There's plenty to celebrate this week, including the 25th anniversary of a record (remember those?) expo and the Denver Young Artists Orchestra, which has nurtured young talent for forty years. Also on the sched worth celebrating: print making, costuming and steampunk culture, the lady bosses of marijuana and the Hindu festival celebrating love and the arrival of spring (with lots of colors!). Find all that and more in this week's 21 Best!
Tuesday, February 27
Get a taste of the upcoming Athena Project Arts Festival 2018 at a fun, food-oriented Athena Fest Kickoff Fundraiser, where all you have to do is show up between 5 and 9 p.m. on Tuesday, February 27, at Highland Tap and Burger, 2219 West 32nd Avenue. You can chow down on everything from pizza and burgers to fish tacos and truffle mac; 10 percent of food sales and 100 percent of sales of the Athena Fest's signature drink, Fierce Lady, go straight into the event's coffers. The Athena fest, which officially begins on March 3 with a Girls Create Celebration showcasing writing, fashion design and art made over the summer by girls in grades six through ten, comprises a full month of multidisciplinary performances, workshops and events. For more information about the fundraiser and the fest, visit athenaprojectarts.org.
Wednesday, February 28
Globeville and Elyria-Swansea are lacking in restaurant options, but Comal Heritage Food Incubator, at 3455 Ringsby Court, is trying to change that. Comal serves up delicious Mexican and Syrian lunches during the week while training workers from the surrounding area in hopes of helping them open their own food businesses. See what it's all about from 6 to 8:30 p.m. Wednesday, February 28, at the restaurant's Impact Dinner. For $75 each, guests get a five-course dinner made with fresh, local greens and traditional Mexican ingredients (you won't want to miss Comal's handmade tortillas). For an extra $25 each, four lucky attendees can sit at the chef's counter, where executive chef Tim Bender and his special guest, Raymunda "Nena" Carreon, will add to the excitement with margarita spheres, bone-marrow toast and other modern flourishes. Purchase tickets at eventbrite.com; proceeds from the event will be donated to Focus Points Family Resource Center (the nonprofit behind Comal) and the Globeville-Elyria-Swansea Community Land Trust.
Chef Kevin Grossi's The Regional, inside Avanti F&B at 3200 Pecos Street, is going national on Wednesday, February 28, as part of its Oyster, Farm and the Table Dinner benefiting No Kid Hungry. From 6 to 9 p.m., the joint will be serving regional foods from across the United States, focusing heavily (but not entirely) on seafood: Cape Cod oysters, mushroom hot dish from the north Midwest, Washington Coast Dungeness crab salad and Low Country hoppin' John are just a few of the dishes on the menu. Your $65 ticket ($120 per couple) also includes two beverages from the bar; get yours at universe.com.
Thursday, March 1
The biennial Denver Month of Printmaking, aka Mo’Print 2018, is back, with an entire regional constellation of satellite displays showing off everything from student prints to sophisticated lithography and intaglio works crafted by the masters. While a few exhibits have already opened — including the cornerstone show Master Printmakers and Print Educators in Colorado, hosted by Mo’Print and the Invisible Museum and running through April 8 at the McNichols Building, 144 West Colfax Avenue — most of the big to-do over printmaking will catch fire throughout March, beginning with a rush of openings kicking off on Thursday, March 1, and continuing through the weekend. But Mo’Print isn’t just about passive art viewing. Along with the onslaught of exhibits, there will be hands-on demos and workshops, artist mixers, critiques, studio tours and parties you won’t want to miss. Intrigued? The best way to dive in is to peruse the events button at moprint.org, where you can fill in your calendar according to taste.
Now that it's recovered from the holidays, the Denver Bazaar is back in business as the Thursday Night Bazaar, debuting from 5 to 10 p.m. on March 1. After trying out many urban locations, the micro-retail curator is popping up at the Hanger at Stanley Marketplace, 2501 Dallas Street in Aurora, where it will return every first Thursday in 2018, filling the space with dozens of the best local fashion, craft, home and art vendors; for this inaugural event, Something Vinyl Club will spin soul, funk and oldies starting at 6 p.m. General admission is free; buy a Shop & Sip ticket ($20 to $30) to get samplings from numerous beer, wine, cider and spirits makers, as well as discounts at select retailers and a wine glass that you can use all year. For more information, go to denverbazaar.com.
Artists make art, and that’s what they’re good at. But many artists are admittedly lacking in business acumen — the scourge of the creative mind. That’s why marketing expert Jessica Loving-Campos and veteran artist Julia Rymer created artboss, a new business plying professional workshops and consulting services for artists looking to get their act together. Get to know Loving-Campos and Rymer and learn more about artboss at a free launch party on Thursday, March 1, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at Studio SML | k, 430 Santa Fe Drive. If you like what you see, you can also use the opportunity to sign up for artboss’s first daylong workshop, happening at SML | k on April 21, when the art-biz duo will catch you up on such topics as entrepreneurial skills, branding, time management and building community. Artboss will also offer more comprehensive coaching services, if that’s your bag. Learn about these opportunities and more at artboss.co.
Experimental composer and musician Pamela Z, who works in the realms of digital looping, sampled sounds, interactive video and gesture-controlled instruments, earned her music degree ten years ago at the University of Colorado Boulder. This week, she’s back at her alma mater for a residency that tops off on Thursday, March 1, with two back-to-back performances of short, voice-based manipulated works at 7 and 9 p.m. at the ATLAS Center’s Black Box Theatre, 1125 18th Street on the CU Boulder campus. Recital admission is free on a first-come, first-served basis; for more information, visit cupresents.org.
Friday, March 2
Russian-American pianist Olga Kern is a prodigy, proudly standing at the forefront of the classical-music world since winning her first international contest, the prestigious Concertino Praga competition, at the tender age of eleven. In addition to maintaining a bustling concert schedule, Kern is dedicated to fostering the talents of subsequent generations of musicians, both by conducting master classes at esteemed institutions such as Yale University and the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and by founding the Olga Kern International Competition in 2016. The virtuoso will join conductor Brett Mitchell and the Colorado Symphony for a trio of performances at Boettcher Concert Hall in the Denver Performing Arts Complex at 7:30 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, March 2 and 3, and 1 p.m. on Sunday, March 4. With a concert program that includes Wojciech Kilar's "Orawa," Witold Lutoslawski's "Concerto for Orchestra" and Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky's "Piano Concerto No. 1," the entire evening will be a tribute to fine musicianship. Visit coloradosymphony.org for tickets, $25 to $99, and more information.
It goes without saying that a dance company called Wild Heart is bound to take a spiritually rich trip through free-floating places in the heart whenever its members take the stage. That’s just a vague attempt to describe the indescribable — like what goes down in Wild Heart’s transformational new work The Last Land Before Sky. See what your own heart makes of it: The original contemporary dance work — conceived by artistic director Kat Gurley and ensemble, with music by composer and multi-instrumentalist Kendall Perry — opens at 7:30 p.m. Friday, March 2, at the Dairy Arts Center, 2590 Walnut Street in Boulder, and runs for two more performances over the weekend. For information and tickets, $20 to $25, go to bit.ly/lastland.
Sadly, last year’s AnomalyCon, once Denver’s premier steampunk fan convention, was the last, leaving the area’s sci-fi anachronists high and dry. The folks at Shiny Garden, the nonprofit event planners behind Denver’s Myths and Legends Convention, saw an opportunity and created WhimsyCon 2018, which will make its debut over the first weekend in March. Emphasis will be on costuming and the steampunk culture; the con will include panels, workshops, vendor and artist booths, readings and book signings, a costume contest and special guests like steampunk novelist Milton Davis and costumer Kitty Krell, as well as a Saturday afternoon tea party with Captain Craig Griswold in the WhimsyCon Airship (steampunk finery suggested). Go back in time to an alternative world beginning on Friday, March 2, from 5 p.m. to midnight. The con runs through March 4 at the Hyatt Regency Denver Tech Center, 7800 East Tufts Avenue. Purchase convention passes, $35 for adults and $17.50 for kids ages seven to twelve, plus optional tea-party admission, $25, at brownpapertickets.com. Learn more at whimsycon.org.
During the Art District on Santa Fe's First Friday Art Walks, the offerings for music and comedy lovers are often overshadowed by sculptures and paintings on gallery walls. But for years, Denver Open Media, 700 Kalamath Street, has been hosting a monthly party, the Open Music Sessions, showcasing some of the city’s best comedians and musicians, at the community access television studios. This month, comedians Allison Rose and Geoff Tice will host the free event, which runs from 7 to 10 p.m. on Friday, March 2. The high-energy rockers in Colfax Speed Queen will take to the stage from 8 to 9:30 p.m. For more information, go to denveropenmedia.org or call 720-222-0160.
The 40 West Arts District has a big reputation to live up to, situated as it is along the history-rich West Colfax Avenue corridor, in the land of Casa Bonita, the Big Bunny Motel and the former Jewish Consumptive Relief Society sanatorium. It seems only right that the district’s central hub — the 40 West Gallery, at 1560 Teller Street in Lakewood — hangs an annual show of Colfax-inspired artworks, immortalizing the avenue’s personality, the neon remnants and places of interest that have always given the road west to Golden an extra pinch of character. This year’s Colfax Avenue: Past, Present & Future is just one centerpiece of 40 West's first official art walk of 2018, and once you’ve checked in at the opening reception, on Friday, March 2, from 5 to 8 p.m., head out onto the street to catch the Bad Asstronauts’ giant roving outdoor jellyfish performances, gallery open houses and live music throughout the district. That’s the Colfax spirit! Learn more at 40westarts.org.
Saturday, March 3
While Designated Drunkard: A Comedy Drinking Game has become a first-Saturday tradition for Denver comedy degenerates, hosts/producers Caitie Hannan and yours truly have ordered a double round of delights for March. Designated Drunkard's two-day takeover of El Charrito's Comedy RoomRoom, 2104 Larimer Street, begins at 7 p.m. on Saturday, March 3, with a regularly scheduled showcase that includes local comics Dylan Dean, Elena Ingraham, Ben Duncan and Derrick Stroup opening for co-headliners Janae Burris and New York's Kate Willett. Hannan and I will then do a second consecutive evening of hosting duties: an Oscars viewing party with a roving band of Denver's funniest comics cracking wise during the ceremony. The snark starts shortly before the 6 p.m. telecast on March 4; guests are encouraged to don their best red-carpet attire and to fill in provided awards ballots. Tickets to Designated Drunkard are $5 via nightout.com; admission to the Oscars viewing party is free. Visit Designated Drunkard's Facebook events page to learn more.
Join filmmaker Windy Borman for the Denver premiere of Mary Janes: The Women of Weed, a documentary about cannabis's relationship with America and how women entrepreneurs are shaping its commercialization, on Saturday, March 3, at the Littleton Alamo Drafthouse, 7301 South Santa Fe Drive. Doors open at 6:30 p.m., the film screens at 7, and Borman and a special guest will hold a Q&A starting at 8:35 p.m. Find tickets, $20, at eventbrite.com.
The Athena Project Arts Festival has been Angela Astle’s baby since 2012, congealing each year since then into a tightly organized series of events celebrating the multi-disciplinary contributions of women in the arts, with a focus on theater, fashion, music and dance. In 2018, those events — which begin on Saturday, March 3, with Girls Create, a free nod to the younger generation showcasing accomplishments of middle- and high-school-aged girls — will go on to explore women in dance and music before wrapping up on March 22 through 31 with the Plays in Progress Series, the dramatic-reading centerpiece that started it all years ago by introducing new plays by women. The Athena Project will fill in the spaces throughout March with panel discussions, workshops, open mics and collaborative meetups; for a complete schedule and ticket options, visit athenaprojectarts.org.
The Colorado Book Festival is a daylong (and absolutely free!) jubilee of literary goodness, Denver style. Join more than 100 authors in celebrating the written word and the writers and readers who bring it to life. The keynote speaker is Peter Heller (The Painter, The Dog Stars), who will be interviewed by journalist Carol McKinley, and that’s only the beginning of a day devoted to literacy and literature. It’s panels, it’s discussions, it’s book signings, it’s workshops, and it’s reading, reading, reading. If one of your favorite sounds in life is the rustle of pages turning, the clicking of a keyboard, or the scritch-scritching of longhand, dog-ear the corner of the Saturday, March 3, page in your daily calendar: You have a place to be. The day kicks off at 10:30 a.m. at the Denver Central Library, 10 West 14th Avenue Parkway; find more information at coloradoauthors.org.
If winter blues have got you down, don't miss Holi Fest 2018, from noon to 4 p.m. on Saturday, March 3, at Cheesman Park. The Hindu festival celebrating love and the arrival of spring will include live music, food trucks, henna tattoo artists, dance performances, carnival games and four opportunities to douse your friends and strangers with colorful powder that represents different hallmarks of spring, like green for new beginnings, and Hindu gods. Tickets, $20 to $50, will include powder packets; the proceeds go toward festival organizer Shadhika, a nonprofit that empowers young girls in India. Find tickets and more information at the event's Facebook page.
Endocanna Labs and ABrooksArt will host a jump-off party at 7 p.m. on Saturday, March 3, for their new product, ARC crystals, at Cultivated Synergy, 2901 Walnut Street. Made by taking THCA crystals and terpenes from the infamous Alien Rock Candy (ARC) strain, the concentrate is known for a potent flavor profile and reaching upwards of 90 percent THC. The ARC Launch Party is free, but guests (21+) must register online first. Find more information at picatic.com.
Sunday, March 4
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Since 1978, the Denver Young Artists Orchestra has nurtured budding musicians between the ages of seven and 23, preserving the tuneful traditions of classical music for consecutive generations. Up to 300 students hone their skills in one of DYAO's many orchestras and chamber ensembles, which provide top-notch concerts for music appreciators. Celebrate forty years of excellence on Sunday, March 4, at the DYAO 40th Anniversary Spectacular, starting at 2:30 p.m. at the University of Denver's Newman Center for the Performing Arts, 2344 Iliff Avenue. The program highlights a variety of great works from the classical-music canon, including work by Richard Wagner, George Handel and Igor Stravinsky. Find tickets, $6 to $19.50, and more information at newmantix.com.
Former Wax Trax employees Karen Brown and Kurt Ohlen took a chance on their first Denver Record Collectors Expo 25 years ago in the old Regency Hotel overlooking I-25, and it’s been a go ever since, attracting vinyl lovers left over from a different era to come and flip through boxes and boxes of records, looking for the big finds. It’s been a ritual replayed over the years for the biannual expo, which celebrates its silver anniversary with business as usual (which also includes collectible CDs, DVDs, memorabilia and posters) on Sunday, March 4, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Ramada Plaza, 10 East 120th Avenue in Northglenn. Admission is still $2 at the door; learn more on the event's Facebook page.
Monday, March 5
As anyone who's ever attended a local open mic can attest, a majority of people who attempt standup comedy fail spectacularly, especially when they're starting out. Between hostile audiences and the stinging roasts of fellow comics, building a decent act requires navigating a minefield for the ego. Comedy Works pros Greg Baumhauer and Mike Stanley have stepped up to assist aspiring comics on said journey...by mocking them relentlessly to the delight of a bloodthirsty audience. Drawing names at random from the "fuck it bucket," Baumhauer and Stanley put new comics through the proverbial wringer, encouraging the crowd to chant taunts such as "Dwell on it!" after someone bombs. Less than a few weeks old, Thick Skin is already an integral part of Comedy Works Downtown's weekly calendar, happening every Monday (including March 5) at 8 p.m. at 1226 15th Street. Visit the Comedy Works box-office page to buy tickets, $12, and learn more.