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Thrills for the week

January 23
Eastern parade: Old-style brushwork and ancient Chinese motifs collide--or maybe just blend peacefully--with modern and Western techniques and themes in this year's Contemporary Asian Art Exhibition Series, an annual show assembled by the Asian Art Coordinating Council, opening today at the Arvada Center for the Arts and Humanities, 6901 Wadsworth Blvd. Composed of two separate exhibits--the three-man retrospective Adventures of the Three Travel-Weary Loafers: New Art From the People's Republic of China and a fascinating look at what is still a fledgling art in China, Mystic Dreams, Majestic Scenes: Contemporary Chinese Landscape Photography--the series debuts with an artists' reception tonight at 7 and continues at the center through April 6. Additional events scheduled during the show's run include a lecture by AACC director Julie Segraves on January 30, a discussion on Chinese fiction by translator Dr. Howard Goldblatt on February 4 and, on February 6, a concert featuring the Beijing Quartet. For more information call 431-3939.

Laughing all the way: The weekend is young (or even embryonic), but it should be no problem getting through this one with a smile on your face. Humor, from subtle and sly to downright knee-slapping, is the main event on several bills, beginning tonight with the first of two separate area performances by The Stars of Saturday Night Live!. Featuring a bone-tickling roster of recent cast members and writers from the late-night TV stalwart, the stand-up funny fest hits CU-Boulder's Macky Auditorium tonight at 7:30 and repeats at the same time Saturday in Denver at the Mammoth Events Center, 1510 Clarkson St. Admission to the Macky performance ranges from $19.50 to $25, while all seats go for $19.50 Saturday; call 830-TIXS to order tickets to either show.

Friday and Saturday nights mark the return of El Centro Su Teatro's Chicano Comedy Night!, a revue of local Latino comics that was a hit with audiences at an inaugural event last November. Proceeds from ticket sales for the comedy night, which El Centro hopes to make a recurring fixture in its annual schedule of events, will benefit the cultural center's purchase of a new boiler; for reservations or information, call 296-0219.

And wit from yet another ethnic angle can be enjoyed Saturday night at Temple Sinai, 3509 S. Glencoe St., during An Evening of Jewish Humor with national comedian Mark Schiff, who's appeared on Leno and Letterman as well as NBC's Mad About You. Schiff, known for his deadpan humor and skits about everyday life and people, will be the evening's featured performer; a dessert reception is also on the bill. The funny stuff begins at 7:30; proceeds benefit various programs of the Central Agency for Jewish Education. To reserve seats, call 321-3191, ext. 11.

January 24
Mother knows best: No argument from us--the true story of how the Polish-born daughter of a rabbi raised and sent to college twelve ethnically diverse children in New York City has got to be an interesting one. But the utter pathos with which writer James McBride imbues his memoir The Color of Water: A Black Man's Tribute to His White Mother carries this tale beyond the level of interesting, into the tender realm of the profound. McBride stops in at the Tattered Cover Book Store, 2955 E. 1st Ave., to introduce and read from his bestseller, newly available in paperback, tonight at 7:30; for details call 322-7727.

Buy the book: Book collecting is not necessarily a get-rich-quick scheme--like public taste itself, the value of every tome is a fickle creature that threatens to turn with the latest fad, film or fiasco. But you'll never know what you've got--unless you've got it. Beginning book-buyers and old, ink-stained hands alike have a good chance of finding something dazzling at tonight's Rare and Not-So-Rare Auction, an annual benefit bidding event thrown by the Denver Public Library Friends Foundation. On the block this year is a range of first editions, Civil War documents, children's items, artwork and more--200 fine items in all.

Merchandise viewing begins at 5:45 in the Central Library's Gates Western History Reading Room; a live auction hosted by historian Tom Noel, Denver city councilman Dennis Gallagher and book dealer Robert Topp follows at 7. Silent bidding on remaining items wraps up the evening at 8. Ticket prices, $30 to $35 ($50 for patrons), include a gratis wine buffet where you can toast your good fortune or loosen your bidding inhibitions; call 640-6375 for details.

A gay old time: Gay musical-comedy specialists Romanovsky and Phillips couldn't be more frank about who and what they are--the title of their recent live performance album, Let's Flaunt It!, says it all. But however open the closet door is for the daffy duo, the resulting show is a gentle, if prideful, stage romp for people of all persuasions. Romanovsky and Phillips prance into the Mercury Cafe, where they've previously sold out three concerts, tonight at 8; for tickets, $10 in advance ($12 at the door), call or drop by the Mercury, 2199 California St., 294-9281, or the Book Garden, 2625 E. 12th Ave., 399-2004.

Soft cels: Expect art drenched in both old-fashioned whimsy and pure, fluid movement when Pirate: A Contemporary Art Oasis, 3659 Navajo St., presents trained historian Eric Waldemar's Annals of Waldemar Pure and Applied Research, a film screening and art exhibition opening tonight from 7 to 10 in its Pirate's Alley adjunct. Waldemar's curious world includes miniature drawings, larger paintings and prints based on board-game themes, and frisky animation directly hand-painted onto film; his show continues through February 9. An exhibit of works by Tracey Barnes also opens tonight in the main gallery; for details, call Pirate at 458-6058.

January 25
Testing your metal: Thanks to the never-ending procession of angry-inside Beavis and Butt-head types who continue to turn fourteen years old at an alarming rate, the reigning kings of crunching, brooding metal music are unlikely to fade away anytime soon. But it doesn't hurt that James Hetfield and the men of Metallica try to keep abreast of the times--both sonically (as demonstrated on their latest CD Load) and in terms of appearance. Lean, mean, and now fashionably shorn and pierced, the eternally popular band swaggers into cavernous McNichols Arena tonight at 7:30 for the second of two Denver performances (Friday night's show is sold out). Cool. To get a load of Metallica, call 830-TIXS for tickets, $27.50 and $37.50.

January 26
The body electric: You live in it every day of your life, but how much do you really know about your body and its inner workings? Local producers Brooke Summers and Rocco Dal Vera set you straight--from the loftiest neuron in your cranium to the tip of your tiniest foot phalange--with their Denver-based series, Healthward Bound, a lifelong journey. The six-part public-television offering begins airing this afternoon at 1:30 on KRMA-TV/Channel 6. Programs continue Sundays at the same time on Channel 6; the series repeats at 6:30 p.m. on KBDI-TV/Channel 12 beginning February 2.

January 27
Caught in the act: It may seem like a long way to Colorado State University in Fort Collins, but a couple of new and unusual art exhibits on campus might make the hour's drive more than worthwhile, at least from a visual standpoint.

The fleeting qualities of light, shadow and shape take on new dimensions in Light Tracings: Photographs by Francesca Woodman, Clarence John Laughlin, Ralph Eugene Meatyard and George Woodman, a cloudy, layered and surreal view of modern photography opening tonight at the Clara Hatton Gallery, located in CSU's Visual Arts Building. Attend a reception tonight from 7 to 9 or view the show during gallery hours (8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. weekdays and 1 to 4 p.m. Saturdays), through March 7. Call 1-970-491-7041.

While on campus, drop by the Lory Student Center, where the traditional Karatsu pottery of Japanese ceramicist Takashi Nakazato is on display at the center's Curfman Gallery. Nakazato, a thirteenth-generation potter (his father, who revived the ancient form in this century, was named a National Living Treasure of Japan), works using Korean-influenced firing techniques that date back to the late fifteenth century. His lovingly reproduced work remains on display through February 28; for gallery hours call 1-970-491-5402.

January 28
Guest in the house: Ordinary People author Judith Guest made her name writing insightfully about just that, and her newest novel, Errands ($25 from Ballantine), follows suit. Guest reads a portion of her latest venture into the commonplace circle of family dynamics tonight at 7:30 at the Tattered Cover Book Store, 2955 E. 1st Ave. Call 322-7727 for additional information.

January 29
Bright lights, big city: When you've got a good thing going, why stop? That's fine advice for playwright August Wilson, still at work on an epic series of plays providing an ongoing historical chronicle of the modern African-American experience, and for Denver Center Theatre Company director Israel Hicks, who faithfully brings Wilson's incremental magic to the Denver stage with new productions each year. The latest of these stunning collaborations, Seven Guitars, focuses on the post-World War II evolution of Chicago's South Side as an urban blues center, portraying its characters, in typical Wilson style, as real and complex figures at home in their cultural milieu. Seven Guitars, halfway through a month-long run at the Stage Theatre, 14th and Curtis in the Plex, continues with evening performances Monday through Saturday (an additional matinee is scheduled at 1:30 Saturdays), through February 16; to reserve seats, $25 to $28 weeknights and matinees and $29 to $32 weekend evenings, call 893-4100 or 830-TIXS.

A worthy goal: The Colorado Avalanche, which sported the National Hockey League's best record at the recent All-Star break, plays host to the Los Angeles Kings at 7 tonight at McNichols Arena. The Gretsky-less Kings aren't faring too well this season, so the Avs are odds-on favorites to zip right past them. Call 893-6700 for ticket information.


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