Between the Biennial of the Americas, CRUSH and the city's already vibrant cultural life, Denver is so loaded with festivals, concerts, screenings, openings and shows that it would be impossible for even the busiest bees to catch more than a fraction of them. But what good is a busy calendar when your pocketbook is still recovering from the monthly onslaught of bills? Once again, Denver's creatives feel your pain — many of them are broke, too — so they're hosting a number of delightfully free events all week along. Hit the streets for the CRUSH Denver street-art festival, talk shop with a local comedy legend, or boogie the weekend away to Cuban music, all without having to come up with cover charges. Keep reading for the five best free events in Denver this week, listed in chronological order.
Double Vision Reception and Artist Party
Tuesday, September 12, 6 p.m. to midnight
Returning for its seventh anniversary this year, CRUSH Denver has taken over the RiNo streets by bringing the luminaries of both the local and international street art communities to the neighborhood for six days of celebration. In addition to creating RiNo's photogenic "Art Alley," an Instagram staple for locals and tourists alike, CRUSH has helped nudge the public toward embracing street art. Denver's foward-thinking Dateline Gallery is getting involved with the CRUSH action at an opening reception for Double Vision: Luis Valle and Jay Bellicchi, for which the two graffiti veterans adapted their distinct styles for a gallery setting. The joint exhibition highlight more than thirty sculptures and paintings inspired by the theme of memento mori, the timeless artistic tradition of showcasing objects (often skulls) that evoke death. Visit CRUSH online for more information, including a full schedule of events.
Ratio Comedy: New Blood
Wednesday, September 13, 8 p.m.
For fledgling comedians, a debut standup showcase represents a rare opportunity to break out of the open-mic crucible and test jokes on an average crowd. Luckily for Denver's standup scene, Ratio Comedy's New Blood is dedicated to providing just such an opportunity for this city to catch wide swaths of Denver's funniest upstarts. Co-hosted and produced by Andrew Bueno and Ian Douglas Terry, this week's New Blood highlights up-and-coming local comics Nathan Earl, Greg Studley, Noah Reynolds, moonlighting professional wrestler Xander Kreed and more. Visit the Facebook Events page for details.
Graffiti Lecture with Joerael Elliott
Thursday, September 14, 5:30 to 7 p.m.
While visual splendor is typically the draw for CRUSH-related events, a little background information helps put the work into proper context. Joerael Elliott, a Texas-born and Santa Fe-based artist celebrated for his intricately sprawling drawings, paintings and street murals, will be on hand to discuss his process, visual vocabulary and use of rich symbolism. A conceptually heady presentation, Elliott's lecture is sure to take fascinating metaphysical turns as he explains how his experiences as a street artist, activist, traveler and even a yoga instructor manifest themselves in his magnificent pieces. Visit CRUSH online for more information, including a full schedule of events.
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Talkin' Shop with Ben Roy
Thursday, September 14, 7 p.m.
Mutiny Information Cafe
While Anthony Crawford of the Talkin' Shop podcast doesn't typically double down on guest appearances, he's making a wholly justifiable exception this week as inaugural shop-talker Ben Roy returns to Mutiny Information Cafe for another wide-ranging discussion of his experiences navigating the entertainment industry. Since Crawford and Roy first sat down a couple years ago, Roy has toured with his band SPELLS, co-created and starred in two more seasons of Those Who Can't for TruTV, and appeared on @Midnight and Talk Show the Game Show, all while enduring tremendous private struggles. The loquacious Roy is as reliably honest and fearless in the lower key of an interview as he is on stage in full madman mode. Tweet your questions to @TalkinShopPod or show up to Mutiny at 7 p.m. on Thursday, September 14, and grill him yourself. Visit Sexpot Comedy online to learn more and browse the podcast archives.
Havana Nights: An Evening of Cuban Music, Dance and Art
Friday, September 15, and Saturday, September 16, 7:30 p.m.
Denver Rock Drill, 1717 East 39th Avenue
Though the festivities at the Biennial of the Americas will be popping off all week, VIP prices at some of the events may have kept cash-strapped locals away. Luckily there is no cover charge at this weekend's Havana Nights: An Evening of Cuban Music, Dance and Art. Spread across two evenings, the musical lineup includes international hip-hop superstar X Alfonso (founder of Havana's Fábrica de Arte Cubano), Acosta Danza and DJ Jigüe. The evening also includes performances by Denver's own Cleo Parker Robinson Dance and a digital-art presentation from Supernova. Visit Havana Nights' Eventbrite page to learn more and make a donation via Tickettailor.
For more information on events around town, see our calendar.