A nighttime scene features a taller person and shorter person silhouetted against the vibrant red, blue and green of a classic theater marquee
The iconic Boulder Theater at 2032 14th St. is one of the many places where you can take in a show in the coming year. Credit: Timothy Hurst

Let’s face it: 2022 is off to a bad start in Boulder County. As the smoke clears in the aftermath of the Dec. 30 Marshall Fire — with so much lost, and losses yet to tally — many of us could use something to look forward to in the new year.

That’s why the Boulder Reporting Lab is presenting a round-up of some can’t-miss arts events headed to town in the coming months — from the stage to the page, and points in between. 

With touring artists and local talent regularly filling area music venues, visual arts spaces and performing arts centers, you’ll find lots of great stuff happening all year long.

Mark your calendar with these seven exhibitions, performances and festivals.

Walk with Me: Withers Photography Collection 
Jan. 16–Feb. 27 | Free 
Dairy Arts Center, 2590 Walnut St.

History comes into focus in this powerful exhibition of more than 100 photographs by Ernest Withers, one of the foremost chroniclers of African American life in the 20th Century. The collection takes visitors on a harrowing journey through the Jim Crow south during the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and ‘60s, capturing the Black experience at midcentury in all its hope and heartbreak. 

Presented in partnership with NAACP Boulder County, this free exhibition will kick off on Jan. 16 with a program of speakers and performing artists. Rosalind Withers, daughter of the renowned photographer, will keynote this celebration of her father’s work on loan from the Withers Museum & Gallery in Memphis. 

Masks required for entry.

Versatility Dance Festival
Jan. 22 | $15–25

Gordon Gamm Theater (Dairy Arts), 2590 Walnut St.

Contemporary movement takes center stage during this evening of performances and films by dance companies and filmmakers from around the world. Emerging and established artists alike will mesmerize audiences during the return of the Versatility Dance Festival with dazzling combinations of legwork and floorwork, alongside a slate of cinematic screenings exploring all things dance.

The festival, which travels to Salt Lake City for an encore on Feb. 25, is presented by T2 Dance Company — the company-in-residence at Block 1750, a community space offering dance classes for adults and kids in Boulder. Whether you’re a diehard dance aficionado or a curious newcomer, you won’t want to miss this one-night event from a local nonprofit dedicated to fostering creativity in the community.

Masks required for entry.

Natani Notah: Inner Lining
Feb. 3–May 30 | $2 (Free on Saturdays)
BMoCA (West Gallery), 1750 13th St.

The work of Navajo Nation citizen Natani Notah “dares to imagine a world where Native sensibilities are magnified.” That’s how she puts it in her artist statement, offering a sign post for understanding how the artist’s interdisciplinary work engages with the lingering effects of colonization and the commercialization of Indigenous representation and cultural objects. 

The Inner Lining exhibition at the Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art (BMoCA) brings together different bodies of work by Notah, including her Soft Sculptures series featuring objects made from secondhand clothing and garments related to the artist’s own family history. These abstract works may be minimal, but they gesture to stories as complex and diverse as the Native perspectives that bring them to life. 

Masks required for entry. 

Bluebird Music Festival
April 23–24 | $29–49 (single show); $199 (weekend pass)

Macky Auditorium, 1595 Pleasant St.

Boulder’s favorite folk-rock festival returns with its best lineup yet. Headliners for this year’s Bluebird Music Festival include Nashville singer-songwriter Margo Price, Colin Meloy of bookish indie mainstays The Decemberists, and critical darlings Waxahatchee, the long-running project of southern roots music maven Katie Crutchfield. 

Waxahatchee is the can’t-miss act during the two-day event. Two years off her band’s masterful and career-defining Saint Cloud (2020), Crutchfield will perform a stripped-down afternoon set on Sunday, April 24, as part of the festival’s Strings and Stories series, followed by a full-band blowout later in the evening alongside Margo Price and Bedouine, the stage name of Syrian-born Azniv Korkejian.

Proof of vaccination or a negative Covid test within 72 hours of showtime is required for entry.

Double Header: Henry Rollins + Welcome to Night Vale
May 8 & 9 | $30 & $35

The Boulder Theater, 2032 14th St.

We couldn’t pick just one. These back-to-back performances at the iconic Boulder Theater may be quite different from each other, but they’re both sure to be essential for anyone who loves a well-told story. 

First up: punk icon Henry Rollins brings his massive, 43-city world tour to the Front Range for an evening of spoken word on Sunday, May 8. The former Black Flag frontman, once known for his hardcore band’s bruising basement shows, will grip the mic more gingerly as he “faithfully recounts the events of his life in the brief pre-Covid period since the last tour, and when things got even stranger over the last several months.”

The following night, popular oddball podcast Welcome to Night Vale will regale Boulderites with a scripted radio dispatch from the fictional town of its title. Paranormal activity, bizarre conspiracies and supernatural occurrences are all par for the course in the strange desert outpost of Night Vale, which co-creator Joseph Fink calls “a southwestern commuter suburb with no place for anyone to commute to.”

Proof of vaccination (14 days from last dose) is required for entry. Negative PCR test results are not accepted. Masks are “strongly recommended.”

These performances, exhibitions and festivals are just a slice of what you can expect when it comes to the arts in Boulder this winter and spring. For more, check out the calendar from Boulder County Arts Alliance

Got an upcoming arts event we should cover in 2022? Let us know

Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly reported that Food Network TV personality Alton Brown would be performing at the Fox Theatre in Boulder on March 2. Brown will actually be performing at the Fox Theatre in Atlanta on that date. The Boulder Reporting Lab regrets the error.

Archived work by Jezy Grazy for Boulder Reporting Lab.