Cheap Thrills SMALL MUSICAL WORLD: Travel the planet without leaving your futon when KUAT-TV, Channel 6, warms the public airwaves with a Christmas Eve musical holiday on Thursday, December 24.

The melodic junket sets sail at 6 p.m. with Sing We Christmas, featuring the premiere, all-male vocal ensemble Chanticleer. They'll perform sacred and secular arrangements that include 15th- and 16th-century pieces, familiar carols and American spirituals.

At 7 p.m., English, Scottish and other Western European-tinged music takes center stage, followed by Maestro Philip Brunelle and the musicians of the Plymouth Music Series of Minnesota, who'll highlight classics by American composers.

The musical trek wraps-up at 10 p.m. with hymns, traditional carols, and the world premier of Jennifer Higdon's "Deep in the Night," by the Philadelphia Singers. Higdon describes her work as "a celebration of humans reaching out to one another during the holiday season."

EPIC EVENT: If you're looking for a place to blow off the holiday stink and do some exotic, post-Yuletide rubberneckin', Fourth Avenue's Epic Café is the spot for you.

Here's an example. Sitting outside the Epic last Thursday, we saw: a guy practicing serious theft prevention--he was chained to his bike handlebars by the nose; a lady with four hounds yapping from a small cage mounted on her bike-trike, and a few more on leashes as she pedaled along; a guy with a tiny bird's nest on his head, perched under a Mad Hat (other than a few feathers, the nest was empty); and a cat with painted toenails wearing a lace bonnet.

Okay, the bonnet didn't really have lace. But the morning was thrilling just the same, especially when we chowed on a legendary Epic scone and sipped a cup of the house joe. It just doesn't get any better. Check it out.

Epic Café is at 745 N. Fourth Ave. Hours are 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily. For information, call 624-6844.

AZTEC LEGACY: Inocencio Jimenez Chino is a Nahua descendent of the Aztecs, and a self-taught artist who still uses ancient amate paper for his paintings. It doesn't hurt that he hails from the San Augustín Oapan, the Guerrero, Mexico, village where the folk-art originated.

Amate is a paper made from the bark of the wild fig or mulberry tree. Centuries ago, it was used by Aztec society for documents and books, but was almost completely replaced by European paper and parchment after the Spanish arrived.

By contrast, bark painting is a fairly recent folk art that developed in Guerrero in the 1950s, wherein Indians initially reproduced designs from village pottery on the amate. As the art form evolved, more innovative painters began drawing upon the traditional life of their villages for inspiration.

Inocencio's paintings fall into this latter camp, paying homage to the glory of nature in settings filled with imaginative birds, fish and other animals, always characterized by a harmony between man and nature. He often depicts images of bounty and abundance--rich fields of maize, chili peppers, sesame, bamboo and other crops.

Inocencio Jimenez Chino: Folk-Art Paintings on Amate Paper will be on display through February 1 in the Tohono Chul Park Exhibit Hall, 7366 N. Paseo del Norte. Hours are 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. A $2 donation is suggested. For information, call 742-6455. TW

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