The 21 Best Events in Denver, February 21-27

Artist Chris Haven at Artopia 2016.
Artist Chris Haven at Artopia 2016. Kenneth Hamblin III
Bust out your party pants for Artopia, Westword's annual celebration of art, culture and fashion on Saturday, February 25. This year, we're highlighting major thoroughfares in Denver and the people and art that keep them vibrant. Read on for details, and for more of the best events in Denver.

Tuesday, February 21

Humor can spark social change, which makes it endlessly fascinating to sociologists. To that end, the University of Denver’s Latino Center for Community Engagement & Scholarship is kicking off its new speakers series, Catalyst Series for Social Change, with an event that focuses on the history of racist humor, “as well as the pushback against such humor, which created an opening for anti-racist humor, and for non-white comics to enter the mainstream,” says the event’s website. Raúl Pérez, an assistant professor in the University of Denver’s Department of Sociology and Criminology, and Chicano political cartoonist Lalo Alcaraz will host Racist & Anti-Racist Humor: From Brownface to Chicano Political Cartoons on Tuesday, February 21, from 6 to 8 p.m. at Su Teatro, 721 Santa Fe Drive. The event is free, but registration is required. Sign up and find more information at

Wednesday, February 22

Some musicians spend their lives crafting original content; others cover their fellow musicians’ songs; a select few impersonate — to varying degrees of success. For those wanting to take a trip back to the bygone era of Ronald Reagan, gigantic sunglasses and torn, stone-washed jeans, the 80’s New Wave Festival may be the ticket. The bands playing the show, including Strangelove (covering Depeche Mode), the Cured (Covering the Cure) and Electric Duke (covering the late, great David Bowie), have spent years honing their impersonations and will parade them on the Oriental Theater stage, 4335 West 44th Avenue, at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, February 22. Tickets are $20; for more information, go to

Last year’s Academy Awards race was marred by the shameful realization that over 90 percent of the nominees were white, which led to a #oscarsowhite call to arms. The result? More diverse entertainment that has brought an unprecedented number of nominations for people of color this year. At 6 p.m. on Wednesday, February 22, the Sie FilmCenter, at 2510 East Colfax Avenue will host the Denver Film Society Oscar Panel, where a diverse group — film critic Lisa Kennedy, Denver Post arts, entertainment reporter John Wenzel and documentary filmmaker and Westword contributor Keith Garcia, with DFS resident moderator and film critic Robert Denerstein — will discuss who will win, who should win and what we hope to see at the Academy Awards show on February 26. Learn more about the free panel at, where you’ll also find information on the free Oscar viewing party at the Sie four days later.
click to enlarge "Halfrican American" Damais Webb and her parents. - COURTESY DAMAIS WEBB
"Halfrican American" Damais Webb and her parents.
Courtesy Damais Webb
Thursday, February 23

Expect anything but the usual when Boulder’s Square Product Theatre and Hoarded Stuff team up for two weekends of performance and dance in repertory. From Square Product comes the regional premiere of Portland artist Damaris Webb’s The Box Marked Black: Tales From a Halfrican American Growing Up Mulatto (With Sock Puppets!), a one-woman show of dance, theater and song about growing up biracial that unironically includes a sock-puppet re-enactment of Roots. Square Product’s Emily K. Harrison says the well-rounded Webb, a zombie fanatic and former artistic director of the Tennessee Project in New York City, is just what Boulder needs to see: “Boulder, in particular, as a very white community, needs to engage in the sorts of conversations that works like The Box Marked Black can make possible.” Dancer Laura Ann Samuelson rounds out the night with the movement piece Practicing; catch both separately February 23 through 25 at the Boulder Creative Collective Warehouse, 2500 47th Street, Unit 10, in north Boulder, or March 2 through 4 in Denver at Buntport Theater, 717 Lipan Street. In addition, a free panel discussion, “Being Black in Boulder: A Community Conversation,” will follow the Saturday, February 25, performance of The Box Marked Black in Boulder at 9:10 p.m. Get tickets — $10 to $18 separately, $18 to $25 for both plays — at Learn more at or

Actor/teacher Anthony Mercado is going back to school — North High School, to be exact, where he and the Black Masque Theater created such a sensation with Zoot Suit more than a decade ago. This time he’s producing In the Heights, a musical about family, home and finding where you belong that was created by Lin-Manuel Miranda, who went on to write Hamilton. The production may star a troupe of teenagers, but it has grown-up ambitions, with backup by professional musicians (including the Flobots’ Kenny O, a North High alum) and costumes by designer Mona Lucero. The show debuts at 7 p.m. Thursday, February 23, and repeats at the same time on February 24 and February 25 in the North High School Auditorium, 2960 Speer Boulevard. Tickets are $10, or $5 for students and seniors; you can get them at the school from 7:30 to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, at, or at the door. For more information, visit

The Denver Art Song Project ventures once more unto the breach this month with Shakespeare’s Songs at 6 p.m. on Thursday, February 23, at Syntax Physic Opera, 554 South Broadway. The show, which includes singers Amy Maples, Eapen Leubner and John Seesholtz, with musical accompaniment from pianist Mallory Bernstein, is a multimedia presentation of Shakespeare’s work, with songs inspired by such comedies as Two Gentlemen of Verona, As You Like It and Twelfth Night. Shakespeare’s Songs is based on Let Us Garlands Bring, a song cycle that venerated English composer Gerald Finzi adapted from the Bard’s plays. Send an e-mail to [email protected] to learn more. Tickets, $10, are available from 

For Denver’s Harm Reduction Action Center, getting people to talk about injection drug use can be hard — convincing them that users need safe locations to inject is even harder. On Thursday, February 23, HRAC will host Harm Reduction and International Development, a conversation advocating for people all over the world who use injection drugs. A panel of experts including HRAC executive director Lisa Raville will discuss what offering clean injection sites looks like and how providing these spaces can reduce transmission of AIDS and hepatitis C. “This would take this out of the public sphere and put it where it is supposed to be — in a medical facility,” says Raville of safe injection sites. The free event runs from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at First Unitarian Society of Denver, 1400 Lafayette Street; Sexy Pizza will provide free food. For more information, visit
click to enlarge Bid farewell to Ironton Gallery and Studios. - COURTESY IRONTON GALLERY AND STUDIOS
Bid farewell to Ironton Gallery and Studios.
Courtesy Ironton Gallery and Studios
Friday, February 24

Sad but true, but the gig is up on Ironton Gallery and Studios’ long run, which began in 1998, before RiNo was even RiNo. Word is out that the property at 3636 Chestnut Place will change hands — but will keep many of the features that made it so pleasant to visit (including some of the artist studios) — and become the Ironton Distillery. Working home to countless sculptors and painters, Ironton hosted more than 150 gallery shows, along with iron pours, garden parties, weddings, wakes and solstice celebrations. The last party, perhaps the biggest ever, will see Ironton off, community style, on Friday, February 24, from 6 to 10 p.m. Enjoy one last informal show in the gallery space and then gather ’round the glowing outdoor fireplace, to raise a glass to old times and the inevitability of change. For more information, visit

Boulder’s Catamounts is back and is presenting the regional premiere of Beowulf: A Thousand Years of Baggage, a gypsy-punk musical by playwright Jason Craig and composer Dave Malloy (Natasha, Pierre, The Great Comet of 1812), complete with a live band, Scandinavian mead-drinking and a lot of ninth-century Beowulfian philosophizing. The show opens with a preview on Friday, February 24, and runs through March 18 at the Dairy Arts Center, 2590 Walnut Street in Boulder; true to its mission of mixing the pleasures of theater, food and drink, the Catamounts will also host pre-show cocktails and post-show community dinners on February 25, March 11 and March 18, with meals inspired by the play from Knock on Wood Smokehouse and a special-release brew from Wild Woods Brewery. Ticket prices range from $18 to $40; reserve yours at Find more information at

When confronted with shame, discomfort or failure, people have an urge to cover up their indiscretions and avoid the bad consequences of their decisions. Collective Misnomer will explore those impulses during Culture of the Cloaked, a screening of short films that investigate the implications of trying to hide that which makes us uncomfortable. The program includes animations, experimental documentaries and documentary-like films that look at the politics of repression, from filmmakers Jesse Irish, Jesse Stiles, Adebukola Bodunrin and Matt McCormick. Catch Culture of the Cloaked at Dikeou Pop-Up, 312 East Colfax Avenue, on Friday, February 24. Doors open at 7:30 p.m., and the show starts at 8. Admission is $10 or whatever you can afford. Visit for more information. 

Since debuting last year, Sexpot Comedy’s Nerd Roast has quickly become a tradition for the Denver comedy community. Though the pay is scant and booking is a logistical nightmare, the show is a true labor of love for co-hosts/producers Preston Tompkins and Zach Reinert. The theme for this month’s roast, which takes place on Friday, February 24, will delight history buffs and roast aficionados alike, as history’s most memorable presidents square off on the dais. Local comics Dick Black, C.J. Willard, Cory Helie, Aaron Maslow and Aaron Middleton will portray former commanders-in-chief, both great and ignoble, in the best White House roast since the War of 1812. For anyone despairing over the man currently holding the office, not to worry: Trump won’t make an appearance. The show begins at 7 p.m. at El Charrito, 2100 Larimer Street; find more information at

Keep reading for more of the 21 best events in Denver.

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