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Cottonwood's First Friday

6 Friday

click to enlarge Cottonwood's First Friday
  • Cottonwood's First Friday

It's not often we choose one First Friday event to feature, since all our local galleries host some fabulous opening receptions, but Cottonwood Center for the Arts has a lot going on tonight. Though, if we're being honest, they always have a lot going on. In the month of December alone, Cottonwood hosted three gallery shows in addition to offering classes, theater performances, studio spaces and a relatively new textile studio, Textiles West.

From the looks of it, they aren't planning on slowing down, either. They're kicking off 2017 in a big way with the first First Friday of the year. Cottonwood's opening receptions are always delightful, filled with refreshments and plenty of artsy mingling, but this one's got some special treats in store.

For one, Cottonwood will celebrate the opening of Back to Reality, an exhibit of contemporary realistic works. According to the show's call for entries, Cottonwood says that contemporary realism encapsulates works that "may seem photorealistic from a distance, but they break down with proximity, where the texture of the paint becomes a tool that builds the subjects, and brush strokes or layers of glaze become abstract moments within the world of the painting." It's a nice reminder for the year ahead, that the big picture isn't always what it seems to be.

Multiple local artists' work will be featured in this exhibit, including Deb Komitor, Lee Murphy and Jennifer Ross, so it's worth dropping by to check it out.

The theater nerds among us (including myself) have their own excitement to look forward to tonight — three local theater companies will be announcing their 2017 seasons as part of First Friday festivities. THEATREdART, COUNTER/Weight Theatre Lab and Star Bar Players all consider Cottonwood's David H. Lord Theater their home base, and all of them have put on pretty spectacular shows in the last year. You may recall our look at Star Bar Players' Night of the Living Dead (The Cut, Oct. 19, 2016), THEATREdART's One Sixteenth of an Inch (The List, Nov. 18, 2016) or COUNTER/Weight's Your Fathers, Where Are They? And the Prophets? Do They Live Forever? (The List, Nov. 30, 2016).

Needless to say, we're all excited to see what they have in store next. All three companies are boundary-pushers, so I doubt there will be too many familiar titles coming up in any of their seasons, but that should make it all the more interesting.

Pre-announcement, make sure to attend the mixer they're hosting. The companies will all have some information about their missions and visions, while handing out special giveaways and refreshments. It's a great opportunity to chat with some innovative performing artists and start getting stoked about what shows you'll see this year. 5-8 p.m., season announcement at 6:30 p.m., Cottonwood Center for the Arts, 427 E. Colorado Ave., cottonwoodcenterforthearts.com.

Danny Karpel Farewell Jam

7 Saturday

click to enlarge Danny Karpel Farewell Jam
  • Danny Karpel Farewell Jam

Danny Karpel has been the keyboardist of local bluegrass favorites Grass It Up since 2007. He's stepped away from performing as much in the past few years, but still hits the stage with both Grass It Up and Charlie Milo when he can

You've probably seen him onstage at the MeadowGrass Music Festival or Front Range Barbeque, where he and the band play frequently

He's heading out to explore new opportunities in Oregon, where he hopes to continue playing music

The jam will feature members from Grass It Up, Charlie Milo's band, Jason Davis and more. Karpel says it's going to be a fun — if emotional— evening at what he calls the "best music venue in Colorado Springs"

7:30 p.m., Front Range Barbeque, 2330 W. Colorado Ave., frbbq.com.

Colorado Springs Fitness Expo

7 Saturday

click to enlarge Colorado Springs Fitness Expo
  • Colorado Springs Fitness Expo

Just in time for all our New Year's resolutions — this is a good way to start off 2017 on the right foot and get healthy

Events include seminars on sugar consumption, Zumba classes, kickboxing sessions and more

Like other City Auditorium fairs and expos, there will be plenty of booths for you to browse, with athletic clubs, spas, nutritionists, personal trainers and more represented

Remember, the focus shouldn't be on losing weight, but on being the healthiest you that you can be. Stay active, eat right, but most importantly have fun!

10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Colorado Springs City Auditorium, 221 E. Kiowa St., free, coloradospringsfitnessexpo.com.

United States International Duo Piano Competition

8 Sunday

click to enlarge United States International Duo Piano Competition
  • United States International Duo Piano Competition

Duo piano is a tough practice. Pianists learn a composition alongside a partner, so they have to make their piece sound like one cohesive song on two separate instruments

This competition features performers of all ages, from children to seasoned professionals. Some travel from as far as Russia and China

The competition lasts three days, starting on Jan. 6, but today not only includes two fabulous concerts, but also the culminating awards ceremony

It's rare to get a chance to enjoy a concert at The Broadmoor for free, let alone one that features international performers, so don't miss out

Concerts at 1:15 and 2:45 p.m., awards ceremony at 4 p.m., The Broadmoor, 1 Lake Ave., usidpc.org.

Building Blocks for Preparing Plant-based Meals

9 Monday

click to enlarge Building Blocks for Preparing Plant-based Meals
  • Building Blocks for Preparing Plant-based Meals

We don't talk about the Willamette Market & Deli enough. They took over the old and beloved Little Market & Deli in September, much to the excitement of the community

They're dedicated to organic, regional and sustainable products, plus they cater to all manner of different kinds of diets

Instructor JL Fields is an author, speaker, radio personality and vegan chef, but she encourages everyone from strict vegans to omnivores to try plant-based cooking

If you're as busy as the rest of us, the templates and recipes Fields offers will help you minimize prep time and still eat healthy, plus you get six recipes to take home that will get you off on the right foot

6-7:30 p.m., Willamette Market & Deli, 749 E. Willamette Ave., $25, advanced registration required, jlgoesvegan.com/classes.

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