Ritual Revisited

SUN, 6/22

Perhaps one of the most misunderstood tenets of Jewish law, the mikvah, or ritual monthly immersion by women after menstruation, is one of those things people don't talk about. Among Orthodox Jewish women, though, it's been practiced for centuries, handed down privately from woman to woman. For some of them, it's central to life, an uplifting spiritual rebirth; for others, it's a trial, a religious obligation with misogynist connotations. The ritual's origins are a mystery -- one reason that Houston photographer Janice Rubin and writer/Judaic scholar Leah Lax decided to collaborate on The Mikvah Project, a haunting compilation of faceless photographs paired with quotes on the mikvah experience taken from a diverse swatch of women interviewed by Lax. Surprisingly, she notes, the extensive interviews (some included in the project and some not) uncovered deep emotional experiences. And in recent years, adds Rubin, there's been a noticeable upturn in interest in the mikvah by women not traditionally bound to the practice: Efforts are being made to make it more accessible to a wider group of women.

"It's about women making choices about their lives in the context of choices their female ancestors had made -- something that had a very long, continuous historical thread running through it," Rubin says of the ensuing exhibit, which opens today from 3 to 6 p.m. in the Singer Gallery of the Mizel Center for Arts and Culture, 350 South Dahlia Street. The Mikvah Project continues through August 24; for information, call 303-316-6360 or log on to www.mizelcenter.org. -- Susan Froyd

Artful Writers
Press Club hosts used-art auction
SAT, 6/21

It's not that the Denver Woman's Press Club doesn't have an artistic heritage. After all, the clubhouse it occupies at 1325 Logan Street was originally owned by artist George Albert Burr, and his works still hang on the club's walls.

But over time, artworks -- and crafty things -- tend to accumulate like old newspapers, and then it's time for them to find a new home. Take the oversized spoon and fork from New Guinea. Wouldn't that go perfectly over there?

And those unopened posters -- certainly they deserve relocation.

That's why the DWPC is holding its first public used-art sale from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. today at the clubhouse; funds will benefit the organization. The almost 200 pieces have been donated, and other art supplies will also be available for purchase.

Most of the art will be priced at $50 and under. Mary Voelz-Chandler, art critic for the Rocky Mountain News, will give an 11 a.m. lecture.

"We decided to focus on art, because we thought it's easier to collect," says Sally Kurtzman, former club president. For more information, log on to www.denverwomanspressclub.org. -- Kim Jacobson

High-Flyin' Art

Bourbon Boxcar, Bat Out of Hell, Gambler's Luck, and Miss Behavin' aren't the names of sexy romance novels; they're World War II planes spiced up for battle. Nose Art Exhibit, now at Wings Over the Rockies Museum, 7711 East Academy Boulevard, showcases rare pictures of the hand-drawn art -- including animals, cartoons, teeth and scantily clad women -- that adorns the noses of some WWII planes. Alongside the pictures are tallies of enemy planes downed and bombing runs made by the young crews. "Some of these girls were probably much better-looking than some of their girlfriends were, and were probably dressed much differently than their girlfriends were," says Doug Fox, Wings president and executive director. The museum is open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m. The exhibit will end sometime in July, so fly in soon. For more information, log on to www.wingsmuseum.org or call 303-360-5360. -- Kim Jacobson

See and Hear
Novelist continues her China saga
MON, 6/23

One of those great American multicultural anomalies, author Lisa See -- a Los Angeleno Chinese-American whose reddish hair and freckled complexion don't begin to reflect her fascinating background -- has already done much to fill the public in: Her best-selling first book, the 1995 memoir On Gold Mountain, revealed her rich family history in page-turning detail. But non-fiction was only the beginning for See, who later struck a new kind of gold with her first novel, Flower Net, a well-received, Edgar-nominated thriller that blended the twin worlds of her ancestry: the awakening giant of contemporary China viewed through See's unique American perspective. That book's protagonists, Chinese investigator Liu Hulan and her American lawyer husband, David Stark, return in Dragon Bones, See's third addition to the burgeoning series. The author will be in town to read from the new novel tonight at 7:30 p.m. at the Tattered Cover Book Store, 2955 East First Avenue. Call 303-322-7727 or log on to www.tatteredcover.com for more information. -- Susan Froyd

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Susan Froyd started writing for Westword as the "Thrills" editor in 1992 and never quite left the fold. These days she still freelances for the paper in addition to walking her dogs, enjoying cheap ethnic food and reading voraciously. Sometimes she writes poetry.
Contact: Susan Froyd
Kim Jacobson