The Cherry Creek Arts Festival tops almost everyone's list of things to do in Denver over the Fourth of July weekend. The award-winning fest, taking place this weekend on the streets of Cherry Creek North, has been hailed nationwide by artists and buyers alike, and it adds a luster to Denver's growing reputation as a happening place to be. Unless you happen to be a local artist, that is: Precious few of those are found exhibiting work at the prestigious summer showcase.

CCAF publicist Kelly Ferris notes that while fair organizers made an effort last year to present a bigger festival, this year they're shooting for a better festival, meaning more big-name entertainers on the fest's free music stages and more overall variety in activities offered. Highlights include a traveling glass-blowing demonstration, roving performances by visual theater group Bedlam Oz and multi-arts collaborators Squonk Opera, aerial dance by Frequent Flyers and hands-on art play areas for kids and adults. But the recurring criticism remains: Why don't more local and alternative artists get to participate? Though the festival's jury process was altered this year to allow for a more diverse assortment of art, only eight Colorado artists made the final 200-name roster, including newcomers pastelist Tony Ortega, blown-glass artist Linda Backus, painter Michael Gadlin and installation artist Brian Nelson.

BY SUSAN FROYD


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