. -- Susan Froyd