Boulder Arts Week kicks off today on stage, behind the mic and on gallery walls

If you go

What: Boulder Arts Week

When: Today through April 6

Where: various locations

Cost: some events require a cost, but 35 are discounted or free

More info:

If you go

What: Collaboratory: Nirvamlet, The Last Chord

When: 7:30 p.m. Sunday

Where: Galvanize, 1023 Walnut St., Boulder

Cost: suggested donation of $5

Kristin Marie Stelter, Liz Carrigan and Kalond Irlanda perform in a scene of a past production of Band of Toughs‘ “Nirvamlet.” ()

More info:

Boulder Arts Week, a city-wide celebration of all things creative, kicks off today. The 90-venue festival continues to deliver accessible art of all mediums. Each year, the event averages more than 15,000 attendees and last year featured more than 350 events by more than 110 arts organizations and presenters. This year, it comes in stronger than ever with an incredibly diverse lineup and 35 featured events that are either free or significantly discounted. From engaging theatrical productions to stirring visual exhibits, the caliber is unmatched.

“I hope Boulderites will try something new during the week,” said Lauren Click, manager of Boulder Arts Week and the City of Boulder Office of Arts and Culture grants manager. “There is such a variety — anything from playing with clay at the Pottery Lab or seeing a cabaret in a bike shop, international to local artists. Since some of the presenting artists are local, you may get to meet the same people that are making the work, too.”

Inga Pae‘s photograph “Taste” is part of “Transfixed: Month of Photography 2019” on view in the AKA Gallery at Boulder Creative Collective. ()

“Nirvamlet,” a Band of Toughs production, tells a story influenced by the grand tragedy of “Hamlet” with plenty of guitar-shredding grunge. One wouldn‘t expect the revered work of Shakespeare and ‘90s alternative rock to necessarily meld well, but it oddly does in this production of power chords and power struggles. On Sunday, at Galvanize, attendees will be treated to a performance of the last third of the theatrical multidisciplinary show — hence the name, “Nirvamlet, The Last Chord.”

The idea for the imaginative production came on one of Band of Toughs‘ annual retreats to the mountains. As the wine flowed and the campfire crackled, a member of the multi-person crew jokingly suggested pairing the sounds of Seattle with Shakespeare.

Singer-songwriter Estella Dawn will perform at Laughing Goat today at 8 p.m. ()

“We thought this idea may actually have legs,” said one of BOT‘s founding members and director of “Nirvamlet” Colleen Mylott. “So we put it into the rehearsal room and got to work.”

The insightful, award-wining hybrid has consistently resonated with audiences at past Boulder Fringe Festivals and regional shows.

“People seem to really understand and like where we took the piece,” said Mylott. “Feedback has been really overwhelmingly positive.”

While the production is set nowadays, the music of the Beastie Boys, Jeff Buckley, Mazzy Star, Hole and, of course, Nirvana surfaces in this angsty tale that subtly touches on the conspiracy theories surrounding Kurt Cobain‘s death. There‘s also plenty of humor in this flannel-draped play that incorporates live music from a skilled trio.

Comedian Demetri Martin will perform at Boulder Theater at 4 p.m. on Sunday. ()

“This work feels really sacred,” said Mylott. “In a way, we are touching icons.”

“I love every piece of it,” said Mylott. “A show like this is so cool in terms of I had no idea what the completed project would look like. When you are open as a room to collaboration, you get the best of everyone‘s ideas not just your own.”

Other future concepts being tossed around by BOT are Shakespeare‘s “The Tempest” being set in a bar and a feminist-forward version of “Grease” that incorporates the #MeToo movement.

“Any sort of pop-culture music mash-up makes us really excited,” said Mylott.

At this Sunday‘s production, attendees will be treated to a new ending and then invited to share feedback with cast and crew.

The photographic work of “National Geographic” photographer Cory Richards, can be seen at Highland City Club all day today. In his series, ICON, notable Boulderites are featured in large-scale portraits. ()

“We love the audience of Boulder,” said Mylott. “They are always supportive of the shows and tell us what‘s working and what‘s not.”

The Gravediggers in the original production of “Hamlet” take on the roles of witty and neurotic record store clerks, à la “High Fidelity,” in this action-packed piece.

“Our performances aren‘t just plays, they are events,” said founding BOT member Joan Bruemmer-Holden, who plays the gravedigger inspired by Cusack‘s character in “High Fidelity.” “From the minute you walk in, until you leave, you‘re part of our tribe. I think audiences respond to that, in addition to the well-crafted shows. I also think Kurt and Courtney are still heroes and villains that people are curious about and pairing it with ‘Hamlet,‘ one of Shakespeare‘s most epic works, gets people excited about what they might see.”

From comedy to culture

As part of Arts Week, fans can catch deadpan comedian Demetri Martin at Boulder Theater and New Zealand-born songstress Estella Dawn at the Laughing Goat.

“Artists do flock here — but they leave, too,” said Charlotte LaSasso, executive director of Boulder County Arts Alliance. “I think Boulder‘s reputation as a liberal, smart community, the natural beauty, access to trails and bike paths are very appealing, but the cost of living and challenges [of] making it as an artist cause people to move, too. That said, there are a lot of people — artists, administrators and patrons — that are working to not only attract artists, but keep them here. Boulder Arts Week is a good example of one of those efforts.”

The photographic work of National Geographic photographer Cory Richards, can be seen at Highland City Club all day today. In his series, “ICON,” notable Boulderites are featured in large-scale portraits, some 5-feet tall, that definitely give a glimpse into their personalities. From tight-eyed smiles to serious gazes, each has the ability to captivate.

“I‘d strongly recommend that people step out of their comfort zones and try something new,” said LaSasso. “Minimize risk by attending free and reduced price events; look for the purple ‘Featured Events‘ banners on the calendar. I‘m looking forward to an urban hike and the self-guided tour of Boulder‘s Creative Neighborhoods Mural Program. Frequent Flyers Aerial Dance professional company is holding an open rehearsal; since they regularly sell out performances, it‘s another opportunity to see their upcoming show.”

On April 6 at 3:30 p.m., The Spark, Boulder‘s newest performing arts center, will host an open house with a food truck, live music and drinks. Attendees will get an inside look at this fresh space, at 4847 Pearl St., sure to host future memorable dance, theater and musical productions.

“While there are definitely artists that create work specifically for Boulder Arts Week, the volume and variety of arts offerings is typical during any given week in Boulder,” said LaSasso. “Even though you don‘t always see evidence of art being made while walking the streets and paths of Boulder, I sincerely believe that the special Boulder ambiance we all enjoy is partly because of the concentration of creative activity that is happening all around us, all the time — in homes, studios, theaters, galleries and all kinds of non-traditional spaces.”