"Art Reflects Nature" at the Colorado Black Arts Festival this weekend

From July 13 through July 15, the Colorado Black Arts Festival will fill City Park with vendors, performers and artists all celebrating African culture. "Our theme this year is 'Art Reflects Nature,'" says spokeswoman Jessica Springs. "We want the community to see how art and nature go together and how food, song and dance are all expressions of art." This year's festival will include three stages. The main one, the Kuumba Stage, will showcase jazz, soul, blues, reggae and more musical styles, as well as dance ensembles. The Freeman Cosmo Harris Gospel Stage will live up to its name, celebrating gospel icons that fit with its theme, "Up Above My Head." And the Joda Village Stage and Compound will recreate a NIgerian village, with dance, musical performances and spoken interpretations that honor Adetunji Joda, the late Denver teacher, drummer and dancer. In addition to entertainment, the festival will feature the Watu-Sokni Marketplace, filled with art, food and clothing vendors; along with a car show, a farmers' market (new this year) to join the "Delicious Delights" food court, and a fashion show titled "Urban Jungle," for which designer Ken Smoots's urban Afro-centric pieces will be paired with hairstyles for an extravagant expression of truly man-made art.

"We have incorporated a senior pavilion sponsored by DaVita that helps people with cancer, dialysis, etc.," adds Spring. Plus, the African American Gallery Exhibition is going to be an entity on its own. It is meant to showcase some of Colorado's finest African-American artists and their best work. Joe Price is the curator of the gallery."

Those who'd like to help make art can join in the community arts project, where volunteers will create an 8 x 32 foot painting and collage embodying the "Art Reflects Nature" theme. And then there's the annual Boogaloo Celebration Parade -- this year's theme is "Letting Loose on the Double Deuce" -- in which participants will march along 22nd Avenue between Downing and York Street. That parade starts at 10 a.m. Saturday.

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