Home The Washington Diplomat May 2017 Events – May 2017

Events – May 2017










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Events Highlight

Over 100 Embassies Open Doors for Passport 2017

Cultural Tourism DC’s annual Passport DC international showcase celebrates its 10th anniversary this May with a record-breaking lineup of over 100 embassy open houses, in addition to various street festivals and performing arts throughout the city.

“When embassies open their doors, visitors can expect to encounter the art, music, crafts, cuisine, geography and the manufacturing prowess of the participating countries,” said Steven E. Shulman, executive director of Cultural Tourism DC. “The embassies want to express that their countries are attractive places to visit and do business, and in our 10th year, more countries than ever are participating.”

On May 6, dozens of embassies from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe will participate in the Around the World Embassy Tour. Then on May 13, the European Union features its annual A Shortcut to Europe, with open houses at the missions of the EU’s 28 member states.

The popular annual series of events, which regularly draw tens of thousands of visitors, is an international feast for the senses. Embassy recruitment for this year’s Passport DC began in early 2017, with Brazil, a perennial favorite among attendees, being the first country to register. The delegation will present a day-long program of music and colorfully costumed dancers at the stately Brazilian ambassador’s residence. The sounds of Botswana will fill the air around Dupont Circle as its embassy presents a showcase of music, live art and traditional cuisine, while nearby, on Massachusetts Avenue, the Embassy of Peru plans to have live alpacas in the yard, along with native dancers and a taste of Peruvian drinks and gastronomy.

Other Passport signature events include: A Celebration of Global Fashion with clothing from over a dozen nations at Macy’s Metro Center (April 26); Flower Mart at the National Cathedral (May 5-6); National Asian Heritage Festival Fiesta Asia Street Fair (May 20); and the Events DC Embassy Chef Challenge at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center (May 24).

For more information, visit http://www.culturaltourismdc.org/portal/passport-dc1.

— Anna Gawel



Through May 5

Forgotten Corners with Artist Iurro

“Forgotten Corners” is about the places that we pass every day, but rarely stop and take time to look at them. These can be, for example, alleys in downtown D.C. and New York City or small villages we pass through to larger towns and cities in the Czech Republic. Often, these places are not even interesting during the day. However, at night, they become romantic, even mysterious.

Embassy of the Czech Republic


May 5 to 31

Integrated: Korean Clay and Paper Heritage in Contemporary American Art

“Integrated” spotlights six American artists whose deep inspiration from Korean history and culture helps integrate elements of East and West in their art. Three of the artists work with hanji (durable, fibrous Korean traditional paper made from mulberry tree bark) and three with earthenware ceramics. All have devoted themselves to understanding the culture and history of traditional Korean paper and clay respectively, in order create their own modern expression of American identity and cultural heritage based on their experiences with Korea.

Korean Cultural Center


Through May 13


This contemporary video exhibit curated by Othón Castañeda features nine short films with borders as their main concept. The works were among a number of films submitted by international artists to the Bienal de las Fronteras, an artistic initiative that offers a platform to emerging artists of diverse backgrounds. This selection questions the boundaries of the biennial itself, including participating artists that establish an alternative view of the border, this time “from the inside out.”

Mexican Cultural Institute


May 13 to Feb. 17

Painting Shakespeare

Discover the paintings collection at the Folger — its stories, its glories and Shakespeare’s power to inspire visual artists. From humble oil sketches to international masterpieces, this exhibition presents kids and adults alike, with a sometimes surprising, and always eye-catching, view of the man and his works.

Folger Shakespeare Library


Through May 14

Border Crossing: Jami Porter Lara

While visiting a remote area along the U.S.–Mexico border, Albuquerque-based artist Jami Porter Lara found the remains of ancient pottery as well as plastic bottles discarded by migrants moving through the region. Intrigued by this juxtaposition, she began to reconceptualize the plastic bottle.

National Museum of Women in the Arts


Through May 14

New Ground: The Southwest of Maria Martinez and Laura Gilpin

Contemporaries and friends, potter Maria Martinez (ca. 1887–1980) and photographer Laura Gilpin (1891–1979) brought the American Southwest into focus as a culturally rich region that fostered artistic expression. Martinez’s bold adaptation of an ancient black-on-black pottery design technique reflected Pueblo artistic traditions and also appealed to the modernist sensibility. Gilpin was one of the first women to capture the landscape and peoples of the American West on film.

National Museum of Women in the Arts


Through May 14

Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirrors

“Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirrors” is a celebration of the legendary Japanese artist’s 65-year career and promises to be one of 2017’s essential art experiences. Visitors will have the unprecedented opportunity to discover six of Kusama’s captivating Infinity Mirror Rooms alongside a selection of her other key works, including a number of paintings from her most recent series “My Eternal Soul” that have never been shown in the U.S.

Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden


May 21 to Aug. 20

America Collects Eighteenth-Century French Painting

When Joseph Bonaparte, elder brother of Napoleon, arrived in the United States in 1815, he brought with him his exquisite collection of eighteenth-century French paintings. Put on public view, the works caused a sensation, and a new American taste for French art was born. T his exhibition brings together 68 paintings that represent some of the best and most unusual examples of French art of that era held by American museums and tells their stories on a national stage.

National Gallery of Art


May 24

Markus Lüpertz: Threads of History

Offering unparalleled insight into the German artist’s pioneering early practice, “Markus Lüpertz: Threads of History” showcases more than 30 paintings from Lüpertz’s formative years in the 1960s and ’70s, as he challenged the limits of painting and forged his own style amidst the unrest of postwar Germany.

Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden


Through May 26

Designing Paraguay: Emerging Artists from the Heart of South America

“Designing Paraguay” highlights emerging talent that is lighting the way for future innovations in the creative industries. As Paraguay looks ahead, it is moving away from an agricultural and industrial economy toward a more competitive global, knowledge-based economy. One such area of growth is the cultural and creative industries, which drive innovation and contribute to economic diversification. This exhibit showcases Paraguayan innovation across a variety of disciplines, which represent a shift away from traditional craft, but also a recognition of the importance of local knowledge and culture.

Inter-American Development Bank Cultural Center


May 27 to Sept. 23

Markus Lüpertz

“Markus Lüpertz” explores the entirety of the prolific German artist’s five-decade career with a survey of his earliest works along with more recent paintings. Lüpertz, who began painting in a postwar Germany dominated by American Abstract Expressionism and Pop Art, has exhibited a preoccupation with the relationship between figuration and abstraction over the course of his career. Demonstrating this relationship through nearly 50 paintings, the exhibition at the Phillips includes important examples from Lüpertz’s “dithyrambic” pictures and provocative paintings of German motifs. The opening of the exhibition also comes just a few days after the Phillips’s Annual Gala and Contemporaries Bash on May 19. Both events will honor the museum’s longstanding relationship with the Embassy of the Republic of Germany and celebrate artistic and cultural exchange between the United States and Germany.

The Phillips Collection


Through May 28

Green Machine: The Art of Carlos Luna

Cuban artist Carlos Luna’s exhibit features more than 65 works, with some created in new media the artist has been experimenting with during the past four years, including Jacquard tapestries, works on metal sheets with patina and aluminum leaf, and layers of natural materials rubbed into strong, thick, dense, smooth and un-sized French paper.

American University Museum


Through May 31

El Vuelo y su Semilla

This exhibition of works by renowned Mexican artist Bestabeé Romero (Mexico City, 1963) is comprised of installation pieces and reflects on the identity and culture that Mexican immigrants carry with them. Romero’s works explore these phenomena through symbolic objects, such as papel picado and tires, and culinary components, like bread and corn, underscoring the role that eating and cooking play in the formation and transformation of Mexican identity. The result is a body of work that places Mexican culture as a fundamental part of the migrant journey from Mexico to the U.S.

Mexican Cultural Institute


Through June 2

From the Desk of Simone de Beauvoir

Consider the influence and intellect of feminist philosopher Simone de Beauvoir in an interpretation of her Paris studio alcove. This installation invites visitors to reflect on Beauvoir’s impact, not only in her time and not only as a feminist, but in our own time and in the areas of literature, philosophy and popular culture.

National Museum of Women in the Arts


Through June 4

Alternativas/Alternatives: The Thirteenth Spanish Biennial of Architecture and Urbanism (XIII Beau)

“Alternativas/Alternatives” features 22 jury-selected projects completed between Jan. 1, 2013 through Dec. 31, 2015 by contemporary Spanish architects. The installation, which also includes an additional 20 shortlisted works, presents large-scale image displays and audiovisual commentary about the winning projects, as well as drawing reproductions and architectural models.

Former Residence of the Spanish Ambassador


Through June 4

Export: Spanish Architecture Abroad

“Export” covers Spanish architecture abroad from an open perspective that takes into account practices organized by profiles (Insiders, Young Achievers, Producers, Scholars, Healers and Outsiders), as well as the role of other agents (Soft Power, Giants of Construction, Publishing and Retail Empire), which help us gain a richer and more plural vision of the sector and serve as the structure for the exhibition discourse.

Former Residence of the Spanish Ambassador


Through June 4

Della Robbia: Sculpting with Color in Renaissance Florence

Luca della Robbia, a master sculptor in marble and bronze, invented a glazing technique for terracotta sculpture that positioned him as one of the most innovative artists of the 15th century. Today, the sculptures created by Luca and his family workshop retain their brilliant opaque whites, deep cerulean blues, and botanical greens, purples and yellows over modeling that makes them powerful and engaging examples of Italian Renaissance art.

National Gallery of Art


Through June 4

Where the Children Sleep

More than 2 million children have been forced from their homes by the war in Syria. Refugee children in neighboring countries or making journeys through Europe await an uncertain future. A few offered to show where they sleep now, when everything that once was, no longer exists, in this internationally acclaimed exhibition that features a moving series of photographs by award-winning Swedish photojournalist Magnus Wennman.

House of Sweden


Through June 11

Friends and Fashion: An American Diplomat in 1820s Russia

Focusing on 45 portraits from an album assembled by the family of politician and statesman Henry Middleton, this exhibition paints a captivating picture of diplomatic life in early 19th-century St. Petersburg. The intimate portraits, along with selected objects, images and publications, offer an exploration into a number of themes, including Middleton’s posting in St. Petersburg and the historical events surrounding his time there, the family’s social life in Russia, the artistic traditions of the period, and the elaborate fashions and hairstyles of the day.

Hillwood Estate, Museum and Gardens


Through July 9

Frédéric Bazille and the Birth of Impressionism

Frédéric Bazille (1841-70) created paintings inspired by contemporary life that challenged the aesthetic conventions of his day and helped to lay the groundwork of impressionism. In celebration of the 175th anniversary of the artist’s birth, this exhibit brings together some 75 paintings that examine Bazille as a central figure of impressionism.

National Gallery of Art


Through July 9

Inventing Utamaro: A Japanese Masterpiece Rediscovered

In 2014, the Okada Museum of Art in Hakone, Japan, made an announcement that startled the art world. The new arts center revealed it had discovered a long-lost painting by Kitagawa Utamaro (1753-1806), a legendary but mysterious Japanese artist. Titled “Snow at Fukagawa,” the immense work is one of three paintings by Utamaro that idealize famous pleasure districts in Edo (now Tokyo). For the first time in nearly 140 years, these paintings reunite in Inventing Utamaro at the Freer|Sackler, the only location to show all three original pieces.

Arthur M. Sackler Gallery


Through July 24

Inspiring Beauty: 50 Years of Ebony Fashion Flair

For 50 years, the Ebony Fashion Fair shaped a new vision of black America through contemporary fashion. Founded by Eunice Walker Johnson in 1958, the traveling fashion show broke the color barrier to bring the pinnacle of global fashion to communities that were eager to celebrate black accomplishment, aspiration and success. The George Washington University Museum and the Textile Museum present the story of the Ebony Fashion Fair and its cultural impact with 40 garments, including stunning gowns, feathered coats and statement designs by Christian Dior, Vivienne Westwood and burgeoning designer Naeem Khan, who would go on to dress first lady Michelle Obama.

The George Washington University Museum and the Textile Museum


Through July 30

Punctured Landscape

The Organization of American States (OAS) AMA | Art Museum of the Americas in collaboration with the Permanent Mission of Canada to the OAS presents its largest exhibition by Canadian artists: “Punctured Landscape,” organized by the Canada Council for the Arts. The exhibition marks Canada’s 150th anniversary of confederation, presenting artworks that explore themes of democracy, human rights, sustainability, security and national historical narratives in Canada. These moments range from celebratory milestones to difficult moments in Canada’s history, with particular attention paid to indigenous issues. “Punctured Landscape” recognizes Canada as an inclusive, multicultural nation that welcomes migrants and refugees, but also grapples to reconcile its own relationship with its indigenous peoples.”

OAS Art Museum of the Americas


Through Aug. 6

The Urban Scene: 1920-1950

American artists of the early 20th century sought to interpret the beauty, power, and anxiety of the modern age in diverse ways. Through depictions of bustling city crowds and breathtaking metropolitan vistas, 25 black-and-white prints in this exhibition explore the spectacle of urban modernity.

National Gallery of Art


Through Aug. 6

José Gómez-Sicre’s Eye

A half-century ago, Cuban-born curator José Gómez-Sicre took the reins of the OAS’s art program, thrusting himself into the rapidly expanding Latin American art world and bringing young, emerging talent to the OAS’s budding exhibition space. Impassioned by the arts, Gómez-Sicre planted the seeds of what is today considered among world’s finest collections of modern and contemporary Latin American and Caribbean art. The OAS will be celebrating the centennial of Gómez-Sicre’s birth throughout 2016, honoring his contribution to the legacy of the hemisphere’s art.

OAS Art Museum of the Americas


Through Aug. 13

Escape: Foon Sham

“Escape” showcases Foon Sham’s mastery of wood sculpture. To be within one of his vessel sculptures is to experience the palpable space of a woodland creature’s habitat, or the place of concealment. At the American University Museum, Sham has built one horizontal tunnel measuring 62 feet long and one vertical tunnel towering 36 feet high. “Escape” is one of a series of participatory sculptures, begun in the 1990s, meant to be experienced with all the body’s senses and to resonate socially.

American University Museum


Through Dec. 10

Stories of Migration – Sweden Beyond the Headlines

Migration is old news. It has helped shape countries and the world. But the current situation is unprecedented: More than 65 million people around the world have been forced to leave their homes. Migration is also an integral part of the history of Sweden; in today’s population, one in six was born in another country. Since the 1930s Sweden has been characterized by more immigration than emigration, including offering refuge to people fleeing war and political unrest. This exhibition aims to add new perspectives to the story of Sweden and migration and give insights into the current situation in the country. Beyond headlines of chaos and collapse, beyond politics and public authorities, there are people who try to build a life in a new country.

House of Sweden


Through Jan. 15, 2018

Architecture of an Asylum: St. Elizabeths 1852-2017

Established by Congress in 1855 as the Government Hospital for the Insane, St. Elizabeths is widely considered a pioneering psychiatric facility. The hospital is a prime example of the “Kirkbride Plan” for mental health hospitals, which promised to help patients with a specialized architecture and landscape. This exhibition traces St. Elizabeths’ evolution over time, reflecting shifting theories about how to care for the mentally ill, as well as the later reconfiguration of the campus as a federal workplace and a mixed-use urban development.

National Building Museum



May 25 to 27

The Washington Ballet: Frontier

The Washington Ballet presents the world premiere of Ethan Stiefel’s “Frontier,” a ballet inspired by President Kennedy and his space travel aspirations for America. The ballet employs an authenticity as it investigates space exploration through the perspective of the astronaut, delving into the emotional and physical rigors required for space travel. Tickets are $25 to $130.

Kennedy Center Opera House



Thu., May 4, 6 p.m.

Prague Functionalism: Tradition and Contemporary Echoes

The American Institute of Architects, in collaboration with the Embassy of the Czech Republic and the Jaroslav Frágner Gallery Prague, present the opening of the exhibition “Prague Functionalism: Tradition and Contemporary Echoes,” featuring the lecture “Prague Modern Architecture 1900-1950: From Art Nouveau and Cubism to Avant Garde” by art historian Zdeněk Lukeš. To RSVP, visit https://praguefunctionalism.eventbrite.com.

The American Institute of Architects


Mon., May 8, 7 p.m.

Last Hope Island Book Talk

New York Times bestselling author Lynne Olson will discuss her new book “Last Hope Island,” a groundbreaking account of how Britain became the base of operations for the exiled leaders of Europe, including the Polish government-in-exile, in their desperate struggle to reclaim their continent from Hitler. For information, visit www.waszyngton.msz.gov.pl/en/.

Embassy of Poland


Tue., May 9, 6:45 p.m.

Constructing the Public Realm

Spanish architect Iñaki Alday of the University of Virginia and Kelly Shannon of the University of Southern California talk about the singularity of Spanish architecture in the integration of architecture, public space, urban planning and landscape architecture. Admission is free but RSVP is required; for more information, visit www.spainculture.us/city/washington-dc/.

Former Spanish Ambassador’s Residence



Mon., May 1, 5:30 p.m.

Mezcal: Mexico in a Bottle, the biggest mezcal tasting in the United States, makes its D.C. debut, combining music, art, food and the divine elixir. The event will include more than 15 mezcal brands, bites, cocktail sips from local bars and restaurants, handcrafted artisan goods, music and luminaries from across the mezcal world. Tickets are $50.

Mexican Cultural Institute


May 10 to 13

Heart’s Delight Wine Tasting and Auction

Over the past 17 years, the Heart’s Delight wine extravaganza has raised more than $15 million for the American Heart Association to fight stroke and heart disease. Events include the Congress Has Heart Reception showcasing top American wines (May 10); the Embassy and Winemaker Dinner Series featuring intimate dinners at foreign missions (May 11); the Vintners Dinner and Auction at Andrew Mellon Auditorium (May 12); and the Bordeaux Master Class and Grand Tasting at the Ritz-Carlton (May 13). For information, visit http://heartsdelightwineauction.org.

Various locations



Sun., May 14, 5 p.m.

Carmina Burana and Oedipus Rex

At the end of his 10th and final season, the Washington Chorus will pull out all the stops to honor Julian Wachner in his final concert as music director. The Chorus will perform Carl Orff’s “Carmina Burana” and Igor Stravinsky’s “Oedipus Rex,” with special guest narrator Ari Shapiro of NPR. Three guest choirs and D.C. institutions join the performance: Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington, Children’s Chorus of Washington and the Washington National Cathedral Boy and Girl Choristers. Tickets are $18 to $72.

Kennedy Center Concert Hall


Sat., May 20, 4:30 p.m.

Ustad Dilshad Ensemble

Ustad Dilshad Hussain Khan is an international violinist, composer and musicologist. The Pakistani-American citizen comes from seven generations of musicians and has studied and traveled worldwide, playing a distinct blend of Western and Eastern sounds, along with classical, jazz, blues, country and fusion music. Tickets are $80, including buffet. For information, visit www.embassyseries.org.

Embassy of Pakistan


Wed., May 24, 7:30 p.m.

David Six: Solo Piano – Between the Stations

“Between the Stations” is what Austrian pianist David Six calls his new project, which consists of compositions written on the road. The idea is simple: At every recital, he presents one new piano piece that has been inspired by and written at the very same place: music written in hotel rooms or at train stations, on planes or simply on stage. Admission is free; for information, visit acfdc.org.

Embassy of Austria


May 6 to 21

Washington National Opera: Madame Butterfly

In this eye-popping staging of Puccini’s immortal tragedy, a dashing American naval officer chooses a naïve young geisha to be his bride, only to betray her–leading to one of the most devastating and legendary final scenes in all of opera. Tickets are $25 to $300.

Kennedy Center Opera House


Through May 7

A Raisin in the Sun

Lorraine Hansberry’s “A Raisin in the Sun” follows the Younger family yearning for a better life far from the cramped confines of their Chicago tenement. Hope arrives in the form of an unexpected financial windfall, but when they realize they have differing definitions of the American dream, which dreams get realized and which deferred? Tickets are $40 to $90.

Arena Stage


May 9 to June 11

Timon of Athens

Robert Richmond directs Shakespeare’s tragic satire about a wealthy aristocrat who loses his fortune and his friends due to his over-generosity. An exploration of materialism, money and friendship, “Timon of Athens” features Helen Hayes Award-winner Ian Merrill Peakes in the title role. Tickets are $35 to $75.

Folger Shakespeare Theatre 


Through May 21

Smart People

Four intellectuals — a doctor, an actress, a psychologist and a neurobiologist studying the human brain’s response to race — search for love, acceptance and identity set against the backdrop of Barack Obama’s 2008 election. Tickets are $40 to $90.

Arena Stage

Through May 20


Based on E.L. Doctorow’s celebrated 1975 novel, the Tony Award-winning musical “Ragtime” confronts both the unbridled optimism and the stark reality of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. When the lives of a wealthy white family, a daring Harlem musician and a determined Jewish immigrant intersect, their fates are inextricably bound and profoundly changed. Tickets are $20 to $73. 

Ford’s Theatre

Through May 21

In the Heights

This spirited musical by the creator of “Hamilton” tells a story of the love, hopes and heartbreaks of a tightly knit multicultural community on the brink of change in New York’s Washington Heights. Teeming with vivid neighborhood characters such as the romantically skittish bodega owner, attractive beautician, wise grandmother, and a young student and her culturally different boyfriend, the stage will sizzle with the urban energy of hip hop, salsa and merengue. Tickets are $60.

GALA Hispanic Theatre 

Through May 28


At a time when equivocation and the perils of power dominate the news and divide the nation, Liesl Tommy’s up-to-the-minute production will explore political themes that reverberate here in America and around the world. Though not always thought of as a political play, Shakespeare’s study of power and its abuses and insecurities is as relevant today as when it was written in response to the Gunpowder Plot in 1606. Please call for ticket information.

Shakespeare Theatre Company

May 30 to July 2

The School for Lies

“The School for Liestransforms Molière’s 17th-century classic “The Misanthrope” into a modern satire crafted in vicious couplets and outrageous gags, creating a baroque comedy of manners brimming with contemporary slang. Please call for ticket information. 

The Shakespeare Theatre