The Clocktower Cabaret
Eric Gruneisen

Those looking for laughs without a pesky two-drink minimum can find solace on the last Sunday of every month, when the glamorous Lannie's Clocktower Cabaret hosts Propaganda! At Matt Monroe's free comedy night, you can catch priceless sets by such local favorites as Adam Cayton-Holland and Ben Kronberg, as well as big touring names like Sean Patton and Beth Stelling. As a bonus, street parking is always free on Sundays — and Sexy Pizza even provides free-slice cards. This night comes just once a month, but you can laugh all the way to the bank in the meantime.

Ogden Theatre

Prince doesn't obey regular human rules. Last year, despite his arena-filling popularity, he announced that he would do a tour of small venues across the country, playing multi-night runs in each city. In Denver, that meant a three-night, six-show residency at the Ogden Theatre. The kicker was the $250 ticket price. But anyone who ponied up the money got to spend some relatively intimate time with the Purple One and his new band, the all-female 3rd Eye Girl. Drawing from the considerable breadth of his career, Prince treated audiences to alternate versions of classic songs in addition to more faithful renditions.

Ironton Studios & Gallery

The prime challenge for a representational artist working in the contemporary-art arena is to come up with something that looks new. And since artists have been mining realism since the days of the cave painters, that's not so easy to do...which made the handsome and tastefully installed Roots — New Drawings by Heidi Jung a show to remember. Jung zeroed in on the roots and shafts of plants, which she rendered with staggering accuracy in charcoal and ink on architectural vellum. The vellum was laid on birch panels, making frames unnecessary. Jung's drawing style is elegant, with the tangled complexity of the roots and shafts set against the bareness of the surrounding blank vellum in just the right combination. Despite being examples of straightforward realism, depicting dead plants, no less, Jung's drawings somehow looked utterly fresh.

MCA Denver
JC Buck

Canadian-born Denver artist Ian Fisher has an interesting strategy for picture-making: Create photo-realist paintings of the sky unmoored from the landscape. For Critical Focus: Ian Fisher — which is still open — MCA curator Nora Burnett Abrams took an in-depth look at the artist's recent cloud paintings. Despite Fisher's careful realism, there's an undeniable abstract quality to the compositions, and at times they seem to almost melt into color-field territory. Though each depicts the same subject, every canvas is different and has its own unique palette — just like the clouds.

Crafting mavens Becky Hensley of Denver Craft Ninjas and Anne Davidson of the Colorado Bead Company got together last year to create a haven where crafters of all skill levels can share ideas and techniques or just work together side by side. The huge Park Hill facility offers a dizzying selection of classes that cover not only a cornucopia of crafting skills, but also such market-savvy subjects as "Etsy for Newbies" and "Crafting Your Blog Pitch." Share Denver's DIY spirit makes it a go-to for all crafters, whether they're hobbyists or looking to craft a living out of making things by hand.

Beta

Do you feel a need to dance in the dark with strange people, to music your parents don't understand? According to Rolling Stone, Beta is the best place in America to do it. Beta's immense reputation and even bigger sound system draw some of the greatest electronic musicians from around the world. In addition to the main stage, there's the Beatport Lounge, an intimate club-within-a-club where you'll often find local DJs spinning their own brand of dance music. Beta is a LoDo fixture, and it's a large part of what keeps late-night thrill-seekers coming back to the neighborhood.

Red Rocks Amphitheatre

What started out as Rave on the Rocks has transformed into the biggest dance-music festival in the region. Global Dance Festival has pushed the boundaries of the genre in past years with headliners like Empire of the Sun, Kid Cudi and LMFAO, but festival promoter Triad Dragons Entertainment remains dedicated to its EDM roots. Global stages are packed with the biggest dance acts in the world, many of whom are making their first appearance in the Denver market. All dance styles are represented at the equal-opportunity festival, from chill downtempo to feverishly upbeat drum-and-bass, and they'll have you on your feet well into the night.

Colorado Convention Center

Last year's Decadence was the largest indoor EDM event in North America, with an attendance of nearly 40,000, and it happened right here. Colorado favorites Bassnectar and Pretty Lights headlined alongside Tiësto and Above & Beyond — and those were just a few of the acts to grace the stages of the Colorado Convention Center. Decadence has listened to the concerns of fans over the years and now offers free water stations and organized ticket lines. And the production features much more than just the DJs, with confetti cannons, balloon drops, lasers and panels upon panels of mapped LEDs.

Denver Botanic Gardens

Art collecting can be a tricky business, one that requires a shrewd eye, knowing what you like and a knack for telling the future. The CSArt Colorado project replaces that trickiness with a treat. It invites "shareholders" to join for a $400 annual membership; in return, they receive a selection of five diverse works twice a year, drawn from a pool of twenty participating artists, both established and emerging. Shareholders choose from two ten-artist packages offered each year; 2014's first distribution event will be an outdoor party at the Denver Botanic Gardens in May, while BMoCA will host a second distribution and reception in the fall. It's the way to go if you like art — and surprises.

Walker Fine Art

Last year, octogenarian Roland Bernier attempted to retire by mounting The Last Picture Show at Walker Fine Art. But it was not to be, as Bernier is still working. Moreover, his pieces are still being shown around town. For this attempt at retiring, though, Bernier created an array of pieces, all of which were covered with facsimiles of his last name. In one series, he covered women's high-heel shoes in paper emblazoned with his name. In a group of wall-hung pieces, "Bernier" was carried out in plastic mirrors laser-cut to form the letters. Bernier's been at it for sixty years, making it high time for him to be given a proper retrospective — before he really does quit for good.

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