The original Renaissance man, Leonardo da Vinci, rolls through Denver by way of a new exhibit at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science that opens Friday, March 1, and promises to be this spring's blockbuster. If art, and not necessarily artists, is more your bag, don't miss Artopia, Westword's annual arts extravaganza that will celebrate decades of hip-hop culture this year. Keep reading for more of the best events in Denver this week, including Action Bronson, Mardi Gras, the Cannabis Wedding Expo and more!
Tuesday, February 26
For three decades, the state’s community-minded women have met to break bread, shake hands and discuss pressing issues. To celebrate its thirtieth anniversary, the Colorado Women’s Legislative Breakfast will highlight women who’ve “worked hard to make Colorado a better place,” organizers say. Details are still being sorted out, but expect to hear from such local luminaries as former Colorado Speaker of the House Crisanta Duran and Chaer Robert, manager of the family economic security program at the Colorado Center on Law and Policy. The breakfast runs from 7 to 9 a.m. Tuesday, February 26, at the Denver Scottish Rite Foundation, 1370 Grant Street, #300; tickets and sponsorships, $30 to $1,000, are available at eventbrite.com until February 23 at 6 p.m.
Boulder Digital Arts hosts a regular happy hour that serves up plenty of food for thought during Political Art Dialogue, a gathering of creative kindred spirits. From 5 to 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, February 26, the main course will be a talk by arts and entertainment attorney Caroline Kert, who will discuss the elusive boundaries of First Amendment free speech and artistic commentary and protest. Boulder Digital Arts is at 1600 Range Street, #100, in Boulder; admission and beer (from Upslope) are both free, but you need to pre-register at boulderdigitalarts.com.
Wednesday, February 27
The best slam and performance poets get an early start in high school with help from the national Poetry Out Loud initiative, which provides curriculum culminating each year with a national poetry showdown in Washington, D.C. Recently, young metro poets have been vying for spots in the Poetry Out Loud State Championship, coordinated by longtime slam mentor Suzi Q. Smith; the competition is set for Wednesday, February 27, at the Lakewood Cultural Center, 470 South Allison Parkway in Lakewood. Finalists from more than twenty Colorado high schools will compete, with the first round at 3 p.m. and the second at 5:30; watch the action for free with an online RSVP at eventbrite.com. Find more information at lighthousewriters.org.
Thursday, February 28
Mexican director Alfonso Cuarón’s Academy Award-winning film Roma takes a look at the everyday life of a maid in Mexico City in the 1970s. Moved by the way the film, which was inspired by Cuarón’s youth, portrays a domestic worker as a fully developed character, Participant Media, the National Domestic Workers Alliance and Centro Humanitario Para los Trabajadores will host a free screening of Roma at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, February 28, at the Mayan Theatre, 110 Broadway. RSVP and get more information at Centro Humanitario's Facebook page.
While The Mrs. Wheatland Pageant may not have all the pomp and circumstance of the Miss America Pageant, this new play by Lisa Wagner Erickson, opening Thursday, February 28, at Theater 29, promises to run away with the Miss Congeniality award. Presented by the Lulubird Project and directed by Hart DeRose, the world premiere will mix sitcom nostalgia, small-town reality and gender norms. “I’m absurdly excited about this show,” says playwright Erickson. “It’s a dream come true.” Showtimes are at 7:30 p.m. nightly (a short piece by a local playwright precedes each performance of The Mrs. Wheatland Pageant) through Saturday, March 9 (there’s no show March 4, and watch for a 5:30 p.m. start on March 3). Tickets are $20 at theater29denver.com; Theater 29 is located at 5138 West 29th Avenue in Denver.
Friday, March 1
The term “Renaissance man” must have been invented to describe the polymath artist Leonardo da Vinci, whose skills as a draftsman and painter have been forever intertwined with his proclivities for science, inventions, architecture and philosophy. A work of art in and of itself, the traveling exhibit Leonardo da Vinci: 500 Years of Genius — which opens Friday, March 1, at the Museum of Nature & Science, 2001 Colorado Boulevard — manages to tell da Vinci’s whole story with striking visuals and interactive activities. Leonardo da Vinci will remain open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily at the museum through August 25; timed tickets, ranging from $18.95 (reflects a $2 discount for buying online) to $28.95, are required and include general museum admission. Reserve yours at dmns.org.
One can only hope for nice weather rather than an early spring blizzard on Friday, March 1, because Mardi Gras and First Friday will be mixing it up for the 40 West Art Crawl, New Orleans Style in Lakewood’s growing 40 West Arts District. The first district art crawl of 2019 will welcome art-walkers with upbeat roving performances by the Denver Brass and other musicians, artist demos, face painting, palm reading and loads of Mardi Gras beads; start at 40 West Arts District central — 1560 Teller Street in Lakewood — at 6 p.m. and fan out to other art spaces until 9 p.m. There’s no fee to gallery-hop; learn more at the Colfax Art Crawl Facebook page.
The RiNo Art District will come alive when the second annual Side Stories festival brings eight short digital videos made by Colorado artists to the neighborhood's walls. Guided by interactive maps and audio tours, viewers will wander up and down Brighton Boulevard, watching projections on buildings including Mountain Towers, Great Divide Barrel Bar, the rust-colored residence behind Plinth Gallery, Denver Diesel and Radiator, and Ardent Mills Grain Elevators. The free screenings will run from 6 to 10 p.m. nightly between Friday, March 1, and Friday, March 8; for more information and a map, go to sidestoriescolorado.com.
Bringing the pulse of the club to the concert hall while adding a touch of class to the often misunderstood EDM genre, the Colorado Symphony will join forces with DJ and composer Mason Bates for Beethoven and beats at Boettcher Hall in the Denver Performing Arts Complex. Conductor Brett Mitchell will lead the orchestra, along with cello soloist Joshua Roman and the laptop-wielding Bates (who also side-gigs under the nom de scratch DJ Masonic), through a generation-bridging concert. Beginning with a pair of Bates's electronica-inflected compositions, the performance will conclude with Beethoven's swoony Symphony No. 7 in A Major Op.92, once called "the apotheosis of dance" by the latter's stylistic successor, Richard Wagner. Showtime is at 7:30 p.m. Friday, March 1, and Saturday, March 2, with a 1 p.m. matinee on Sunday, March 3; visit coloradosymphony.org for tickets, $15 to $94, and more details.
Get ready for a blast from the past into the future on Friday, March 1, when Artopia returns to The Church. For more than twenty years, Westword’s annual arts extravaganza has spotlighted cutting-edge culture in the Mile High; the 2019 edition is devoted to a celebration of hip-hop through the decades in Denver. Curated by Jolt, this Artopia lineup includes artists Swek, Charlie Ricks, the BBoy Factory, the Freak Show, 004 Connec, Markham Maes (aka Shitty Kitten), Dent, Chubby Robot, Armando Geneyro, Tukeone (Noah Baker), Burn Unit, Olivia Lucero, Jacky Voice (Jack Avila), Lady Severe, BGirl Vendetta, Tares, Jher, Verse, Meps, Cris 2DX, June (DADE WEAR), Tesoe (Night Shift) and BBoy Villain, along with beats and performances from Deep Rawk Dave, DJ A-L, DJ Stretch, DJ Skeme, ICE C.R.E.A.M. and Big Wheel Electrosoul. The party starts at 7:30 p.m. (5:30 p.m. for VIP) at The Church, 1160 Lincoln Street, and the action continues until the club closes at 2 a.m. (There’s a special late-night ticket with admission after 10 p.m.) For more information, go to westwordartopia.com.
You say you really like burritos? You'll have to turn that like into love, or even obsession, if you hope to have a shot at downing the five-pound tortilla-wrapped monster at the Pioneer Bar, 2401 South University Boulevard. On Friday, March 1, the venerable University of Denver watering hole will launch its Burrito You Can't Complete-O challenge, with four contestants vying to be the first to get through the gut-busting ordeal. Come down and watch the fun so you can gauge whether you're up to besting the burrito yourself; after March 1, you can take the challenge any time during the Pioneer's regular business hours. If you can devour the delicious devil in 35 minutes, you won't have to pay, plus you'll earn a commemorative T-shirt and your photo on the wall of fame. If you fail, you'll only be out $35. Either way, there's a free Dos Equis thrown in (as long as you're at least 21). The inaugural eat-off is free for spectators; call the bar at 720-536-4802 for details.
Promising three rings' worth of thrills, the Phantom Circus Witching Hour Cabaret harks back to the P.T. Barnum era with a gravity-defying gauntlet of performances. Phantom's ensemble of jugglers, aerialists and acrobats returns for another round of late-night merriment at the Clocktower Cabaret, 1601 Arapahoe Street, starting at 11 p.m. on Friday, March 1. Behold the entertainment of the past and marvel at its continued ability to delight audiences at this presentation of old-school circus arts. Buy tickets, $28 to $40, and learn more at clocktowercabaret.com.
Saturday, March 2
It doesn't get much more family-friendly than Rocky Mountain STEAM Fest 2019, a two-day extravaganza of hands-on science fun for all ages. Promoters insist that you don’t have to be a nerd to enjoy the indoor compendium of rockets, robots, science experiments, LEGOs, zip-line cars and general tinkering, but if you are a bona fide geek, you’ll be in good company. If not, beer and food trucks will also be on hand. Bring the kids and play on Saturday, March 2, and Sunday, March 3, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily at the Boulder County Fairgrounds, 9595 Nelson Road in Longmont. Admission ranges from $11 to $60 (family packages included) at eventbrite.com; learn more at makerbolder.com/steam.
A new performance group, Theatre Artibus, is moving into the Savoy at Curtis Park, with dreams of turning the facility into a performing-arts community center with space for small, independent companies to show off their work. Artibus will get things rolling at the venue with Flash Fest: An Evening of One-Minute Performances. The group has invited friends from around the region to do whatever they like to entertain the audience for sixty seconds, and numerous troupes and actors have signed up to perform, from Buntport Theater to Julie Rada of the Grapefruit Lab. If that's not enough, bites from the Republic of Georgia will be served, courtesy of Theatre Artibus partner and physical theater performer Buba Basishvili. Join the silly fun from 7:30 to 10:30 p.m. on Saturday, March 2, at the Savoy, 2700 Arapahoe Street; admission is a $15 donation at eventbrite.com, but no one will be turned away.
Action Bronson may be hip-hop's heir apparent to Ghostface Killah, but the Queens-based, red-bearded rapper can't be defined. For example, the former chef turned stoner gourmand tours the world's kitchens like Anthony Bourdain for his Viceland show Fuck, That's Delicious and chats with food-world celebrities on nightly editions of The Untitled Action Bronson Show. But lest anyone forget Bronson's main claim to fame, his White Bronco tour, named after his latest album, pulls up to Cervantes' Masterpiece Ballroom, 2637 Welton Street, on Saturday, March 2, kicking off at 8 p.m. with opening performances from Roc Marciano and Meyhem Lauren. Find tickets, $35.95 to $75, and more information at ticketfly.com.
Everyone can join in the Mardi Gras ruckus this weekend at the Dairy Block, where the inaugural two-part Mardi Gras Celebration will go down indoors and out, beginning with a swank, adults-only Masquerade Bacchanal on Saturday, March 2, from 8 p.m. to midnight in the block’s Windsor Ballroom and Alley, 1800 Wazee Street. Dress like it’s Mardi Gras (masks are required) and revel with New Orleans-style bites, specialty drinks, and entertainment from the Handsome Little Devils before Lent arrives and shuts all the partying down. The next day, families will take over the LoDo Petite Parade & Alley Party, beginning at 11 a.m. with costumed characters and floats, followed by an afternoon of hands-on activities, food, brass bands and contests. Sunday admission is free; purchase masquerade party tickets, $80, and learn more at dairyblock.com/mardigras.
Ready for a club-style Mardi Gras party with sass and a touch of spiritual vodoun? Ophelia’s Electric Soapbox will hook you up with a band that lives up to its name — Gumbo le Funque — along with guest jazz artist JoFoKe and spoken-word poetess with the mostest Lady Speech, who promises some burlesque, as well. Get down at the sultry Ophelia's, 1215 20th Street, on Saturday, March 2, at 9 p.m.; find tickets, $13 to $27, and more info at opheliasdenver.com.
Sunday, March 3
Mixing cannabis into your wedding celebration isn't as hard as it used to be, especially in Colorado, where the Cannabis Wedding Expo has been teaching soon-to-be newlyweds and event planners how to do it for three years now. The fourth annual installment comes to the Lionsgate Event Center, 1055 South 112th Street in Lafayette, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sunday, March 3. Vendors, samples (no THC included), live music, hair and makeup stations, photo booths and more will all be on display so you can learn how to enjoy more than one kind of flower bouquet at your wedding. Admission to the expo is 21+; find tickets, $14.20, and more information at cannabisweddingexpo.com/denver-co.
Is there an afterlife in the Jewish religion? The answer is maybe, though it’s not tied to a resurrection or final resting place in heaven if you’re good. But the notion is more than a bubbe-meise, too: As Rabbi Simcha Raphael, an expert on the Judaic supernatural, notes, it’s worth investigation, if only because it's damn good storytelling, bubbling with ghosts and dybbuks who haunt the afterlife and sometimes return to stir up the living. Learn all about it at Raphael’s all-ages lecture "Jewish Ghost Stories: Mysterious Tales of Ancient Ancestors, Wandering Spirits & Reincarnating Souls," at 11 a.m. on Sunday, March 3, at — of all places — Feldman Mortuary, 1673 York Street. Admission is free, but space is limited, so you should RSVP in advance at the Jewish Ghost Stories Facebook page.
Boulder’s Truth Be Told is a contest in which participants tell a true story in the space of five minutes and are then judged by the audience. And once a year, Truth Be Told invites the past year’s winners to compete in an annual Truth Be Told All Star Grand Slam. All of the victors from the 2018 season will be in the house to duke it out for top honors on Sunday, March 3, from 7 to 9:30 p.m. at the Dairy Arts Center, 2590 Walnut Street in Boulder; the theme of the slam is "Fine." Tickets, $25 to $45, include the competition and live music by a yet-to-be-named house band; they're available at storyslamboulder.com.
Monday, March 4
Hunter Dragon has been a steady force in Denver’s DIY scene for well over a decade, bringing an experimental attitude to his singer-songwriter fare. Sometimes his songs are hilarious; other times they’re melancholy and introspective. Whatever Dragon does, it’s original, and he'll release his new full-length album, Universal Basic Income, at 7 p.m. Monday, March 4, at Syntax Physic Opera, 554 South Broadway. Tickets are $7, and the first fifty guests will receive a copy of the album, which will not be available online. For more information, go to physicopera.com.
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