Arts Desk

ToDo ToDay: Artomatic!

In case you missed it, salon-style clusterfuck Artomatic is back from a three-year hiatus, and returning to Crystal City. It’s the show some love and others hate, likely for the same reason: Hundreds of artists are allowed to exhibit whatever they want, in equally sized spaces, on a first-come first-serve basis, for a fee. Talented artists, Sunday painters, people without a clue, diamonds in the rough, galleries, and collectives all play a part. In 2009 more than 1,000 artists participated, consuming eight floors of a building on M Street in Navy Yard. This year’s fest is even more ambitious, touting more than 1,300 exhibitors and performers over 10 floors, though the 2012 artist catalog does not include “fire” as a searchable medium. There will be other events throughout the six-week run, like beer and wine tastings and art demos from Utrecht. Artomatic 2012 runs May 18 to June 23 at 1851 S. Bell St., Arlington. Free. (John Anderson)

Friday

Ann Patchett, the author the Amazon-set State of Wonder (as well as The Patron Saint of Liars,The Magician's Assistant, and  others) discusses her work at this event presented by the Folger Shakespeare Library. At 7:30 p.m. at Washington National Cathedral, 3101 Wisconsin Ave. NW. (202) 537-6200. $22.

Life's a beach: Vivian Girl Katy Goodman has gone solo as La Sera, whose Sees the Light about is all about sunny, sweet, and efficient love anthems. The equally beachy Beach Week opens. At 9 p.m. at Red Palace, 1212 H St. NE. (202) 399-3201.

Strong all-local lineup: Eccentric folkers Pree, womb-scuzzy garage rockers Ice Cream, and art-poppers Bike Trip perform at 9:30 p.m. at Velvet Lounge 915 U St. NW. (202) 462-3213. $8.

Saturday

Spearheaded by local scenesters Brightest Young Things, beer-soaked pool parties at the Capitol Skyline Hotel have evolved into a D.C. summer staple. But there’s a new pool party in town: Courtesy of the Rock & Roll Hotel, Sticky Rice, and Dangerously Delicious Pies, Mother Trucker is taking over the retro-glam hotel pool with a less hip, more party-hearty vibe twice a month. Today’s opening party promises fire breathers, aerialists, bounce houses, and tunes courtesy of a few DJs including Reed Rothchild, a four-on-the-floor specialist known for throwing hot bacon to the dancing masses. Still hungry? Walk to the nearby parking lot and choose from a half-dozen food trucks. That area is free, but pool entry costs $15. A tip for the frugal: Starting May 26, bring your D.C. drivers license and cool off in the city-run Randall pool across the street. But please, wherever you dip, make sure you don’t swim on a full stomach. Mother Trucker begins at 11 a.m. at the Capitol Skyline Hotel, 10 I St. SW. $15 for pool entry; food truck access is free. mothertruckerdc.com. (Sadie Dingfelder)

The D.C. Craft Mafia hosts its second annual Spring Thing, a craft fair with more than 40 vendors. 11 a.m to 5 p.m. at St. Luke's Episcopal Church, 15th and P streets NW. Free.

If we’re in a woozy, ’80s-obsessed, cheap-glossy moment, then Wolf + Lamb vs. Soul Clap isn’t a bad soundtrack for letting your buzz ooze into sleep. This collaboration between the New York label and the Boston producer duo—codified last year on a compilation for the DJ-Kicks series—is all about sloooooowed-down house beats, disembodied R&B sounds, and anything else that goes down with Ambien. At 10 p.m. at U Street Music Hall, U Street Music Hall, 1115 U St. NW. (202) 588-1880. $10.

Local punk royal Kid Congo Powers isn't performing with his Pink Monkey Birds tonight, but with a lineup of local rock stalwarts (Brendan CantyMark Cisneros, and Tom Bunnell). They'll be doing nothing but covers of '60s and '70s garage-rock classics. "Making Time," please. At 10 p.m. at Comet Ping Pong, 5037 Connecticut Ave. NW. (202) 364-0404. $10.

Film

Sasha Baron Cohen’s schtick almost amounts to an act of anti-marketing. With every costumed appearance the British actor made to promote The Dictator, including interviews with media outlets that embarrassingly agreed to interview him in character, I grew less excited about his comic turn as deposed tyrant Admiral General Aladeen. So it was a pleasant surprise when the movie turned out not to be another example of Cohen’s trick-the-Yankee-rubes, Candid Camera gimmick. Instead, The Dictator is a fairly standard fish-out-of-water satire, albeit with jokes about zany foreigners, numbskull Americans, uptight feminists—and, of course, rape (though always against the rapists, so, you know, it’s cool). A lot of the gags are in fact funny. The satire is less effective: Cohen’s epauletted, 1970s-style oil despot lands just as an actual Middle Eastern revolt is being crushed by a hereditary strongman with a British education and a wife who’s been featured in Vogue. If he’d figured out a way to lampoon suit-clad brutes who hire American PR firms to spin their atrocities, the gaudy promotion might be worth it. Instead, in offering up an over-the-top Gadhafi manqué, he seems as out of step as those obese ignoramuses who had the misfortune of encountering Borat and Bruno. The film shows all week at area theaters. See our showtimes for listings. (Michael Schaffer)

Tricia Olszewski recommends Richard Linklater's Bernie, a black comedy about a gruesome Texas incident that recalls the Coen Brothers. At E Street Cinemas.

Theater

Bob Mondello sees shades of high school Mitt Romney in WSC Avant Bard's production of The Bacchae, in which a "square-jawed child of privilege" means to punish a "vaguely effeminate youth." At Artisphere to July 1.

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