In a usual year, arts organizations are well into their new season by early October. But 2020 is not a usual year, of course, with the coronavirus pandemic shutting venues and making many gatherings impossible. Still, arts organizations are nothing if not creative, and they've come up with many ways to keep you entertained — and enlightened — through the rest of the year.
Here are twenty of our favorite things on the fall calendar (including one that drops today); keep reading, and then mark your calendar:
American Democracy: A Great Leap of Faith
Through January 3
With the election coming in November, History Colorado is reflecting on electoral participation in the United States, looking back to help us move forward. To do so, various History Colorado museums will be hosting shows reflecting on democracy. In the mix is the Smithsonian’s traveling exhibition, American Democracy: A Great Leap of Faith, billed as a look into the history of citizen participation, debate and compromise. Also, artists David Ocelotl Garcia, Rochelle Johnson, Cori Redford and Carmen Richards reflected on core American values for art they created for The New Four Freedoms. Tickets are $14 for the exhibit and available at historycolorado.org.
Aspen Film Festival
Through October 21
The 41st annual Aspen Film Fest will be a hybrid, with both online and in-person screenings, as well as a one-night-only drive-in screening at Town Park in Snowmass. Get tickets and the full schedule at AspenFilm.org.
Citizenship: A Practice of Society
Through February 14, 2021
In a nod to the times in a divisive election year, the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver casts its eye on politically engaged art made since the 2016 election. The work of more than thirty artists and organizations will tell it like it is in America now, showing how making art itself can be a political act, raising awareness of issues ranging from climate change to immigration — and whatever else is on our collective civic mind at this moment. Admission to Citizenship: A Practice of Society will range from free (for MCA members) to $10; learn more and purchase timed tickets before your visit at mcadenver.org. (Mondays are reserved for members only.)
Collective Misnomer’s Friends of Friends Community Series
Through December 18
As Collective Misnomer celebrates its fourth birthday, the experimental media series is happy to announce that “We’re not dead yet.” For the rest of 2020, the group will be exhibiting works entirely online, handing over programming duties to people outside the organization in order to showcase other curatorial voices from around the country. The programs’ curators include Nika Kaiser on October 9, Raven Chacon on November 20, and Lydia Moyer on December 18. For more information, go to collectivemisnomer.com.
Denver Arts & Venues Virtual Experiences
Denver Arts & Venues, the city’s cultural agency, is going through a tough time, with staff furloughed and venues closed. But even so, the show will go on...online. At mcnicholsbuilding.com/exhibitions, you can catch two free virtual experiences: Listen is an online archive of stories from men who spent more than twenty years in prison, and Women of Color on the Front Lines is a virtual exhibition showcasing portraits of women in health care and their personal protective equipment. At artsandvenues.com, you can also enjoy Kintsugi: The Art of Healing, Finding Beauty in Repair, an online series of free artist workshops, hosted in collaboration with the Japanese Arts Network and covering movement, karate, matcha and dumpling making.
Denver Arts Week(end)
November 6 through November 8
Denver Arts Week will return in 2020, though the annual event has been cut back (it's hard to do something like the popular Night at the Museums when social distancing is key). This year's edition will be three days long, but still packed with a mix of in-person, virtual and hybrid events from Visit Denver's cultural partners, many of which are offering discounted or free admission. Watch for details on denver.org/denver-arts/week.
Denver Botanic Gardens Freyer-Newman Center
The Freyer-Newman Center is the newest building at the Denver Botanic Gardens — and the final link in a major development plan there. It's a beauty, adding an auditorium, four art galleries, a new library, six classrooms and a coffee shop for public use, as well as new research facilities for staff. The center opened on September 26, revealing not just the building, but four new art exhibitions: Wonders and Oddities from the Gardens’ collections, Garden & Haven: Botanical Art and Illustration, and solo shows by Melanie Walker and Koko Bayer. Gate admission ranges from free to $15; timed tickets can only be bought online in advance. Reserve tickets and find more information at botanicgardens.org.
Denver Film Festival
October 22 through November 8
Don’t expect red carpets and face-to-face shmoozing at the 43rd edition of the Denver Film Festival: The in-person fun is canceled. But if your idea of a good time is watching movies from the comfort of your couch, you might prefer this year’s COVID-19-friendly, virtual-cinema edition of the region's premier film festival over the pre-pandemic version. Along with eighteen days of films from all over the world, film lovers can enjoy panels, discussions with directors, awards ceremonies and more online. For more information and to get tickets or passes (prices vary), go to denverfilm.org/dff43.
Denver Film’s Virtual Cinema
One of the best things to come out of this godawful pandemic is Denver Film’s Virtual Cinema. Through the nonprofit’s own online platform, the Sie FilmCenter programmers have been able to continue to bring audiences fresh independent cinema from around the world, with special series devoted to Black Lives Matter, Women + Film, Latinx cinema, queer cinema and more. If it’s not the movies for you without that smell of popcorn and some blood-sugar-spiking treats, you can pick up a snack pack straight from the Sie. Tickets are $13 and available at denverfilm.org, where you can also find a complete schedule.
Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead)
Through January 9
Longmong Museum, 400 Quail Road, Longmont
Longmont celebrates the twentieth anniversary of the largest, longest-standing Day of the Dead celebration in Colorado. This year's exhibit includes community ofrendas (altars) and the artwork of renowned Colorado artist Tony Ortega, with paintings, prints, mixed-media works, illustrations from book collaborations with George Rivera, and a newly commissioned original downtown mural in honor of this Día de los Muertos celebration's twentieth anniversary. Admission to the museum is $8 adults, $5 students/seniors. This year's official Day of the Dead celebration on November 1 will be virtual; find out more here.
Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera and Mexican Modernism From the Jacques and Natasha Gelman Collection October 25 through January 24
Few artists have captured the public’s imagination like Mexican painter Frida Kahlo and her husband, muralist Diego Rivera. This year’s blockbuster show at the Denver Art Museum includes work by both artists, and it’s sure to sell out quickly — particularly with social distancing in place. The display is a way of commemorating the centennial anniversary of the end of the Mexican Revolution, and will include more than twenty paintings and drawings by Kahlo and thirteen by Rivera. But the lens on Mexican Modernism will widen beyond these two iconic figures to also include works by María Izquierdo, Carlos Mérida and other painters of the time. Tickets go on sale October 12; go to denverartmuseum.org for more information.
Live From Boulder: A Snapshot of Boulder's Musical History
Through December 1
Museum of Boulder, 2205 Broadway, Boulder
COVID-19 might be keeping you far away from live-music venues, but the Museum of Boulder has opened a vault of Boulder music memories. Take a trip through time at this new exhibit filled with memorabilia, posters, community stories and other remembrances of amazing shows gone by. The museum is limiting the number of people in the gallery, but there is no timed ticketing; admission ranges from free to $10. Learn more here.
October 23 through October 25
Denver’s geek culture has taken a hit with the cancellations of conventions. Thankfully, the 52nd edition of MileHiCon is going online with more than 75 authors, artists and speakers, who will be talking about publishing, reading from their works and sharing their art. There will be online gaming, a sci-fi/fantasy-themed art show, and big-name speakers like Cory Doctorow, Rebecca Roanhorse, Mur Lafferty, Alan Pollack and Steve Rasnic Tem. Weekend passes are $35 for individuals and $85 for households; other ticket prices vary. For more information, go to milehicon.org.
The major annual fundraiser for the Denver Actors Fund has pivoted to "Cast 2020,” a professionally produced video concert featuring a dozen all-star Colorado theater artists performing roles they'd been cast in before the coronavirus pandemic shut down their shows — artists like Mary Louise Lee, who was to be Mama Rose in Vintage Theatre's production of Gypsy. Your donation ($20 minimum) gets you access to the show, which dropped on October 5; sign up here.
Peter Yumi, The Real Autonation
Opening October 16
For his 2020 slot at Pirate: Contemporary Art, co-op member Peter Yumi continues his fables of capitalist regimes and the art of selling fantasies that started a year ago with his show Fruitland Contemporary Art During the Autonation Dictatorship. Now, The Real Autonation unpacks the nitty-gritty of his theories in panels splashed with color and stolen imagery. The exhibition and October 16 opening reception are free; visit Pirate on Fridays from 6 to 9 p.m., and Saturdays and Sundays from noon to 5 p.m. Learn more at pirateartonline.org.
Telluride Horror Show
Through October 18
The Telluride Horror Show for 2020 will be a shelter-in-place edition, with a dozen feature films, forty short films from thirteen countries, and some of the genre's most recognized authors, including Max Brooks, Daniel Kraus, Paul Tremblay, Alma Katsu, Emily M. Danforth and Jeremy Robert Johnson. Yes, "Creepy Campfire Tales" will return, and there will also be a live virtual conversation with renowned authors Max Brooks and Daniel Kraus. Get the complete lineup and buy passes here.
Testigos / Witnesses
October 29 through March 20
The Museo de las Americas delves into the Otomi indigenous community of San Pablito, Pahuatlán, in the state of Puebla, Mexico, this fall with Gaal Cohen’s split photographic representations of people in various stages of life. Printed on amate, a pre-Columbian bark paper produced by the townspeople, the oversized works will tell their visual stories at the Museo through next spring. Timed tickets range from free to $8; learn more at museo.org.
Wall of Shame
October 23 through November 21
Michael Warren Contemporary isn’t known for its political shows. But after agreeing to display Pamela Joseph’s wall installation comprising 35 portraits of members of the Trump machine, all in sixteenth-century muzzles, the gallery decided to host a group exhibition showcasing works addressing a variety of social justice issues, from Black Lives Matter to climate change, COVID-19, nuclear proliferation and xenophobia. Michael Warren will host a free opening reception from 4 to 8 p.m. on Friday, October 23. For more information, go to michaelwarrencontemporary.com.
For more cultural events every week, go to westword.com/arts. We'll be updating this list through the fall, as well as posting three additional events lists every week; send information to email@example.com.
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