Arts Desk

Fall Arts Guide Preview: Our Critics’ Picks!


We've left a present for you inside tomorrow's Washington City Paper. No, no, get your mind out of the gutter. Folded inside our dead-tree edition, you'll find this year's beautifully illustrated State of the Arts guide, containing a hefty 72 pages of arts listings, and our picks for the best events this fall. What'd we highlight? Let's take a look!


Mark Athitakis reminds you that, if you must share oxygen with the most buzzed novelist of the season, you'll have three chances to see Jonathan Franzen—but seriously, there are plenty of homegrown authors who'll be reading, too. And Michael Schaffer highlights Mark Feldstein, who'll discuss his book Poisoning the Press: Richard Nixon, Jack Anderson, and the Rise of Washington's Scandal Culture Oct. 2 at Politics & Prose.


Matt Siblo, who loves midnight screenings far more than is healthy, looks at two such screenings at E Street Cinema: the John Waters, um, classic Pink Flamingos and the Japanese head-scratcher House (Hausu). And Benjamin R. Freed examines his favorite Buster Keaton film, and by any measure the director's last great work, The Camerman. It shows Oct. 20 in the courtyard of the Smithsonian American Art Museum and the National Portrait Gallery.


We usually keep our sights gallery-level, but there are tons of great museum shows this fall. Louis Jacobson is pumped for "TruthBeauty: Pictorialism and the Photograph as Art" at the Phillips Collection. Jeffry Cudlin suggests you see “Hide/Seek: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture” at the National Portrait Gallery and “The Pre-Raphaelite Lens” at the National Gallery of Art. And John Anderson recommends “Catalyst: 35 Years of the Washington Project for the Arts” at the American University Museum. Plus! Ben Westhoff says the “Audio Portraits: Artists and Subjects in Their Own Words” display outside the Washington Convention Center is worth your time.


This one's a doozy: First, Ramon Ramirez has some complicated thoughts, but plenty of suggestions, in re: this year's Virgin Mobile FreeFest. He also thinks you should see Drake at DAR Constitution Hall and The Octopus Project at DC9. For Michael J. West, the biggest event of the season is Cecil Taylor's performance at the French Embassy—by West's count, it's the free-jazz icon's first D.C. show since the Carter administration—but he also sees plenty of other apocalyptic jazz performances that are worth your time. Matt Siblo highlights three shows: Guided by Voices at the 9:30 Club, Delorean at the Rock & Roll Hotel, and (totally seriously!) the Jello Biafra-less Dead Kennedys, also at R&R Hotel. Mike Paarlberg is curious to see Christoph Eschenbach's debut as music director of the National Symphony Orchestra. And David Dunlap Jr. thinks it's worth the risk of vomiting to see the notoriously abrasive art-rock band Swans at the Black Cat. I agree!


We focused on two slightly out-there performances this year. Chris Klimek thinks your time will be well-spent seeing the Washington Shakespeare Company's Mary Stuart, showing in rep with Richard III; and listening to Lean and Hungry's radio production of Macbeth.

Let's end this with some laughs: David Dunlap Jr. says there are a shit-ton of comedians coming to D.C. this fall. See them all! And pick up our Fall Arts Guide tomorrow!

Illustrations by Jen Corace.

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