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The art of offseason in Aspen, the valley

Stewart OksenhornThe Aspen Times
Stewart Oksenhorn/The Aspen TimesHot Tuna, with singer-guitarist Jorma Kaukonen, performs in May at Belly Up Aspen.
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ASPEN There are better things to do this spring than wonder which businesses that are Closed for the Off-Season will have their doors shut a lot longer than that.Following is a selection of events and activities to keep our minds off other things until the ultimate distraction Summertime in Aspen! hits on June 5, with the Snowmass Chili Pepper & Brew Fest.

How cruel: The Wheeler, which assumes the role of arthouse cinema during offseasons, is closed for renovation just when we need it most. So pin your hopes on the multiplexes finding room for the following films among the superheroes, explosions and remakes.The Soloist (now showing in Aspen), based on the true story of a journalist (Robert Downey Jr.) who befriends a homeless, Juilliard-trained violinist (Jamie Foxx); American Violet (currently in limited release), about a black single mother fighting her drug arrest with the Texas justice system, against the backdrop of the 2000 presidential race; Adoration (due out May 8), an imaginative coming-of-age tale from Canadian director Atom Egoyan; OHorten (in limited release May 15), a Norwegian drama about a train engineer who has a life-changing moment on the eve of his retirement; and Away We Go (June 5), director Sam Mendes and co-writer Dave Eggers road comedy about an expecting couple looking for the perfect place to call home.Also chipping in on the movie front with free screenings! is Belly Up. Currently scheduled are The Wrestler, the surprisingly moving story of an on-the-ropes professional grappler, starring the shockingly effective Mickey Rourke (Tuesday, April 28); and the big-buddy comedy Role Models (Wednesday, April 29).

Folk-rocker Steve Forbert never hit as big as he did with his 1979 album Jackrabbit Slim, and its single, Romeos Tune. But the Mississippian continues to make excellent music, and quite a bit of it: His last two albums, Strange Names & New Sensations and The Time and The Place, were released within the last two years. He plays Tuesday, April 28.Mexican-American singer-fiddler Carrie Rodriguez (May 20) makes spicy, downhearted music on last years She Aint Me, which features Lucinda Williams and the Jayhawks Gary Louris, and was produced by Malcolm Burn, who has worked with Emmylou Harris and String Cheese Incident.Also: Paonia string band Sweet Sunny South (May 5); singer-songwriters Lucy Kaplansky and Antje Duvekot (May 17); and acoustic group the Hickory Project (May 23).

The two big shows come from two ends of the stylistic and age spectrum. Pitbull, the 28-year-old Cuban-American rapper who dominates the soundtrack to the current Fast & Furious, appears Thursday, April 30 (making up for a snowed-out March date). A bunch of 60-somethings roots act Hot Tuna, still led after all these years by Jorma Kaukonen and Jack Casady, and singer-songwriter Loudon Wainwright III make up an attractive double-bill on May 21.Other shows of note: ZOSO, which bills itself as the Ultimate Led Zeppelin Experience (what, more ultimate than the all-girl cover band Lez Zep? And how about Led Zep itself?), on Friday, May 1; a free gig by the singular That 1 Guy and his one-stringed instrument (May 3); Chicago progressive acoustic band Cornmeal in its Aspen debut (May 6); the High Times Cannabis Cup Band, featuring Junior Jazz and Lenky Don (May 7); a free show by Michigan Afrobeat band NOMO (May 26); twangy punk band Lucero (May 28); and rock keyboard veteran Leon Russell (May 29).

Friday, May 1; Artists Collective; CarbondaleWewer Keohane will sign copies of her book, The Art of Dreaming: A Primer for Finding Inspiration from Your Dreams. Looking to her dreams has seemed to work for Keohane, an artist whose work reflects a vivid, wide-spanning imagination.

Opening with a reception Thursday, May 7, Red Brick Center for the ArtsArt Start, featuring work from students in grades 1-8 from the upper valley, opens with performances by the Aspen Middle School jazz band and string ensemble, plus a performance by Aspen Community School students. The exhibit runs May 1-14.At the Red Brick in June: the resident artists show, spotlighting Red Brick artists taking new directions (Betty Farsons ceramic installation; Shelly Safir Marolt projecting a video onto canvas). Also in June: the outdoor sculpture show.

5Point Film Festival, May 7-10, CarbondaleThe 5Point Film Festival made a splash in its debut last year, revving up Bonedale with films, talks and community events. The fest, led by local adventurer/mom Julie Kennedy, presses forward in year two, adding theater to its plate, with a performance by climber/comedian Timmy ONeill. Panel discussions will focus on women who have tackled physical challenges, and on those who spin their love of the outdoors into making an impact on the world around them. Renowned climber Conrad Anker and his wife, artist/writer Jenni Lowe-Anker, give a talk about their tragedies and triumphs. And there are films, five programs of them, focusing on unicycling, climbing canines, magic helmets, knitting. And, no doubt, some skiing, climbing, kayaking and mountain biking.Symphony in the Valley Mothers Day Concerts: Thursday, May 7, at Roaring Fork High School, Carbondale, and Sunday, May 10, at Glenwood Springs High School auditoriumAs always, Symphony in the Valley celebrates Moms Day by focusing on the kids, with the winners of the Concerto Competition spotlighted in the concerts. Violinist Alexander Raab, a 19-year old Denver University student, will play Saint-Sans Rondo Capriccioso; soprano Emily Murdock, 26, a graduate of the University of Colorado, Boulder, will sing Mozarts Exsultate, jubilate, and pianist Kevin Ahfat, a 14-year-old from Centennials Grand View High, is soloist for Chopins Concerto in F minor. Also on the program: Suite No. 1 from the Bizet opera, Carmen; and Julie Spencers percussion piece, Tribeca Sunflower.Monitaur, beginning Monday, May 11, Aspen Art MuseumThe Aspen Art Museum claims a shortage of exhibition space. Rather than merely bemoan the fact, they aim to use every square foot theyve got.Monitaur is an effort to turn the entryway/book shop into a quasi-gallery. The new feature displays a different pair of videos each week on the lobby monitor. The first pairing includes scenes of people running through museums, and a 60s educational film about field-trip etiquette; another will have exotic dance videos juxtaposed with a Lucky Strike commercial featuring dancing cigarettes.Along with the films comes Office Hours, in which museum visitors can have an open dialogue with museum staff about Monitaur and whatever else might come up. You say a presentation and people think lecture, the conversation going one way, said Matthew Thompson, the museums associate curator. We want it to be more open.Also at the museum: Peter Coffin whose UFO, a 24-foot work made of 3,000 LED lights, was launched, literally, in Gdansk, Poland last summer participates in the Distinguished Artist in Residence program, beginning May 11. Coffin will address a different sort of flying object: the blue bowerbird, whose mating rituals the artist will riff on in a multi-media work that includes a blue car. And No Sound, featuring silent video works by various artists, opens May 23.Colorado Organic Cookbook Dinner, Wednesday, May 13, Restaurant SIX89, CarbondaleThree of the finest ingredients in the Colorado organic movement Mark Fischers SIX89; Jennifer Olsons Colorado Organic: Cooking Seasonally, Eating Locally; and wines from Lance Hansons Jack Rabbit Hill vineyards near Hotchkiss team for a five-course dinner. The menu features dishes Fischer contributed to the cookbook: Milagro Ranch beef shortribs with blue cheese grits; salt cod fritters with North Fork chips. The evening includes a signed copy of Olsons book.Art and Allison Daily, Out of the Canyon, Thursday, May 16, Explore Booksellers in AspenIn 1995, a boulder came loose above I-70 in Glenwood Canyon, landing on the car of Aspenites Art and Kathy Daily and their two young sons. Kathy and the boys were killed; Art was inexplicably untouched by the rock. Except he wasnt untouched. Daily went through massive grief, and a profound spiritual questioning. Some of those questions were answered in the person of Allison, a young woman enjoying a summer in Aspen who was moved to reach out to Art, and eventually became his wife. The two tell their story in Out of the Canyon, due for publication May 12. They talk and sign on May 16 at Explore.Cinderblock Bookshelves, Friday, May 22, Steves Guitars, CarbondaleCalifornia musician Rain Perry isnt going to fit her offbeat upbringing into a song. No, she needs a full theatrical production to tell the tale of her hippie father and having roommates she knew only as Superman. Perry brings her humorous, music-filled show to Steves following thumbs-up reviews for the debut last year in California.In fact, even the stage isnt big enough to contain Cinderblock Bookshelves: Theres also an album, and an upcoming book.Glenwood Vaudeville Revue, opening May 29, Blue Acacia Theater, Glenwood SpringsAfter years of work and faith, local thespian John Goss launches his downvalley answer to Aspens late Crystal Palace dinner theater. The Glenwood Vaudeville Revue will be held in the Blue Acacia Theater, in the Masonic Lodge, Friday and Saturday nights, and Sunday afternoons, into late September. The six-member cast features four former Palace performers but dont expect a re-creation of the old Aspen landmark. The Vaudeville Revue is more family-friendly in content and price ($18 for adults); food is deli/pub fare. But like the Palace, the atmosphere is part of the show: The theater is being tricked out with vintage Vaudeville flair. And there are original numbers Black Bear Rap, Snowboarder on Aspen Mountain to go with familiar show tunes.Goss directs, with Jonathan Grost, music director of the current national tour of Phantom of the Opera, handling the music side.stewart@aspentimes.com


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