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click to enlarge "Tina, Too" by Margareta Gilboy, just one of 120 prints at Shark's Ink: A 25 Year Retrospective opening Friday at UCCS' Gallery of Contemporary Art
  • "Tina, Too" by Margareta Gilboy, just one of 120 prints at Shark's Ink: A 25 Year Retrospective opening Friday at UCCS' Gallery of Contemporary Art

3 Thursday

This is so goofy that you can't help but want to go. I mean, have you ever seen a donkey up close? Really looked into their deep, soulful eyes? They're so wise and sweet -- it wasn't just efficiency and availability that made them Jesus' transport of choice, no sir. The Western Museum of Mining & Industry up near the Air Force Academy owns a small herd, and every morning they wake them up, feed 'em, give 'em a little coffee ... This morning, you're invited to watch the Donkey Wake Up Call and then meet these enigmatic equines. Admission is free, but the donkey shenanigans only last from 9:30 to 10 a.m. Call 488-0880 for directions and details.

4 Friday

This miserable, cold and unfeeling winter may be redeemed if the Sangre de Cristo Art Center can turn an art gallery function into a real party with Festival Fridays. For five consecutive Fridays (beginning with this one) the Center, at 210 Santa Fe Ave. in Pueblo, will host live concerts complete with a cash bar and food. This week they've got Wallace Cotton & The Royals, a "James Brown--style" funk and soul group performing from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Admission is $4 to $5. Call 719/542-1211.

Gitch yo' savings on at Commonwheel's annual Pots by the Pound show and sale, through Jan. 14. Each year they clear out the galleries for the New Year by selling everything at extra cheapo prices. The show opens today at 10 a.m. at the Co-op, 102 Cañon Ave. in Manitou. Call 685-1008 for details.

The Gallery of Contemporary Art at UCCS (1420 Austin Bluffs Parkway) opens a 25-year retrospective tonight titled Shark's Ink, 1976-2001. The collection features art by 42 of the nation's best contemporary artists whose prints were produced by Bud Shark, owner of one of Colorado's "best and most prolific" commercial fine art studios. The opening reception for the show begins this evening at 5 and UCCS promises parking will not be a problem. Shark's Ink hangs through Feb. 15. Call 262-3567 to find out more.

5 Saturday

There will be no going to bed early tonight, you apathetic homebody. Regain your status as a swingin' hep cat tonight at Acoustic Coffee Lounge, 5152 Centennial Blvd. Local wunderband Joe Jaquez Blues Experience will be performing with Denver band DeVotchKa, whose music is this funky sort of gypsy pop rock drag that's been soaked in borscht and laid out to dry over fried plantains. The five musicians -- including a classically trained violinist and accordion player, a clarinet player and cellist, and a sousaphone player (my junior-high band instrument -- can I get a shout out for the sousaphone?) -- have been breathing in thin mountain air since relocating from the seedy side of Chicago in 1995, creating freaked-out Old World Slavic festival rock that's performed with a Latin spin. DeVotchKa's music isn't Klezmer, it's not rock, it's not jam, it's not Tito Fuentes, but it's in there somewhere. Tickets to the show are $5 at the door. Call Acoustic at 268-9951 with questions, comments, or just to say, Hey, I love you. The show begins at 8 p.m.

8 Tuesday

The American Film Institute is the be-all and end-all, the Beverly Hills Country Club, of the film industry. If you ain't in, you ain't nothing. They rank the funniest flicks, the most heart-pounding films, the greatest screen legends ... most famously, they've chosen the 100 Greatest Films of the past 100 years (essentially of all movie-making time) from hundreds of nominees. Films were chosen using criteria such as popularity over time, awards won, cultural impact, and of course plot and production. The Fine Arts Center, 30 W. Dale St., will present selections from the AFI's 100 best list every second Tuesday, through May. The series begins this month with Casablanca, the No. 2 film on the list (beaten out by Citizen Kane). Prior to each screening, G film critic Warren Epstein and/or FAC theater director Rob Geers will lead a discussion about the making of the film. The program begins at 7 p.m. and admission is $5 to $6, which includes snacks and a cash bar. To find out more, call 634-5583.

click to enlarge Pots by the pound at Commonwheel
  • Pots by the pound at Commonwheel

9 Wednesday

The Utopia Caf, 116 E. Bijou St., is home to more than just Jerry and live music now. The UCCS Campus Literary Arts Society has taken it over on certain Wednesday nights through March for Poetry Slams. There's a $1 admission charge that goes into the kitty for the first-place winner's prize, so if you think you rock that hard, bring plenty of friends. Sign up at the event, which begins at 8. Call 633-1080 for details.

--Kristen Sherwood


Color Me Goofy
"First Saturdays" to draw giggles at the new M.A.T.

This Saturday, Jan. 5, veteran performers Brigitta DePree and Jim Jackson will inaugurate the Manitou Art Theater space at the Business of Art Center's newly renovated community building with a performance of Art Guffaw, the first in a series of eight family performances called "First Saturdays."

Starring Jim Jackson, and directed by Brigitta DePree, Art Guffaw tells the story of a house painter who answers an ad in the paper for a "Painter," which turns out to be for an artist. Unable to paint a straight line but desperate for money, Art decides to fake it and learns a thing or two about art along the way. Though Jackson performs solo, he's helped along by juggling, soap bubbles, a puppet cast of dancing still-lifes and talking easels, and "at least 99 art jokes."

A native of Colorado, Jackson has performed in both the Royal Lichtenstein Circus and the Hoxie Bothers Circus as an acrobat, juggler, magician and clown. After a fall from the high wire in 1981, Jackson began adapting his clowning skills to create original solo stage performances that include The Impossible Balance, Mimic Sole, Rubes and Luddites (produced by Smokebrush Theater Co.), and Bed, a play about a vaudevillian trapped in a hotel room that's slated to be made into a film by the Canadian Film Board.

Brigitta DePree, Jackson's wife of two months, is also a solo performer with a more traditional theater background from the National Conservatory Theater. While her training was formal, DePree was drawn to "quirkier work" and soon after graduation decided to produce a two-person adaptation of Shakespeare's The Tempest. She has also had a long fascination with clowns, and spent a year touring rural Colorado and performing her one-woman show, Three Suitcases, about a clown who saves language. Depree will perform Elephants, her one-woman show about pachyderms and her youth in Africa, on February 2.

Drawn to one another for their mutual loves of clowning and performance, Jackson and DePree decided they wanted to find a more permanent theatrical home after spending years on the road. Jackson has lived in Manitou for eight years, when not on the road, and when DePree decided to move to Denver to join him, both thought it would be great to have a theater in town.

"Right when we started talking about it, someone suggested writing a grant through the Business of Art Center. It was lucky for us that new space was available. We knew we could produce shows on a limited budget, bringing in finished shows by people in the area."

Though the "First Saturdays" series is definitely family-oriented, the couple doesn't see the M.A.T. as a performance space exclusively for families, and plans to be open to many kinds of performance art. "Both Brigitta and I do work mostly for family audiences, but don't want the M.A.T. to get labeled as a children's theater," Jackson said.

click to enlarge Jim Jackson gets goofy
  • Jim Jackson gets goofy

"Our main mission is to create and produce new work for the community," Depree added. "Hopefully we can cultivate an audience that's open and loyal."

-- Noel Black


capsule

Art Guffaw

The first in the "First Saturdays" series

Manitou Art Theater, 515 Manitou Ave.

Saturday, Jan. 5, 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.

Tickets: $8. Call 685-1861.

Sweet Revenge
Toss your fruitcake far, far away

It's happened to all of us at least once. We accept the package, and get excited by the weightiness of the small, exuberantly wrapped gift. We open it, and ... cringe slightly.

"Oh, a fruitcake ... wow, thanks."

click to enlarge Toss your fruitcake far, far away
  • Toss your fruitcake far, far away

If you've received a fruitcake this Christmas, and it more resembles an unfired adobe brick than a dessert, you might be tempted to chuck it out the window. Instead, why not join some Pikes Peak region residents who have taken fruitcake tossing to another level?

For the seventh straight year, the Manitou Springs Chamber of Commerce and Cinnabons are sponsoring a fruitcake-tossing contest on Saturday, Jan. 5, in Manitou Springs' Memorial Park (500 block of Manitou Avenue).

The contest started as a way to get more people to visit Manitou in January, during the tourist lag. "Because it's good clean fun, a lot of families come out," said Leslie Lewis of the Manitou Chamber of Commerce. "It's a great way for them to get out in the fresh air in the winter-time."

Anyone can enter; last year roughly 60 disgruntled fruitcake recipients competed to see who could toss a fruitcake the furthest. The only rule is that engine power cannot be used. Over the years fruitcake tossing contraptions have included air guns, catapults, slingshots, helium balloons, and, of course, good old-fashioned elbow grease.

You don't even need to bring a fruitcake to enter. Fruitcakes suitable for tossing can be rented on site for 25 cents.

Last year, Elbert Carter of Fountain, his wife Eileen and his sons Joel, 25, and David, 23 -- a graduate student in electrical engineering at the University of Missouri-Rolla -- used a "balloon sling" to win the Grand Prize (a year's supply of Cinnabons) with a 425-foot toss.

Elbert, who admits he personally likes fruitcake, says he received three this Christmas, but because his sons have returned to school, he and his family will not be entering the contest this year.

So the tossing title is up for grabs ... for now.

There is also a division for children, a fruitcake derby (in which fruitcakes with wheels are raced) and a spatula race (similar to a pancake-flipping contest).

The Chamber of Commerce and Cinnabons will be raising money for Care n' Share and other local charities at the event and all winners get a Fruitcake Toss T-shirt.

But even if you don't end up a winner, after tossing your fruitcake, you can swap it for a free cinnamon bun.

-- Robert Wallace

capsule

The Great Fruitcake Toss
Memorial Park, in Manitou Springs
Saturday, Jan. 5
Registration begins at 10:15 a.m.
Call 685-5089 for more.

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