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Live Art, Live Music, Used Books

Chris Ritter (right) poses at the first gathering.

Church Fire is quirky and danceable.

A MORBID QT from artist Alana Bates.

Chelsea Armyn is one of seven participating visual artists on Dec. 3.

Ian Gray (left) makes hand-painted Ouija boards.

Chris Ritter of Critter Hype Machine is organizing a new event at Mutiny Information Cafe in Baker that melds visual and aural art, not to mention holiday shopping for bookworms. The next one is the night of Sat. Dec. 13.
This isn't the first time Chris Ritter, a.k.a. Critter, has worked to fuse art and music. A veteran drummer and artist himself, he made motion activated kinetic sculptures for some of the first Lollapalooza shows in the 1990s. "They were like sword-fighting neon machines," he says.

He later helped produce experimental shows in the Bay Area. Now Critter has focused his eclectic talents on an event he's calling the Mutiny Info Artists Network Gathering at Mutiny Information Cafe, a bookstore and coffee shop in Baker. His hope is to produce one a month with his Critter Hype Machine.

The first gathering took place on Day of the Dead after Ritter decided to book not just bands, but visual artists for the event. "I thought, 'Why don't we just do a whole party?' We'll do a dead man's party, just like the old Oingo Boingo song."

The mix of artists creating and selling art at the event, live music, shopping and drinks for donations drew a good crowd. "There was a very good ebb and flow," says Ritter. "Good feng shui."

He says the participating artists represent "DIY artistic expression, non-commercial, non-professional, but some very good art." Expect everything from plushies to handpainted Ouija-style boards from the seven participating artists, including Chelsea Armyn, Ian Gray and Indigo Fox.

Three electronic-oriented bands -- Night Grinder, Weird Al Qaida and Church Fire -- will provide musical accompaniment starting at 6 p.m., with nice gaps to allow for browsing and gift-buying from Mutiny's well-stocked shelves and the seven participating artists, who will produce works over the course of the night.

He describes the musical acts as edgy but not overpowering. "I didn't want to do hipster folk acoustic stuff," says Ritter, noting that he's turning down the volume from the metal-oriented Day of the Dead event. "It's not loud rock."

Nonetheless, the end goal, says Ritter, is "a circus."

Ritter says he hopes to replicate the event on a monthly basis, with a different theme every month. This time around, "I didn't want to do a Christmas party," he says. "That's too predictable."

The next Mutiny Info Artists Network Gathering at Mutiny Information Cafe (2 S. Broadway) starts at 6 p.m. on Sat. Dec. 13.

Read more articles by Eric Peterson.

Eric is a Denver-based tech writer and guidebook wiz. Contact him here.
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