Clay of the land: Not long after people discovered fire and started drawing with coals on cave walls, it's likely that they learned how to squish mud into utilitarian vessels. Pottery, like fine art, has grown up considerably in the interim, but its functionality persists--and that's the beauty of it.
Two new shows in the area pay tribute to the artful craft, beginning with Functional Work: American Potters, a national showcase opening tonight with a reception from 7 to 9 at the Arvada Center for the Arts and Humanities, 6901 Wadsworth Blvd. Featuring work by fifty artists, the show continues through November 16; for information and gallery hours, call 431-3939.
Decorative-arts junkies won't mind the drive north to Loveland, where Contemporary American Ceramics, another national exhibit calling attention to the more fanciful side of works in clay, opens tomorrow at the Loveland Museum/Gallery, 5th and Lincoln streets in Loveland. Minneapolis artist Aldo Moroni presents a slide show and talk during the afternoon reception (1 to 3 p.m.); the show remains on view at the museum through January 4. Call 1-970-962-2410 for details.
Out of this world: While Brad Pitt scales snowy peaks in the new film adventure Seven Years in Tibet, the Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts, established thirty years ago by the Dalai Lama to preserve politically endangered cultural traditions, will rocket through the region, bringing colorful music and dance of Tibet to Front Range venues over the weekend. Part of a benefit week of events sponsored by the Colorado Friends of Tibet in conjunction with the film's opening, the first of three concerts takes place tonight at 7 at the Temple Events Center, 1595 Pearl St. The group then performs tomorrow at Unity Church in Boulder and Sunday at the Lincoln Center in Fort Collins; for tickets, $15 in advance ($19 at the door), call 1-800-444-SEAT in Denver and Boulder or 1-970-221-6730 in Fort Collins.
Shifting gears (or, more to the point, longitudes and latitudes), the Swallow Hill Music Association and the Hungarian Club of Colorado join forces to bring traditional Eastern European folk music, provided by Hungarian ensemble Muzsikas, with singer/musicologist Marta Sebestyen to Cameron Church, 1600 S. Pearl St., tonight at 8. Sebestyen, whose haunting voice permeates the soundtrack of The English Patient, is the stunning focal point, while csardas dancers Zoltan Farkas and Ildiko Toth provide the visual backdrop. For tickets, $12 to $14, call 1-800-444-SEAT; for information, call 777-1003.
Hit the road, jack: It's October--time to kick those fat, lazy pumpkins out of the nest and into the real world, and there's no better place to do it than at the Denver Botanic Gardens' annual Pumpkin Festival. It's your civic duty--take that annual traipse through the pumpkin patch today from 9 to 4 at Chatfield Arboretum, 8500 Deer Creek Canyon Rd. For the park admission toll of $2 to $4 (children five and under admitted free) and a nominal pumpkin-pickin' fee based on size and weight, you can choose your jack-o'-lantern-to-be, drop it off at a convenient Pumpkin Daycare station, and go on to enjoy arts and crafts booths, hayrides and other family games and activities offered at the arboretum throughout the day. Gardens officials ask you to leave your pets at home, but they recommend bringing a wagon or wheelbarrow to tow your harvest back to the car. Call 973-3705 for more info.
The loft bank: Hey, suburbanites--residential LoDo really does exist. Here's your chance to find out how the other half lives--and after attending the LoDo Loft Tour and Information Fair, you might even come to the conclusion that urban living ain't such a bad idea. From 11 to 5 today or noon to 4 tomorrow, check out the nine private digs and four loft projects included on the tour; then you'll have an opportunity to chat with architects, designers, real estate brokers and (if you're serious) mortgage brokers, who will all be stationed in the old Dairy Building at 1855 Blake St. Tickets, $12 in advance or $15 on event days, can be purchased at Coffee on the Z, 14th and Wazee streets, or the Oxford Athletic Club, 1616 17th St.; for more information, dial the fair information hotline at 698-4677.
Star-crossed dancers: The original family feud leaps to romantic life at the Buell Theatre, 14th and Curtis in the Plex, when the Colorado Ballet opens its fall season with a classic weepy winner, Romeo and Juliet. Set to Prokofiev's impassioned score, the Shakespearean sob story puts on a tutu tonight at 7:30; five additional performances follow tomorrow, Wednesday and October 17, 18 and 19. To reserve tickets, ranging in price from $14 to $50, call 837-8888 or 830-TIXS--and don't forget to pack a hankie.
Gil force: One of the more fertile collaborations in jazz gets a big-band nod tonight from the Creative Music Works Orchestra, a local 21-piece ensemble led by director Fred Hess and featuring Ron Miles on trumpet. Performing under the auspices of the Creative Music Works and the Lamont School of Music, the band takes on the music of cool jazz composer/arranger Gil Evans, devoting more than half of the concert to works Evans molded to perfection in the '50s using the nippy trumpet work of a young Miles Davis for locomotion. The orchestra performs tonight at 8 at the Houston Fine Arts Center, 7111 Montview Blvd.; admission is $10 at the door ($6 for students and seniors). Call 759-1797 for information.
Passage to India: Hypnotic East Indian classical music takes to the local stage in Boulder, when tabla ace Ustad Zakir Hussain and Aashish Khan, who plays sarod, a short-necked, twangy little cousin of the better-known sitar, perform together tonight at the Boulder Theater, 2030 14th St. Hussain and Khan, both unsurpassed instrumental maestros whose training began at an early age, appear at 7:30; to reserve tickets, $15 or $25, or for information, call 786-7030.
Return of the fly: Since time immemorial, folks have always had a hankering to fly--which may explain why, even in the Jet Age, soaring through the clouds can still give us a thrill. For that reason, The Magic of Flight, which opened last week at the Denver Museum of Natural History's IMAX Theater, 2001 Colorado Blvd., is sure to be a success as it takes viewers for one heck of an in-your-face, large-format, big-screen ride. Featuring you-are-there aerobatic feats by the daredevil U.S. Navy Blue Angels Flight Demonstration Squadron, the film, at IMAX through March, brings you back to earth safely by throwing in a wealth of information about the science and history of flight. But you might want to bring a barf bag anyway.
In conjunction with the film, the museum is hosting a new display called Flight: Where Adventures Take Off, which includes flight simulators and interactive science stations, as well as a full-sized jet cockpit, a biplane, a Bell 47 helicopter and other aircraft. Admission to IMAX is $4 to $6; $9 gets you in to see both the movie and the accompanying exhibit. Call the DMNH at 322-7009 for reservations and information.
Man on fire: A visual warrior for the common man, sculptor/activist Luis Jimenez creates public works infused with Chicano politics. A guest of CU-Boulder's Visiting Artist Program, he'll discuss his technique and aesthetic tonight at 8 on campus in Room N141 of the Sibell-Wolle Fine Arts Building, 18th and Euclid streets. Tomorrow at noon, Jimenez delivers an informal talk on his work Low Rider Backseat, currently featured in Changing Spaces: Artists' Projects From the Fabric Workshop and Museum, Philadelphia at the CU Art Galleries; admission to both events is free. Call 492-6504.
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Telling tales: If cool melodies and autobiographical lyrics suit your mood tonight, make a beeline for the Paramount Theatre, 1621 Glenarm Pl., where singer/songwriter Paula Cole, fresh from Sarah McLachlan's touted Lilith Tour, will pour her heart out to an appreciative audience. The Devlins, an Irish trio racking up critical praises for their atmospheric sound, open up--in all senses of the term--at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $20 (plus service charges and fees); call 830-TIXS.
Reach for the ska: In truth, ska is only a reference point for the Dance Hall Crashers, a smart-mouthed Bay Area punk-pop ensemble known best for the way it raises a ruckus on stage. But the ska part never hurts, providing a pumped-up, hyperactive framework for a road show that's sweaty, cocky, fun and really loud. In other words, prepare to boogie. MxPx opens for the Crashers tonight at 8 at the Ogden Theatre, 935 E. Colfax Ave.; for information and tickets, call 830-2525 or 1-800-444-SEAT.
Lovely Rita: No one can call author Rita Mae Brown demure. On the contrary, Brown's penned everything from sassy, openly lesbian fiction to feline mysteries under a nom du plume, and they all brim with personality. Her new autobiographical work, Rita Will: Memoir of a Literary Rabble-Rouser, can only follow suit. Brown reads passages about her passages tonight at 7:30 at the Tattered Cover Book Store, 2955 E. 1st Ave. Arrive early--free tickets for a seat and place in line will be given out beginning at 6:30. Call 322-7727 for details.