Best Events in Denver May 15 Through 21 2018 | Westword

The 21 Best Events in Denver, May 15-21

All the happenings in Denver the week of May 15-21, 2018.
Fill yourself with treats at the Whiskey Throwdown + Doughnut Showdown.
Fill yourself with treats at the Whiskey Throwdown + Doughnut Showdown. Danielle Lirette
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If you don't already consider yourself a fan, this is the week to fall in love with Denver's art scene. Between lectures, pop-ups and dissections of happiness and food trucks, there is no shortage of events going on this week that will dissect, probe and enrich creatives. Of course, there's plenty of other things to do this week, which you'll find in the 21 best events list!

Tuesday, May 15

Installation artist Phillip K. Smith III works big while playing with light and perception in architecturally inspired large-scale environmental sculptures. He’s the perfect match for the Denver Art Museum’s Logan Lecture theme this spring: Artists on Art: From Any Angle. Smith will speak on Tuesday, May 15, from 6 to 7 p.m. in the DAM’s Sharp Auditorium, 100 West 14th Avenue Parkway. An après-lecture reception will follow at the ART hotel, 1201 Broadway. Admission is $10 to $20; get info and tickets at

Wednesday, May 16

Got a mom with a sense of humor? Forget the flowers and take her instead to FuckUp Nights Denver: Bad Moms Edition, an evening of true-life business-oriented failure stories by Liz Romer of BC4U, Ashleigh Fredrickson of 8z Real Estate, Cassy Poole of Kaleidoscope Design and Erika Thomas of Highpoint Creamery. The local edition of a worldwide Pecha Kucha-style movement, FuckUp Night happens on Wednesday, May 16, at 7 p.m. at Ophelia's Electric Soapbox, 1215 20th Street; admission, which includes one free drink courtesy of the Family Jones Distillery, is $15 at

Thursday, May 17

The #MeToo movement has been accompanied by a broader cultural discussion about “toxic masculinity” — how seemingly patriarchal traits like dominance and self-reliance may actually hinder society. On Thursday, May 17, from 6 to 8 p.m. at the McNichols Building, 144 West Colfax Avenue, the nonprofit Warm Cookies of the Revolution will be taking a microscope to masculinity with a discussion titled “What Does It Mean to Be a Man?" But don’t expect a boring panel filled with academics: The event will begin with a drag performance, followed by a discussion among guest panelists including former Broncos lineman Ryan Harris, who will weigh in on topics such as why men commit the most violence and what healthy masculinity actually looks like. The conversation might get heavy, but the fresh-baked cookies that are always available at Warm Cookies gatherings should help ease the tension. Admission is free, though a $5 donation is suggested to help cover costs. Find more information on the Warm Cookies of the Revolution Facebook page.

The Athena Project throws a month-long festival showcasing women in the arts each spring, but its impact doesn’t stop there. Satellite events, like this week’s Artists’ Night Out at the Arts Students League of Denver, pop up throughout the year. It’s a mixer where female artists of all disciplines get to crow about their cultural accomplishments through brief show-and-tell displays and demonstrations, which makes it equally interesting for other artists, collectors and arts lovers of all kinds. Attend the free event on Thursday, May 17, from 6:30 to 9 p.m. at the ASLD, 200 Grant Street; find more information at
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PlatteForum resident artist Erika Diamond's “Three Fates Floating,” hand-woven alpaca tapestry.
Erika Diamond
Born in Germany and now living and working in North Carolina, fiber artist Erika Diamond landed at PlatteForum in March for a residency working with student artists from Lakewood’s McLain High School. Diamond’s own work for the resulting exhibit, Escape/Run, Hide, Fight, consists of a series of metaphorical bulletproof vests she created in testament to queer people who’ve brought meaning to her life; in addition, her pictorial tapestries of people acting in emergency situations will flank the main installation. The exhibit's student work grew out of workshops on tapestry-weaving and fiber arts related to survival, such as net-making, and comments on the individual’s part in protecting community. The show opens with a reception on Thursday, May 17, from 6 to 8 p.m. at PlatteForum, 2400 Curtis Street inside the Temple, and runs through May 31; a second exhibit, Freedom in America, a collaborative work by ArtLab students with mentor Hannah Leathers, will also be on view, for one night only. Learn more at

Because there will always be disenfranchised entities in the world deserving of more recognition, Wikipedia editing clubs, which add scholarly information and entries to the online encyclopedia, are becoming a thing. The new Museum of Boulder is pitching into the movement with its own monthly Inclusipedia meet-ups, focusing on unrecognized women and people of color who’ve played intrinsic parts in building the city of Boulder — such as Lucile Buchanan, the University of Colorado's first black female graduate, who earned her degree in 1918 but was excluded from the graduation ceremony. Want to help set Boulder history straight? Join the next Inclusipedia session on Thursday, May 17, from 6 to 8 p.m. at the museum, 2205 Broadway in Boulder. Learn more about the program and the Museum of Boulder, which celebrates its grand opening on May 19, at

Widely regarded as some of the finest compositions of the Baroque era, Johann Sebastian Bach's Brandenburg Concertos remained unpublished for 150 years, until they were discovered in archives in the midst of a critical reappraisal of the Old Wig's influence on classical music. The Baroque Chamber Orchestra of Colorado is presenting all six concertos (no small feat, considering each work highlights a different soloist and requires a deep bench of virtuosos) at a series of concerts throughout the weekend. The first, which begins at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, May 17, in the Broomfield Auditorium, 3 Community Park Road in Broomfield, offers unique demonstrations and discussions of the first five concertos, a genuine treat for music lovers. The BCO will also perform at St. Andrew Methodist Church in Highlands Ranch on Friday, May 18, at Bethany Lutheran Church on Saturday, May 19 (both performances begin at 7:30 p.m.), and at Central Presbyterian Church on Sunday, May 20, at 3 p.m. Visit for tickets, $12 to $32, and details.

Friday, May 18

It seems like more and more holidays get added to the calendar each year, but Endangered Species Day has nobler goals than, say, National Corndog Day. To commemorate the holiday on Friday, May 18, the Downtown Aquarium, 700 Water Street, will showcase its role in protecting wildlife diversity in a day's worth of events that include feeding Colorado river fish and Asian turtles, watching tiger trainers in action and otters at play, and learning about how habitat encroachment, climate change and other man-made threats put many creatures at risk. Endangered Species Day activities, which include a scavenger hunt, go from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and are included in the regular admission price. Find more information at or by searching "Endangered Species Day" on Facebook.

Get by with a little help from some new friends on Friday, May 18, when 100 fifth-grade choir students from Stargate charter school in Thornton will be at the Greek Amphitheater in Civic Center Park from 11 a.m. to noon, singing a dozen songs from Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, which the Beatles released fifty years ago this June. Several student musicians will accompany the singers on assorted instruments, and a few professional musicians will make cameos. But this event won’t just celebrate music: According to teacher Rodney Osborn, “The greater purpose of this hour-long event is to bring awareness to the homeless community.” While admission is free, donations for the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless are encouraged.

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Access Gallery gets into Food Trucks.
Access Gallery
Nobody doesn’t like food — it’s just a fact of nature. That might be why we’ve embraced the food truck, which brings food, in all its variety, to the public to grant a variety of edible wishes in one place. Access Gallery’s new Food Truck exhibit is inspired partly by the food-truck invasion of the Art District on Santa Fe every First Friday, but also by how food brings us together. Many of Access Gallery’s differently abled youth artists come from urban food deserts, and they were taught more about healthy foods in preparation for the show, which opens on Friday, May 18, with a meet-the-artists reception from 5 to 9 p.m. and runs through June 1. For more details, go to the Access Gallery Facebook page.

Anti-authoritarian British artist Stuart Semple is known for two things: gloomy works and large-scale installations. He’s bringing the latter to Denver with Happy City: Art for the People, a far-reaching project that will take over streets, alleyways, billboards and more in Denver and our suburbs with the aim of breaking down barriers and uniting people. Based on Canadian journalist Charles Montgomery's book Happy City, which investigates how urban design can impact the psyche, Happy City will showcase the work of eleven artists — many local — and is being produced by the Denver Theatre District with artistic direction from nomad art space Black Cube. A free event from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Friday, May 18, at Union Station will kick off the six-week exhibit, which ends June 30; find more information, including additional programming, at

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Indulge at the Whiskey Throwdown + Doughnut Showdown.
Danielle Lirette
Saturday, May 19

For five years, the sweets- and spirits-loving folks at Whiskey + Doughnuts have put on a tribute to their namesake treats at the Whiskey Throwdown + Doughnut Showdown, which returns to Denver Rock Drill, 1717 East 39th Avenue, on Saturday, May 19. Guests can sample limited-edition treats from some of the region's best doughnut-makers, plus a dizzying array of bourbon, whiskey and Scotch from local distillers and wine and craft beer from select vendors. And lest they feel guilty about all that carb-loaded indulgence, proceeds from the event go to young students in the Minds Matter Denver program. The noshing and sipping start at 2 p.m. and continue until 9 p.m.; visit for information and tickets, $39 to $65 (VIP includes early access and a complimentary engraved tumbler).

Spend some time in the great outdoors — this state’s very great, great outdoors — on Saturday, May 19, which happens to be Colorado Public Lands Day. This year’s celebration is tied up with a big bow: The final section of the Colorado Birding Trail, which encompasses the northeast region of the state, has just been finished. “When you get out on the birding trail, you’re looking through a different set of eyes,” says Colorado Parks and Wildlife’s Mary McCormac, who’s been involved from the start of the fifteen-year project. “You respect the land more. It’s more than just a place to walk or recreate.” But it’s also a great place to do that; find out more about these free routes on

The Denver Modern Home Tour returns for an eighth round on Saturday, May 19, giving looky-loos a chance to see some stunning modern homes and chat with the architects, designers and homebuilders behind them. “Denver’s modern architecture is a beautiful combination of the familiar modern movement and the comforting mountain-home aesthetic,” says James Leasure, founder and president of the Modern Architecture + Design Society, which hosts the annual event. “It is both inspiring and amazing.” Stops on the tour range from a Habitat for Humanity home in Curtis Park to a circa 1957 Hilltop house to a 1960 ranch in Sloan’s Lake; doors will be open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Find descriptions of all the locations and buy tickets, $40 in advance and $50 the day of the tour, on

The Arvada Center Book Fest is a day-long celebration of literature and arts that invites lit lovers of all ages to enjoy the beauty of books. From the keynote speaker (Laura Moriarty, American Heart) to brunch with authors including local luminaries Kathy Fish, Jenny Shank and Kathy Winograd, to wonderful workshops, book sales, autograph opportunities and more, this is one literarily luscious way to spend Saturday, May 19. Programming starts at 10 a.m. at the Arvada Center, 6901 Wadsworth Boulevard in Arvada. For a list of events and to buy tickets — up to $5 for general admission, which is included in individual workshop and keynote fees — visit

The Evergreen-based artist collective Cedarbox shares art experiences with the public from a trailer turned into a working studio, as well as out in the world. The Scavenged Explorer, a one-day participatory event on Saturday, May 19, heads for the great outdoors, where artists in the group have scattered and buried temporary installations across fourteen acres in the foothills for participants to discover and check off their lists. Start hunting at 3 p.m. at the Troublesome Gulch Dude Ranch, 27835 Troublesome Gulch Road in Evergreen; afterward, from 5 to 7 p.m., musicians Paul DeHaven and Anthony Ruptak will perform while guests hang out and, if they choose, cook up BYO food on the grill. Admission is $25 at; learn more at

Aerospace engineer and planetary scientist Alan Stern was the lead man behind NASA’s New Horizons mission to Pluto, in the farthest reaches of the solar system; David Grinspoon, senior scientist at the Planetary Science Institute in Washington, D.C., and a lauded author, played a smaller part in the mission, along with hundreds of other team members. Stern and Grinspoon deliver a suspenseful play-by-play of the mission and the key people on the project in their new book, Chasing New Horizons: Inside the Epic First Mission to Pluto (Picador, $28). The scientists, who both have roots in Colorado, will speak and sign books on Saturday, May 19, from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Boulder Book Store, 1107 Pearl Street in Boulder. Five-dollar vouchers, required for entry and good toward purchase of the book, are available in advance at the store, by phone, 303-447-2074, or at the door. Visit for additional information.

Did you ever wonder how those huge temporary structures, artworks and contraptions pop up in Black Rock City — aka Nowhere, Nevada — every summer for Burning Man? It no doubt requires a lot of planning, nuts-and-bolts skills and a crazy DIY work ethic to get the job done. It can also be costly, which is why the makers and creatives who tackle these overwhelming projects for Burning Man and other festivals invite folks to the Burner Bazaar, a semi-annual sale of wild and wacky handmades, artworks, food products, fake-fur coats, glow-in-the-dark everything, weird costumes and other new-agey accessories to help them pay for their big ideas. Pitch in, have a look around, and maybe take home something that you’ll never find anywhere else in Denver on Saturday, May 19, and Sunday, May 20, from noon to 7 p.m. daily at the Fusion Factory, 3563 Walnut Street. Admission is free; find more info at the Burner Bazaar Facebook page.

Sunday, May 20

The drudgery of thrift-shopping — all that driving in the hot sun from one place to another to search through endless racks of crappy clothes to find one gem — kills the fun of the find faster than an empty wallet. ThriftCon, a new event in Denver, aims to make it easier by bringing together more than forty vendors of vintage and collectible everything, from men’s and women’s clothing to antique-ish geegaws rescued from someone’s attic. Try out ThiftCon’s streamlined thrifting concept on Sunday, May 20, from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. at Industry RiNo Station, 3858 Walnut Street. Purchase tickets, $5 (or $25 for a VIP option that includes a T-shirt and a free drink), online at or in person at Station boutique, 2735 Welton Street. Learn more on ThriftCon's Facebook page.

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Get vulnerable at RedLine.
Lighthouse Writers Workshop
Monday, May 21

Do you find it hard to open up when your innate creativity is down in the dumps? Be Vulnerable: A Night of Artistic Testimonials, this week’s free Make/Shift Monday installment at RedLine, brings in experts from Denver Lighthouse Writers Workshop to help you learn to let go of your fears and inhibitions as a creative. Be ready to share with the group, even if your artistic hangups are a little bit embarrassing, and to also offer feedback to others. Writers and artists of all skill levels are welcome at the event on Monday, May 21, from 6 to 8:30 p.m. at RedLine, 2350 Arapahoe Street. Admission is free, but space is limited; find additional information and RSVP in advance at

It’s been twenty years since Blanche McCrary Boyd has published a novel. Her latest, Tomb of the Unknown Racist, wraps up a trilogy about her character Ellen Burns, a woman struggling with memories of her activist past who is caring for her aging mother. She is confronted with the realization that her brother, a celebrated white-supremacist novelist she presumed dead, may be alive and could be responsible for the kidnapping of his daughter’s children. McCrary Boyd will read from and discuss her novel at a free event at 7 p.m. on Monday, May 21, at the LoDo Tattered Cover, 1628 16th Street; find more information at or by calling 303-436-1070.

In order for an event to be considered for 21 Best, we need information at least three weeks in advance. Send it to [email protected].
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