A handful of Lawrence nonprofits are hoping the arts fall near the top of your list of great loves this Valentine's Day.
But you'll have to pick your favorite cause.
The Spencer Museum of Art, Lawrence Community Theatre and Lawrence Chamber Orchestra each will offer food, live music, dance and fine art to lure you and your sweetheart out of the house Saturday evening.
Also competing for your attention -- or at least your eyes -- will be the Lawrence Art Collective, Olive Gallery and Art Supply and Van Go Mobile Arts, all of whom will have Valentine's Day-related artwork on display for the holiday.
And Independence Inc. plans to stray from the Valentine's Day theme altogether for its second annual "Mardi Gras on the Kaw," a big party with a Big Easy theme aimed at raising money for people with disabilities in Douglas, Franklin and Jefferson counties.
So how do you decide? You can start by reading this collection of specifics. After that, you'll have to follow your heart.
A first for the Lawrence Community Theatre, the "Sweetheart Soiree" provides a complete evening out. For $40, you get dinner and dessert in the Lied Center's Seymour Gallery.
Thirty-five dollars more earns you entrance to the theater, where area musicians and vocalists will serenade you with love songs and romantic music. On the bill are pianists Carole Ross and Richard Angeletti, the Free State High School Choir, singers Genaro Mendez, Barbara Ballard, Lauren Parsons, Sarah Young, Dylan Hilpman and Katie Bushouse and the Rotary Singers. The evening also will include Larry and Linda Maxey, dancers Patrick Suzeau and Muriel Cohan, comedy sketches from "Right Between the Ears" cast members, a special visit by Sue Hack and company, special performance by Kip Niven, and a visit from Annette Cook, Peggy Sampson and the Band from the theater's production of "Always...Patsy Cline."
Kansas University theater professor Jack Wright is directing the show, and local radio personality Hank Booth will serve as emcee.
"We're trying for a really romantic, wonderful, classy, elegant evening that people can come to with a special person or come by themselves or come with a friend or whatever," theater director Mary Doveton says.
The theater and the Lawrence Rotary Club, who co-organized the event, will split proceeds. The theater plans to bolster its children's and senior's programming. Rotary is raising money for polio eradication.
Tickets are available at Lawrence Community Theatre, 843-7469; the Lied Center, 864-2787; from members of Rotary and the theater board; and at the door.
'For the Love of Art'
After you've sipped cocktails and snacked on hors d'oeuvres in the Spencer Museum of Art's Central Court, you can stroll through the galleries on a special Cupid's Tour of romance- and love-inspired artwork.
And that's just the beginning of "For the Love of Art," the fourth annual benefit for children's educational programming at the museum, 1301 Miss.
The evening begins at 6:30 and then moves across the street to the Kansas Union Ballroom at 8 p.m. for a silent auction, dinner (complete with wandering classical violinists and a performance by Random Harmony, a KU a cappella men's ensemble) and dancing to the sounds of the Majestics Rhythm Revue.
Tickets are $100, and reservations must be made by Thursday by calling 864-0141 or e-mailing email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
This is the museum's only benefit, and though it doesn't raise loads of money, it helps fund training for docents, who explain works of art to hundreds of area school children who visit the museum on field trips each year.
"The Spencer is a museum for everyone. It's not just a university museum; it is a community museum, and we reach out to the community," says Sandra London, director of membership and development. "This is one way that we're hoping the community reaches out to help us."
'Baroque by Candlelight'
Dozens of flickering candles and the traditional architecture of the Trinity Episcopal Church sanctuary lend a throwback atmosphere to the Lawrence Chamber Orchestra's annual "Baroque by Candlelight" concert.
This year's benefit performance -- scheduled for 7:30 p.m. at the church, 1011 Vt. -- will feature mezzo-soprano Debra Scroggins Sowerwine singing George Frideric Handel's "Tra la Fiamme," which appropriately translates to "In the Flames."
The program also includes violinists Sara Holmberg and Noemi Miloradovic playing "Concerto in D minor for Two Violins" by J.S. Bach, the "Suite for Strings after Sonata No. 10" by William Boyce and excerpts from Handel's "Water Music."
At intermission, a lavish dessert spread complete with wine and other beverages will be available.
Tickets are $20. The event, in its sixth year, typically raises $3,000 to $4,000, says orchestra general manager Mick Braa.
"It's a romantic event," he says. "It also helps keep us playing in Lawrence since we're the only independent orchestra in Lawrence and we're the only one that actually tries to compensate its players. That takes the biggest portion of our budget."
The name of this exhibition is literal, so dress for the occasion.
The Lawrence Art Collective will show recent works by local artists that somehow conform to the theme "Hot, Cold."
The multi-sensory exhibition will be on view beginning at 8 p.m. Saturday at 1305 Tenn., where a physical barrier will bisect the "hot" and "cold" work, and the air temperature on each side will correspond to the sculpture, painting and new-media artwork in each room.
The Lawrence Art Collective consists of young students, artists, musicians and designers dedicated to increasing the approachability of the Lawrence art scene.
Artists interested in submitting work to "Hot, Cold" can visit www.lawrenceartcollective.com for applications and contact information.
Saturday will be the final day of the second annual "Have a Heart" Valentine Art Show at Van Go Mobile Arts, 715 N.J.
Apprentice artists in Van Go's SuperJAMS (Jobs in the Arts Make Sense) program have created glass frames and bowls, hand-painted and hand-printed cards and other artwork intended to make unique Valentine's Day gifts.
The gallery is open 1 p.m.-5 p.m. through Saturday. For more information, call 842-3797.
And at Olive Gallery and Art Supply, 15 E. Eighth St., artwork by area artists asked to explore either "love" or "love sucks" will be on display through Feb. 25. The gallery, usually drenched in green, has traded in its signature wall color for red and black during the show.
'Mardi Gras on the Kaw'
Independence Inc. hopes to capitalize on an entirely different theme on Valentine's Day: Mardi Gras.
Last year, the organization that serves people with disabilities in Douglas, Franklin and Jefferson counties cleared $6,500 at its first "Mardi Gras on the Kaw." It hopes to approach $10,000 this year.
Festivities will be from 7 p.m. to midnight at the Lawrence Arts Center, 940 N.H. Admission is $45 with wine, $30 without.
On the menu will be a sampling of wines produced by local vintners, Cajun cuisine by Liz Karr Catering, music by Billy Spears and the Beer Bellies and Mustang Sale, dancing, door prizes, tarot card readings, Mardi Gras trinkets and a cash bar. A king and queen will be crowned.
Tickets are available at the arts center; Good Earth Mother Alchemy Shop, 803 Vt.; Independence Inc., 2001 Haskell Ave.; or online at www.independenceinc.org/fundraiser.html.
Proceeds will support advocacy efforts on behalf of people with disabilities.
"We're a good organization, and we're worthy of your support," says Tony Peterson, promotion and grants coordinator at Independence Inc. "And it should be a blast."