Good news: This week is chock-full of things to do, from film festivals to a tour through Denver's culinary scene. And don't miss Artopia, Wetsword's annual celebration of the city's culture scene, on Friday, February 23 (find tickets here). Staying home this week just isn't an option. Keep reading for more of the best events in Denver!
Tuesday, February 20
You say you're not a classical-music person — but maybe you've never really given it a shot and are feeling a little guilty about that. The Colorado Symphony is nothing if not understanding. To help remedy your situation, on Tuesday, February 20, the symphony will team up with the Denver Young Artists Orchestra for DYAO Orchestras Squared, a free concert showcasing the works of Johann Strauss, Jean Sibelius and Franz Liszt. For symphony aficionados and novices alike, this will be a can't-miss performance that will highlight cross-generational talent of classical-music performers in Denver. The concert begins at 7:30 p.m. at Boettcher Concert Hall, 1000 14th Street; registration is required at artscomplex.com.
Wednesday, February 21
What would you do with $55,000? On Wednesday, February 21, a panel of judges will ask that question of five local arts organizations, which will then pitch their ideas for projects with the "power to inspire, educate and engage the community," according to organizers of Colorado Art Tank. The Shark Tank-esque event has taken place the past four years, but this is the first time that members of the public are invited to witness the competition — and it's sure to raise questions and thought-provoking solutions to the issues facing Denver. The event starts at 6 p.m. at Gates Hall in the Newman Center for the Performing Arts, 2344 East Illiff Avenue; admission is free, but registration is required at eventbrite.com.
Something different will take over RiNo streets for ten days beginning Wednesday, February 21: Side Stories // RiNo, an outdoor installation of ten digital video works by Colorado artists, screened each evening on neighborhood walls along Blake and Larimer streets. Traverse the installation at your leisure, with help from an interactive map and audio tour you can download soon at sidestoriescolorado.com, where you’ll also find historical tidbits about the area and a list of great places to eat, drink and shop along your way. Filmmakers range from local fine artists like Gary Emrich and David Zimmer to digital-video promoter Ivar Zeile of Denver Digerati, CU Denver media students and local animation and digital design studios. Enjoy the free show from 6 to 10 p.m. nightly, through March 2, from Broadway to 36th Street, between Blake and Larimer streets. We’re thinking date night: a new take on dinner and a movie. Visit rinoartdistrict.org for more information.
A champion of atheism and liberal causes, Sam Harris wears many hats, including those of neuroscientist, author and, in more recent years, podcaster. Experience a mashup of current events and political and philosophical musings when Harris brings his Waking Up podcast to the Paramount Theatre this month for a live edition, with economics expert Robin Hanson as his interviewee, along with other possible guests. Harris powers up the mic on Wednesday, February 21, from 8 to 11 p.m. at the Paramount, 1621 Glenarm Place. Tickets start at $35; secure yours at altitudetickets.com. To learn more about Harris and Waking Up, visit samharris.org.
Thursday, February 22
The Boulder Film Festival is so much more than a celebration of the silver screen. For four nights starting Thursday, February 22, local, national and international filmmakers will showcase dozens of new cinema gems — but equally unmissable are the filmmaker happy hours and concerts and an audience-judged throwdown between chefs from Denver and Boulder, who will try their hand at cinema-based dishes. Opening night kicks off with two pre-film parties, at the Hotel Boulderado and Rembrandt Yard Art Gallery in Boulder, followed by Borg vs. McEnroe, a tale of the infamous match-up between tennis stars John McEnroe and Sverrir Gudnason at the 1980 Wimbledon Championships. For a full festival schedule, locations of screenings and ticket information, visit biff1.com.
Friday, February 23
Denver Restaurant Week returns on Friday, February 23 — not for a week, but for ten full days of eating opportunities at more than 200 restaurants, which will offer $25, $35 or $45 options. To whet your appetite for what's ahead, study the menus on the Denver Restaurant Week section of denver.org; the lineup runs from A (Ace Eat Serve) to Z (Zink Kitchen + Bar). But don't stop to salivate before making reservations; popular spots fill up fast.
Artopia, Westword’s annual celebration of art, culture and fashion, is well into its third decade but will be livelier than ever this year, on a new night, in a new location, and with a new emphasis on art created before your eyes. At 7 p.m. Friday, February 23, dozens of artists will fill The Church, 1160 Lincoln Street, painting, sculpting, performing, modeling and offering guests full immersion in the artistic process. While guests explore scenes and spaces curated by Jolt, they can also sample cocktails and listen to some of Denver’s best DJs and musicians. VIP tickets are sold out; $35 general admission tickets are still available (for now), and a special late-night ticket, $15, gets you in from 10 until 1:30 p.m. Find out more at westwordartopia.com.
The Front Range has been home to an underground hip-hop scene since the early ’80s. Now the Dairy Arts Center and Streetside Dance are joining forces for Inclusion, a two-day festival celebrating hip-hop-oriented art, music, dance and film in Colorado. At 8:45 p.m. on Friday, February 23, filmmaker Musa Starseed will screen and discuss Soulz of the Rockies — a Colorado Hip Hop History, a documentary chronicling the lives of early Colorado breakdancers, MCs, DJs and graffiti artists; tickets are $6.50 to $12. A free block party will follow the screening, from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m. All events take place at the Dairy, 2590 Walnut Street; get movie and other tickets plus a complete schedule of events at thedairy.org.
Casa Bonita, a lowbrow entertainment destination that's an official Lakewood landmark, looms over the 40 West Arts District, giving a distinct rosy glow to Denver's sprawling suburb to the west, which is becoming a major art destination. Now, Next Gallery, one of several co-ops that have relocated to Lakewood, is paying homage to the trashy temple with Pink Palace, an open-call show juried by none other than Andrew Novick, Denver’s arcane expert on everything Casa Bonita; in preparation for the show, Novick even led a group of intrepid artists on a field trip through the flashy attraction for inspiration. Pink Palace opens on Friday, February 23, with a reception from 6 to 10 p.m.; it runs through March 11 at Next, 6851 West Colfax Avenue. Get more information at nextartgallerydenver.com.
Education — what it consists of and how we pay for it — is a hot-button issue in Colorado. Time to chill at How We Elevate, a celebratory evening designed to inspire civil dialogue about public education and elevating Colorado's future. This A+ Colorado event honors education game-changers Senator Michael Bennet, longtime public servant Rosemary Rodriguez and former Denver mayor Federico Peña; it runs from 6 to 9 p.m. on Friday, February 23, at Space Gallery, 400 Santa Fe Drive. Tickets are $85 at apluscolorado.org, and proceeds go to a very good cause: the future of Colorado's kids.
In recent years, feminist dancers have taken burlesque, an art form that historically objectified women’s bodies, and turned it on its well-coiffed head, making it a political tool. The Body Political, an activist burlesque show that has been going strong since 2015, makes its Denver debut at 8 p.m. Friday, February 23, at the Clocktower Cabaret, 1601 Arapahoe Street. The show’s goal: to challenge social myths about bodies and shine a light on untold stories. Tickets start at $35; get them at thebodypolitical.com.
Sexpot Comedy's headliner shows have cycled through a number of city venues, but seem to have found a Goldilocks-sized home at Syntax Physic Opera, 554 South Broadway. The sporadic showcase returns to the classy watering hole at 7 p.m. Friday, February 23, with headliner Will Miles, currently a staff writer for the Chris Gethard Show; Miles also co-hosts the podcast Hopefully We Don't Break Up and recently released his debut standup album, Good Year. In true Sexpot fashion, the remainder of the lineup is stacked with local crushers, including Cody Spyker, Matt Cobos, Jo Kimbrell and Mike Stanley. Los Angeles's Joselyn Hughes has a prime spot, too. Admission is $7 on Sexpot Comedy's Give Back Tickets page.
Buntport Theater, a cooperative group of thespians who often draw on literature to shape their original works,
takes a page from a comic short story by twentieth-century Irish author Brian O’Nolan for The Book Handlers, a satire poking fun at people who keep impressive libraries of books they’ve never read. In Buntport's hands, The Book Handlers turns into an office overloaded with neglected volumes, where a crew of book-distressers ply their trade by creating dog ears, ripping pages and spilling coffee on the tomes to make their owners look much more educated than they are. The Book Handlers opens at 8 p.m. Friday, February 23, and runs through March 17 at Buntport, 717 Lipan Street. Admission is $25 on opening night and ranges from $15 to $20 thereafter; there's also a pay-what-you-can night on March 1. Reserve seats and learn more at buntport.com.
The Denver Art Museum’s latest round of Untitled evenings focuses on artist curation, complete with a takeover by the city’s popular storytelling stage, the Narrators. Such Narrators veterans as R. Alan Brooks, Heather Nicholson Hughes, Ru Johnson, Adrian Mesa, Laura Wingate and Rachel Weeks will share their true stories on all four floors of the Hamilton Building throughout the final Friday event, with live drawing and interactive exhibits to keep people moving through the galleries. Listen up from 6 to 10 p.m. Friday, February 23, at the DAM, 100 West 14th Avenue Parkway; activities are included in the regular museum admission price, which ranges from $8 to $13 (or free for members and youth under nineteen). Visit denverartmuseum.org for more information.
Nature is alight with everything from fireflies to bioluminescent mushrooms. And while science can now explain such phenomena, we still look in wonder at living things that glow. Creatures of Light, a new exhibit at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science, explores the vast worlds of bioluminescence, offering interactive views of firefly-lit meadows, deep-sea creatures and glowing coral reefs along the way for one of life's ooh-ahh experiences. Creatures of Light opens on Friday, February 23, at the museum, 2001 Colorado Boulevard, and runs through June 10. The exhibit is included in regular museum admission; for ticket options and more information, visit dmns.org.
Screen-printing shop IndyInk opened at 84 South Broadway fifteen years ago, pioneering a stretch of the Baker neighborhood that would turn into a bustling row of shops and eateries. IndyInk changed over the years, too, expanding on the art offerings you could always find on its walls when the printing studio moved to a larger facility and morphed into a retail outlet, Abstract. While tripled rents recently drove printer-owners Aaron Cohrs and Dave Roggeman off the block, there’s still life in IndyInk: Abstract is reopening in a handsome new space at 742 Santa Fe Drive, where it plans to host regular First Friday receptions. In the meantime, drop by for grand-opening festivities from 6 to 10 p.m. on Friday, February 23, and make plans to come back on Friday, March 2, for an opening reception showcasing work by Lance Inkwell and Casey Kawaguchi, when limited-edition shirts by both artists will be available. Visit Abstract’s Facebook page for details.
Keep the Valentine's spirit alive by catching the ballet version of one of literature's great romances: Romeo and Juliet. Although William Shakespeare's tale of star-crossed lovers is typically adapted in cinematic and theatrical form, the story also inspired Russian composer Sergei Prokofiev to create one of his loveliest scores, which the Colorado Ballet has paired with graceful choreography by Derek Deane. This is the final weekend for the show at the Ellie Caulkins Opera House, in the Denver Performing Arts Complex; performances run from Friday, February 23, through Sunday, February 25. Visit coloradoballet.org for the complete schedule and to buy tickets, which range from $30 to $155.
Julie Rada, Kenny Storms and Miriam Suzanne have been experimental-theater collaborators for more than ten years; Grapefruit Lab is the newest iteration of what's already been a fruitful match. Under the Grapefuit Lab title, they’ll premiere JANE/EYRE, a queer adaptation that turns gender roles inside out while sticking to the major points of Charlotte Brontë’s story — but with music and an ultra-modern sensibility added. Local musicians Teacup Gorilla and Dameon Merkl of Lost Walks will provide the tunes when JANE/EYRE opens at 8 p.m. Friday, February 23, at the Bakery, 2132 Market Street; the full run of six performances continues through March 3. For tickets, $15, visit eventbrite.com; learn more at grapefruitlab.com.
Saturday, February 24
One of the region’s prime mid-century modern enclaves, Edward B. Hawkins’s Arapahoe Acres rose up during mid-mod’s prime time, between 1949 and 1957. The first post-World War II residential subdivision listed as a historic district on the National Register of Historic Places, the 124-home tract of lovingly preserved dwellings is like an architectural museum on the edge of town. If that piques your interest, the Englewood Historic Preservation Society is hosting a guided house tour of the area, bounded by Bates and Dartmouth avenues between South Marion and Franklin streets in Englewood, from 2 to 4 p.m. on Saturday, February 24. In keeping with the occasion, a ’50s cocktail hour after-party follows at 4 p.m. at Englewood Grand, 3435 South Broadway in Englewood. Get information and reserve tour tickets, $25 in advance, at historicenglewood.com, or pay $35 at the door.
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Sunday, February 25
Truth Be Told, Boulder’s most traditional story slam, is gathering a year’s worth of slam winners for the fifth annual All-Star Grand Slam Championship. The rules are simple: Contestants have five minutes to weave a memorized true tale inspired by the color blue. Live music will provide breaks between performances. Join the storytellers (all returning victors from the 2017 season) and hosts Nina Rolle and Johanna Walker from 7 to 9:30 p.m. on Sunday, February 25, at the Dairy Arts Center, 2590 Walnut Street in Boulder. Learn more and get tickets, $22 (or $45 VIP) at storyslamboulder.com.
Monday, February 26
Chicago-based experimental filmmaker Amir George wowed audiences last fall with a pair of screenings — one of his own Afrofuturist works and one he curated — at Counterpath’s Unseen Festival. He’s now back, with Excess and Excuses, an all-new program of short films and WIPs at the University of Colorado Boulder’s First Person Cinema series, which is touted as the longest-running program in the world screening avant-garde film and video work. Check out the future of the underground starting at 7 p.m. Monday, February 26, in CU Boulder’s Visual Arts Complex, Auditorium 1B20. Admission is $5 at the door and free for students; learn more at internationalfilmseries.com/first_person_cinema.