Weekly Arts Round Up, January 14, 2021


Several upcoming events will pay tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in music and poetry. Though D.C. museums remain closed, the Phillips Collection will present an online wire workshop and the Smithsonian American Art Museum will host a virtual conversation on Chicanx graphic arts and activism. Click on the headings below for details.

Athenaeum: New Exhibition

An exhibition of paintings by Michael Spears opens Jan. 14 at the Athenaeum, 201 Prince St. in Alexandria, Virginia. On view through Feb. 21, “Visual Music: Rhythm and Melody,” features “Kind of Black,” Spears’s most recent work, which intertwines reflections on both the Black Lives Matter movement and jazz. Also included are works from his series on the influence of religion in rhythm and blues during the 1960s and ’70s. A graduate of Coolidge High School, Spears studied at the Corcoran in the 1960s and earned associate’s degrees at Washington Technical Institute and Montgomery College. In 2009, he completed a BFA at Maryland Institute College of Art. The gallery is open Thursday through Sunday from noon to 4 p.m. Admission is free.

Signature Theatre: Online Master Class

On Jan. 14 at 7 p.m., Signature Theatre will present a virtual master class in which Resident Music Director Jon Kalbfleisch talks with Jonathan Tunick — longtime orchestrator for Stephen Sondheim and winner of Emmy, Grammy, Tony and Academy Awards — about his life, his approach to orchestration and what it’s like to work at Signature and with Sondheim. Admission is $10.

Smithsonian Associates: Online Decorative Arts Course

“Midcentury Modern: How Immigrants Shaped American Design,” the first session of a three-session Lunchtime with a Curator online series offered by Smithsonian Associates, will meet on Jan. 15 from noon to 1 p.m. The instructor is textile historian Elizabeth Lay, curator at the Beall-Dawson House and Stonestreet Museum in Rockville, Maryland. Tickets are $25 ($20 for Smithsonian Associates members), with a discount for those who sign up for the full series, which continues with “Modernism and Industrial Design” on Jan. 29 and “Fashion Influencers of the 20th Century” on Feb. 12.

Phillips Collection: Online Workshop

As part of its Hands On With Otis Street series, the Phillips Collection will offer a free workshop, “Wired: Line Drawing in Space With Shelley Lowenstein,” on Jan. 16 from noon to 2:30 p.m. Participants will learn basic wire techniques, then create a contour portrait in 2D or 3D influenced by Alexander Calder. Materials needed: about 50 feet of 18-gauge, 19-gauge or 20-gauge wire, needle nose pliers, a wire cutter, heavy-duty flathead pliers, a ruler or tape measure, dowels, pencils, markers, pens to curl wire and white poster board, foam board or paper to show work in progress.

Dumbarton Concerts: Online Concert

On Jan. 16 at 4 p.m., as part of Dumbarton Concerts’ 43rd season, Heritage Signature Chorale founder and Artistic Director Stanley J. Thurston will lead chamber singers from the chorale — an ensemble committed to preserving the performance tradition of African American choral music — in an online performance of a special 20-year anniversary program featuring soprano Angeli Ferrette. The program includes a tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. A meet-the-artists session will follow at 5 p.m. Tickets are $26.

Folger Shakespeare Library: Online Readings

“Not Just Another Day Off” is the Folger’s annual poetic celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. For this year’s event, available online from Jan. 16 to 21, poets and actors will come together virtually to read their work and the historical speeches of King, Malcolm X, James Baldwin, Gandhi, Frederick Douglass and others.

National Philharmonic: Streamed Concert

On Jan. 17 at 2 p.m., the National Philharmonic will stream “Music That Travels Through Space,” a free concert by half a dozen orchestra members: violinist Laura Colgate, violist Julius Wirth, cellist Lori Barnet, trumpeter Chris Gekker, clarinetist Suzanne Gekker and pianist Elizabeth Hill. The program, accompanied by images and videos supplied by NASA, includes works by Lili Boulanger, Alistair Coleman, Carson Cooman, Claude Debussy, Osvaldo Golijov, Luise Adolpha Le Beau and Manuel Ponce. 

African American Museum: Online Community Program

The National Museum of African American History and Culture will present its annual community program, “The People’s Holiday,” on Jan. 18 from 4 to 5:30 p.m. This year’s free online event, honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s commitment to racial equality, justice and service, will feature performances by six-time Grammy Award-winning bassist, composer and educator Christian McBride and students from the Juilliard School, along with a reading by poet and activist Sonia Sanchez. The program will conclude with a conversation between McBride and Sanchez moderated by Associate Director of Curatorial Affairs Dwandalyn Reece. Registration is recommended.

Classical Movements: Streamed Performance

On Jan. 19 at noon, Marin Alsop will conduct a free virtual brass and percussion performance in honor of the inauguration of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris by 14 musicians from the Atlanta Symphony, Baltimore Symphony, Chicago Symphony, Cincinnati Symphony, Dallas Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Minnesota Orchestra, National Symphony, New York Philharmonic, Pacific Symphony, Peabody Institute, South Asian Symphony, St. Louis Symphony and Utah Symphony. The ensemble will play Aaron Copland’s “Fanfare for the Common Man” and Joan Tower’s “Fanfare for the Uncommon Woman No. 1.”

Politics and Prose: Online Author Talk

On Jan. 19 at 8 p.m., Politics and Prose bookstore will present an online talk by former Sacramento Bee and Los Angeles Times journalist Dan Morain about “Kamala’s Way,” his new biography of Kamala Harris, the first Black woman to stand for vice president, charting how the daughter of two immigrants in segregated California became one of this country’s most effective power players. Admission is pay-what-you-can, with purchase of the book encouraged.

American Art Museum: Online Conversation

In conjunction with the exhibition (reopening this year) “¡Printing the Revolution! The Rise and Impact of Chicano Graphics, 1965 to Now,” the Smithsonian American Art Museum will host a free online event, “Cross-Generational Activist Networks in Chicanx Graphic Arts,” on Jan. 21 at 6:30 p.m. Art historian and curator Terezita Romo will moderate a conversation with printmaker Juan Fuentes, former executive director of Mission Gráfica at the Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts, and Jesus Barraza and Melanie Cervantes, whose Oakland-based artistic collaboration Dignidad Rebelde (Rebel Dignity) supports Indigenous rights, Palestinian solidarity and the Black Lives Matter movement. Registration is required.

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