A new documentary about revolutionary 20th-century painter, sculptor and conceptual artist Marcel Duchamp (1887–1968), “Marcel Duchamp: The Art of the Possible,” was premiered at the Hirshhorn Museum on Nov. 23.
The exhibition “Good as Gold: Fashioning Senegalese Women,” showcasing jewelry created by master goldsmiths in Senegal in the early and mid-20th century, opened on Oct. 24 at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African Art.
The moment I saw the paintings of Richard Diebenkorn for the first time was one that shifted the course of my life as an artist. I was an 18-year-old student wrestling with things like color, form and, more onerously, ways to convey my ideas and break free from the self-aggrandizing egotism that artistic practice so easily brings about. Something in the style of my complaints must have triggered my teacher to offer me a book of Diebenkorn’s work. I had never been so affected by paintings. Even in the cramped dimensions of a catalogue, his works felt huge—they carried the visual grandness of a mural in a few square inches. His endless washes of color, falling through and beneath one another in farm-like grids, conveyed a vibrant and somehow weathered atmosphere, like sunlight piercing through morning fog. It was dilapidated doors, smoke, hot asphalt, sweat, fields, style, color, shape, geography, line, form, joy, peace, war. It was paint. And it had never looked better to me. I remember wanting to run my hands all over these paintings, these fields and strips of color that looked like Mondrian charged with a scuffed, pulsing static. I wanted to lift up the veils of yellow paint to explore the oceans of red ochre and blue-grey beneath the surface. Diebenkorn lets viewers into his process in this way, allowing us to know his paintings inside and out—and he offers this portal to us without reservation or anxiety. In his time, Diebenkorn was a famously generous and patient teacher, and this comes out in his work—even his paintings are good teachers. Unlike so many artists of the past century who went to great lengths to hide their techniques, Diebenkorn unveils his methods to us garnished on a plate. This was a man who wanted painting to survive when others denounced it as dead, to move the arts into the future in a way that connected and involved audiences. For the second half of the 20th century, Diebenkorn was the painter’s painter. You would be hard pressed to find a working artist today that does not adore this man’s work. It is painting as the idea in itself, which seems to speak about everything—about an artist in his environment, but also about things transcending any singular time, place or individual. “The idea is to get everything right,” Diebenkorn once said, rather prophetically. “It’s not just color or form or space or line—it’s everything all at once.” Take a moment to spend time in front of his paintings and you will know what he’s talking about. Through the end of September, the Corcoran Gallery of Art is hosting “Richard Diebenkorn: The Ocean Park Series,” a retrospective of the artist’s landmark series made between 1967 and 1988, which marks the first major museum exhibition focused on these luminous, grid-like paintings. Small works on paper, prints, drawings and collages—even some “cigar box” studies—share space with his signature massive canvases, many of which are over eight feet tall. “These works are powerful investigations of space, light, composition, and the fundamental principles of modern abstraction,” said Philip Brookman, chief curator and head of research at the Corcoran. “Diebenkorn investigated the tension between the real world and his own interior landscape... These are not landscapes or architectural interiors but topographically rooted abstractions in which a sense of the skewed light and place of that time emerges through the painting process.” A lifelong inhabitant of the west coast, Diebenkorn (1922 – 1993) served in the U.S. Marine Corps after attending Stanford University and afterwards took advantage of the G.I. bill to study art at the California School of Fine Arts in San Francisco. Among his teachers was Mark Rothko, the acclaimed abstract expressionist who doubtlessly effected his perception of modern art. A look at Diebenkorn’s Ocean Park series leaves no doubt that Rothko influenced his sense of composition and color palette. (And as The Georgetowner’s Gary Tischler often points out, “Washington is the Rothko City.” All the more reason to welcome this show to our town.) As a young painter in the 1950s, it was no small feat to reckon with the wild assault of abstract expressionism on the contemporary art scene. To come into your own at the tail end of one of art history’s most explosive, brazen and contentious periods was a considerable strain on many emerging artists. But with that pressure came a certain liberation for Diebenkorn. Willem De Kooning later would say that the abstract expressionists (and Jackson Pollock, specifically) “broke the ice”; afterwards, art could go anywhere and be almost anything. During this time, however, Diebenkorn did a rather unusual thing: he pioneered a representational movement, at once a gesture to the tradition of art history and an outright rejection of modern art critics like Clement Greenberg, who argued for “advanced art” that renounced subject matter and representation for the “purity” of abstraction. Along with fellow artists such as Wayne Thiebaud—most recognized for his over-saturated paintings of cakes and patisserie treats— they together founded The Bay Area Figurative Movement, which pioneered an expressive, representational style that brought together the thick, lustrous brushwork and wanton impasto of abstract expressionism with the earthy romance of the Impressionists. Though a far cry from his later work with the Ocean Park series, Diebenkorn began in his early paintings a pattern of weaving the threads of familiar people, family members and California landscapes with a grand intimacy that connected his quiet, precise observations to the collective subconscious of postwar America. It was a mutual search for peace, balance and beauty. He learned what it meant to be a modern painter as the world around him learned to see as a modern audience. His work was met with acclaim from critics, viewers and patrons alike. In the mid 1960s, Diebenkorn took a teaching position at UCLA, moving from San Francisco to Santa Monica. It was during this time that he moved away from his figurative style, for which he had by now become quite popular, and began work on his Ocean Park paintings, a pursuit that would last him the rest of his life and become one of the most influential bodies of work in the second half of the 20th century. Named for the beachside community where he set up his studio, the Ocean Park series cemented Diebenkorn at the forefront of his generation as an artist dedicated not just to his own work, but to the history and future of his medium. The shift happened gradually but surprisingly, according to the artist, and in a way he always had trouble explaining. “Maybe someone from the outside observing what I was doing would have known what was about to happen,” he said in an interview in the late ’60s. “But I didn’t. I didn’t see the signs. Then, one day, I was thinking about abstract painting again... I did about four large canvases—still representation, but, again, much flatter. Then, suddenly, I abandoned the figure altogether.” But looking at these paintings, what we see in fact is an unprecedented balance of abstraction and representation. These paintings are not just shapes that resemble things, like looking up at the sky and seeing a cloud shaped like a poodle. They are distillations of whole environments from which they are born. Within the canvases are the layouts of suburban neighborhoods, the aluminum siding and split-level houses of mid-20th century America, power lines and clotheslines, interstates and parklands, oceans and shorelines, even the great frontiers of the Wild West. But while these visual tropes are tangible and intriguing, no one theme sits within any particular canvas. You will not find a painting in this exhibit titled “House by the Sea.” Diebenkorn named each piece in this series with a number in the order by which he made them. The numbers become markers of the passage of time that denote the changing and shifting of the artist’s environment as he lived it. Just as Monet painted the Rouen Cathedral in different lights of day and Matisse evoked the emotional sentiments of his era with the wild, dissonant color palette of Fauvism, so did Diebenkorn acknowledge his time and place by sweeping his brush across his own physical and cultural landscape. He captured the grand, clean-shaven, perhaps diluted idealism of his time in wash- worn, infinitely expansive color fields, cut up with arbitrary vanishing points and the stark measurements of clean, straight lines. Still, the paintings impose almost nothing upon us as viewers. We are free to explore the pictures in our own way and at our own pace. Diebenkorn’s postwar American abstraction offers glimpses of harmony and calm, a generalization of that “American Dream,” the sincerity and earnestness of which has not really been seen since. I still wrestle with the same issues as I did when I was first introduced to Diebenkorn’s work, but he helped me to learn that these artistic dilemmas are not just equations that you solve and move past. These issues are themselves the pursuit of art. Diebenkorn’s work inspired me beyond myself. When that happens, you cannot help but to believe in art. ? [gallery ids="100901,128322,128315,128302,128310" nav="thumbs"]
At the March 7 Cultural Leadership Breakfast, Jack Rasmussen will talk about the Corcoran Legacy Collection, acquired by the AU Museum following the dissolution of the Corcoran Gallery of Art.
If color is a language, then John Blee can be considered a lyric poet. The Washington painter, whose solo exhibition will be seen at The Ralls Collection in October, produces abstracts lit with the sheen of a summer sunset. Vivid oranges and yellows play against sky blues that shade into purples, punctuated by pinks that range from the palest of roses to vibrant corals. In less skillful hands, the effect could be garish. Instead, Blee’s colors, no matter how surprising their combinations, sing with an assured harmony. “You paint out of the whole experience of your life,” says Blee, and an important part of that life was spent growing up in India and Pakistan, where his father was a State Department officer. “Indian color is off the scale—it’s not subdued,” he says, and his paintings reflect its sun-drenched intensity. Blee also points to the richly hued Indian Basohli miniature paintings of the 17th and 18th centuries as inspiration for his colors. His artwork—and life—is also informed by another influence nurtured during those years, the spirituality of India. Blee counts among his mentors painter Helen Frankenthaler, whose work helped shape the Color Field movement of the 1940s and 50s. “I remember when I met [her], when I was still an art student. I found her color amazing. Colorists are very rare. I asked her how she chose colors and she replied it was like a poet choosing a word for a poem. I feel the same.” Jane Roberts, whose Paris gallery hosted exhibitions of Blee’s work in 2008 and in June of this year, singles out his “supreme sense of color and light, like late Bonnard, whom he particularly loves. His paintings seem to glow from inside and have a joyous life of their own, unlike many abstract paintings which are merely formal exercises. A French collector, a busy lawyer, who bought a painting in 2008 told me that she has John's painting opposite her desk and it literally calms her down after difficult meetings!” Blee’s exhibition will focus on his latest works, paintings he groups into his “Orchard Suite,” whose genesis originated two years ago after seeing an exhibit of late Bonnards at the Metropolitan Museum of art. “There was one with a checked tablecloth in the bottom of the canvas with a still life on it,” Blee says. “It suggested to me the space of a landscape—the checks were like small farms seen from a mountain—and the fruit spilled over them the fruits of the land. From that picture I made ‘Eastern Orchard,’ the first of what I think of as my continuing suite” “But,” he adds, “Klee in the series of ‘Magic Square’ pictures [of the 1920s and 30s] always has played inside of me. Those works are like the purest sounds in music and they deeply engage me. I first started looking at Klee seriously when I was 14 or 15 in Delhi and bought a book of his work, my first thick art book. I still look at it.” The rhythmically deployed, rectangular forms that appear in much of Blee’s work often echo Klee. Gallery director Marsha Ralls finds other parallels in the “Orchard Suite” paintings: “These particular works of John’s really are a continuation of the Washington Color School. The color really glows.” The series also has literary roots, a 1920s collection of French-language poems by writer Rainer Maria Rilke, grouped under the title The Orchard. “The word ‘orchard’ has a sense of the seasons to me, of ripening and flowering,” says Blee. “It encompasses fruition, growth, decay, and transformation.” That John Blee’s paintings are underscored by both visual and literary sources—as well as philosophical ones—isn’t surprising. Spend time talking to him and he’ll weave a rich thread of references that range from Baudelaire to poet Hilda Morley to Hindu mythology to Braque. It’s this sense of connection and synthesis that fuels Blee’s creativity. “I believe very strongly that all the arts, though focused differently, have the same source. We speak in words, and where words are the most like painting is in poetry. It is not just or solely the images of poetry, it is the power of language itself. For me music and dance and theater are all the same as poetry and painting.” Blee says that “in the New York School of painting, which I descend from, as with the [pre-World War I] School of Paris, poets have allied themselves with painters and vice versa. I read Frank O'Hara's criticism in art magazines when I was a kid in Delhi. All my own critical work is based on those pieces, the verbal part anyway. O'Hara had a real love of painting that I share. His poetry is very much alive and accessible in the moment, coming right from life and spilling out.” “Rilke, though, was a far greater influence,” he says. “I read him first as a late teen, and really only began to ‘get’ him after a year or two. But his vast poetic landscape and a desire to go beyond all and put it together in a larger vision has always been part of my own search in my painting.” “For me, the poet of my own life is Hilda Morley whom I met at the artists’ colony Yaddo in 1973 and knew until her death in 1998. She knew all the New York painters and composers and had been married to composer Stefan Wolpe. She was the real thing. Her poetry mirrored the New York School of painting. One needs living examples to understand this complicated thing called ‘life,’ and being an ‘artist’ is not something that is easy. Hilda knew instinctually how to carry on and to be.” John Blee seems to have taken the lesson of “how to carry on and to be” to heart. He’s one of the city’s most notable painters, selected by critic and writer F. Lennox Campello among those included in his new book, 100 Artists of Washington, D.C. The top-floor studio of his house (whose color-splashed floor is a painting in itself) is filled with works in progress. He’s found a rewarding avenue in the courses he teaches at U.D.C and the Art League of Alexandria. And there’s always that next painting on the horizon, another opportunity, as Blee says, “to put the impossible in front of you, to aim as high as you can.” __________ John Blee’s work can be seen in “20 Years, 20 Artists at The Ralls Collection” through Sept. 24. Dates for his October exhibition are to be announced. (The Ralls Collection, 1516 31st St., NW, RallsCollection.com) [gallery ids="100274,107084,107096,107089,107093" nav="thumbs"]
Overlooking the Potomac River, the new campus is the setting for three matching white concrete-and-glass buildings with more than 130,000 square feet of space for artists and performances.
Chiura Obata: American Modern Smithsonian American Art Museum Opens Nov. 27 Born in Okayama, Japan, Chiura Obata (1885–1975) immigrated to San Francisco in 1903. In 1942, when...
The Hirshhorn just opened a major exhibition of rock-star Chinese artist Ai Weiwei, the museum’s third in five years. It is a highly personal...
When Arena Stage brought back its hugely successful season and theater opening production of the very-much-a-staple Rodger Hammerstein musical “Oklahoma” for a late summer run, the theater community stood up and took notice. Theater folks noticed too that Woolly Mammoth had also done a similar thing bringing back its production of Bruce Norris’s Pulitzer-Prize winning “Clybourne Park” to record-breaking (for Woolly) box office success. Both productions brought back original casts and energized productions. People saw a trend. In truth, while innovative and smart marketing and scheduling strategies may have been at work, what happened wasn’t really new. Arena Stage, in fact, had been doing a similar thing with productions of “Crowns,” the popular musical about the importance of hats in the lives of African American women. In theater, in fact, the adage that “everything old is new again” is the life blood, the bread and butter, the staple of theater world. What Arena and Woolly did was to bring back almost identical versions of the plays they had already done, thinking correctly that a larger audience as well as a repeat audience remained for the two plays. They were right. But theater exists on reviving, re-doing, and returning to a repertoire of plays and musicals that make up the core of what theater does on Broadway, in regional companies, in dinner theaters, amateur companies, high school and college. Road companies of big hit Broadway musicals are hugely profitable, same-version, different casts of eagerly awaited shows. The staple of classic and therefore “old” theater literature are revisited time and time again over the centuries and decades—that’s why we have theater companies whose repertoire is rooted in Shakespeare, Shaw, the Greeks and American classics by O’Neill, Miller and others. The reliance on the old and familiar—along with revisits that cast fresh light on the old plays—make new plays all the more thrilling because we don’t know how the story ends, what the characters will say or do, and we haven’t heard the songs by new composers and lyricists sung and played. This mix and mash of old and new is the heart of theater—we find surprises in the way an actor might play Hamlet—in fact hope for it—and are surprised how familiar and close to our lives the work of a new playwright is. Every theater season begins with those anticipations of the familiar, the hope for surprise and connection and, of course, all of it accompanied by the possibility of awe and wonder, of moments in the dark that will lie in our memories like special dreams, the come-and-go moments for which, as I’ve noted elsewhere, there is no app. The season kicks off with a hefty mix of old and new. Here, with some things to look forward and backward to. SILENT SHAKESPEARE AT SYNETIC Synetic Theatre, headed by the dynamic husband-wife team of Paata and Irina Tsikurishvili from the Republic of Georgia, has become and always was just about the most innovative, beyond-category theater company in the Washington area. Whether performing at its original Church Street locale, at the Kennedy Center, in Shirlington or its new digs in Crystal City, the company has propelled a mix of mime, choreographed movement and spectacle to create its own kind of (classical, but silent) theater, borrowing its subjects from sources that include classic Russian literature, Dante, Cervantes and Shakespeare. Its productions have reaped dozens of Helen Hayes Awards and almost instantaneous and consistent critical acclaim. Synetic’s form of theater is new, but its base subject is classical theater, minus the words. This brings new meaning to Hamlet’s “The Rest is Silence,” a play Synetic did ALL in silence. The company is kicking of its 2011-2012 season with three best-of productions under the banner of “Speak No More,” three of its most popular versions of Silent Shakespeare, its 2008 production of “Macbeth” (Sept. 14 through Oct. 2); its 2010 production of “Othello” (Oct. 19 through Nov. 6) and its 2008 production of “Romeo and Juliet” (Nov. 25 through Dec. 23). Synetic covers the criteria—everything really old is really new again and again—and again. FRIENDS, WASHINGTONIANS AND COUNTRYMEN : IT’S FREE! Michael Kahn’s Washington Shakespeare Company is presenting its 21st Annual Free for All. This time “Julius Caesar” is doing the honors and also kicking off the company’s 25th anniversary season. This Julius is a revival of the critically acclaimed 2007-2008 production and will be performed at Sidney Harman Hall through Sept. 4. The Bard’s best play about politics and ambition echoes mightily, featuring as it does among its main characters honorable Republican senators whose fears of centralized government leads them astray. But that’s just one man’s opinion David Paul directs with a cast led by Aubrey Deeker, Tom Hammond and Tyrone Henderson. ON THE ROAD AGAIN WITH LES MISERABLES AND THE JERSEY BOYS OR UP THE BARRICADES AND WALK LIKE A MAN It’s a 25th anniversary for the Cameron McIntosh juggernaut “Les Miserables” and for the occasion there’s a brand new fully-staged production of the legendary Boubil & Schonberg operatic musical which set records in London, on Broadway and in dozens of road companies. The tale of the escaped convict (serving time for stealing a loaf of bread) Jean Valjean and his nemesis the relentless Inspector Javert is epic in scale with soaring songs a plot to fill several books by Victor Hugo and spectacle that stirs the heart and mind, and songs and music that make you want to run to the barricades (or from them, depending). Set in 19th Century France during yet another revolutionary time, the songs include “On My Own,” the stirring “Bring Him Home” and last but not least, “Can You Hear the People Sing.” If you can’t, you need a hearing aid. It all happens at the Kennedy Center’s Opera House (Sept. 28 through Oct. 30). If Victor Hugo isn’t your cup of tea, how about them boys from Jersey, as in “The Jersey Boys,” the earthy, hit-rich musical that traces the success, pitfalls, rags-and-juvie-to-riches story of Franki Valli and the Four Seasons, arguably one of America’s biggest rock-pop bands ever, not excluding their peers The Beach Boys. The hugely popular show returns to the National Theater for quite a long stint and why not. (Nov. 10 through Jan. 7). Walk like a man, my friend. HOLLY TWYFORD DIRECTS Holly Twyford is one of the most gifted, eclectic actresses on the Washington theater scene who’s done just about everything except have her own reality show; from Shakespeare to an outrageous Woolly play to a gig as a dancing pig at Adventure Theater, she has plenty to round out her resume. What she hasn’t done is direct, and she’s taking care of that with her directorial debut at No Rules Theater Company, named Outstanding Emerging Theatre Company. That would appear to be a nice fit for Twyford, who’s always been a little edgy and is now directing Diana Son’s “Stop Kiss,” a play about two women, a scattered New York City traffic reporter and a St. Louis school teacher, who meet and fall in love. “The play chose me,” Twyford said. She had appeared in the play ten years ago. “The play had been special to me when I was in it and to be able to help shape the entire telling of this beautiful story as much as a director can was a chance I couldn’t pass up,” (Sept. 7 through Oct. 2). HISTORY IN THE MAKING AT SIGNATURE (AGAIN) Signature, no slouch in the ambition department, will be by all accounts the first theater to present two original world premiere musicals in repertory by presenting “The Hollow,” and “The Boy Detective Fails,” now in prevues. “The Hollow,” with a book by Hunter Foster and music and lyrics by Matt Conner, is based on the Washington Irving Sleepy Hollow story and features a headless horseman but not Johnny Depp (through Oct. 16, directed by Eric Schaeffer). “The Boy Detective Fails,” with a book by Joe Meno and Music and Lyrics by Adam Gwon, is about self-styled boy detective Billy Argo, who must face the shocking death of his partner-in-crime-solving and sister. Ten years later, he’s on the case (through Oct. 16, directed by Joe Calarco). BERNIE MADOFF AT THEATER J One of the more anticipated plays of the season is coming to Theater J where Bernie Madoff in his new home, a jail cell, will make an appearance in Deb Margolin’s “Imagining Madoff,” a play which posits Madoff setting the record straight and telling the story of an interview with Holocaust survivor, poet and investment client Solomon Galkin. Bernie Madoff defrauded clients for hundreds of millions of dollars in a vast Ponzi scheme and he didn’t’ quibble, destroying friends, family, charities and celebrities with quiet gusto. Rick Foucheux stars as Madoff, artist-in-residence and Washington favorite Jennifer Mendenhall plays Madoff’s secretary, and Alexandra Aron directs. (Aug. 31 through Sept. 25) BOOKS BURN AT ROUND HOUSE Ray Bradbury, now in his 90s and still writing, has often been pigeonholed as a writer of science fiction novels and short stories through his long career (“The Martian Chronicles” “Something Wicked This Way Comes”). But in truth, he’s been much more than that; celebrator of literary favorites, teller of Irish tall tales, and prophet might be good, for starters. Long ago, he wrote a slim novel imagining a world in which firemen occupied themselves with burning books by state directive because, well, you know, books are dangerous things. (Bradbury did not, however, envision Kindle as far as we know). The book became a haunting, if imperfect, film directed by Francois Trufautt and starring Oscar Werner and Julie Christie. The writing in the book and the images from the film are haunting. Now Round House Theater in Bethesda is staging Bradbury’s own theatrical adaptation of the novel, a multi-media production incorporating cutting edge video, projection and a sound design created by the Savannah College of Art and Design. Sharon Ott directs with a cast that includes Katie Atkinson and John Lescault, among others (Sept. 7 through Oct. 9) A “PARADE” OF A DIFFERENT SORT AT FORD’S THEATRE The trial and lynching of Leo Frank in early 20th-century Atlanta seems an unlikely subject for a Broadway musical, but the show, with music and lyrics by Jason Robert Brown and with Harold Prince as co-conceiver, won a Tony award for musical drama and is now getting a Washington premiere as a co-production with Theater J. Frank was a Jewish factory manager who was accused of murdering a teenage girl on the day of the Confederate Memorial Day Parade. The musical kicks off Ford’s 2011-2012 season and is also the first selection for Ford’s five-year “The Lincoln Legacy Project,” which aims to create a dialogue around the issues of tolerance, equality and acceptance (Sept. 23 through Oct. 30). MICHAEL KAHN DIRECTS WORLD PREMIERE OF “THE HEIR APPARENT” It’s not Shakespeare, it’s not even British, but it is old and funny. That would be “The Heir Apparent,” a variation of Jean-Francois Regnard’s 1708 comedy adapted by David Ives. It’s a play with a familiar plot—young swain wants to marry young girl, but needs an inheritance from his uncle who wants to, guess what, marry the young lady herself. Moliere made do with less and more, as did Shakespeare. Michael Kahn, Washington Shakespeare Company’s Artistic Director for the past 25 years, will direct a cast that will include long-time D.C. favorites Floyd King and Nancy Robinette (Sept. 6 through Oct. 23 at the Lansburgh). TED, DAVID AND ALLAN AT THE STUDIO THEATER That would be actor Ted van Griethuysen, just hitting his stride, Studio Theater Artist Director David Muse, hitting his stride in his second year at Studio, and Playwright Alan Bennett, always in stride, whose “The History Boys” received a standout production here several years ago. Muse is coming off a hugely successful production of “Venus in Fur” for Studio, and seems perfectly suited for Bennett’s brainiac, culture-buff comedy “The Habit of Art,” which includes as characters the British composer Benjamin Britten and poet-as-legend W.H. Auden (opens Sept. 7). HOWARD SHALWITZ INVITES YOU TO THE WOOLLY APOCOLYPSE That’s Howard Shalwitz talking about the 2011-2012 season, Woolly’s 32rd on planet Washington. “Join us as we mine our collective visions of apocalypse—and all the drama, jokes, and dreams they inspire.” First episode is “A Bright New Boise” by Samuel D. Hunter, directed by John Vreeke, where someone is summoning the rapture, right in the middle of a parking lot of a mega craft store in Boise, Idaho. Gotta be there for that (Oct. 10 through Nov. 6). HERE, THERE AND EVERYWHERE Caryl Churchill of “Top Girls” fame kicks off the new season for Forum Theatre, now company in residence at the Round House Theatre’s Silver Spring location. Michael Dove directs Churchill’s “Mad Forest” while Rose McConnell, Alexander Strain, Heather Haney and Dana Levanovsky star (Sept. 22 through Oct. 15). More at the Shakespeare Theatre Company: the musical “Fela!” returns to the United States, telling its tale of the legendary Nigerian musician Fela Kuti. It’s directed and choreographed by Bill T. Jones, kicking off a national tour at Sidney Harman Hall (Sept. 13 through Oct. 9). “Ay Carmela!,” a U.S. premiere of a play by Spanish playwright Jose Sanchis Sinisterra, will kick off the Gala Hispanic Theatre’s season. It’s a play about the adventures—comic and romantic and dark all at once—about a pair of vaudevillians who find themselves in the midst of the bloody Spanish Civil War (Sept. 15 through Oct. 9). The National Theater of China will present a production of “Two Dogs’ Opinions on Life,” an improvisational comedy that will be part of the Kennedy Center’s celebration of “China, the Art of a Nation” in September and October. “Two Dogs” will be performed at the Terrace Theater (Sept. 20 and 21 at 7:30 p.m. ). A second theater company, the Beijing People’s Art Theatre will perform “Top Restaurant” about the history of a Peking Roast Duck restaurant over half a century (Sept. 30 and Oct. 1 at 7:30 p.m., October 2 at 1:30 p.m.). [gallery ids="100269,107035,107031,107029" nav="thumbs"]
The National Gallery of Art is not your average neighborhood art gallery. While part of the D.C. community, the National Gallery of Art is a...