Arvada Center Blog

Find nature at the Center

Find nature at the Center

By Leslie Simon

The snow has melted, the flowers that made it have bloomed, dragonflies are buzzing and bunnies are everywhere as springtime finally hits the Arvada Center. Mother Nature returns for another season of bright colors, delicate smells (ok, the lilacs smell strong), refreshing morning dew, and of course….fuzzy bunnies! A trip around the Center grounds shows that spring is in full bloom, and we are eager to share some nature photos that will put a smile on your face and hopefully not stir up any allergies. Can you identify the flowers of the Arvada Center?


A look inside: Blurring The Line – Opening Reception

Blurring The Line at the Arvada Center

By Amberle N.

The Arvada Center opened its doors this past Thursday for its latest art exhibition, Blurring the Line: Form, Function, Design, featuring the work of thirty-four artists whose artwork plays on the intersections of form, function, and design. Around two-hundred guests and artists were in attendance, enjoying the galleries as they browsed between the upper and lower sections of the Center.

Ceramics, furniture, and interior lighting were the main features in the Lower Gallery exhibition.  Upon entering, one’s eyes are immediately drawn towards the vibrant colors of Knomad Colab’s Harlequin Night, which features an array of lamps decorating the wall with geometric patterns of many colors. Left of the entrance, the displays feature a plethora of works from elaborate cups to exaggerations and combinations of commonplace furniture.

Knomad Colab’s Harlequin Night

Everyday home items were created with transformative qualities that evoke questions of their form and function. Many works combine aspects of different furnishings into new forms. In the Lower Gallery, Michael Beitz’s Lies Bench invites guests to rest on the intricate and functional design, shaped in a cursive writing of the word “Lies.”

Michael Beitz, Lies Bench

Some artists were featured for their very first time. Emily Stevens spoke about her first Arvada Center gallery exhibit, 67, expressing her love of geometry and wanting to build a confluence of the geometric and organic. Comprised of 67 octahedrons, some of which are vases, the piece is a dynamic set intended to be rearranged according to the tastes of its owner.

Emily Stevens, 67

The Upper and Theatre Galleries feature wearable art. Some pieces, such as Kristin Stransky’s notion motion, were created to be interactive with guests, featuring lighting and symbols that respond to motion or touch.

Speaking to her work, Sarah Havens, a costume creator with the Arvada Center, commented on her six-piece set of hats. “Each piece was an opportunity for me to tell my story through costuming, [reversing] the normal use of theatre costuming which doesn’t often tell stories.” Each hat features a human body in some way, from the figureheads on her ship-like creations to tiny figures that express the action of the story, which details her life and travels by boat along the east coast of the United States.

Work by Sarah Havens

Other artists spoke to what inspires them. Jesse Mathes’ distinctive neck-pieces are inspired by paintings of Queen Elizabeth I of England, using many techniques such as Japanese basket weaving to create her unique radial designs. Mathes is an Arvada local, and this summer she will be teaching her techniques to the Colorado Metalsmithing Association.

Jesse Mathes, Japanese Basketweave Neckpiece One

Wearable art presents its own unique challenges. Ryan Gardner provided many insights on his work. “When creating wearable art, there’s [a lot of thought] that goes into making it practical as well. Some artists create elaborate pieces that aren’t really designed to be worn, but when you’re also making pieces for sale you’ve got to keep comfort and wearability in mind.” Ryan cited many architects as the source of his explorations into the limits of materials in his art. One of his fellow artists, Josiah Trujillo, provided an interesting contrast with jewelry inspired by organic shapes.

Ryan Gardner, Corvette and Aqua Ring

These are just a few of the artists and displays at the Arvada Center. Blurring the Line will be featured on display until August 25, 2019.

Getting to Know……. Riders In The Sky

By Leslie Simon

Giddyup to the Arvada Center this summer for a rootin’ tootin’ good time! On June 15, Grammy-winning western music and comedy group Riders In The Sky take to the Arvada Center outdoor amphitheatre. The “singing cowboy phenomenon” started in the 1970s, and Riders In The Sky continue this entertaining tradition for families everywhere.

While many fans have been following their career for decades, younger fans may know them from a less-expected place- Pixar’s Toy Story! It’s only fitting that this band of cowboys would create a medley of songs for the Woody’s Roundup: A Rootin’ Tootin’ Collection of Woody’s Favorite Songs Toy Story 2 album. With names like Joey the Cow Polka King, Woody Paul, Ranger Doug and Too Slim, Riders In The Sky sound like they would fit right in with Woody and his pals. This family-friendly night will see cowboy hijinks, classic country and western tunes, thrilling rope tricks and more!

Listen to Woody Paul, “King of the Cowboy Fiddlers,” as he fiddles faster than a hot knife through butter. Keep watching Woody Paul as he becomes “King of the Clothesline” and performs daringly silly rope tricks. Be astounded as Ranger Doug shows off his yodeling prowess and entertains with the song “That’s How A Yodel Was Born.” You’ve got Too Slim on the upright bass (that sometimes wears a bandana around its neck!), and Joey the CowPolka King bringing the party with his accordion. Or as he calls it- the “Stomach Steinway.”

Get your tickets today to see “America’s Favorite Cowboys” and get ready for a night of laughs, groans, one-liners and two-steppers!

Buy Tickets

Dinner and a show this summer in Arvada!

Dinner Before the Show

by Leslie Simon

Let’s go out to dinner and see a concert! You’re yearning for a good night out on the town, and Arvada has so many great spots, how do you even begin to choose? This summer, we are making it easy for you by creating this concert and restaurant pairing guide that covers our entire Summer Concert Series.




June 15 – Riders In The Sky & Hot Club of Cowtown

Looking for a casual night of Western swing and country tunes? Grab some down-home cooking at 4 Barrel Bar & BBQ. Built in a former Texaco service station, 4 Barrel offers up ribs, pulled pork and all the other usual BBQ favorites. Make sure to try their special Arvada Hash- tater tots covered in pulled pork and green chili. It goes great with double-bill Riders In The Sky and Hot Club of Cowtown, two western favorites that entertain audiences young and old.

Riders In The Sky & Hot Club of Cowtown



June 29- Orquesta Akokán, with Baracutanga

Latin music makes us think Latin food and drink, and Global Goods and Coffee Shop makes the best cortado in town! Popular in Cuba, this coffee drink is an espresso mixed with warm milk, and goes great with their Panini-pressed sandwiches. Afterwards, head over to the Arvada Center for Cuban big band Orquesta Akokán, where driving mambo rhythms and exuberant horns will have everyone on their feet.

Orquesta Akokán Tickets




June 30: The Denver Brass: Awesome Summer Mix!

The Denver Brass: Awesome Summer Mix concert blasts to the past with popular songs like “Hey Jude” and the Ghostbusters theme, getting us in the mood for another blast from the past- pinball! Play the silver ball at SomePlace Else Brewery before the show and feel like a kid again.

Denver Brass Tickets


July 11: The Colorado Symphony presents Mozart Under Moonlight

With guitars available to play right there, we think Mozart would feel right at home in this live music friendly coffeeshop. A staple in Olde Town Arvada since 1993, La Dolce Vita serves up locally-made quiche, ice cream, coffee and live tunes. So grab a piece of coffee cake from this local favorite before seeing another local favorite- the Colorado Symphony performing Mozart Under Moonlight!

Mozart Under Moonlight



July 13: The Colorado Jazz Repertory Orchestra

Brewing up their own special beers and winning awards for it, New Image Brewing has really upped the brewery game in Olde Town Arvada. Head to their taproom and try out a Better Together India Pale Ale, then come over to the Arvada Center to hear another the music of a duo that is also better together- Ray Charles and Count Basie! The Colorado Jazz Repertory Orchestra graces our outdoor amphitheatre again this summer, this time playing selections from the 2006 album “Ray Sings, Basie Swings.”

CJRO Tickets



July 15: Pat Benatar & Neil Giraldo

When we think New York City, the first thing to come to mind is pizza! Stop by Homegrown Tap and Dough for a soda and a slice before heading over to see one of New York City’s brightest stars- Pat Benatar. Pat Benatar and her husband Neil Giraldo have been making NYC-gritty music together for 40 years, but sound as fresh as if they just met a year ago.

Pat Benatar and Neil Giraldo



July 21: A Symphonic Tribute to Comic Con

As a kid, comics and cartoons went hand-in-hand with sugary cereals on Saturday mornings. Now that we are adults, we can have cartoon-colored breakfast cereals any day of the week. Head over to The Cereal Box for gourmet cereal with any toppings you want before seeing the Colorado Symphony Tribute to Comic Con show at our outdoor amphitheatre. Stay forever young as the symphony performs songs from video games and pop culture.

Comic Con Concert Tickets



August 4: George Thorogood and The Destroyers

Dive bar vibes and an old-school jukebox- definitely the kind of place where you can imagine George Thorogood sitting at the bar, or playing loudly over the speakers. Feel bad to the bone grabbing a drink at 12 Volt Tavern before jamming out under the stars to one of rock and roll’s most famous bad boys.

George Thorogood



August 14: Justin Hayward, with Michael Dawes

Justin Hayward from The Moody Blues brings a lot of class wherever he goes, so set the tone of the night right with a delectable pre-show seafood dinner at Smokin Fin’s. It’s the perfect start for a great night with someone you love. Opener Michael Dawes rounds out the night with an English fingerstyle guitar technique that will leave the audience intently listening to every note.

Justin Hayward



August 17: Felix Cavaliere’s Rascals

With over 1,400 kinds of whiskey, School House Kitchen and Libations can get anyone ready for some “Groovin’.” Hit up this popular schoolhouse-themed bar and restaurant before Felix Cavaliere’s Rascals play at the Arvada Center- it’s only fitting since they were playing at the Whiskey A Go Go in Los Angeles when their first number one song “Good Lovin’” broke.

Felix Cavaliere’s Rascals



August 24: The Colorado Ballet – An Evening Under the Stars

Opened in 1933, the Arvada Tavern has a cozy speakeasy feel that can bring romance to any night out on the town. Stop by the tavern for a specialty cocktail before heading over to see the Colorado Ballet – An Evening Under the Stars. If the night goes well, you can head back to the tavern after the show for a late-night cocktail, as they stay open until 2 am on the weekends and 12 am during the week.

Tickets for the Ballet



August 29: Legends of Rock – 50 Years of Woodstock

Sausage, pretzels, beer….. sounds like the food court at a festival! Kline’s Beer Hall will get you in that festival mood with homemade sausages and local brews before we celebrate 50 years of Woodstock with Legends of Rock here at the Arvada Center. Come see Big Brother & the Holding Company, Vanilla Fudge and more as we revisit the vibes of 60s psychedelia with the bands that created the sound.

Legends of Rock Tickets



September 6: Squeeze, with X

This year before the Squeeze Songbook Tour at the Arvada Center, get “Tempted” by one of the everchanging beers on tap at Denver Beer Co. Their outdoor patio is the perfect place to get into a happy and light mood before you see bestselling English pop band Squeeze take the stage at our outdoor amphitheatre.

Squeeze Tickets



If you get hungry during the show- have no fear! Steuben’s Arvada will have a pop-up kitchen here at the Center serving many of their crowd favorites during each summer performance. Don’t miss their chicken and waffle cones or the vegan-friendly Impossible Burger. Full menu available at

Denver dance scene pivots and turns: 15 years with Wonderbound’s Sarah Tallman

By Leslie Simon


As Denver grows, so grows its dance scene. For 15 years, esteemed Colorado dancer Sarah Tallman has entertained fans with her fierce ballet performances with award-winning local dance company Wonderbound. 2019 marks her final year performing as a full-time dancer, but audiences need not be worried- she will still be working behind-the-scenes creating new works and guiding future generations of Colorado dancers through her unique and powerful choreography. We spoke to Sarah about her 15-year journey with Wonderbound, having transcendent experiences while performing, and what she sees for the future of our local dance scene. Join us here at the Arvada Center on June 14-15 for Wonderbound’s production of Boomtown and see Sarah dance in her final two performances.

Sarah Tallman and Ben Youngstone, photos by Amanda Tipton

Q: What has working with Wonderbound over the course of 15 years taught you about yourself?

A: Oh my goodness… I love this question. Over the last 15 years, I have had the opportunity to appear in over 30 Garrett Ammon ballets, which means there has been an enormous opportunity to explore different characters and emotional arcs that humans experience in the course of a day or even a lifetime. Through that exploration, I have observed myself navigating both the simple and the complex emotions that we all go through. They are all reminders that we are alive!

Each of these roles encouraged me to look within and explore myself. As I journeyed through creating the most authentic expressions of each of these characters and roles, it’s been an opportunity to explore the most authentic expression of who I am and how I interact in the world. The more I deepened into the nuances of who I am or who I think I am as an individual, the deeper I have been able to move through the art form. I have learned a lot about love and what it feels like to express that love. I’ve learned to be rigorous and have fun while doing it!

Image by Amanda Tipton Photography

Q: What’s your most memorable moment in working with Wonderbound?

A: Wow. There are so many moments that I have cherished; it’s difficult to distill them into one! I absolutely adore performing and have had transcendent experiences on stage where I felt really locked in with the moment. In those instances, the technique and the emotions simultaneously clicked, and I became a conduit of the work rather than a person executing moves. Those moments feel almost like out-of-body experiences, which is funny because it’s through the body that they have taken form. Those experiences make way for a connection and a deepening of our own humanity. My hope is for at least one person to feel something move within them or to ask a deeper question of themselves. I have seen and experienced these moments with my co-workers as well. It’s quite remarkable.

I also value the relationships we create with our many community education programs. Very recently, I observed a 3rd grader completely change his physiological capacity within a matter of seconds after being exposed to dance. Dance is for everybody, and to observe its resonance with the community as an audience member or participant makes for memorable moments.



Q: What will you miss the most about dancing full-time?

A: I will miss working in the studio with Garrett in the creation of a new solo, and the time with Dawn as a coach. It’s been an unexpected gift to spend the majority of my career originating new roles in brand new ballets that re-awaken the art form. These types of exchanges come along once in a lifetime. I appreciate each one of them and hold them dear to my heart.

The nature of these experiences have allowed me to sink my teeth into the work and go deeper. That’s the secret, when you find work you love, keep going. I can compare it to seeing the ocean for the first time. The ocean is beautiful from the shoreline, but when you jump in and see what’s beneath, there is suddenly an entire world beyond what was witnessed at first glance.

The rigorousness of this type of process has inspired me to create these types of relationships with future artists as I continue my journey as a choreographer. I will miss the everyday vigorous nature of dancing full-time and the connections that are created with audiences and co-artists. I will miss performing, and at the same time, I look forward to discovering new realities through working on the other side of the room as an artistic team member at Wonderbound.

Image by Amanda Tipton Photography

Q: There is an important symbiotic relationship between your writing and your choreography. Can you walk us through your process in creating a new work?

A: Absolutely! Each time I create a new work, I know a little more about what might happen throughout the process, but no two processes are alike. Firstly, I spend a lot of time with the music before I’ve attempted to make even one step. The music generally will cultivate some sort of feeling within me that will then create images in my brain and off I go. My next step is to sit down with paper and pen and just start to free-write. It doesn’t matter if it makes sense or not. As I step into the studio for the first time, I have an outline of the beginning, middle and end of the work. That being said, it’s just as important to not get attached to the “plan” on paper in order to give space to what comes forward once the steps are created.

I’ll often go back to the writing throughout the process. The words help me to envision and create textures, nuances and concepts as the ballet begins to unfold. The next steps are sort of rinse and repeat. At the end of the day, I take what I have learned in the studio and start to form pieces of a puzzle until it’s complete. I lean into the dancers’ artistic voices and interpretations to help further the process and together we begin to make connections.


Q: How does your yoga practice affect your dance practice?

A: I first became a student of yoga at a summer program years ago. I initially fought the training, but then realized it allowed me to experience and understand technique in a different way. Essentially, I used it as a way of cross training. I soon discovered it also provided time to listen to my body and sense my environment differently. Yoga has helped to create a balance internally and externally which prepares me for whatever a rehearsal day or performance might bring.


Q: What changes have you seen in the Denver dance scene over the past 15 years?

A: Denver has changed so much over the last 15 years. It’s really become a city that values art and dance in particular. The level of awareness and our community’s artistic palate has become more diverse. There is no formula to what our audiences desire to experience, other than that they know it will always transcend and surprise. Art has been and will continue to be the heartbeat and grounding of a community. The more we push the envelope, the more we clearly carve a place for dance to exist. It’s impossible not to see art at the forefront of this city’s development. Simply driving down the street, one can’t help but notice the immersive quality of art. It truly is everywhere. I believe Wonderbound has been at the forefront of changing what we can do with our art form. Wonderbound’s collaborative vision has created a palpable energy, making it a stalwart for dance in Denver.

Image by Amanda Tipton Photography

Q: What changes do you hope to see in the next 15 years?

A: My hope for the next 15 years is that we continue to push the boundaries of what is being created. Curiosity, exploration, wonder. These are all important attributes that will carry Denver forward. It’s important to respect what has been and then give way to future moments as they unfold. Denver has a very real opportunity to become a destination city for art as much as it is for its environmental attractions. We can evolve a city that people come to in order to see world class dance.