✔ Pick of the Pack
Exhibit: 'Picturing Gertrude'
In addition to writing in every imaginable medium from poetry to fiction to librettos, Gertrude Stein is well-known for nurturing the careers of some of America's biggest writers, including F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway. Her station as the matron of modernism was rare in a time when few women wielded such influence in the world of arts and letters. Less well-known is Stein's impact on the visual arts. She furthered the careers of painter Felix Edouard Vallotton and sculptor Jo Davidson, both of whom depicted Stein in portraiture that will be on display, and made fast friends with Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso, Juan Gris and Georges Braque. Stein's relationship with many of these artists was transactional. She collected and promoted their works in the Paris gallery she created with her brother Leo, and they, in turn, immortalized her in sculpture and paint. The result, the Portrait Gallery says, is a catalog of portraits "far more numerous than those of most modern writers."
Through Jan. 22 at the National Portrait Gallery, Eighth and F streets NW
Comedy: John Pinette
Overweight people have had a place in comedy since the days of Lou Costello, but they don't always stay around long. At the top of the list of comics who died too soon are Chris Farley and John Candy, brilliant comedians whose appetites literally killed them. John Pinette is a blessed exception to the rule that overweight comics are destined to have short careers. The Boston-born comic has been packing clubs since the mid-'80s, gracing Broadway and Hollywood in the process. And unlike Farley, whose girth was both the butt of every "SNL" joke and also the elephant in the room, Mr. Pinette's work gravitates around his weight. His first comedy album was called "Show Me the Buffet," and his 2006 follow-up was called "I'm Starving." In 2010, he released "John Pinette: Still Hungry." At 49, he has outlived Farley (dead at 33) and Candy (43), and shows no signs of slowing down. That means you can laugh as hard as you want when he makes jokes about milkshakes being on the Weight Watchers diet.
Jan. 19 to 22 at DC Improv, 1140 Connecticut Ave. NW
Concert: Bobby McFerrin
Vocalist Bobby McFerrin is one of the few musicians who you have to see in person to truly appreciate. While his music is beautiful, the way he makes it is as visual as it is auditory. He keeps time by beating on his chest. He can switch between low bass notes and a glistening falsetto on a dime. And he's even mastered the technique of sussing out two notes at the same time, which he accomplishes by forcing air over his vocal cords and humming at the same time. To capture the sound, Mr. McFerrin puts the microphone against his throat. At the Kennedy Center, Mr. McFerrin will be accompanied by the Let Freedom Choir in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day. The performance is free, and tickets will be handed out starting at 5 p.m. at the Kennedy Center.
Jan. 16 at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, 2700 F St. NW
Exhibit: 'Reverb + Echo: A Haitian Landscape'
Americans were held rapt by the images that came out of Haiti in the immediate aftermath of the 2010 earthquake: destruction on a scale unlike anything we had seen since 9/11, violence, perseverance, devastation. The images were so ubiquitous and draining that Americans eventually tuned out. Two years later, Haiti is a different place. Photographers Jenna Crowder and Keith Lane have made several trips to the country since the earthquake, with Mr. Lane photographing "the quieter areas of the chaos," such as schools, small shops and the countryside. Ms. Crowder's work, meanwhile, incorporates typography and textures.
Through Jan. 28 at Studio Gallery, 2108 R St. NW
Class: Mural painting
While it's never too soon to introduce your child to the joys of volunteering, you may not want to drag your 5-year-old to a soup kitchen. (It's best to save that experience for when he or she is 16 and trying to pad a college application.) The Capitol Hill Arts Workshop offers something much more suitable for youngsters in its mural-painting workshop. Murals by Kids for Kids presents D.C. youth with the chance to paint murals based on artwork submitted by children from around the world. The murals made in D.C. are then sent back, in a sort of artistic exchange. Upon completion, this month's mural will be headed to an AIDS orphanage in Mumbai, India.
Jan. 14 at the Capitol Hill Arts Workshop, 545 Seventh St. SE