Art is everywhere here: on the streets, in more than 30 art galleries, in the world-famous Colorado Music Festival, Boulder International Film Festival and annual Colorado Shakespeare Festival. That’s barely the beginning.
Between the Dairy Arts Center and Boulder Museum for Contemporary Art alone, you can find creative (and often surprising) entertainment any day of the week. The music and stage scene in Boulder is incredible, with indoor and outdoor venues for both live music and theater. Make sure to check the schedule at the Boulder Theater, Fox Theatre, Chautauqua Amphitheater, BDT Stage (the dinner theater), the famous Red Rocks Amphitheater and University of Colorado, to name a few.
Not to mention the simple amusement of walking down the Pearl Street Mall past the ubiquitous stream of musical buskers.
And while the coronavirus pandemic has certainly put a damper on this summer and fall, it hasn’t completely ruined the fun when it comes to arts and culture in Boulder and beyond.
Make this your time to get artsy in Boulder. Here are some art-centric activities we bet you haven’t tried. How many of these hidden gems from the Boulder arts and culture bucket list can you check off?
A quick note: Be sure to practice social distancing guidelines, wear your mask, wash your hands and stay at least six feet away from other people. Call ahead to get the most updated information about special hours or coronavirus-related precautions you need to take.
And perhaps most importantly, save this list for later. Some of these businesses are closed and activities are on hold because of coronavirus, but they’ll need all the support they can get when the world gets back to normal. Be sure to keep a copy of this list handy so you can support Boulder’s arts and culture community when it’s safe and appropriate to do so.
- Lay under the piano of multi-Grammy award-winning pianist Peter Kater. You can book a personal meeting and performance by Kater, who will invite you to crawl under his piano while he plays improv music just for you, based on your energy and encounter with him. You can also do this via Skype or FaceTime. Learn more at peterkater.com/piano-readings-by-peter-kater.
- Take a mural tour through Boulder’s neighborhoods. There’s a walking and biking tour, as part of the Creative Neighborhoods Mural Program, launched by the city’s Office of Arts and Culture in 2018. The goal: to use Boulder’s artistic abilities to design murals on local homes that the community can enjoy from public streets and paths. Learn more at travelboulder.com/take-a-mural-tour-through-boulders-neighborhoods. Longmont also has great street art.
- Learn to tango. The Boulder Tango Studio offers beginner Argentine tango classes throughout the summer, as well as regular workshops with tango stars and Boulder residents Gustavo Naveira and Giselle Anne. Because of the pandemic, they’re teaching lessons online until further notice. Check the schedule at bouldertangostudio.com. For something even less common, the Avalon Ballroom holds Scandinavian social dances. Learn about the traditional dance styles of Sweden and Norway to the tune of live music. In-person classes have been canceled because of coronavirus, but keep an eye on the ballroom’s website for when they return.
- Take an unusual art class at Bohemia. This is not an average sip-and-paint studio. Here, you might build a shrine. Create your own “inner monster.” Rip the pages out of a book and paint all over it. That’s the “altered book club” workshop. Bohemia, in North Boulder, also offers a special art program for seniors called Purple Art. The studio is offering classes on Zoom until further notice.
- Attend a classical music festival. The Boulder Bach Festival is just what it sounds like: a music festival celebrating the music of Johann Sebastian Bach. This respected Boulder festival features high-quality musicians in concerts, educational events and more. Throughout the year the festival organizes other concerts and events in the community, too. The festival claims to be one of the most renowned festivals of its kind. Every May, Boulder is also home to the Colorado MahlerFest, a week-long music festival honoring the works of composer Gustav Mahler.
- Go on a self-guided art walk. Though some of this summer’s art walks have been canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic, others are still on for later this summer or are being hosted virtually. A traditional art walk typically involves wandering around a neighborhood or downtown area, listening to live music and wandering in and out of art galleries. You can also take a self-guided art walk through the NoBo Art District.
- Visit one of Boulder’s many music stores. We’ve got record shops, a violin-maker’s shop, stores specializing in musical instruments and more. Check out Woodsongs for all your musical needs, including mandolins, ukuleles, guitars, banjos, music books and band and orchestra instruments (all available to rent or buy). The Boulder Piano Gallery, which is open by appointment only until further notice, is the place to go for all things piano. Bart’s Record Shop is where you’ll find new and used records and CDs — just be sure to wear your mask and check the shop’s website for other coronavirus guidelines.
- ● Take a virtual studio tour. Though the Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art had to shut down because of the pandemic, you can still connect with artists like Lindee Zimmer, Alejandra Abad and Caleb Hahne through virtual studio tours. They’re literally inviting you into their studios for a behind-the-scenes look, while practicing social distancing. You can find studio tours on the museum’s Instagram feed. The museum is also offering online artist talks and extending their current exhibitions so people can experience them once the museum reopens.
- Look for street art in your neighborhood. One benefit of the pandemic? People are getting outside and creating art in their neighborhoods. You can find inspiration and post your own street art observations using the hashtag #ArtInsideOut.
- ● Explore “art on the loose” through the Dairy Arts Center’s many virtual events and activities. They’re calling it Free Range Dairy, which is totally clever. A few examples of their online events include virtual film screenings and discussions (called “Zoombacks”) and a virtual variety show. Check out the Dairy’s website for the most updated list of events.
- Send your kids to Comic Book Summer Camp at the Museum of Boulder. Though the museum is currently closed until further notice, they’re planning to move forward with some summer camps for kids scheduled for later in the summer. Your kids will love dreaming up and creating their own superheroes and mystical creatures by creating their very own comic book at camp. They’ll get to flex their creative muscles while doing something they love.
- Check out the Boulder Bunny Rabbit Art Challenge. This open-air gallery is located in downtown Boulder and features art plaques attached to the exterior walls of local shops and restaurants. You’ll be able to see artwork created by 28 local artists who range from age 3 to 70. They’re all offering their interpretation of bunny rabbits through paintings, found object art, mosaics and other styles. Check out creativecatalyzers.org for the exact locations of all these bunnies!
- Take a virtual class or attend an online concert through Boulder Arts Online. They’re offering tons and tons of online options, ranging from virtual dance classes to art workshops to artist talks. Check out the calendar posted online and see which offering inspires you the most.
Other More Popular Ideas
- Experience the Boulder Ballet, Boulder County’s professional dance company and ballet school, either by taking a class or watching a show. They’re offering classes via Zoom and rescheduling many performances, so be sure to keep an eye on the website. Also check out classes and shows through the unique 3rd Law Dance and Frequent Flyers Aerial Dance.
- Drink tea at the Dushanbe Tea House. This ornate, artistic building, 1770 13th St., is a shining star for culture in Boulder. It was designed in Tajikistan, shipped in pieces from overseas and assembled here in the colorful building that you can enjoy today. Call to make a reservation and enjoy the outdoor patio.
- Paint your own art. Check out Color Me Mine on the Pearl Street Mall, a fun paint-your-own-pottery ceramics studio. Crackpots, about 30 minutes east in Longmont, bills itself as a “creative playground.” Like Color Me Mine, this is a paint-your-own-pottery studio that’s welcoming to families. Both studios are offering social distancing painting; make a reservation to ensure your group gets a spot.