Many problems that plagued Denver in 2017 persist into 2018. But that's no reason to stay home and cry. The New Underground will spotlight the work of artist hardest hit by gentrification and redevelopment, and on Saturday, a new community coalition will host a summit about those very topics, during which participants can hear from experts on changes in Denver and even contribute their own ideas. There's plenty more to do, so keep reading for the 21 best events of the week.
Tuesday, January 9
An old warehouse in the Sun Valley neighborhood is getting a new chance at life as STEAM on the Platte, a mixed-use development that maintains much of the 65,000-square-foot brick-and-timber structure at 1401 Zuni Street. STEAM will house work space for tech companies and creative businesses, and a restaurant and brewery to be completed this year. A public tour of the space, led by developer Urban Ventures LLC and project manger tres birds workshop, will kick off at 4:30 p.m. on Tuesday, January 9. Find tickets, $20 to $25, at eventbrite.com. Don't miss this opportunity to peer into Denver's future and pay homage to its past!
This year marks the fiftieth anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The Colorado Symphony will get the milestone year off to a fitting start with its annual MLK tribute concert, Sacrifice for Justice, with guest performances by Michael Chipman, Stephanie Hancock and Rajdulari, on Tuesday, January 9. The evening — which includes honoring the six recipients of the 2018 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Humanitarian Award — begins at 6 p.m. at Boettcher Concert Hall in the Denver Performing Arts Complex, with the concert scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Admission is free, but tickets are required; get them at the Boettcher box office. Find more information at coloradosymphony.org.
Wednesday, January 10
The Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company will participate in the Plurality of Privacy Project in Five-Minute Plays (P3M5), an internationally shown program of short plays and films spearheaded by the Goethe-Institut Washington about privacy in the digital age. How much of our personal information lives for all to see in cyberspace? Get a grip on that reality when BETC presents both the live and filmed portions of P3M5 in the Boedecker Theater at the Dairy Arts Center, 2590 Walnut Street in Boulder, beginning with a preview Wednesday, January 10, at 7:30 p.m. and running Thursdays through Sundays through January 21. Audience conversations follow each showing; for tickets, $17.50, visit thedairy.org.
The Norse god of snow gets lots of love during Ullr Fest, a three-day celebration of pow in Breckenridge that kicks off this year on Wednesday, January 10. Organizers promise lots of horned viking hats, a huge bonfire (bring your old Christmas tree!), an ice plunge and the world's longest shot ski during the 55-year-old festival. Celebrate snow in all its glory in a fun mountain town. Find a schedule of events at gobreck.com.
Thursday, January 11
Though its title conjures violent imagery of the 1967 Detroit riots, Dominique Morisseau’s award-winning trilogy-starter Detroit ’67 — in which a black man sparks familial rancor by offering safety to an injured white woman as Motor City burns in the backdrop — focuses on one intimate story amid the fires of racial unrest. That the same essential social-justice issues still rage fifty years later shouldn’t be lost on modern audiences when a new production, directed by Colorado Springs theatrical savant Idris Goodwin for Curious Theatre Company, premieres in Denver. A serious period play lightened by humor and a Motown soundtrack, Detroit ’67 opens for previews at 8 p.m. Thursday, January 11, and runs through February 24 at Curious, 1080 Acoma Street. Tickets range from $18 to $50; go to curioustheatre.org for information and reservations.
The threat of rising rents and disappearing arts venues continues to be a major story in 2018, but a new forum is here for displaced artists, at least temporarily: Denver’s oldest co-op, Spark Gallery, will give voice to a community in transition with The New Underground, the product of an open call extended to all members of local alternative galleries experiencing challenges due to gentrification and redevelopment. What better place to commiserate and plan for the future? The New Underground opens on Thursday, January 11, and runs through February 4 at the gallery at 900 Santa Fe Drive; an opening reception runs from 6 to 9 p.m. on Friday, January 12. Admission is free; visit sparkgallery.com for more information.
To start the new year, Patrick Mueller of Control Group Productions is ceding the stage to RedLine resident Kate Speer for [Colony 933], an intimate, multi-disciplinary immersive mystery event that Speer designed in collaboration with RedLiner F.E. Toan, who penned the post-apocalyptic plot. Be prepared to step outside and into the mystery at the fictional Colony 933; at every show, the audience will determine the story’s outcome as it's entertained by a mixture of dance, theater, installation art and music. [Colony 933] opens at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, January 11, at Novo Coffee, 1700 East Sixth Avenue, where it will run Thursdays through Saturdays through January 20. Arrive early for optional coffee and beverages before you’re led to a secret bunker for the performance proper. Admission is $20 in advance at colony933.com or $25 at the door.
Friday, January 12
Where there are Chicanos, there are murals, especially in the old-school heart of the Art District on Santa Fe, where cultural centers like the Museo de las Americas, Su Teatro and the Chicano Humanities and Arts Council prevail despite all the changes along the strip. Where are those murals hiding? Muralist Josiah Lee Lopez will share his familiarity with the walls of Lincoln/La Alma Park when he leads a First Friday Take It to the Streets Mural Crawl Tour that starts at the Museo with a last look at the venue’s lovely Las (H)adas exhibition before taking it to the streets. Join Lopez at 6 p.m. on Friday, January 12, at the Museo, 721 Santa Fe Drive, which is hosting the tour as part of its free Conversación Contacto series. Learn more at museo.org.
Sometimes the best artists go about their work without hoopla, quietly shaping the distinctive cultural legacy of a city. Colorado artist and arts educator Carlos Frésquez, who easily falls into this category, has captured the cross-cultural verve of Chicanismo in his work for decades, passing its spirit on to future generations. Now those contributions will be recognized when the Center for Visual Art (MSU Denver) presents Sangre Colorado: Carlos Frésquez Mid-Career Survey, a show that covers forty years laced with humor and heart. The exhibit opens with a reception from 6 to 8 p.m. Friday, January 12, at the CVA, 965 Santa Fe Drive, and runs through March 24; on the sideline, in the CVA’s student-run 965 Gallery, the companion exhibit Extra Credit will celebrate new work by more than forty of Frésquez's former students. For details and a list of related events, visit msudenver.edu/cva.
Catherine O'Neill Thorn is a true Denver treasure. Back in 2003, after statewide funding cuts to youth organizations and art programs, she started the nonprofit Art From Ashes, which grew into an award-winning organization serving youth through transformative creative-writing programs. Now O'Neill Thorn, who was named a Westword MasterMind for her work, is battling cancer; she'll be honored at a Benefit Performance for Catherine O'Neill Thorn at 8 p.m. Friday, January 12, at the Mercury Cafe, 2199 California Street. Local poets SETH, Theo Wilson, Roseanna Frechette, Carson Reed, Kathleen Cain, Dee Galloway, Alyssa Bennett Smith and more will perform (there will also be an open mic); Art Compost & the Word Mechanics will provide the music. The suggested donation is $15; you can contribute at the YouCaring site, as well.
Jacob Smith, producer/director of Waking the Sleeping Giant: The Making of a Political Revolution (and former mayor of Golden) will bring his award-winning documentary on the 2016 presidential election back to Colorado for a special screening at the Bug Theatre, 3654 Navajo Street, at 7 p.m. Friday, January 12. The film covers everything from Bernie Sanders on the campaign trail to a sit-in on the steps of the U.S. Capitol, and grapples with the question "Where do we go from here?" Smith will have a few suggestions during a post-film Q&A. Tickets are $8 in advance and $10 at the door; buy them and find out more at eventbrite.com.
Saturday, January 13
You expect Stories on Stage’s dramatic readings that match celebrated actors with short stories by literary masters to be somewhat staid, but when SoS occasionally collides with Buntport Theater, things can get a little wacky. In a good way, of course, which means there will be laughter and wordplay aplenty at The Penny Savers, a new-year collaboration that looks at our relationship with money, whether we have it or not. Buntport will provide the characters, SoS the stage. See the results on Saturday, January 13, at 1:30 or 7:30 p.m. at Su Teatro Cultural and Performing Arts Center, 721 Santa Fe Drive; for information and tickets, ranging from $15 to $28, go to storiesonstage.org.
What do people do at home on long, cold nights in January? Some of them play board games. That realization was a lightbulb moment for folks at Denver’s civic health club, Warm Cookies of the Revolution, who thought a game night — better yet, a game night co-hosted by the Denver Museum of Miniatures, Dolls and Toys, which will bring out a vintage selection of games from its collection — could provide a worthy metaphor for strategic problem-solving regarding pressing civic issues. Meet your neighbors face to face and let the games begin at Change the Rules: Civic Board Game Night, which runs from 4 to 7 p.m. Saturday, January 13, at the McNichols Building, 144 West Colfax Avenue. A $5 donation is requested at the door, but no one will be turned away for lack of funds. That means everyone can have fun while learning new ways to solve old problems. Learn more at warmcookiesoftherevolution.org.
Ask most Denver residents what they consider the biggest threat to the Mile High way of life, and they're likely to respond that increased traffic and higher rents are pushing them out of a city they scarcely recognize. Institutions that locals have cherished for decades are shutting their doors while developers remake the cityscape in their own bougie image. Rather than despair over the slow erasure of this town's character, the Denver Community Action Network is building a powerful coalition of progressive organizers, community leaders and concerned citizens, who will come together on Saturday, January 13, for Gentrification Summit: Our Communities Are Not for Sale. The free symposium runs from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the Shorter Community African Methodist Episcopal Church, 3100 Richard Allen Court; register and find out more at DenverCAN's Eventbrite page.
Do you have the write stuff? Englewood Public Library is hosting The Writer's Retreat from 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Saturday, January 13, and from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. on Sunday, January 14, at the Englewood Civic Center, 1000 Englewood Parkway. Seven noteworthy local writers, including Warren Hammond, Sarah Elizabeth Schantz, Jason Heller and Mario Acevedo, will lead one-hour programs on everything from writing comics and graphic novels to publishing your work, and it's all free! You need to register, though: Sign up for one or both days online on the event's Facebook page, at englewoodco.gov, or by calling 303-762-2555.
Though his stage name was inspired by America's favorite gelatinous dessert, Jello Biafra will break any mold you try to put him in. The former frontman of punk-rock legends the Dead Kennedys, Biafra has a rebellious spirit that has only intensified with age. An outspoken activist, he's won landmark obscenity cases and mounted both mayoral and presidential campaigns. Typically performing spoken-word pieces these days, Biafra will be at Denver's punkest dive bar, the Lion's Lair, on Saturday, January 13, for Jello Biafra's Incredibly Strange Dance Party Part 2, a DJ night featuring obscure punk, vintage soul, garage, surf rock and more. Though Biafra will forever be associated with the Bay Area punk scene, he was actually born in Boulder, so the show is something of a homecoming, as well. The Lion's Lair is at 2022 East Colfax Avenue; admission is $12.50 pre-sale and $15 the day of the show, which starts at 9 p.m. Find more information at brownpapertickets.com.
Sunday, January 14
The legacy of Johann Sebastian Bach looms over his ancestors, inspiring successive generations of composers — including Bach's own children — to create in his honor. Join Boulder Philharmonic conductor Michael Butterman and world-class pianist Simone Dinnerstein at Bach Transfigured, a tuneful journey through Bach's musical heritage, from the composer's own "Keyboard Concerto in G Minor" to the Colorado premiere of Philip Glass's Bach-inspired "Piano Concerto No. 3," a Boulder Philharmonic commission. The show starts at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, January 13, at the University of Colorado's Macky Auditorium, 1595 Pleasant Street in Boulder (a discussion with Dinnerstein and Butterman precedes the performance); the concert repeats at 2 p.m. Sunday, January 14, at Pinnacle Performing Arts Complex, 1001 West 84th Avenue in Federal Heights. Visit the Boulder Philharmonic's concert calendar for information and tickets to both concerts.
Monday, January 15
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Few events unite Denver like the annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day Marade, a massive and spirited rally and march that starts in City Park, makes its way down Colfax Avenue and lands at Civic Center Park. From clergy and corporate reps to politicians and grassroots activists, tens of thousands of Denver residents gather to remember the legacy of the slain civil rights leader and his dream of equality. The Marade has also been the site of protests against police killings, economic injustice and other pressing issues that activists blast the establishment for ignoring — and sometimes perpetrating. The program begins at 9:30 a.m. on Monday, January 15, at the statue of Dr. King in the southwest quadrant of City Park; the parade leaves from there at 10:45 a.m. For more information, go to drmartinlkingjrchc.org or the event's Facebook page.
Head for the hills on Monday, January 15, to catch the Cowboy Downhill at Steamboat Springs. Where else are you going to see a drawl of cowboys (that's the technical term for a group of men in chaps and Stetsons) slipping and sliding their way down a mountain? The 44-year-old tradition takes advantage of all the cow punchers in town for the National Western Stock Show, but it takes them out of their element — off their horses — and puts them on the slopes. The timed event, starting at 1 p.m. in Gondola Square, 2305 Mount Werner Circle, will have cattlemen tackling a dual slalom, lassoing a woman (who must have drawn the short straw this year) and saddling a horse; that's followed by the Stampede, and the first bronc buster to get to the bottom of the course wins. After that, Gondola Square will host a free concert along with other festivities until 5 p.m. Visit steamboatchamber.com for more details and epic photos of past Downhill competitors.
You inherited your grandmother's sewing machine, and it's been gathering dust in the corner ever since. Before you repurpose it as a planter, consider learning how to use the machine properly at Sipping + Sewing at Grandma's House, 1710 South Broadway. Your nana probably won't be on hand at the brewery (if she is, we'd love to drink to her health), but instructors for the beginner's class will be; they'll teach you how to handle your machine, hem pants and make a drawstring wine bag. For a very reasonable $35, you'll get fabric and supplies when you bring your own machine (two machines are available to rent for an additional $5). The class runs from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. on Monday, January 15; visit the Grandma's House Denver Facebook page for registration info. Sadly, beer isn't included in the tuition, but it will be available for purchase — and while the combination of alcohol and a high-powered needle doesn't raise any red flags for us, we always recommend that you craft responsibly.
Animal lovers can see lots more than super-sized livestock and bucking broncos at the National Western Stock Show. Xtreme Dogs is one of the most popular parts of the annual extravaganza; the canine cast displays an amazing combination of agility, acrobatic stunts, tricks and doggone funny antics. There will be a few superstars in the ring, too, including the team of Sara & Hero from America’s Got Talent; stick around afterward for an up-close Pat & Chat session. Catch Xtreme Dogs at 3 p.m. Monday, January 15, or 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, January 16, at the National Western Complex, 4655 Humboldt Street. Admission ranges from $15 to $45 at nationalwestern.com.