Boulder this weekend: Spamalot, Pridefest and Russian Avant-Garde

By Jessica Caballero

Boulder Dinner Theater presents “Spamalot”

Juliet Whittman of Westword previews Boulder Dinner Theater’s “Spamalot,” which begins its run this week through March 2014. Playwright, lyricist, and composer Eric Idle worked with composers John Du Prez and Neil Innes to create the Tony award winning musical “ripped lovingly from the 1975 motion picture ‘Monty Python and the Holy Grail’.”

10th Annual Boulder Pridefest – for the first time at the Boulder Theater

The 10th Annual Boulder Pridefest is happening this weekend for the first time at the Boulder Theater after being delayed by the September floods. This year, the festival will be featuring Denver natives The Tah Tahs, burlesque and drag, and aerial dancers. The main event will be on Saturday night from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Boulder Theater, with a  21 and older after party for an additional cost, beginning at 9 p.m. with proceeds going to Out Boulder for losses sustained postponing the festival.

Adam Lerner’s “From Russia With Drinks” book conversation and presentation

On her blog page for Westword, Bree Davies discusses an exhibition of Russian Avant-Garde pieces with Adam Lerner, director at the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver. A conversation and presentation of his new book “From Russia With Drinks” about how he acquired these pieces and what it took to exhibit them will take place at the MCA Denver on Saturday, November 23 from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Boulder County arts educators will carry on, even without Amendment 66 tax revenue

By Jessica Caballero

Supporters of the failed tax-increase measure Amendment 66 touted that the money raised would give administrators flexibility in restoring arts education around the state. So the measure’s resounding defeat must mean a reduction in arts education, right?

Not in Boulder County schools, district officials say, at least in part because the county’s districts didn’t cut arts in the first place.

Before the vote, Douglass Elementary Principal Jon Wolfer said that the passage of Amendment 66 would “enable the district to funnel money towards other school needs that have been neglected in the past.”

Now, a full 10 days after the election, Briggs Gamblin, Boulder Valley School District’s director of communications, says arts education in the district will not need to borrow from other programs to remain.

“We did not cut arts programs as a result of budget cuts, so that part of it did not apply to us,” Gamblin said.

John Poynton of St. Vrain Valley School District said that their arts programs were safe as well. The district had money already set in the budget for arts funding, so those programs will not suffer.

In fact, arts programs throughout the state of Colorado seem to be flourishing.

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In the 2012-2013 school year, music is the most widely offered program in Colorado schools, followed by visual arts, theater and dance.

Here is the breakdown of how many schools offer specific arts programs:

  • Music, 1,645 schools (90.8 percent of all schools)
  • Visual arts, 1,596 (87.9 percent)
  • Theater 612 (33.7 percent)
  • Dance 273 (15 percent)

The study also showed that out of 435 responding schools across Kindergarten to 12th grades, almost half of all schools believe that the funding for arts education has decreased in the last five years.

Yet, the study revealed that half of all schools, at every level, also received outside funding for their arts education programs. Half of the funding that those schools acquire comes from partnerships with other arts institutes and organizations.

The study approximates that only 29,000 Colorado public school students attend schools without any exposure to formal arts education.

The discrepancy in the course offerings in any discipline could be due to the availability of qualified teachers and time for those courses, according to Karol Gates, arts content specialist for the Colorado Department of Education.

“In general, providing full-time, highly-qualified teachers in the four arts areas can overstretch a school’s budgetary constraints. Scheduling issues – lack of sufficient time allotted – for arts programming is also a concern that often occurs,” Gates said.

But not to worry, the study found that on the whole, Colorado school administrators believe in the value of arts education, though emphases have shifted in the past five years.

According to the Colorado Visual and Performing Arts Education Survey published in March of 2008 by Cypress Research Group, formal arts education was available for 93 percent of kindergarten through fifth grade students, 86 percent of sixth through eighth graders, and 83 percent of high school students in ninth grade and above.

In the 2007-2008 school year, visual arts education was the most frequently represented in middle schools and high schools, with music courses in a close second, with theater arts and dance lagging behind by a huge margin.

In elementary schools, 88 percent had visual arts courses, 94 percent had music, only 11 percent had theater, and 20 percent had dance instruction.

In middle schools, 66 percent had visual arts, 61 percent music, 22 percent theater and 11 percent dance.

High schools had the least overall arts instruction. Only 30 percent had visual arts, 26 percent music classes, 9 percent theater and a mere 3 percent had dance classes.

You settled here: how the Boulder Tattoo Project inked and linked a community forever

A participant of the Boulder Tattoo Project gets tattooed at Claw and Talon. // Photo by Lauren Maslen

A participant of the Boulder Tattoo Project gets tattooed at Claw and Talon. // Photo by Lauren Maslen

By Lauren Maslen

Where can you call home? Is it the town your family lives in? The city you grew up in? Or maybe it’s where you choose to raise your own children. Do you choose your home or does it choose you?

Line 77 of the “Boulder Zodiac,” a poem written by Anne Waldman for the Boulder Tattoo Project, reads “you settled here.” This phrase rings true for many participants of the Boulder Tattoo Project, including the project’s manager, Chelsea Pohl. These participants all had a word or a phrase from Waldman’s poem inked onto their bodies as an ode to Boulder.

“The rest of the world is just not as perfect. It’s contradictory: it’s easy to live here, yet it’s challenging. It’s challenging to become an adult here, but it’s a desire,” Pohl said.

Pohl originally hails from Lexington, Ky. She started the Boulder Tattoo Project as an offspring of the original Lexington version. Her husband, Vincent Bachert, welcomed the task of inking over 200 project participants in the couple’s studio, Claw and Talon, with the help of several other Boulder tattoo artists.

Two-hundred Boulderites were brought together through the collaborative efforts of Pohl, Waldman, and many others along the way. These tattoo artists were essential in manifesting the art, poetry, and above all, the feeling of Boulder’s interconnected community, onto project participants’ skin.

In May 2013, Pohl summed up her 13 years of experience in Boulder along with her feelings about the town in her “Love Letter to Boulder.” She also set forward her intentions for the Tattoo Project.

“I think if I’m going to ask people to commit so permanently to their love for this city, I better be clear that I love this city just as deeply as I’m expecting them to,” she wrote.

A Blessing or a Curse? 

During the mid-19th century, Chief Niwot was a leader of the Southern Arapaho tribe in the area that is now the Boulder Valley. Upon the arrival of white settlers searching for gold in 1858, Niwot supposedly cursed all future settlers. This is now known as “Niwot’s Curse.”

“People seeing the beauty of this valley will want to stay, and their staying will be the undoing of the beauty,” Arapahoe Chief Niwot supposedly said in 1858 – or so the legend goes.

And how do you get rid of such a curse?

“Go up to a certain part of the Flatirons and eat some dirt,” Pohl said. “That’s the only way to get rid of the curse.”

While some may call Niwot’s words a curse, others only read them as a blessing.

One tattoo recipient regaled fellow ink enthusiasts with Chief Niwot’s tale at Claw and Talon on Saturday, Nov. 2nd during one of the busiest days of the shop’s week-long tattooing marathon. Participants also shared stories about why they chose their specific word or phrase from Anne Waldman’s “Boulder Zodiac.”

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Why Ink?

Tom Klenow is no stranger to ink needles; his arms are home to full, colorful tattoo sleeves. Originally from Fargo, North Dakota, Tom said recently moving to Boulder gives his tattoo and the project more significance, “in the sense that I feel more at home here than I ever did in North Dakota.” Up the Boulder was his chosen phrase.

Lisa Roberts got her tattoo on the side of her right foot. It was her first. “I’m getting who. You can make it mean anything,” Roberts said. Although not originally from Boulder, Roberts has lived in in the town for over 25 years and said it’s “home.” Boulder was her number one reason for joining the project.

Kim Goldman received over surface just below her left collarbone. “It’s a unique phrase and a unique spot to get it,” she said. “It will have meaning for me… someday.”

Sean Held and Sierra Held are father and daughter. They were tattooed together on the project’s second day. Sean got the phrase keep scales aligning on his shin while Sierra chose go asymmetrical along her thigh.

“‘Asymmetrical means nothing’s the same: be unique, be yourself; be awesome. It’s hide-able, but also show-able,” Sierra said. Her father had a different reason for his chosen phrase.

“I always work hard at being the best person I can be. I’m balancing back and forth between the things I need to do and the decisions I need to make,” Sean said.

Jessika Fleck’s forearm is now labeled, “your mind stays.” She wrote about the meaning of her tattoo on her blog, harking back to an accident she had two years ago in which she hit her head. At times, Fleck said, she thought she was losing her mind.

“No matter how many loops the roller coaster has or if you happen to hit your head on a window, your mind can’t be lost or stolen,” Fleck wrote.  

A participant of the Boulder Tattoo Project at Claw and Talon. // Photo by Lauren Maslen

A participant of the Boulder Tattoo Project at Claw and Talon. // Photo by Lauren Maslen

Forty-five Boulderites were tattooed on Saturday. Despite the constant flow of people waiting for tattoos in Claw and Talon that weekend, the artists maintained their excitement. “Their attitudes are amazing. They’re getting the energy of the people,” Pohl said. “They’re juiced on it.”

Stories like this are what make the whole project worth it to Pohl. During the first weekend of tattooing for the project, word of mouth spread as participants began posting photos, blog entries, poems, and Facebook posts as odes to their tattoos and the Boulder Tattoo Project.

“I cried out of joy, because that’s what makes it worth it – when people share their stories. I’m hoping we’ll get more of that,” Pohl said.

Where do you call home?

To participate, project volunteers had to meet certain criteria, including but not limited to: “Consider Boulder home” and “love Boulder,” the latter being the number one motivator for participants.

“We were told Boulder is a very transient town,” said Kremena Todorova, one of the founding artists of the original Lexington Tattoo Project. Todorova said that although she and Kurt Gohde, her partner in the Lexington Tattoo Project, were primed to feel this way before visiting Boulder, they also spoke to many project participants who are Boulder transplants.

“It gets harder to stay here as you get older, because you have more responsibilities,” said Pohl.

“I have settled here, and it’s like a settling. It’s a work in progress and it’s a challenge to leave my hometown and to drive my stake here and hope it stays. I definitely feel like it’s my home, though.”

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Spooky, symphonic and savory savoir-faire in Boulder this Saturday

By Jessica Caballero

HorrorHouse Fest fall haunted bar and film experience

HorrorHouse Fest at Three Kings Tavern on South Broadway is a haunted bar film festival for those missing all the excitement from Halloween. Profiled by The Denver Post, this interactive haunted house features horror films throughout its production and will culminate in a viewing of “Thankskilling 3” at 11 p.m. The HorrorHouse will also include vendors, including comic book horror artist Stan Yan doing “zombiecaricatures.” Three Kings Tavern, 7 p.m. to 2 a.m., $10, 21+ only.

The Hero’s Journey: A Symphonic Tribute to Comic Con

Zaelyna Beck for The Examiner in Denver provides a preview of this weekend’s performance of the Colorado Symphony. Resident conductor Scott O’Neil will lead musicians through film, television, and video games in a tribute to Comic Con. “The Hero’s Journey” will feature more than 20 selections from some of the most beloved scores of comic culture, from Star Trek to Doctor Who. Boettcher Concert Hall, 7:30 p.m. $38-$88

“Lost on Christmas Eve” with Trans-Siberian Orchestra 

The famed Trans-Siberian Orchestra will be coming to Colorado Springs on Saturday and Denver on Sunday to present their rock opera, “Lost on Christmas Eve.” In their 15th year of nonstop touring, founder Paul O’Neill continues to focus on the orchestra’s unrivaled performance experience, “We’re using millions and millions of dollars on new special effects on the flight deck,” he said in an interview with Steve McElwee for the Centre Daily Times in Pennsylvania.

The West End Tavern’s “Bringing the ‘Q” to Boulder

This week is the last chance to experience The West End Tavern’s “Bringing the ‘Q” to Boulder County Farmers’ Market on 13th Street between Arapahoe and Canyon from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Featured are smoked Southern classics like pulled pork, wings, sandwiches and gumbo using farm fresh local ingredients.

Arts and entertainment in Boulder this weekend

Nov. 9, 8:30 p.m. — Elephant Revival at the Boulder Theater

Nederland, Colo. band Elephant Revival will be playing at the Boulder Theater on Saturday, November 9. The show, beginning at 8:30 p.m., will feature guest performances by artists Aoife O’Donovan and Lyons husband-and-wife band Taarka. Their sound has been described as “progressive edge” by The Indie Acoustic Music Project, as well as a mix of gypsy, Celtic, country, folk and rock. The quintet of musicians play a myriad of instruments including the banjo, fiddle, djembe, musical saw, stompbox, mandolin and many more. Elephant Revival is also known to be an especially social-conscious music group, performing for benefits and festivals like Campout for the Cause.

Watch Elephant Revival, live at the Boulder Theater in Nov. 2011

Special Event – MediaLive: Exploring Live Audiovisual Arts

This weekend at the Boulder Museum for Contemporary Art, MediaLive is a show exploring audiovisual art in a live setting, using human interaction, senses, live media tools and new technology to make unique forms of art. This performance goes through Sunday, November 10 as a part of Denver Arts Week.

While you’re there…

Also at the Boulder Museum for Contemporary Art until January 27, 2014 is an exhibit showcasing the work of Krysten Cunningham, Susan Hazaleus, Lynn Hershman Leeson, Barbara Hlali, Beryl Korot, Kelly Monico, and Marina Zurkow — female artists who have used technology and new media in their arts.

Archival Ink Jet and Mixed Media, Animation loop - Kelly Monico

Archival Ink Jet and Mixed Media, Animation loop – Kelly Monico

Falling Back: what does time mean in the life of a Millennial?

By Lauren Maslen

On Sunday, Nov. 3, a precious gift will sneak its way into the lives of Coloradans. Fleeting and elusive, it’s a gift not easily obtained. While some often fail to notice it passing, others feel it slip away all too fast.

As the clocks fall back an hour on Sunday for daylight savings time, Coloradans will receive the gift of time.

Boulder, Colo., is known for being young and active. The average age is under 40 years old and more than 29,000 students are currently enrolled in CU-Boulder courses. In a town full of students and young professionals, time and busy schedules often become the topic of discussion.

On a day to day basis, “The ‘average’ 20-something, including but not limited to grad students at CU, cares about work/life balance…. A delicate balance of work productivity, physical health, and mental health.” said Laura Michaelson, United Government of Graduate Students (UGGS) Executive Vice President, via email.

This balance can be difficult to maintain, however. According to a spokesperson at CU-Boulder’s Career and Psychological Services, October is the “busiest month of the year.” CAPS is still compiling data and learning why the office becomes inundated with students in the fall. With midterms, impending holidays, and half a semester’s worth of work behind them, students might feel the stress of retaining that “delicate balance” start to pile up.

A spokesperson for CU-Boulder’s Office of Financial Aid said the main concern among students today is how to cover day-to-day bills, simple necessities, housing costs, and other supplies. Twenty years ago, CU’s in-state tuition was $2,256 for an undergraduate and $2,790 for a graduate student. Today, that cost is nearly quadruple at $8,760 and $9,918, respectively. Balancing money and bills into the equation can add additional stress for students.

Merlyn Holmes, communications coordinator at the Graduate School at CU-Boulder, said that along with stresses around performance and their future, time and money are the main concern of students. Additionally, she said, graduate students often “express the desire to connect with people outside of their department, but they can’t make the time,” said Holmes.

While time management and money woes travel beyond the realm of college students, daily concerns also reach past these inevitable details of modern life.

Today’s young generation, known as the Millennials, often share their daily lives with their social circles in snippets. 140 characters on Twitter or a photo on Instagram is often easier than calling a friend. What’s important to Colorado Millennials and other twenty-somethings today?

Twenty-three-year olds Kayleen Cohen and Amy Dunnewald are recent college graduates. They own Mtn. Dog Media, LLC, a marketing company the duo started with another friend in Boulder.

“There are certain things you have to get done every day,” said Dunnewald, “then there are those things you have to make time to do.” Making sure she’s hydrated is important to Dunnewald. Knowing her dog is loved and cared for is what matters to Cohen.

Although these may seem like the basic, everyday facets of life that pass by unnoticeably, these simple aspects of the day-to-day are what’s important and notable to many at the end of the day.

Strange Brews: Craft beer inspired by unique ingredients

By Kendall Brunette

Take a look at the beer menu of any Colorado craft brewery and you will notice a peculiar trend — the ingredients used to brew some of your favorite drafts seem more fit for a smoothie than a beer.   Chai tea, key lime, guava, pineapple, watermelon, mango, passion fruit and chili pepper all add to a growing list of quirky flavors found in today’s craft brews.

A survey of this year’s Great American Beer Festival medal-winning beers proves that America’s appetite for craft beer is changing.  Conventional lagers, pale ales, pilsners, stouts and wheat beers now compete with specialty beers that use an array of adjunct ingredients not commonly associated with beer.

One local craft brewery that brought home a medal from this year’s festival was Avery Brewing Company of Boulder.  Avery was one of 580 breweries that attended GABF, the country’s premiere beer festival and competition.  Every year, brewers from across the country convene in Denver for three days to showcase their beers in hopes of returning home with a medal or two to hang on the brewery walls.  This year’s festival saw 2,700 different beers entered into competition.

On a recent tour of Avery Brewing Company, Kyle “Hair Kevin” Howard, tour guide and beer enthusiast, explained the craft brewing industry’s shift toward strange brews with unique ingredients.

Howard’s love of craft beer is obvious from the minute you meet him.  There is a certain twinkle in his eye as he describes the brewing process.  He lists off the ingredients of his favorite beer with a child-like giddiness.  His body literally gyrates with excitement as he talks about having the best job in the world.

Avery's Kyle Howard describes brewing with unique ingredients

Avery’s Kyle Howard describes brewing with unique ingredients

Experimental brewing is common in the world of craft beer.  Howard explained that every good beer is the product of experimentation using different kinds of ingredients and tweaks throughout the brewing process.  In an effort to keep customers interested in their product, Avery uses a variety of unique ingredients to produce beers that everyone can appreciate.  Variety is the key to engaging a wider customer base who will keep coming back for more.

Avery uses the collective creativity of its employees – waitresses, brew masters and everyone in between – to brainstorm recipes for new beers.

Avery’s Bhakti Chai Brown Ale uses locally-sourced chai tea.  Boulder’s own Ozo Coffee supplies the coffee used in one of Avery’s coffee stouts.  The Ermita VI is one of Avery’s barrel-aged sour beers that uses key lime puree in the brewing process before it is aged in Suerte tequila barrels.

Avery's barrel-aging program Photo by Kendall Brunette

Avery’s barrel-aging program
Photo by Kendall Brunette

 Fate Brewing Company, another Boulder craft brewery, jumped on the strange brew bandwagon with their Watermelon Kolsch — a light beer brewed with watermelon puree.  Just down the road, Mountain Sun Pub sells its Colorado Kind Ale — a hop-filled beer locally referred to as, “The Dank.”  Similar to Avery, Mountain Sun produces a coffee porter called Isadore Java Porter, which is brewed with fair-trade coffee from Boulder’s Conscious Coffee.

Each of these unique beers uses the same general brewing process, but with different ingredients introduced at various times.  The resulting beers please crowds from all different walks of life.

Some of the more serious craft beer connoisseurs show their appreciation for these strange brews on Beeradvocate.com.

One satisfied Avery customer from Missouri posted, “The best thing I had was called ‘Samael’ — a 17 percent, five-ounce pour that was like whiskey and beer had a beautiful, beautiful baby.”  “Every sip was the best thing I’d ever tasted,” the customer exclaimed.

Perhaps one of Avery’s most popular craft brews is its Lilikoi Kepolo, which means passion fruit devil in Hawaiian.  This passion fruit-infused Belgian-style witbier won a bronze medal at this year’s GABF.

The list of Colorado’s strange brews is expansive and ever-growing.  Avery’s Rumpkin Ale, brewed with pumpkin innards and aged in rum barrels, marked the onset of fall in Boulder.  As winter nips at the heels of craft brewers, suds-sipping customers eagerly await the next batch of inspired brews.  Next season’s flavor possibilities are endless – limited only by a brewer’s imagination.