ILK, an artist-run gallery working out of two different spaces, pays homage to its gurus with a Mentors Show, opening tonight at 554 Santa Fe Dr. Fifteen ILK members each invited an admired artist to exhibit work in the show, giving new insights into the inspirational power of influences. A reception takes place from 7 to 11; the gallery is normally open from 7 to 10 Fridays and from 1 to 5 Saturdays and Sundays. Call 615-5725.
And at the Arvada Center, 6901 Wadsworth Blvd., no less than three thought-provoking shows are currently on display. Clark Richert's take on minimalism, Unfolding the Vacuum: A Series of Painted Diagrams, works on the simple premise of building something--in this case, layered dimensional images built up particle by particle--from nothing. In the center's Lower Galleries and surrounding outdoor grounds, sculpture primarily in steel by Russell Beardsley, Andrew Libertone, Robert Mangold and Carl Reed will stand together for STEEL: Nature and Space, a delicious walk-around for people who like to look at more than one side of the story. Then Taos Today: Contemporary Taos Artists looks south for a thoroughly modern, curated view of work being done in and around the northern New Mexican artists' enclave. The Richert and sculpture shows can be viewed at the center through November 16, while the Taos exhibit closes September 28; call 431-3939.
Double shot: You don't have to be Superman to compete in today's Colorado Summer Biathlon at Snow Mountain Ranch near Winter Park, but it would help for you to be able to run and shoot. The event, a 5K run split by two target-shooting stops, is open to all--in fact, even though experienced biathletes will compete, beginners are especially welcome, and equipment will be provided. Prior rifle certification is required for race-day registration; for those not so authorized (in other words, if you know you can run but aren't so sure you can shoot), a free, mandatory certification clinic takes place at the ranch at noon Saturday, August 30. The main event begins today at 11; the race-day entry fee is $18. Call 315-5981 for additional information; for general info on summer biathlon events, call 1-802-862-0360. Snow Mountain Ranch is 75 miles west of Denver on U.S. 40 between Winter Park and Granby.
On the wall: Are you too old for the drive-in but not quite ready to settle in with a VCR for the rest of your life? The Boulder Almost Free Outdoor Cinema series melds the best of both worlds: the strange communal camaraderie and B-movie fare of the drive-in with the homey informality of couch-potatoville. Films are projected outdoors on the wall behind the Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art (proceeds benefit the museum), with a crowd gathering breezily at dusk in the parking lot, 1450 14th St., Boulder, on lawn chairs and other furniture brought from home. Costumes are encouraged, as are comments from the peanut gallery, and awards are given for originality. Tonight's screening pairs a silent classic, Nosferatu the Vampire, with live, weird music provided by Arkestra Pirata--not a bad deal at all for your $5 donation. Silent-cinema buffs will want to return next Saturday, when the series throws a Charlie Chaplin Festival with local musician Art Lande at the keyboard. Ice cream, popcorn and sodas are available at the site, and alcohol, smoke, cars and pets are all prohibited, making this a swell summer's-end family outing. Call 443-2122.
Fruits of labor: Weather willing, you'll get both blue skies and a good, long whiff of pure mountain air at the Gold Hill Inn's Labor Day BBQ, a relaxed afternoon fandango featuring unceremonious patio ambience, a mouth-watering menu that includes pan-fried catfish, jambalaya, red beans, corn on the cob and more, and a melange of Cajun and folkie-girl-group elan provided by the Colorado Cajun Dance Band, the rip-roaring Zukes of Zydeco and the harmonizing, thrift-shopping Velveeta Sisters to keep things lively. The fun takes place from noon to 5; admission is $10 for the music only ($10 additional if you plan to pig out). Take Sunshine Canyon west from Boulder to reach rustic Gold Hill. For details call 443-6461.
Spouting off: Everybody's got an opinion, but only Larry the Cable Guy has the guts (or stupidity) to voice one about practically anything. This week he invades Larimer Square for five days, during which you can bet he'll be venting hilarious political incorrectness from the perspective of a redneck cable installer who sees the world through beer-colored glasses. Larry performs tonight at 8 at the Comedy Works, 1226 15th St. For information on prices, tickets and times, call 595-3637.
3Four on the floor: They didn't write the book of love, but they certainly had a hand in penning the book on doo-wop: Street-corner music, already a rich byproduct of urban American culture, lives on in the sound of the Persuasions, an a cappella wonder that preserves one of the greatest and most fundamental rhythm-and-blues traditions with its astonishing harmonies and vocal pyrotechnics. The amazing thing is that there are only four Persuasions, and they travel light, with only their lovely voices to carry the rhythm and melody. The group performs tonight at 8 at the Bluebird Theater, 3317 E. Colfax Ave.; for tickets, $9, call 322-2308 or 830-