Love is in the air, and whether you're in a relationship or riding the singles train, there's something for everyone to do on Valentine's Day this year. If you'd rather ignore it, feel free to entertain yourself at any number of events going on around Denver this week, from a dog show to a tour of one of Denver's most esteemed dispensaries. Keep reading for more of the best events of the week.
Tuesday, February 13
The Rocky Mountain College of Art + Design’s Visiting Artist, Scholar, and Designer program is back for 2018 with Michael Jones McKean, the fifth guest speaker in its ongoing Collapsing Time lecture series. Explore the nature of the inanimate across the temporal plane — and how that relates to art-making — with McKean, when he speaks on Objects, Time and the Fallacy of Scale on Tuesday, February 13, from 6 to 8 p.m. in the Mary Harris Auditorium at RMCAD, 1600 Pierce Street in Lakewood. Admission is free, but registration in advance is suggested at rmcad.edu/vasdp/rsvp.
Wednesday, February 14
For chronically single, underpaid or merely bitter Denverites, the programmatic romancing of Valentine's Day can feel more like an obligation than a holiday. Luckily, readers have the opportunity to either celebrate or ignore the day while enjoying some of the funniest Valentine counter-programming this city has to offer. Todd Glass, a comic's comic who's appeared on Last Comic Standing, Comedy Central Presents and The Sarah Silverman Program, kicks off his headlining engagement at Comedy Works Downtown, 1226 15th Street, on Wednesday, February 14, at 8 p.m. Guests have a number of package options that include appropriately loverly gifts such as roses and heart-shaped boxes of chocolate. Can't make the Valentine's show? Glass will be headlining at the Downtown club through Sunday, February 18. Visit Comedy Works box-office page or call 303-595-3637 for tickets, $25 to $119, and details.
The City of Denver supports free love, at least on Valentine's Day. Last year the Denver Clerk and Recorder's Office registered a record number of weddings, and 2018's numbers could get a big bump on Wednesday, February 14, when the city will offer free Valentine's Day wedding ceremonies, courtesy of Mayor Michael Hancock, several retired judges, and officiants with Amazing Weddings and Ceremonies. A special room at the Wellington Webb Building, 201 West Colfax Avenue, will be set aside for the ceremonies — whether Christian, secular or simply romantic — which will be offered from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., and happily hitched couples will also get some special gifts. (Fair warning: You'll still need to ante up $30 for a license.) Learn more at amazingweddingsandceremonies.net.
Sure, Valentine’s Day is all about love — at least that’s how it’s branded. But we all know that V-Day is also one of the year’s biggest breakup days, so why hide it? On Wednesday, February 14, Femme Left will host Dump Him — an open-mic night focused on the all-too-relatable theme of relationship trauma — at Deer Pile, 206 East 13th Avenue. Comedians, musicians, poets and performers of all stripes are welcome to perform; women, trans and non-binary people will have the first chance at slots. A request from the hosts: “Artists: Please avoid transphobia, classism, racism, and ableism.” For more information, go to Femme Left’s Facebook page.
Thursday, February 15
Sassy struts, shiny locks and attitude to spare — and, no, we're not talking baby beauty queens. Over 150 breeds of dogs from across the U.S. will compete at the Colorado Kennel Club Dog Show, a four-day spectacle on four legs. The Colorado Kennel Club has been teaching agility and obedience to pooches and owners alike since 1901, and every year, the club's dog show opens its doors to spectators, who can attend classes on everything from grooming to pet first aid, roam the grooming areas and chat with handlers of the dogs competing for the top prize. (Just don't touch the pooches without permission!) The fur fest kicks off on Thursday, February 15, at the National Western Complex, 4655 Humboldt Street; admission is $5 for adults and free for children under twelve. Learn more at coloradokennelclub.org.
First-aid training is practically a necessity for anyone living in Colorado. After all, even a quick jaunt into the wilderness here can end with a bad scrape or broken bone. Challenging the traditional notion of first-aid classes is Youth Mental Health First Aid Training, an eight-hour education program that instructs participants in identifying mental-health crises in young people — because just as important as knowing how to administer CPR is possessing the knowledge and resources to help your teen or employee through a crisis. The Denver Police Department's District 2 will host the free training for individuals eighteen and up on Thursday, February 15, from 8:45 a.m. to 5 p.m., at 3921 Holly Street; register at eventbrite.com and get more information at mentalhealthfirstaid.org/cs.
Friday, February 16
Artist Anna Kaye set out to curate a huge, themed group art show to celebrate the solidarity nurtured at international women’s marches in 2017 and 2018, and the project is finally coming to fruition. Three different iterations of the exhibit, called Pink Progression, will unfold in Denver and Boulder over the coming months, bringing pink-themed artworks by more than forty Colorado artists to the Front Range. While works by women make up the majority of the shows, contributors include men and transgender artists, as well as writers and comic artists, all in support of human rights, women’s causes and that good feeling of being in sync with your peers. Pink Progression launches Friday, February 16, and runs through March 24 at the Boulder Public Library, 1001 Arapahoe Avenue; the official BPL reception is on Friday, March 2, from 6 to 8 p.m. Subsequent shows open March 2 at the Denver Central Library and May 31 at the MSU Denver Center for Visual Art; for a complete schedule and more information, go to pinkprogression.wordpress.com or visit @pinkprogression on Instagram.
Don’t expect EDM when you show up to the Joseph and Loretta Law Institute of Arts and Technology’s Denver International Electronic Music Festival, the first of what the University of Denver is billing as an annual tradition. What’s on the bill is fringe, highbrow...and fascinating. War and Peace, an immersive theatrical experience and concert, is set for Friday, February 16, the first night of the festival; Kung Fu Organ will spotlight a Yamaha Electones organ, which allows a solo musician to produce the sound of a full orchestra, on February 17 and 18. All performances will take place at the Newman Center for the Arts, 2344 East Iliff Avenue; for showtimes and tickets — $10 to $29 for War and Peace, $10 to $15 for Kung Fu Organ — go to newmantix.com or call 303-871-7720.
Valkarie Gallery’s annual Chinese New Year invitational is back for a third year, just in time to welcome the Year of the Dog — which is great, because who doesn’t love dogs? More than fifty artists contributed eight-inch-square canine-themed panels for Every Dog Has Its Day, the gallery’s most popular show of the year and, possibly, one of its most affordable. Celebrate the lunar New Year on Friday, February 16, from 6 to 9:30 p.m. at Valkarie, 445 South Saulsbury Street at Belmar in Lakewood, for the best pickings. The exhibit runs through March 11; get more information on the gallery’s Facebook page.
If you’re looking to dance to live music, there's no better place to be on Friday, February 16, than Ophelia’s Electric Soapbox, where Denver Afrobeat band ATOMGA will drop its third album, AGA!. Also on tap will be local ska greats the Dendrites and Mile High hip-hop artist Jericho Son of None, who is also celebrating a new EP, Less Is More. In addition, ATOMGA promises that surprise artists will take turns joining the band. The concert starts at 9 p.m. at Ophelia’s, 1215 20th Street; tickets, $13 to $23, are available at opheliasdenver.com or at the door.
Louis Armstrong, the father of jazz, once said, “Music is life itself. What would this world be without good music?” America’s Musical Journey, a new big-screen offering at the Phipps IMAX Theater, mines the roots of America’s popular music and shows how those seminal forms morph and live on in cities like New Orleans, Chicago, Memphis and New York. Hosted by singer-songwriter Aloe Blacc, who hops around the U.S. meeting contemporary music-makers of every stripe, Journey brings a larger-than-life cultural look to the IMAX screen beginning Friday, February 16, at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science, 2001 Colorado Boulevard. IMAX admission is $7.95 to $9.95, or choose from various bundled museum admission packages. Learn more at dmns.org/imax.
Urban Farmer, 1659 Wazee Street, is combating global warming one drink at a time. The downtown restaurant (located at the foot of the Oxford Hotel) is hosting an icy event in conjunction with Belvedere Vodka by building a bar made out of ice on the patio and serving chilly beverages from ice shot glasses. The pop-up party takes place on Friday, February 16, and Saturday, February 17, from 7 to 11 p.m. both nights, so dress warmly in case the temperatures plunge. Ice carving, guest bartenders from other Denver bars, and food specials will be part of the fun; tickets to the ice bar are free, but advance registration is required at eventbrite.com.
Look in almost any direction in Denver’s cultural scene, and you’re sure to see Jason Heller somewhere nearby. He’s a terrific writer (occasionally penning pieces for Westword), as well as the political activist behind 45s Against 45 and a die-hard punk musician. He's also the brains behind Funk Club, one of the city’s regular funk nights, where he spins vinyl 45s highlighting hits from the 1970s and ’80s. This month’s edition plays from 9 to 11:30 p.m. on Friday, February 16, at Syntax Physic Opera, at 554 South Broadway; admission to the 21+ night is $5. For more information, go to physicopera.com.
Saturday, February 17
Denver’s citywide Month of Printmaking biennial officially arrives in March, but a few offerings are jumping the gun, including at Leon Gallery, where Mongolian-American artist Eriko Tsogo will show off drawings, collages, prints and monotypes in a solo show, Wrong Women: Myths From Sky. Born in Ulaanbaatar and raised in part in Budapest, Tsogo arrived in Colorado with her family at the age of eight, growing up to live a contemporary nomadic life, making politically driven art engendered in the East-West culture clash and the constant spirit of diaspora. Wrong Women opens on Saturday, February 17, with a reception from 7 to 11 p.m., and runs through March 31 at Leon, 1112 East 17th Avenue; all proceeds from the exhibit will benefit Tsogo’s untitled Mongolia documentary film project. The opening also marks the beginning of a new experiment for Leon, now operating as a nonprofit. Learn more at leongallery.com.
New Orleans might be some 1,300 miles from Denver, but as any good New Orleanian would advise, don't let that stop you from celebrating Mardi Gras. On Saturday, February 17, you can pretend that you're on Bourbon Street during the eighth annual Denver Mardi Gras at Exdo Event Center, 1399 35th Street. The infamous thoroughfare will be re-created, complete with actual balconies, hidden courtyards and beads, beads and more beads. Brass bands and DJs playing zydeco, hip-hop and Mardi Gras favorites will round out the experience, as will Hurricanes to drink and étouffée and gumbo to eat. The fun starts at 6 p.m., and costumes are encouraged; tickets, $29 to $399, are still available (but going fast) at eventbrite.com.
If your first attempt at a New Year's celebration didn't go so well, Hop Alley wants to give you a second chance. Chinese New Year begins in earnest on Saturday, February 17, and you can help ring in the Year of the Dog with a communal dinner and drinks from Hogshead Brewery and Campari America. Dinner is a surf-and-turf buffet served with typical Hop Alley panache — and a commemorative glass, "illegal fireworks" and a prize raffle will add to the festivities. Seatings are at 5 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. at 3500 Larimer Street; tickets, available at eventbrite.com, are $85 each (and include tax and tip). This night is for guests 21 and older — and plan accordingly, because Hop Alley says hangovers come with the package.
While members are treated to social and educational opportunities at private events, the greater purpose of the Denver Art Museum’s CultureHaus, an arts-booster association for young professionals, is to raise funds for the museum. This year’s signature black-tie-optional benefit, Art of the Figure, themed to showcase the new exhibit Degas: A Passion for Perfection, will bring a shot of glitz to the halls of the DAM, with live music, food and libations, plus a chance to be captured in an on-the-spot portrait by local artists such as Michael Dowling, Caleb Hahne and Kaitlyn Tucek. Dance the night away on Saturday, February 17, from 7 to 11 p.m. at the museum, 100 West 14th Avenue Parkway; for tickets, $95 for non-members and $80 for CultureHaus members, go to tickets.denverartmuseum.org. Any remaining tickets will be available at the door at an increased price. Learn more at denverartmuseum.org.
Dabble in dank beauty at the DIY Bath Bombs and Spa Day at Spectra Art Space, 1836 South Broadway. From 1 to 4 p.m. on Saturday, February 17, the gallery will open for beauty geeks, who can make their own hemp-oil-infused bath bombs and receive manicures and CBD facials. A $45 ticket gets you all activities and two products to make on your own; a $60 ticket includes all activities and four products. Treat yourself or a loved one to a truly Colorado beauty experience! RSVP and get tickets at eventbrite.com.
Sunday, February 18
The annual Colorado New Play Summit, put on by the Denver Center for the Performing Arts, not only showcases works in progress from promising playwrights, but also sets the stage for future productions by the DCPA Theatre Company. But one event among the many readings and world-premiere performances scheduled during the summit’s two-week span casts an eye on Colorado’s own: the Local Playwrights’ Slam, during which a handful of the state’s most ambitious playwrights share slices of their own WIP projects. This year’s slam, co-hosted by Lighthouse Writers Workshop, goes down on Sunday, February 18, at 6:30 p.m. at the Jones Theatre in the Denver Performing Arts Complex. Individual event tickets are only $10 ($5 for students), or you can opt for various reading packages, ranging from $23 to $36.50 at denvercenter.org/summit. Learn more at lighthousewriters.org.
Cannabis tour group My 420 Tours and Verde Natural dispensary have paired up for the Verde Natural Wellness Tour, an educational romp through one of Denver's most esteemed dispensaries. Guests will gather at My 420 Tours headquarters in Cluster Studios, 3881 Steele Street, at 11 a.m. on Sunday, February 18, to hear a presentation about medical cannabis by Joseph Cohen of Holos Health. Afterward, the group will head to Verde's grow and dispensary in east Denver for a guided tour, all while riding on a consumption-friendly bus from stop to stop until the trip ends at 4 p.m. Tickets (21+) are $119, but discounts are available at my420tours.com.
Monday, February 19
Warren Washington hails from Portland, Oregon, but he might as well be a Coloradan. In 1963 he joined the Boulder-based National Center for Atmospheric Research as a scientist and helped create one of the first computer models of the Earth's climate. In 2010, President Obama awarded Washington the National Medal of Science. The climate-change pioneer will guide an audience through his career for Reflections on the Life of a Colorado Climate Scientist, part of History Colorado's 2017-’18 lecture series. The talks start at 1 p.m. and 7 p.m. on Monday, February 19, at the History Colorado Center, 1200 Broadway. Find tickets, $7 to $11, and more information at historycolorado.org.
Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.