Denver residents rightfully complain that our city is pricing out artists. Even so, the local creative scene is thriving – for the time being. While cash-strapped Denverites have less and less disposable income to devote to leisure, adventurous and thrifty locals are in luck. With art gallery openings, stoner-friendly comedy shows and even a citywide festival going on this weekend, everyone from bookish nerds to active families have affordable entertainment options to suit their tastes.
If you're looking for ways to celebrate Memorial Day, you should also peruse these lists of places to rock out, fill your belly, and enjoy the cultural scene. Keep reading for ten more things (eight free!) to do this long and glorious weekend.
Thursday, May 25, 5-8 p.m.
Ephemeral, a new exhibit running all month long at Art Gym, is a visual, kinetic and philosophical ode to fleeting beauty and the constant flux of life. Inspired by its titular theme, Ephemeral combines live performance art with kinetic sculptures as well as paintings and photographs, each work evoking perpetual motion. Showcasing weekly performances from Evolving Doors, Akoya Dance and Phannie Haver, plus works from artists like Louis Trujillo, Corrina Espinosa and others from May 25 until June 17, Ephemeral kicks off with a free opening reception at which gallery-goers can mingle with the artists and catch a first glance at the exhibit. Visit the Art Gym's Gallery online to learn more.
Thursday, May 25, 10 p.m.
Enjoy a spliff and a riff tonight, with Cartoons & Comedy, one of Sexpot Comedy's longest-running showcases. Produced and hosted by cherubic Denver toon-hound Chris Baker, the show invites local and touring comics to crack wise over a bowl of Lucky Charms while watching crisply edited clips from ’80s and ’90s kids shows, both fondly remembered classics like Animaniacs and justly forgotten garbage like Street Sharks. This month, Baker welcomes every member of the standup supergroup Pussy Bros. (Rachel Weeks, Janae Burris and Christie Buchele) along with headliner Geoff Tate. Tate, who's appeared on The Late Late Show With Craig Ferguson and a number of Doug Benson projects, including Comedy Central's The High Court, has the sort of quick-witted goofiness that makes him a perfect fit for a Mystery Science Theater 3000-style riff-off. Fans can also catch Tate tomorrow, May 26, at Syntax Physic Opera.
Friday, May 26, 6-9 p.m.
This summer, MCA Denver opens its galleries to solo shows from two artists with Denver ties, both of whom have a global presence. The first, painter Jenny Morgan, who’s moved to find success in New York City since her Denver days as a Plus Gallery artist, gets a first-floor retrospective, SKINDEEP, which shows the evolution of her startling portraiture, including a room of color-washed, full-frontal self-portraits. Denver-based Derrick Velasquez will present Obstructed View, an exhibit that’s part gilded architectural installation and part photography, all with intermingling themes about boundaries both physical and existential, and the push-pull of history and new development. The shows open with a reception from 6 to 9 p.m., on Friday, May 26, and run through August 27 at the MCA, 1485 Delgany Street. Admission is free for members (RSVP required) and $5 for all others; all proceeds benefit the Women’s Bean Project and the Center. Learn more at mcadenver.org.
Friday, May 26, 6:30 and 9 p.m.
Community Service Apparel, Englewood
Nomadic filmmaker Andrew H. Shirley will bring his immersive film installation Wastedland 2 to Englewood's Community Service Apparel, an urban clothing and graffiti store. Shirley describes his movie as "an existential fantasy about mystical individuals seeking a deeper understanding into their fate and identity in a post-apocalyptic landscape." This installation, about the spirit animals of graffiti writers, is based on Shirley's personal experiences, he says. The events are free and include popcorn and beer, courtesy of Zephyr Brewing Company. For more information, go to the event's Facebook page.
5. Star Wars Fortieth Anniversary Special Event
May 26-28, hours vary
The Incredible Art Gallery
The Force is strong with Denver this weekend as Christopher Clark, an internationally licensed artist for Star Wars, Disney and Marvel, invites viewers into his process at the Incredible Art Gallery. Fanboys and girls can watch as Clark conducts a live painting, inspired by the film series, as it celebrates its fortieth anniversary. Not only is admission free, but guests can enjoy complimentary wine, beer and hot sandwiches from South Philly CheeseSteak in Golden. Attendees will also receive a free 9" x 11" print of Clark's artwork. Call 800-771-9501 or visit Incredible Gallery's events page to learn more.
Saturday, May 27, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
In a buying mood? The Denver Arts Festival will return for two days, starting Saturday, May 27, offering attendees the opportunity to buy artwork and listen to live music from Dotsero and Wendy Woo, all while enjoying the (fingers crossed) nice weather. The festival has even added a “make-and-take” painting station for children, who can paint canvas tiles to bring home as souvenirs. The arty party runs from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday at the Conservatory Green, 8304 East 49th Place, in Stapleton. For more information, visit denverartsfestival.com.
Read on for more free and cheap things to do this weekend.