Bust out your party pants for Artopia, Westword's annual celebration of art, culture and fashion on Saturday, February 25. This year, we're highlighting major thoroughfares in Denver and the people and art that keep them vibrant. Read on for details, and for more of the best events in Denver.
Tuesday, February 21
Humor can spark social change, which makes it endlessly fascinating to sociologists. To that end, the University of Denver’s Latino Center for Community Engagement & Scholarship is kicking off its new speakers series, Catalyst Series for Social Change, with an event that focuses on the history of racist humor, “as well as the pushback against such humor, which created an opening for anti-racist humor, and for non-white comics to enter the mainstream,” says the event’s website. Raúl Pérez, an assistant professor in the University of Denver’s Department of Sociology and Criminology, and Chicano political cartoonist Lalo Alcaraz will host Racist & Anti-Racist Humor: From Brownface to Chicano Political Cartoons on Tuesday, February 21, from 6 to 8 p.m. at Su Teatro, 721 Santa Fe Drive. The event is free, but registration is required. Sign up and find more information at du.edu.
Wednesday, February 22
Some musicians spend their lives crafting original content; others cover their fellow musicians’ songs; a select few impersonate — to varying degrees of success. For those wanting to take a trip back to the bygone era of Ronald Reagan, gigantic sunglasses and torn, stone-washed jeans, the 80’s New Wave Festival may be the ticket. The bands playing the show, including Strangelove (covering Depeche Mode), the Cured (Covering the Cure) and Electric Duke (covering the late, great David Bowie), have spent years honing their impersonations and will parade them on the Oriental Theater stage, 4335 West 44th Avenue, at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, February 22. Tickets are $20; for more information, go to theorientaltheater.com.
Last year’s Academy Awards race was marred by the shameful realization that over 90 percent of the nominees were white, which led to a #oscarsowhite call to arms. The result? More diverse entertainment that has brought an unprecedented number of nominations for people of color this year. At 6 p.m. on Wednesday, February 22, the Sie FilmCenter, at 2510 East Colfax Avenue will host the Denver Film Society Oscar Panel, where a diverse group — film critic Lisa Kennedy, Denver Post arts, entertainment reporter John Wenzel and documentary filmmaker and Westword contributor Keith Garcia, with DFS resident moderator and film critic Robert Denerstein — will discuss who will win, who should win and what we hope to see at the Academy Awards show on February 26. Learn more about the free panel at denverfilm.org, where you’ll also find information on the free Oscar viewing party at the Sie four days later.
Thursday, February 23
Expect anything but the usual when Boulder’s Square Product Theatre and Hoarded Stuff team up for two weekends of performance and dance in repertory. From Square Product comes the regional premiere of Portland artist Damaris Webb’s The Box Marked Black: Tales From a Halfrican American Growing Up Mulatto (With Sock Puppets!), a one-woman show of dance, theater and song about growing up biracial that unironically includes a sock-puppet re-enactment of Roots. Square Product’s Emily K. Harrison says the well-rounded Webb, a zombie fanatic and former artistic director of the Tennessee Project in New York City, is just what Boulder needs to see: “Boulder, in particular, as a very white community, needs to engage in the sorts of conversations that works like The Box Marked Black can make possible.” Dancer Laura Ann Samuelson rounds out the night with the movement piece Practicing; catch both separately February 23 through 25 at the Boulder Creative Collective Warehouse, 2500 47th Street, Unit 10, in north Boulder, or March 2 through 4 in Denver at Buntport Theater, 717 Lipan Street. In addition, a free panel discussion, “Being Black in Boulder: A Community Conversation,” will follow the Saturday, February 25, performance of The Box Marked Black in Boulder at 9:10 p.m. Get tickets — $10 to $18 separately, $18 to $25 for both plays — at brownpapertickets.com. Learn more at squareproducttheatre.org or lauraannsamuelson.com.
Actor/teacher Anthony Mercado is going back to school — North High School, to be exact, where he and the Black Masque Theater created such a sensation with Zoot Suit more than a decade ago. This time he’s producing In the Heights, a musical about family, home and finding where you belong that was created by Lin-Manuel Miranda, who went on to write Hamilton. The production may star a troupe of teenagers, but it has grown-up ambitions, with backup by professional musicians (including the Flobots’ Kenny O, a North High alum) and costumes by designer Mona Lucero. The show debuts at 7 p.m. Thursday, February 23, and repeats at the same time on February 24 and February 25 in the North High School Auditorium, 2960 Speer Boulevard. Tickets are $10, or $5 for students and seniors; you can get them at the school from 7:30 to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, at north.dpsk12.org, or at the door. For more information, visit facebook.com/events/1389504891091381.
The Denver Art Song Project ventures once more unto the breach this month with Shakespeare’s Songs at 6 p.m. on Thursday, February 23, at Syntax Physic Opera, 554 South Broadway. The show, which includes singers Amy Maples, Eapen Leubner and John Seesholtz, with musical accompaniment from pianist Mallory Bernstein, is a multimedia presentation of Shakespeare’s work, with songs inspired by such comedies as Two Gentlemen of Verona, As You Like It and Twelfth Night. Shakespeare’s Songs is based on Let Us Garlands Bring, a song cycle that venerated English composer Gerald Finzi adapted from the Bard’s plays. Send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more. Tickets, $10, are available from brownpapertickets.com.
For Denver’s Harm Reduction Action Center, getting people to talk about injection drug use can be hard — convincing them that users need safe locations to inject is even harder. On Thursday, February 23, HRAC will host Harm Reduction and International Development, a conversation advocating for people all over the world who use injection drugs. A panel of experts including HRAC executive director Lisa Raville will discuss what offering clean injection sites looks like and how providing these spaces can reduce transmission of AIDS and hepatitis C. “This would take this out of the public sphere and put it where it is supposed to be — in a medical facility,” says Raville of safe injection sites. The free event runs from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at First Unitarian Society of Denver, 1400 Lafayette Street; Sexy Pizza will provide free food. For more information, visit harmreductionactioncenter.org.
Friday, February 24
Sad but true, but the gig is up on Ironton Gallery and Studios’ long run, which began in 1998, before RiNo was even RiNo. Word is out that the property at 3636 Chestnut Place will change hands — but will keep many of the features that made it so pleasant to visit (including some of the artist studios) — and become the Ironton Distillery. Working home to countless sculptors and painters, Ironton hosted more than 150 gallery shows, along with iron pours, garden parties, weddings, wakes and solstice celebrations. The last party, perhaps the biggest ever, will see Ironton off, community style, on Friday, February 24, from 6 to 10 p.m. Enjoy one last informal show in the gallery space and then gather ’round the glowing outdoor fireplace, to raise a glass to old times and the inevitability of change. For more information, visit facebook.com/events/1789746264682189.
Boulder’s Catamounts is back and is presenting the regional premiere of Beowulf: A Thousand Years of Baggage, a gypsy-punk musical by playwright Jason Craig and composer Dave Malloy (Natasha, Pierre, The Great Comet of 1812), complete with a live band, Scandinavian mead-drinking and a lot of ninth-century Beowulfian philosophizing. The show opens with a preview on Friday, February 24, and runs through March 18 at the Dairy Arts Center, 2590 Walnut Street in Boulder; true to its mission of mixing the pleasures of theater, food and drink, the Catamounts will also host pre-show cocktails and post-show community dinners on February 25, March 11 and March 18, with meals inspired by the play from Knock on Wood Smokehouse and a special-release brew from Wild Woods Brewery. Ticket prices range from $18 to $40; reserve yours at tickets.thedairy.org. Find more information at thecatamounts.org.
When confronted with shame, discomfort or failure, people have an urge to cover up their indiscretions and avoid the bad consequences of their decisions. Collective Misnomer will explore those impulses during Culture of the Cloaked, a screening of short films that investigate the implications of trying to hide that which makes us uncomfortable. The program includes animations, experimental documentaries and documentary-like films that look at the politics of repression, from filmmakers Jesse Irish, Jesse Stiles, Adebukola Bodunrin and Matt McCormick. Catch Culture of the Cloaked at Dikeou Pop-Up, 312 East Colfax Avenue, on Friday, February 24. Doors open at 7:30 p.m., and the show starts at 8. Admission is $10 or whatever you can afford. Visit collectivemisnomer.com for more information.
Since debuting last year, Sexpot Comedy’s Nerd Roast has quickly become a tradition for the Denver comedy community. Though the pay is scant and booking is a logistical nightmare, the show is a true labor of love for co-hosts/producers Preston Tompkins and Zach Reinert. The theme for this month’s roast, which takes place on Friday, February 24, will delight history buffs and roast aficionados alike, as history’s most memorable presidents square off on the dais. Local comics Dick Black, C.J. Willard, Cory Helie, Aaron Maslow and Aaron Middleton will portray former commanders-in-chief, both great and ignoble, in the best White House roast since the War of 1812. For anyone despairing over the man currently holding the office, not to worry: Trump won’t make an appearance. The show begins at 7 p.m. at El Charrito, 2100 Larimer Street; find more information at facebook.com/events/1232357620205727.
Keep reading for more of the 21 best events in Denver.
Rebel Junk Vintage Market, one of the nation’s best touring flea markets, is coming to Colorado for a weekend, just in time to jump-start your spring redecorating. Whether your heart beats for vintage, rustic, shabby chic, mid-mod or industrial, you’ll find it all, brought to you by Dixie DeRocher of flea royalty the Funky Junk Sisters. The caravan of fabulous finds from across the country will park itself at the Ranch Events Complex, 5280 Arena Circle, Unit 100, in Loveland, beginning with a VIP early-bird shopping night from 6 to 9 p.m. on Friday, February 24, and continuing from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, February 25. Admission is $15 on Friday and $7 on Saturday; children ages twelve and under will be admitted free. Check out the vendor list and event details at rebeljunk.com.
Saturday, February 25
Todd Barry is a veteran standup best known for his appearances on such TV shows as Flight of the Conchords and Louie, as well as in films like The Wrestler. He’s released at least one episode of The Todd Barry podcast every month since 2013. His last special, “The Crowd Work Tour” — which consisted of nothing but riffs and good-natured audience mockery — demonstrated Barry’s quick thinking and facility for ego-deflating burns. Rolling through Colorado for a pair of headlining showcases with a fresh batch of jokes, Barry will be at the Oriental Theater, 4335 West 44th Avenue, at 8 p.m. on Saturday, February 25. Find tickets, $20, at theorientaltheater.com.
Get ready for the arty party of the year: Artopia 2017, Westword’s annual celebration of art, culture and fashion, will return on Saturday, February 25. And this round, we’re bringing style off the streets and into City Hall, at 1144 Broadway, where we’ll commemorate four of Denver’s most iconic strips — Larimer, Santa Fe, Federal and Colfax — as well as the city’s best street artists. There will be a merch mart, snacks and drink samples through the evening, and nine of Denver’s top designers will show off their street smarts in the Whiteout fashion show, always an Artopia highlight. Right before Whiteout, we’ll be introducing the latest Westword MasterMinds, Molina Speaks and Curtis Bean of Art of War, both of whom are profiled in the latest issue of Westword. Early-entry general admission tickets are already sold out, but you can still buy VIP tickets that will get you into a private reception with drinks and food from Troy Guard’s restaurants, as well as reserved seating for Whiteout. It’s not too late to join the party; go to westwordartopia.com for more details.
Sunday, February 26
William F. Cody, aka Buffalo Bill, a Western legend, passed away in Denver a century ago. He’d asked to be buried on top of Lookout Mountain — once the ground thawed — and on June 3, 1917, his wishes were honored. But Cody’s body hasn’t always rested easily. At one point, his niece led a movement to relocate the remains to Cody, Wyoming; Denver brought in tanks to make sure Cody’s grave remained his final resting place. Today it’s part of the Buffalo Bill Museum and Grave complex, a Denver park. From noon to 4 p.m. on Sunday, February 26, the city will honor what would have been Cody’s 171st birthday with a celebration that includes cake and free admission to the museum, where you can see the new exhibit A Better Place Could Hardly Have Been Chosen, which details the debate over Cody’s gravesite. For more information, call 303-526-0744 or go to buffalobill.org.
Denver event maven Dana Cain kicks off a new partnership with CU South Denver (formerly the Wildlife Experience) by presenting the inaugural South Denver Art & Antiques Fair, taking advantage of the facility’s Great Hall to show off a treasure chest of vintage tchotchkes, toys and dolls, kitchen wares, furnishings and fine art by local artists. Browse and shop the trove from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday, February 26, at CU South Denver, 10035 South Peoria Street, and don’t miss the fully stocked wine bar. The easy admission price is $5 at the door, which includes admission to Wildlife Experience exhibits; early-bird pricing is $10 for first-dibs admittance at 10 a.m. Learn more at artandantiquesfair.com.
For centuries, the rigorous physical and spiritual training methods of monks from China’s iconic Shaolin Monastery have been shrouded in secrecy. From hyper-focused yet serene meditative techniques to gravity-defying martial arts, the monks’ mastery of mind and body is a fascinating live spectacle previously unavailable without a trek through the Song Mountains. For the past sixteen years, however, Shaolin Warriors have toured the world, wowing audiences with eye-popping feats of strength, traditional weapons demonstrations and their inspiring tale of triumph. Presenting twenty kung fu masters in peak form, Shaolin Masters kicks off at 7:30 p.m. Sunday, February 26, at Boettcher Hall, in the Denver Performing Arts Complex. Find tickets, $25 to $69, at axs.com.
For the celebrity-obsessed, the Oscars offer a chance to “ooh” and “aah” over glamorous fashion and famous couples new and old. For cinephiles, the ceremony presents an opportunity to debate the piss-poor judgment of Academy Awards members and their typically shoddy picks for the best films of the year. Be your gawking or film-snobby self with a little champagne in hand at the Denver Film Society’s Oscar Viewing Party on Sunday, February 26, from 5:30 to 10 p.m. at the Sie FilmCenter, 2510 East Colfax Avenue. While tickets to the VIP viewing room are sold out, you can still watch the ceremony in two other auditoriums at the Sie for free. The bar will offer champagne and themed drinks. For more information, visit denverfilm.org.
Monday, February 27
Despite providing vital health-care services, education and support, Planned Parenthood is constantly assailed by its political opponents. Faced with increasingly hostile legislative obstacles presented by a new order in Washington, D.C., the organization needs our support more than ever. The comedy community has been a staunch advocate over the years, and Comedians Stand Up! for Planned Parenthood continues the proud tradition at clubs in cities nationwide, including Denver, on Monday, February 27, at 7:30 p.m. at the Denver Improv, 8246 East 49th Avenue, #1400, in Stapleton. Join host Mo’ Vida along with Shanae Ross, Donelle Prado-Marquez, Mike Gillerman, Stephen Agyei and headliner Mike Stanley for an evening full of belly laughs. Admission is $10 in advance or $15 at the door and goes entirely to Planned Parenthood. For info, visit denver.improv.com.
Longer days and warmer weather mean that it’s nearly time to get your veggie on. While it’s still too early to begin making the rounds of the Boulder County Farmers’ Markets, now is a great time to start planning your community-supported agriculture memberships. Boulder’s Rayback Collective, a beer garden and food-truck park at 2775 Valmont Road, is hosting the free 4th Annual CSA Fair from 5 to 8 p.m. on Monday, February 27. Representatives from several regional farms and ranches will be there to help you make your choices for the best seasonal meats and produce. And while you’re there, you can sign up for door prizes, take a yoga class with All Terrain Yoga, and indulge in some craft beer and street food from Rayback’s visiting food trucks. Before you know it, you’ll be neck-deep in good, locally grown food. Find more information at facebook.com/events/1233689413384246, and tickets at eventbrite.com.
Sponsored by winter-gear retailer Burton, the US Open Snowboarding Championships has been instrumental in validating snowboarding in the eyes of the international sporting community. Luckily for us, the 35-year-old event has called Vail home for the past three years. With slopestyle and halfpipe competitions between the world’s leading boarders, the championships — which run this year from Monday, February 27, through March 4 — often include record-breaking runs and high-flying tricks. With over six days of contests, live music and family events, the Burton US Snowboarding Championships has something in store for everyone. Learn more at events.burton.com.