Ever since Judy Chicago's The Dinner Party -- an installation of table settings celebrating female figures of cultural and historic importance -- was first viewed by the public in 1979, it's been an undying symbol of feminism. But while the five-year collaboration of hundreds of artisans and assistants was championed by the women's movement, it was critically sacked, primarily for its repetitious "vulval" forms and craft-based media. A prime example of art by women for women, Dinner Party exuded a "fuck you" air that Robert Hughes and Hilton Kramer, male purveyors of the modern-art status quo, couldn't -- or simply wouldn't -- handle.
Nearly three decades later, Chicago hasn't lost her polemic edge, as evidenced by Upstarts and Matriarchs: Jewish Women Artists and the Transformation of American Art, a new retrospective of Chicago's work -- and a who's who of her feminist cohorts -- opening tonight at the Mizel Center for Arts and Culture, 350 South Dahlia Street. "As long as we have masculinist art, we need feminist art," Chicago says. "We're not there yet, not as long as the Museum of Modern Art continues to be the ŒMuseum of Men's Art.' The Mizel Center is way ahead of the curve in terms of looking at the roots of feminist art."
A reception for the exhibit will begin at 5 p.m., followed by a conversation between Chicago and Dr. Gail Levin at 7:30 in the center's Shwayder Theatre; admission to the talk is $5 to $8. Upstarts and Matriarchs continues through March 27; call 303-316-6360. -- Susan Froyd
Love's Labor's Found
Verona invokes the spirit of the Italian city.
If William Shakespeare's tender heart had been stamped and sealed, it would have been postmarked from the city of Verona. And although Valentine's Day is still a month away, visions of the dreamy Italian hamlet will be front and center at Verona, a multimedia event trumpeting the love of fashion, art and music as "the true modern love."
Local DJs BeAnne and Eric Cain will join New York's Michael Jon to get Verona beating, while poets Shanti Williams and Courtney Oldham spill their heated words over the forlorn. Performances from Dominic and Nottie Scottie as Pat Benatar and Marilyn Manson (what could be more romantic?) will add to the medieval milieu, while Denver-based designer Mondo parades his hottest new wares in a fashion show.
The colorfully art-deco'd halls of the Grand Ballroom, 1399 35th Street, will be filled with photography, painting and sculpture from artists D. Augustine, Alain Suel and Chi Chang Hsieh; organizers also promise an abundance of roses and Bard-inspired neon crosses. The gates of Verona open at 9 p.m.; admission is $10 at the door (or $5 in advance at Everything's $1, 3563 Larimer Street). For details, call 303-296-1049. -- Kity Ironton
Keeping Dr. King in Focus
Acclaimed documentary filmmaker Orlando Bagwell has never shied away from difficult subject matter. Works such as Africans in America: America's Journey Through Slavery and films on Frederick Douglass and Malcolm X highlight Bagwell's fascination with civil rights and the black experience, as well as his willingness to ask difficult questions. His latest film is no exception: Citizen King uses personal recollections, diaries, letters and eyewitness accounts from a broad cross section of people to examine the last five years of the life of the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. Bagwell and his film will be featured in An Evening With the Filmmaker, part of the University of Denver's annual MLK celebration, tonight at 6 p.m. in Sturm Auditorium, 2000 East Asbury Avenue. For information, call 303-871-7659. -- Adam Cayton-Holland
Shaken, Not Stirred
The Photo Martini Club branches out.
What Andrea Sowell misses most about her college photography classes are the assignments. "It was great to pick your brain over a certain topic and push the limits," she says. So while discussing photography with a few like-minded friends over martinis one night, she decided to form a casual collective that would mount exhibits every few months. They jokingly christened themselves the Photo Martini Club, and the name stuck.
In the nearly year and a half since its inception, the Photo Martini Club has held six shows at Forest Room 5, featuring such themes as nightlife, rhythm and change. The group has outgrown that space, though, so it's moving to Dazzle, 930 Lincoln Street, where it will unveil its latest effort, Versions of Color, tonight at 7:30 p.m. Get there early to enjoy free appetizers, music by DJ Smarkamyth, and, of course, discounted martinis. The show -- in which thirteen photographers each interpret a different color -- will be on display through the end of January. Call 303-839-5100 for information. -- Adam Cayton-Holland