The writing on the wall: From Toulouse-Lautrec's Folies-Bergere can-can girls to the late Joe Camel, poster images have filled our modern cultural landscape with a graphic march of political and social messages along with purely commercial entreaties. The Colorado International Invitational Poster Exhibition, a biennial showcase sponsored by Colorado State University of work from around the world, not only explores the poster medium's changing trends and masters in great detail, but also gives viewers an eyeful. This year's show, beginning today and continuing through October 24, is actually a group of satellite exhibitions decorating the walls of several gallery spaces around the CSU campus and Fort Collins area. Foremost among the exhibits is a tribute to contemporary Russian poster designer Vladimir Chaika, which opens tonight with an artist-attended reception from 5 to 7 at the Lincoln Center, 417 W. Magnolia St., Fort Collins; other related shows will be on view on campus, as well as at the One West Contemporary Art Center, the Fort Collins Museum, the Loveland Museum/Gallery and UNC's Mariani Gallery in Greeley.
Bold anti-fascist political satire and intricate illuminated illustrations may seem like strange bedfellows, but they co-exist peacefully in a new exhibit opening today at the Mizel Museum of Judaica, 560 S. Monaco Pkwy. Arthur Szyk: The Man and His Art celebrates both styles--biting cartoons culled from wartime covers of Time and Collier's magazines and gorgeous gilded manuscripts--by an artist known during World War II as President Roosevelt's "soldier in art." Szyk's works can be viewed at the museum through December 4; an opening reception and lecture by the artist's daughter take place tonight at 7. For details call 333-4156.
You can bid on it: When's the last time you just went hog-wild buying art? Never, you say? Well, now's the time to turn over a new leaf: The Arts Frenzy, a benefit party and art sale for Colorado Lawyers for the Arts, offers a firsthand chance to see and bid on works from the Colorado Contempo juried art show. It all begins tonight from 6 to 10 with an auction, music, dance and ensuing hoopla at Republic Plaza, 370 17th St. More than fifty Colorado artists are represented in the exhibit, which hangs at the Plaza through November 19. Admission to tonight's revelry ranges from $16 to $25; call 722-7994 for information and reservations.
Bier here: Summer's over? What the heck--no use crying in your bier, your cider or your soda. Larimer Square's Oktoberfest '97 makes imbibing of any kind more fun by accompanying the liquid refreshments with oompah bands, smoking brats, flaky strudel, folk dancing, German storytelling, pony rides (for the kids, silly) and all sorts of other stuff that can be easily enjoyed in lederhosen. Events kick off today at 11:30 a.m. with the traditional renaming of Larimer Street to Theresienwiese (a Denver nod to the site of Munich's Oktoberfest celebration) and continue Friday through Sunday this weekend and next. In the course of the fest, special events will include a World's Shortest Parade (tomorrow at 11:30 a.m.), an ear-splitting concert by an accordion orchestra (3:45 p.m. Sept. 20) and the serving of a 28-foot-long German chocolate cake (1 p.m. September 21). Admission is free; for information, call Larimer Square's event line at 607-1276.
Something new, something old: Here's a bunch of gnarled old fingers more than well-versed in the realms of bluegrass and acoustic-music wizardry: Rice, Rice, Hillman and Pedersen, a diverse group of acoustic-music veterans (their collective resume lists combos ranging from the folk-rocking Byrds to the quick-picking Dillards), form one heck of a powerhouse alliance when they appear tonight at 7:15 at the Denver Botanic Gardens outdoor amphitheater, 1005 York St. Tickets are $19 ($16 members); call 777-3836.
Or you might choose to visit another neck of the woods: Scotland's Old Blind Dogs mix Highland traditions and worldbeat rhythms for a sound that's unconditionally their own. The Dogs perform at 8 at the Bluebird Theater, 3317 E. Colfax Ave.; for tickets, $15, call 830-TIXS or 322-2308.
And speaking of veterans, Texas legend and red-headed stranger Willie Nelson is on the road again, hanging out tonight at 8 at the Auditorium Theatre, 14th and Curtis in the Plex, for a concert benefiting KBDI-TV/Channel 12. Tickets are available for $32.50 or $38.50; call 296-1212 or 830-TIXS for reservations.
Score one for the big guy: He's an extraordinary storyteller, a classic tunesmith and film-score composer and an all-around funny guy: Jack-of-all-trades Randy Newman is a whole bundle of exemplary songwriting skills whose staggering, Tin Pan Alley-inflected repertoire goes far beyond the snide late-'70s novelty hit "Short People." The wry music man joins the Colorado Symphony Orchestra tonight at 7:30 for a season-opening pops offering at Boettcher Concert Hall, 14th and Curtis in the Plex; for tickets, ranging in price from $10 to $40, call 830-TIXS.
Open-door policy: When Boulder does art, Boulder does it big. And last year's Boulder Open Studios Tour was such a success that the trendy town's artists are throwing another one. The self-guided tour, which covers the private studios of a whopping 96 Boulder sculptors, woodworkers, painters, photographers, fiber artists and the like, takes place from 11 to 6 Saturday and Sunday, this weekend and next, and is the perfect opportunity to ask artists all those stupid questions you've been saving up since last year. A very nice spiral-bound guidebook with examples of work by participating artists, a map, a list of Boulder galleries and the definitions of various art terms is available for $12 at several locations, including the Tattered Cover Book Stores in Denver and the Boulder Public Library Gift Shop, Ideal Market and The Printed Page in Boulder; organizers stress that the book is not required for tour entry. In addition, a related exhibit is on display at the library, 1000 Canyon Blvd. For general information call 444-1862.
Today has also been designated BMoCA Day in Boulder, in tribute to the Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art, the community's better-than-average purveyor of thought-provoking and cutting-edge exhibitions, which celebrates its silver anniversary this week. Several Boulder galleries and businesses will donate a portion of the day's sales to the museum, 1750 13th St., and a cake-cutting ceremony will take place there today at 10. While you're there, don't neglect to take a look around: The venue's new exhibit, Art and Provocation: Images From Rebels, featuring a plethora of work by local and national artists, intermingles fine art by Phillip Guston and Ed Paschke with comic art by Robert Crumb, Bill Griffith, Sue Coe and many others, proving once and for all that the medium is the message. The show continues through December 24; call 443-2122.
Cool, calm and compost: So, how did your garden grow? Maybe you ought to start some compost brewing for next year's plot. You'll be well on your way to perkier peppers and zippier zucchini once you make a stop at the one-day-only Denver Recycles Compost Bin Sale, which offers gardeners great deals on quality rot-boxes. Six bin varieties, priced from $35, will be available from 9 to 5 in parking lot E at Mile High Stadium. And what do you do with the thing once you've got it? Those practical folks at Denver Recycles offer free weekly compost classes at the Gove Community Garden compost-demonstration site, 13th Ave. and Colorado Blvd., through mid-October. There is no fee, but pre-registration is required; call 640-1678.
New music: The Creative Music Works and the Lamont School of Music will put their heads together for a second year of showcasing trailblazing musicians from around the area. Their jointly sponsored new-music series starts off the season tonight at 7:30, when vibraphonist Greg Carroll, head of the jazz-studies department at CSU, and his New Karma Quartet tune up on a repertoire spotlighting Colorado composers as well as works by nationally known players. Carroll performs at Lamont's Houston Fine Arts Center, 7111 Montview Blvd.; to reserve tickets, $8 ($5 students and seniors), call 759-1797.
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Woman of mystery: Nobody does the old-fashioned whodunit better than Ruth Rendell, whose classic hero, Chief Inspector Wexford, returns in Road Rage for a case that edges a bit close to home: In it, he must solve his own wife's kidnapping by environmental terrorists. Rendell piques fans' interest by reading from the new adventure tonight at 7:30 at the Tattered Cover Book Store, 2955 E. 1st Ave.; for information call 322-7727.
Walk on the wild side: Hate to eat and run? In fact, you'll simply stroll and then enjoy hot coffee and sweets at the end of a Full Moon Dessert Hike, the popular reservation-only evening event that takes place periodically in easily accessible, geologically spectacular Roxborough State Park in Littleton. Stretch your calves and sharpen your sweet tooth: Tonight's park saunter begins at 6. To reserve a spot in the chow line, send your check for $7.50 per person, payable to Friends of Roxborough, to 4751 N. Roxborough Dr., Littleton, CO 80125. If necessary, an overflow date will be scheduled for Monday, September 15; for additional park information call 973-3959.
The old lions: The jazz tradition now boasts several generations of grand old men--and if you're looking for a couple of definitive voices from the music's cool segue from the '60s into the funky '70s, keyboardist Herbie Hancock and trumpet player Wayne Shorter fill the bill with style. The duo, graduates of the great Miles Davis ensembles of the mid- to late '60s and both innovators on their own, have come full circle to make music together again in the '90s--a good reason to catch them when they trade bars tonight at 8 at the Boulder Theater, 2030 14th St., Boulder. Tickets range from $26 to $33.50; call 786-7030 to reserve yours.