First Friday: Skeletons and circus freaks, Frida Kahlo and zombies

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First Friday on the first of October? Sounds like a witching hour to me. There's a distinct chill in the evening air, but don't let that stop you from painting the art districts red...and azure, sienna, viridian, alizarin crimson and any other color you can think of. Pull on your cloak and venture out: Here's where the haps are.

Art District on Santa Fe

Where to start? How about the Tenth and Osage light rail station, where shuttles will arrive to whisk you over to the Santa Fe drag, between 5:30 and 9:30 p.m. As always, the Art District on Santa Fe will be hopping wherever you get off. Fall IS in the air on Santa Fe, where light shows and calaveras and Halloween masks bring a new mood to the street. Dorothy Tanner's The Light Fantastic will light up the VERTIGO Art Space at 960 Santa Fe Drive with her gorgeous -- and spooky -- acrylic and LED light sculptures from 6 to 10 p.m. Down on the corner at Spark, 900 Santa Fe, you can catch up with shows by photographers Sally Stockhold and Barbara Carpenter, while CORE New Art Space, on the same corner, hosts shows by Brianna Martray (an amazing installation involving an unaccepted novel by the artist that she eventually ripped up and folded into a multitude of origami cranes) and Jen Thario. Leatherworker Mike Romoth will open his studio at 802 Santa Fe for an annual show of his unique handcrafted masks, which range from creepy to very, very sexy. He'll have the masks for sale through Halloween. La Dulce Vida, a group show with a sweet theme, opens tonight at the Chicano Humanities and Arts Council, 772 Santa Fe; think of it as a test run for CHAC's annual El Día de los Muertos extravangaza, which opens later in the month on October 22 (entries are due by October 17). Next door at the Kanon Collective, 766 Santa Fe, be sure to stop in for Sweet Squared, a show of new works by Kym Bloom inspired by retro games like Twister and Pac Man and fashioned from candy.

And wa-ay on down the street and one block over at Sean Brown's Studio 12, 209 Kalamath Street, El Día fever strikes early, with an alternative streak: The gallery's second annual Día de los Muertos show starts tonight, with a reception hosted by the Roundhouse Spirits distillery from 4 to 9 p.m.

River North Art District

In RiNo tonight, catch an encore of Michael Ensminger's Zottelbart Encore at Pattern Shop, 3349 Blake Street, or check out a new show by ceramic artist Richard Burkett at Plinth Gallery, 3520 Brighton Boulevard; at designHaus DENVER, 3939 Williams Street, sculptor and claymation artist Corrina Espinosa of Little Crazy People will entertain with stump art, fiber-optic robots and other silliness. And at Green Spaces, 1368 26th Street, the Denver Handmade Homemade Market will host an alternative First Friday at which you can obtain local merchandise, produce, services and handmades by barter, trade or using Ha Ho Market "dough," from 6 to 9 p.m. Not far away from RiNo at MCA Denver, 1485 Delgany Street, two shows, Over the River: A Project for the Arkansas River, State of Colorado, a Work in Progress by Christo and Jean-Claude, and Pellucid, an installation by Rebecca DiDomenico, also open tonight.

Tennyson Street

Tennyson is alive with parties and artmaking tonight, beginning with the sixth annual Beads, Braids and Brows: FridaStyle ArtShow at Comfort Cafe, 3945 Tennyson Street, from 5 to 10 p.m. Costumes are encouraged, and a Mexican feast will be available on a pay-what-you-can basis. Another party will spill out onto the street from 6 to 9 p.m. at the Green Door Living realtor office, 4438 Tennyson Street. The third-anniversary bash includes art by Becky Moor, live music, a solar bubble tower and -- you heard it first here -- a nine-foot-tall walking tree man. At Sellars Project Space, 4383 Tennyson Street, an exhibition of new works by Andy Berg, and the monthly First Friday Mini-Shop at EvB Studio, 4343 West 44th Avenue, features a make-and-take clay skull workshop for $10.

Golden Triangle/South Broadway

Stop by the Byers-Evans House Museum, 1310 Bannock Street, for a look-see at Mark Sink Photographs 1975-2010: Encounters with the Past ; photography is also the theme at the Camera Obscura Gallery, 1309 Bannock Street, which features exhibits by Philip Hyde and Carolyn Guild, through mid-November. Tonight's reception is from 5 to 9 p.m. Down on South Broadway, Indyink , 84 South Broadway, will hold an opening for sci-fi/horror illustrator Sam Turner, while next door at Illiterate, a show of new retro-modern works by Amanda Marie also opens.

Navajo Street Art District

Louis Recchia's annual show shares space with Peculiarities: from fish to freaks, a freak show of assemblages by Claudia Roulier at Pirate: Contemporary Art, 3655 Navajo Street; as with CHAC on Santa Fe, the call is out for Pirate's annual Day of the Dead fete. Those works are due October 19.

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