Spring Arts Preview

By Ari Post and Richard Selden



Do Ho Suh: Almost Home

March 16 – August 5

Internationally renowned for his “fabric architecture,” which explores the global nature of contemporary identity, memory, migration and our ideas of home, Do Ho Suh creates spaces at once deeply familiar and profoundly alien. “Do Ho Suh: Almost Home” at the Smithsonian American Art Museum will feature the artist’s brightly hued “Hub” sculptures — intricate, hand-sewn fabric recreations of homes where Suh has lived, experienced by visitors from within — along with drawings and semi-transparent replicas of household objects called “Specimens.” One of the “Hubs” will be a new work depicting the artist’s childhood home in Seoul.

No Spectators: The Art of Burning Man

Opens March 30

Each year in Nevada’s Black Rock Burning Desert, a city of more than 75,000 people rises for a single week. Enormous experimental art installations are erected and many are ritually burned to the ground. “No Spectators: The Art of Burning Man” will bring the large-scale work from this desert gathering to Washington, taking over the entire Renwick Gallery. Room-sized installations, costumes, jewelry and ephemera will transport visitors to the famed “Playa,” while photographs and archival materials from the Nevada Museum of Art will trace Burning Man’s bohemian roots and growth. In addition, the Renwick will expand beyond its walls with a display of sculptures throughout the neighborhood.


The Pilot District Project, 1968–1973

Opens March 31

In 1968, the eyes of a worried nation were on Washington, D.C., after the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. and the ensuing destruction in the District and nationwide. Would D.C.’s political and community leaders rise to the occasion? Part of a citywide commemoration of the 50th anniversary of King’s assassination, this exhibition will explore the Pilot District Project, an experiment in community policing that centered on several African American residential and business neighborhoods damaged by fires, looting and unrest. Displaying a newly discovered collection of posters, maps and other materials, the show will introduce visitors to this compelling and timely story.


World on the Horizon: Swahili Arts Across the Indian Ocean

Opens May 9

For centuries, peoples from the Arabian Peninsula, Asia, Africa and Europe have crossed the Indian Ocean. On the east African coast, this confluence of peoples gave rise to diverse communities often called “Swahili” — after the Arabic word meaning “edge” or “coast.” Swahili coast artworks have been shaped by complex migrations across great distances and the making and unmaking of empires, communities and social identities. “World on the Horizon” will explore works from different regions and time periods as objects of mobility, outcomes of encounter and products of trade and imperialism, revealing the movement of artistic forms, motifs and preferences and identifying their changing meanings.


Sally Mann: A Thousand Crossings

March 4 – May 28

Born in Lexington, Virginia, Sally Mann has made experimental, elegiac and hauntingly beautiful photographs — including figure studies, still lifes and landscapes — for more than 50 years. “Sally Mann: A Thousand Crossings” will explore how her relationship with the South has shaped her work. Some 115 photographs, many of which have not been exhibited or published previously, will offer a sweeping overview of Mann’s artistic achievement and a focused exploration of the South’s continuing influence on her work.

Cézanne Portraits

March 25 – July 1

Bringing together some 60 examples from collections around the world, “Cézanne Portraits” is the first exhibition devoted to Paul Cézanne’s portraits. The exhibition — including some works never before shown in the U.S. — provides the first full visual account of the pathbreaking French master’s portrait practice, exploring the pictorial and thematic characteristics of his works in the genre, the chronological development of his style and method and the range and influence of his sitters.


To Dye For: Ikats from Central Asia

March 24 – July 29

The name ikat, from the Malaysian word for “to tie,” refers to the distinct technique of making these brilliant Central Asian textiles, in which bundles of threads are patterned by repeated binding and dyeing. Ikats caught the attention of contemporary designers, notably Oscar de la Renta who, in 2005, included ikat designs in his collections. Since then, ikat motifs have become ubiquitous — from couture gowns to T-shirts and from carpets to stationery. “To Dye For: Ikats from Central Asia” will bring together about 30 of the finest hangings and coats from the Freer and Sackler collections, as well as seven of de la Renta’s creations.


UnSeen: Our Past in a New Light

Opens March 23

Ken Gonzales-Day and Titus Kaphar illuminate the historical contributions and sacrifices made by people of color. Kaphar defaces, cuts and peels back his paintings to show how portraits of American historical figures have coded racial difference, hidden systemic prejudices and omitted African Americans. Gonzales-Day photographs portrait busts, sculptures and ethnographic casts to create installations that reveal how scientific studies, artistic conventions and collecting tendencies have reinforced inappropriate notions of race and “Otherness.” Brought together, their work will demonstrate how the absence of certain figures and communities in art has preempted their recognition in national history and, in the process, reclaim a space for them in the art-historical context.


Georg Baselitz

June 21 – September 16

The Hirshhorn presents the first major U.S. retrospective in more than 20 years of one of Germany’s greatest living artists, marking his 80th birthday. Over his six-decade career, Georg Baselitz pushed the limits of painting and sculpture, beginning with the postwar Art Informel movement, to which he contributed a unique figurative vocabulary. The show will include one of Baselitz’s most notable works of that period — so controversial that it was confiscated by authorities — “The Naked Man,” in which the artist used a shocking image of a male figure to express the pervasive discontent with Germany’s socialist politics.


Marking the Infinite: Contemporary Women Artists from Aboriginal Australia

June 2 – September 9

“Marking the Infinite” will spotlight nine leading Aboriginal women artists from remote communities across Australia: Nongirrnga Marawili, Wintjiya Napaltjarri, Yukultji Napangati, Angelina Pwerle, Lena Yarinkura, Gulumbu Yununpingu, Nyapanyapa Yunupingu, Carlene West and Regina Pilawuk Wilson. The subjects of their art are broad, yet each work is an attempt to grapple with fundamental questions of existence, asking us to slow down and pay attention to the natural world. These are marks made upon an “ancient endless infinity,” revealing humanity’s insignificance against the steady movement of time and the cosmos.



This spring, The Washington Ballet will present three world premieres — by Gemma Bond and Marcelo Gomes of American Ballet Theatre and Clifton Brown of Jessica Lang Dance — at the Harman Center (March 14-18) and works by Balanchine, Ashton and Robbins at the Kennedy Center (April 11-15). Diane Coburn Bruning’s Chamber Dance Project will celebrate five years in D.C. at Fab4Bash, a March 3 gala featuring a preview of “Ballet, Chant & Song,” a collaboration with Washington National Cathedral Music Director Michael McCarthy heading to the Lansburgh Theatre (June 21-23). Bowen McCauley Dance will present “Une Soirée de Danse” at the Kennedy Center (March 2-3), which will also host New York City Ballet performances and workshops (March 26-April 1) and a visit by Ballet Nacional de Cuba (May 29-June 3).


Donald Nally will guest-conduct “Solitude & Joy,” a Cathedral Choral Society concert of hymns, chants and anthems, including the world premiere of “Lincoln” by Alex Berko (March 4). Jessye Norman is honorary chair of the April 27 gala, “Sing a New Song,” with the Hot Club of Baltimore in the house (the cathedral, that is). The society’s May program is “Bernstein the Humanitarian,” with guest conductor Lawrence Loh, also a chance to hear Beethoven’s Ninth (May 20). The day before, Antony Walker will conduct a Choral Arts Society of Washington performance of Rossini’s “Stabat Mater” (“Grieving Mother”) at the Kennedy Center (May 19).


The Kennedy Center will present “Between the World and Me,” a live performance event at which excerpts from the book by Ta-Nehisi Coates will be read monologue-style by guest artists with music by Kennedy Center Artistic Director for Jazz Jason Moran and interactive visual storytelling by projection media artists (April 7).


Verdi’s “Don Carlo” returns to Washington National Opera after 20 years, conducted by Philippe Auguin and directed by Tim Albery (March 3-17). Later on, Maurizio Benini will conduct Rossini’s “The Barber of Seville,” directed by Peter Kazaras (April 28-May 19) and — since, you may have noticed, it’s the Bernstein centennial — Nicole Paiement will conduct “Candide,” directed by WNO Artistic Director Francesca Zambello with Denyce Graves as the Old Lady (sic). Also at the Kennedy Center, Opera Lafayette will present “Visitors to Versailles,” a program of music by Lully and Grétry inspired by an exhibition opening April 16 at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (May 2).


New National Symphony Orchestra Music Director Gianandrea Noseda will conduct three programs in March: “The Gospel According to the Other Mary” by John Adams (March 8 and 10); a concert of Brahms, Kodály, Dvorák and Richard Strauss, with Yefim Bronfman playing Brahms’s Piano Concerto No. 2 in B-flat Major (March 15 and 17-18); and the Verdi Requiem with Choral Arts, the Washington Chorus and soloists Leah Crocetto, Russell Thomas and Eric Owens (March 22-24). Washington Performing Arts will present The Philadelphia Orchestra at Strathmore (March 6) and what’s now known as LA Phil at the Kennedy Center (April 26).


PostClassical Ensemble will wrap up its season at Washington National Cathedral with “Secret Music Skirmishes of the Cold War: The Shostakovich Case,” featuring pianist Benjamin Pasternack, Ashley Smith as JFK and commentary by Vladimir Feltsman and other well-informed guests (May 23). The season-ending concert of the Russian Chamber Art Society at the Embassy of France will be a performance of highlights from Tchaikovsky’s “Queen of Spades,” sung in Russian with English narration (June 7).


The 2018 NEA Jazz Masters Tribute Concert at the Kennedy Center will honor pianist Joanne Brackeen, guitarist Pat Metheny, vocalist Dianne Reeves and Todd Barkan, who founded San Francisco’s Keystone Korner (April 16). Among the legends coming to Blues Alley are: Monty Alexander (April 5-8), McCoy Tyner (April 19-20), Ravi Coltrane (April 21-22), Joshua Redman (May 3-6) and Arturo Sandoval (May 10-13). Returning in June, as always: DC JazzFest (June 8-17).


The “In the Beginning Dance Party” at the Kennedy Center will welcome Grand Wizard Theodore and Grandmaster Caz (March 16). A few of the big names docking at The Anthem at the ever-expanding District Wharf: Lorde (April 8), Beck (April 27), Alice in Chains (May 3), David Byrne (May 12) and Brandi Carlile (May 19-20). Strolling onstage at The Birchmere: Dave Mason (March 14), Robin Trower (March 21) and Steve Earle (April 3). The Birchmere will also present Patti LaBelle at the Warner Theatre (April 7). The season-opening festivals at Merriweather Post are the M3 Rock Festival with Queensrÿche (May 4-5) and the M3 Southern Rock Classic with the Marshall Tucker Band (May 6). Franz Ferdinand (April 11) and They Might Be Giants at the 9:30 Club are sold out, by the way, but maybe you know somebody. Seats are still available for Weird Al at Strathmore (March 20).


“The Great Society,” the second half of Robert Schenkkan’s LBJ saga, is finishing up at Arena Stage (closing March 11); August Wilson’s “Two Trains Running” (March 30-April 29) and “Snow Child,” a world-premiere musical set in 1920s Alaska (April 13-May 20), will follow. Extended at Woolly Mammoth: “Familiar” by Danai Gurira, part of the Women’s Voices Theater Festival, about a Zimbabwean immigrant family in Minnesota (closing March 11); then the Obie Award winner for best new American theater work, the Ars Nova production of “Underground Railroad Game,” will roll in (April 4-29). “Translations,” a play by Brian Friel set in 1830s County Donegal, is coming to Studio Theatre (March 21-April 22). Keeping things Irish, next up at the Shakespeare Theatre Company is the production of “Waiting for Godot” by Galway’s Druid Theatre Company (April 17-May 20). GALA Hispanic Theatre is presenting “En el tiempo de las mariposas” (“In the Time of the Butterflies”), based on a novel by Julia Álvarez set in the Dominican Republic during the Trujillo regime (April 12-May 13). Did someone say dictator? John Malkovich will be at Strathmore in the role of Satur Diman Cha, head of state of the Republic of Circassia, in the musical drama “Just Call Me God” (April 26). Workaholic Theater J Artistic Director Adam Immerwahr (who directed “Familiar” at Woolly), will direct “Roz and Ray,” a medical drama that takes place during the early years of AIDS (April 3-29). On a lighter note, how about “Paper Dolls,” a karaoke musical about “five gay male Filipino nurses in Tel Aviv who care for elderly Orthodox and Chasidic men six days a week — and headline a drag show on their day off” at Mosaic Theater Company (March 29-April 22)?




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