The Clocktower Cabaret
Eric Gruneisen
Life-drawing aficionados usually sketch any body they can find. Few people, after all, have the right personality to disrobe so that a crowd can scrutinize every shadow and wrinkle. For more interesting models, try Dr. Sketchy's Anti-Art School. The invention of Brooklyn burlesquer Molly Crabapple, it's shown up in Denver under the auspices of local burlesque belle Vivienne VaVoom. Every third Monday of the month, VaVoom dishes up a heady mix of exotic-dancer mannequins, roller-derby girls, fetish models, drag queens and cocktails. All you need to bring is $8 and a sketch pad.
EvB Studio Collection
Denver ceramic artist Marie E.v.B. Gibbons is well known for her spooky and evocative clay and mixed-media sculptures, but she's also a great teacher. Since moving to her sunny new studio in the shadow of northwest Denver's Oriental Theater, Gibbons has been hosting monthly clay mini-shops during every First Friday event on Tennyson Street. For ten bucks, visitors can drop in between 6 and 10 p.m. and create and color-wash a tiny clay work. Each month's workshop, which takes about fifteen to thirty minutes, has a different theme: hearts in February, spring bulbs in March, etc. Why not take a roll in the clay?
Denver Central Library
A benchmark of Beat-era lore, Jack Kerouac's famous On the Road manuscript was typed in just twenty days on a 120-foot-long scroll. Kerouac embodied the movement's spontaneous and obsessive nature in one burning semi-autobiographical swoop. And because the alleys and byways of Denver lurk all over the ragged-edged tome, it was only appropriate that it should lie in state all winter at the Denver Central Library, honoring the novel's fiftieth anniversary. "I counted minutes and subtracted miles. Just ahead, over the rolling wheat fields all golden beneath the distant snows of Estes, I'd be seeing old Denver at last."
Naropa University
Beat central, Naropa's Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics, is commemorating On the Road's fiftieth anniversary by sending a digital video camera to Kerouac haunts in New York, San Francisco, Lowell (Kerouac's Massachusetts birthplace), Denver, Iowa and Mexico City, as well as to such literary figures as Lawrence Ferlinghetti and Amiri Baraka. The resulting composite film, On the Road Now: Artists Respond to Kerouac in the 21st Century, will debut this summer at Naropa's Kerouac Festival. To keep up on festival news and the film's progress, log on to www.naropa.edu/kerouac. And the Beat goes on.
Want to know where to go to get plastered in this town? Drunk by Noon is 21 minutes of classic Denver dive bars threaded together through the story of a Madison Avenue advertising executive who suddenly has an epiphany: He's been destroying the planet through his work. Directed by Eric Galatas and starring local actors Chuck Fiorella and Laura Norman, the short features PS 1515 (as well as several other favorite spots to get soused), a soundtrack by El Chapultepec's Tony Black Quartet, and comic strips by Lucas Richards. Think globally, drink locally.
Move over, Murderball! The latest in quad-rugby films, The Goal, was jam-packed with Denver love. Director Darla Rae was inspired by Jason Regier, president of the Denver Harlequin Wheelchair Rugby Team; The Goal follows the story of two disabled athletes struggling to rebuild their lives. Starring Regier, it was filmed on location at Winter Park's National Sports Center for the Disabled, Craig Hospital and the Fort -- and the soundtrack features the work of local musicians. Way to Goal, Colorado!
When Denverite Chris Marino was six years old, he saw something at a swimming pool that changed his life: a combover. Decades later, the obsession resulted in a movie about the world's worst hairstyle. Portions of the film were shot in Denver, but Marino found there just weren't enough locals willing to bare their souls -- or their chrome domes -- so he expanded his quest to other locations from Dallas to New York City. The Donald and his questionable mane were a no-show, but Combover remains the quintessential film about the quintessential cover-up.
Short, sweet and to the point: That's the 5 Minute Film Fest, hosted every quarter by Denver filmmaker Johnny Morehouse. He collects movies from anyone in town who wants to participate, pops the popcorn, pulls out some beer and has everyone down to his studio for a party honoring shorts that don't top five minutes. Don't be late.
Although it's only in its third year, the Shoot Out is one of the area's most-anticipated film fests. While it may not offer a lot of glitz and glamour, this affair is all about taking the power instead of watching passively. On a designated night in October, teams gather at 8:55 p.m. to get their instructions and parameters; 24 hours later, they come back with a finished seven-minute film. No muss, no fuss -- just DIY to the core.
Don Cheadle is usually a lock in this category, but except for The Dog Problem, which has yet to enjoy a wide release, he had no credits in 2006. Meanwhile, Jessica Biel was displaying some major star wattage. We're used to seeing the Boulder hottie in hack-'em-slash-'em thrillers like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre or in sappy teen flicks like Summer Catch, but this past year she stretched with a serious dramatic role in The Illusionist. In the process, she showed that she's got talent for inspiring much more than tabloid fodder.

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