What to do when there’s ‘nothing’ to do…

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Michael Ensminger

VIRTUAL EVENTS

Press Conference on Immigrant Federal Relief During COVID-19 Crisis. 2:30 p.m. Thursday, May 21, via Zoom.

Members of the Colorado Congressional Delegation and community leaders will hold a virtual press conference on the impacts COVID-19 has had on Colorado’s immigrant community and the need to pass a federal relief package that includes immigrants. This conference is being hosted by Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition (CIRC), CIRC Action Fund, Colorado People’s Alliance, and American Friends Services Committee. Leading the conference will be: Representative Jason Crow; Senator Julie Gonzales; Alaina Silva, Denver restaurant owner in a mixed status family; Francisco Gallegos, teacher with immigrant students; and Nayda Benitez, CIRC South Regional Organizer.

The Canine Classic. Noon, Saturday, May 23.

Nonprofit organization Moving To End Sexual Assault (MESA) will host the 18th annual Canine Classic as a virtual event this year. All proceeds benefit MESA’s work to support victims of sexual violence. In lieu of the usual celebration with your best canine pal at the Boulder Reservoir, pick your favorite 5K route, leash up Lassie and don’t forget to document your run using #CanineClassic2020. All participants will be eligible to win prizes. Prize categories include fastest person with and without a dog, best dog and guardian selfie, oldest dog photo, best dog-guardian look-alike photo, best dog trick video and random prize drawings. Use #CanineClassic2020 on social media to enter your photos and videos in our prize giveaway. Cost for registration is $20, registration required.

Give What You Can — Meteorite PR Food Drive. 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Thursday, May 28.

Join Meteorite PR at The Studio Boulder (3550 Frontier Ave., Suite A2, Boulder,) on May 28 for a food drive. Sign up (at the link above) for a 30-minute time block, swing by, donate your nonperishable food and then walk away with samples from some of Meteorite’s clients. 

Dog Dance. 10:30 a.m. Wednesday, May 27 (and every Wednesday) via Zoom. Contact Joanna Rotkin at joanna@joannaandtheagitators.com to receive the Zoom invite.

Led by Joanna Rotkin, Dog Dance is a twice weekly online dance class built on listening to the breath. This class is generally slow-moving and quiet. Dog Dance meets on Zoom on Wednesdays from 10:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m., and Sundays from 3-5 p.m. On Wednesdays, all donations received will go directly to an organization doing good work in the community. For the month of May, this is Casa de Paz, in Aurora. Please contact Joanna at joanna@joannaandtheagitators.com.

HEAVY ROTATION: A short list of new singles, songs and live recordings from 2020 so far

by Angela K. Evans

“New York Summer,” by Generation Lost— A fun instrumental pop song sets the tone for a laid-back summer from the German trio’s wealth of 2020 releases. 

“Without You,” by Perfume Genius — The airy, indie pop of Mike Hadreas wraps its arms around you, begging you to sway to the rhythm. Don’t miss his entire just-released album, Set My Heart on Fire Immediately

“Me & My Thoughts,” by Bishop Nehru — The New York rapper gets introspective with mesmerizing lyrics set to gentle beats and a retro melody.

“Guys,” by The 1975 — An ode to friendship from the Manchester post-modern pop quartet, with hints of refreshing sentimentality. 

“Lost in Yesterday,” by Tame Impala — The psychedelic Australian multi-instrumentalist offers us this danceable number just in time to reflect on past hesitations and melodramatic memories.  

“Runner,” by Tennis — An exploration of the noncommittal psyche from the Denver-based indie pop duo’s Valentine’s Day release, Swimmer

“Cut Me,” by Moses Sumney — The boundaries between social construct and self blur in Sumney’s soulful genre-breaking reflection set to a solid bass line and trumpeted ornaments. 

“So We Won’t Forget,” by Khuragabin — The Texas trio’s global funk takes on a warm tropical sound in the newest single off their forthcoming album, Mordecai

“Trapped in the Sun,” by Future — Out of Atlanta’s Southern trap scene, Future’s latest release is a means of catharsis, an efficacious distraction during uncertain times. 

“Famous,” by Car Seat Headrest — Textured electronic beats guide us through this restless track that begs for meaning from the indie-rock outfit.   

“I know it,” by Chicano Batman — The Latin quartet from Los Angeles creates groovy tunes rooted in 1960s Brazilian Tropicália, psychedelic soul and indie rock with hints of social commentary. 

“Wolf-Live,” by Sylvan Esso — Amelia Meath’s tranquilizing vocals, brilliantly featured on this track from the electronic pop duo’s live album recorded during 2019’s WITH tour, slide into our musical rotation at exactly the right time. 

“Don’t Hide,” by Frank Leone — Minimal and moody, this understated Chicago rapper offers up intricate reflections set to a piano chorus that carries us away. 

“Were you watching,” by Norah Jones — Jones’ quintessential jazzy piano and sultry voice mixes with somber undertones in this poem from the singer’s upcoming release Pick Me Up Off the Floor

“All These Changes,” by Nick Hakim — The Earth takes pity on us humans as Brooklyn’s psychedelic soul crooner soothes us in this hypnotic record from his critically acclaimed Will This Make Me Good.   

ART

Net Art with Melanie Clemmons. 2 p.m. Friday, May 22.

Net art utilizes the web as a creative space. In this introductory workshop you’ll try your hand at making a basic net art webpage using HTML and CSS. The instructor, Melanie Clemmons, is a new media artist and educator. In addition to her gallery and museum work, Clemmons has worked on videos for fashion designer Brandon Maxwell and toured with Pussy Riot doing visuals during their first North American tour and collaborated on several of their music videos. She is an assistant professor of digital/hybrid media at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas. The workshop is open to all ages/levels of experience (some computer knowledge preferred). You’ll need to have access to an internet connection and a computer/laptop. This 60- to 75-minute session is free, but registration is required.

Creative Technology Performances and Demos. 4 p.m. Friday, May 22.

Join the Museum of Boulder virtually for an evening of performances and interactive installations by: Justin Gitlin, a creative coder, musician and multimedia artist (cacheflowe.com); Mark Mosher, a synthesist, electronic musician and multimedia artist (markmoshermusic.com); Monica Bolles, who creates experiences that immerse the audience in sonic, visual and tactile sensation (monicabolles.com); and MyCo Domicilia, a biodesign project exploring fabrication with mycelium (mushrooms) for common household items (instagram.com/myco_domicilia). For the event link, you’ll need to RSVP.

The Creative Community Project: A Benefit for Boulder’s Artists/Colorado Chautauqua COVID-19 Response Fund. May 23-June 5.

The Colorado Chautauqua Association (CCA), the organization tasked with caring for the Chautauqua historic landmark district, relies heavily on lodging and events to fund its work and pay its staff. These activities have all been severely impacted during the pandemic. The CCA will be hosting a virtual art auction from May 22 to June 5. In addition to benefiting Chautauqua, 25% of the proceeds go to the COVID-19 Boulder County Response Fund. Artists will also have the option to keep 25% of the proceeds from the sale of their work. 

“Touched By Loving Hands:” Up-Cycled Textile Art by David van Buskirk. Bricolage Gallery at Art Parts Creative Reuse Center, 2870 Bluff St., Boulder, May 23-July 3.

Art Parts Creative Reuse Center is open (face masks required at the door), which means Bricolage Gallery is open. Drop by and enjoy a colorful exhibit of hard-wearing, functional handwoven rugs, shopping bags, tapestries and more by David van Buskirk. Van Buskirk is a former New York City textile designer and Fashion Institute of Technology instructor. He moved back to Colorado a few years ago to care for his ailing mother, whose life-long creativity and recent passing inspired the title for this exhibit. Please note that Art Parts Creative Reuse Center has reduced hours and days in May and possibly June. See its website and social media on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for updates.

FILM: Palme d’Or winners

by Michael J. Casey

The origins of France’s Cannes Film Festival lay not in La République, but neighboring Italy. Specifically, 1937’s Venice Film Festival, when Benito Mussolini stuck his big, fat fascist fingers in the mix and ensured that The Grand Illusion from French filmmaker Jean Renoir — easily one of the greatest pacifist movies ever made — did not win the festival’s top prize. The following year, Mussolini and crony Adolf Hitler conspired to award an Italian war film and a German documentary top honors.

Future allies England, France and the U.S. had enough and pulled out. To hell with the Venice Film Festival, they’d create their own. And on Aug. 31, 1939, La Festival International du Film held opening ceremonies in the tourist town of Cannes along the French Riviera. The following day Germany invaded Poland. The war was on, and the festival was off, canceled until September 1946.

It took a while for Cannes to find its footing. In ’48 and ’50, the festival was canceled due to budgetary problems. In 1951, the festival was rescheduled to May so as not to compete with Venice, and in 1955 the festival revamped its top prize from the Grande Prix to the Palme d’Or, modeled after the palm trees lining the Promenade de la Croisette.

The Palme d’Or has come to signify the top prize in cinema — an honor bestowed on movies both of a time and timeless. Below are four you can stream right now (you can find a fifth on page 26).

Marty: The inaugural recipient of the award, Delbert Mann’s Marty was the only film to win both the Palme d’Or and the Oscar for Best Picture. That was until ‘Parasite’ came along in 2019. There are a few thematic similarities between the two, though Marty sticks firmly with the have-nots. Ernest Borgnine stars as the titular butcher and every Italian mother in his corner of the Bronx wonders when he’ll get married. Then Clara (Betsy Blair) walks by, and Marty finally sees a girl within reach. It’s a lonely film; populated by sad, lonely mothers, sad, lonely sons, and women who aren’t yet sad and lonely but will be once the world grinds them down. It’s a kitchen sink drama, one where it doesn’t take much to find a Hollywood ending. Thank goodness it does. Streaming on Amazon Prime.

Black Orpheus: The Greek myth of Orpheus descending to the underworld to rescue his beloved Eurydice has been adapted numerous times by filmmakers, but few as good as Marcel Camus’ Brazilian treatment of the story. Set during Rio de Janeiro’s Carnival and featuring music from bossa nova legends Antônio Carlos Jobim and Luiz Bonfá, Black Orpheus is an elative fever dream. Streaming on The Criterion Channel and Kanopy.

Dancer in the Dark: Danish filmmaker Lars von Trier is a sadist, and a proud one at that. He likes to put his characters (mostly women) through hell and back just to see if they’ll come out the other side. They do, and it’s uplifting — until you stop to wonder if they needed to go so low in the first place. Then again, that’s life. ‘Dancer in the Dark’ might be his best, and Björk might be his best conduit. She plays Selma, a Czech immigrant suffering from a degenerative eye disorder. It’s a rare, hereditary disease, and it’ll steal her sight but not the song in her heart. To save her son from a similar fate, Selma works tirelessly in a dreary Pacific Northwest factory pinching pennies to pay for his surgery. Would that it were so simple. Streaming on Vudu.

The Umbrellas of Cherbourg: Director Jacques Demy sought to make a movie that would make audiences cry. He succeeded in spades. It helps that Michelle Legrande provided one of the most indelible film scores of all time, and cinematographer Jean Rabier found the sourness in candy-coated Eastmancolor. Catherine Deneuve is radiant as the 16-year-old Geneviève, who falls for Guy (Nino Castelnuovo), a mechanic with humble aspirations. Geneviève sells umbrellas at her mother’s shop, and everything looks like an old Hollywood movie. And no one talks, they sing. They sing every single line in the film no matter how banal. It’s ecstatic and frivolous, but war intervenes, and beauty that was once taken for granted is now sorely missed. Exaltation turns to elegy, and life goes on. It has one of the best endings in all of cinema — if it doesn’t break your heart, nothing will. Streaming on The Criterion Channel and Kanopy.

THEATER

Reinventing the wheel

The Catamounts goes virtual with FEED

by Caitlin Rockett

Michael Ensminger Photo by Michael Ensminger

The Catamounts had just wrapped up its largest production to-date, an immersive staging of the musical Shockheaded Peter, when the pandemic shut down Colorado in mid-March.

“It was a crazy pivot to being in our biggest show ever to there being no theater whatsoever,” says Amanda Berg-Wilson, The Cats artistic director and co-founder. 

The company wasn’t sure what its next steps would be; its signature food-and-theater-pairing event, FEED, was slated for the end of April, but it was hard to see the future of live theater in the haze of shock and uncertainty. 

“But the more we thought about it and the deeper into the pandemic we got, the more we realized we missed connecting with our audience,” Berg-Wilson says. “And we don’t know how long it’s going to be before we can connect again.” 

On May 30, The Cats will host a physically distanced 24th installment of FEED, with curated gift baskets delivered to ticket holders’ front doors, and a list of virtual performances to complement the goodies.

The basket will include a selection of three beverages from Culture Beverage and a meal provided and packed by Savory Cuisines. There will also be a few “gift wrapped” pieces of art, and instructions on how to enjoy your food, drink and art in concert, just as you would have at a pre-pandemic FEED. 

The theme for the event is culture — how it’s shaped and how it shapes us. The concept started as a nod to Culture Beverage, operated by the founders of the FEED event, Lauren Shepard and Zac Wilkinson. But the motif has expanded since the pandemic, which itself has had effects on culture. 

“Of course now that we are all in this huge transitional moment together, one of the things [the staff of The Catamounts has] been talking about is this idea of normal,” Berg-Wilson says. “We know the way we had culture and we know we’re not going back to that — large gatherings inside aren’t happening for a long time, but we don’t know what’s next. The evening has kind of shifted to be more an exploration of how do we listen? How do we say goodbye to what was and how do we let the next thing emerge?”

Of the virtual events of the evening, some will be pre-recorded while others are participatory. One video shows cidermaker Tom Oliver at his cidery in Herefordshire, United Kingdom, where he allows cider to spontaneously ferment in whisky barrels, “sometimes for years at a time,” Berg-Wilson says.

“I’m fascinated by that concept right now,” she says. “I don’t want to rush this moment. I’m impatient to get back to something but I recognize there’s some kind of beauty and usefulness to what we’re experiencing right now during the pandemic.” 

Barbara Dilley, a former president of Naropa University who danced with the Merce Cunningham Dance Company in the ’60s, will lead FEED participants through a guided meditation. 

FEED is available to a limited number of participants since all baskets will be delivered by hand (between 5 and 7 p.m. on May 30), but Berg-Wilson says if the response is good, they’ll do another one soon. Her sights are already on what The Cats may come up with for the fall. 

“It’s a real challenge to reinvent the wheel,” she admits. “But I have great confidence that what we’ll be offering [through FEED] was made with a lot of thought and love and care. It’s a totally new format; I don’t know how it will land. But [The Catamounts] are committed to the constant reinvention of the artistic form, and if we can’t rise to the moment now, we need to hang up our hats.”  

ON THE BILL: FEED: Culture presented by The Catamounts. Saturday, May 30. Tickets are $55 at thecatamounts.org/tickets.