You can tell that winter is over when the Steve Barta Trio wakes from hibernation, fresh as a daisy and brimming with new ideas for String Into Spring, a concert with the Colorado Springs Youth Symphony. Several new works will be performed tonight at 8 at the Pikes Peak Center, 190 S. Cascade Ave. Tickets $18.50 for adults, $10 for children. Call 520-SHOW.
Under its new ownership, the downtown Pikes Perk location (14 S. Tejon St.) has resumed hosting live music, albeit music that fits inside a small, cozy coffeehouse. Tonight, Luke Flowers & Josh Merriam do their old-timey-acoustic-banjo-and-mandolin-pickin'-and-grinnin' thing from 8 to 10 p.m. Call 635-1600 for details.
The latest offering of the Colorado Springs Guitar Society to its hungry, fickle public is guitarist Janet Feder. Classically trained, Feder has abandoned the rigidity of de old vays for lyrically oriented classical compositions and a collection of objects mounted on her guitar designed to extend the instrument's capabilities. Feder performs at 7:30 p.m. at the Fine Arts Center, 30 W. Dale St. Tickets are $10 to $12; call 634-5583.
Despite Rob and Kathy Gordon's abdication of the throne in favor of farm livin', house concerts are still going strong round these parts. Tonight, Phil Volan, Joe Uveges and Jim Sokol -- the reigning sweet princes of local folk -- play a House Concert Under the Stars at 7:30 p.m. south of town. Admission is an $8 artist donation. RSVP and get directions by calling Jeremy Rowan at 499-8890.
Morocco, revered as one of the world's foremost Middle Eastern dancers (this side of the Euphrates River, anyway), performs with the best in local hip rotators on the Colorado Music Hall stage, 2475 E. Pikes Peak Ave., tonight at 7. Admission is $10 in advance, $12 at the door. Call 632-1111 for more. Credit cards are not being accepted for this show.
Sean Blackburn and Liz Masterson yodel their way into your family's little Western hearts at this month's "First Saturday" Manitou Art Theater performance. Tales and Tunes of the West, featuring rope tricks, comedy, songs and all manner of Riders in the Sky-esque nonsense, runs at 11 a.m. and again at 2 p.m. at the Business of Art Center's new performance space, 515 Manitou Ave. (The 2 p.m. show will have on hand interpreters from the Pikes Peak Center on Deafness.) Tickets are $8. Call 685-1861 for details.
Cars. Running into each other. Trucks. Running over cars. Metal, screetching. Bloodlust, quenched. Demolition Derby at Penrose Equestrian Center (1045 W. Rio Grande Blvd.) today. Call 520-7787 for details.
Today, join a guided tour through the Aiken Canyon Nature Conservancy Preserve south of town, where more than 100 bird species have been identified, including wild turkeys, hairy and downy woodpeckers, prairie falcons and Cooper's hawks. Meet at the Sears Southgate parking lot at 7:30 a.m. for the half-day trip. Bring lunch, water and a pack. Call Gary Lefko, 683-7955, for more information.
The 37th annual installment of the Palmer Lake Art Group's Fine Arts Show and Sale begins today at the Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts, 304 Highway 105, in Palmer Lake. It's really pretty amazing that a town that size has been able to support such a thriving arts community for so many years, and the fruits of their labor prove that, whatever they're doing, it's still working. There will be an official reception Friday night, June 7, at 5 p.m., but the show will be open weekdays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and weekends from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., today through June 27. Admission is free. Call 488-3543.
-- Kristen Sherwood
I Dare You
Contemporary art that both dazzles and bends the brain
The Sangre de Cristo Arts Center currently has a miniature world's fair of the imagination on its hands.
Comprised of several exhibits that include Steel City: Contemporary America in Metal, Ira Sherman's Panaceas to Persistent Problems, Sean O'Meallie: Sunday at the Germ Factory, Patricia Nix: Baroque, and new selections from the Francis King collection, the Sangre is proving once again that it is one of the most important galleries in Colorado for exhibiting contemporary art that both dazzles and dares to bend the brain.
Starting on the ground floor in the Hoag Gallery we find the explosively dynamic sculptures of master woodsmith and painter Sean O'Meallie. With surfaces that tempt the viewer with their child-like optical opulence and vigorously oppositional colors, O'Meallie's work deceives the viewer into his imagination in the same way trompe l'oeil paintings deceive a viewer into reality. Once you're there, almost believing the work, O'Meallie pulls back the sheet, dims the lights, and complicates the vision.
In "Bright Idea," a deflated light bulb is nailed to a red board in a stark, yet unsettlingly playful psychological crucifixion. A grouping of decidedly rustic-looking pieces gorgeously makes use of O'Meallie's visual lexicon to outline the allegory of making art: On top of a small sleigh sits a closed drawer with a golden wing; on top of the drawer sit two precariously balanced bricks on top of which sits another light bulb with a penny driven into its crown. Pennies for your passions, thoughts and labors is about all an artist ever gets, and the title, "Lightweight Flywreck," leaves the piece in a nicely balanced conundrum.
"Water Going Uphill" is perhaps O'Meallie's most blatantly metaphorical piece, and one of the few in which he so clearly reveals his skill in the wood medium. A Japanese-style wave is painted onto a rough-hewn wood wave towering above a set of stairs to nowhere in another moment of brilliantly static anticipation.
And this is just a sampling of the many works from one of Colorado Springs' finest thinkers and craftsmen whose only weak pieces in the show are the underdeveloped and pill-like "Jimmies" in a dull white.
Leaving the Hoag and entering the Regional Gallery in the lobby make sure to stop and check out Patricia Nix's flamboyant floral oil and collage paintings "Las Nympheas Rouge," "White Rose On Red" and the crushingly beautiful "I Promised You a Rose Garden."
Moving to the third floor, the works of Ira Sherman, which have been called "appliance technology," will keep you dumbfounded and spellbound for as long as you have time.
Strongly resembling the gothic-futurism of H.R. Geiger (illustrator and designer of the monsters in the Alien movies), Sherman's stainless steel contraptions are works of uncommon inventive genius. Like Starr Kempf, Sherman isn't content with craft alone, and brings an artist's imagination to his poetically functional techno-sculptures and jewelry designs.
"The Pavlovian Trainer" is a helmet that shuts your mouth for you when you talk too much. "Glass Chamber" is a pendant that doubles as an insect incinerator.
Sherman also designed an "Arbitrator" equipped with lie detectors designed for two people to resolve conflicts while telling the truth. The consequences are ... uncomfortable.
These things really work, and there's a video there to demonstrate how.
Lastly, in the White Gallery, Steel City presents a spectacular survey of artists working in metal from all around the country.
From Todd Reed's clusters of gold and uncut diamonds to Judy Clark's razor-blade pendants and boxes to Marcia McDonald's darkly fetishy pendant "If You Sit Still You Can Take Off Your Mask," the show is like being let into to see the crown jewels of Princess Amidala.
Dear Pueblo: Don't let curator Jina Pierce get away!
-- Noel Black
Sangre de Christo Arts Center
210 N. Santa Fe Ave., 719/295-7200
Just off of I-25, Exit 98 B
Opening reception: Fri., May 31, 5:30-7:30 p.m.
Steel City, through Aug. 25.
Panaceas to Persistent Problems, through Aug. 17.
Sunday at the Germ Factory, through Aug. 10.
Baroque, through Aug. 17.
Returning Home: The Francis King Collection, through Aug. 3
In the Buell Children's Museum: Bend Your Mind With Metal, through Aug. 31.
Xanthe and the Dirty Diggits
"Joni Mitchell meets Ella Fitzgerald meets Fiona Apple," says Xanthe describing her music. Mix a little blues, a bit of jazz, a few old standards with lots of originals, sung and written by this gusty 22-year-old singer, and you've got a versatile vocalist who can really pull it up and put it out there. Add her backup band, the Dirty Diggits, which features some of the best players around -- Barry Wedgel, Crystal Bliss, Kim Stone and Russell Burnett -- and this is one show you don't want to miss.
-- Sunnie Sacks
702 S. Cascade Ave, 328-1412
Friday, May 31, 9-11 p.m.
$3 at the door