Over, Under, Next: Experiments in Mixed Media, 1913-Present
The word "collage" may recall elementary school craft projects involving Modge Podge and magazine clippings. The idea of assembling various found objects, however, has been present in nearly every major modern art movement. The Hirshhorn Museum's newest exhibit features 100 pieces of collage and other assembled art from the past century, incorporating such diverse objects as metal and glass shards, doll parts and butterfly wings, and even film footage. The highlights range from pieces from the early 1900s by Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque the founders of Cubism, who were among the first to develop collage as a modern art form to more contemporary pieces like Doris Salcedo's "Untitled" (1995), which utilized used furniture to comment on the kidnappings and murders in Colombia. Along with the exhibit, the museum will host a number of gallery talks and other events, including a lecture May 17 with one of the featured artists, Ann Hamilton. Through Sept. 8 at the Hirshhorn Museum & Sculpture Garden, Independence Ave. & 7th St. SW. 202/633-4674. Web: hirshhorn.si.edu.
The Improvised Shakespeare Company
Tuesday marks the 449th birthday of William Shakespeare. This weekend, Arlington's Artisphere will celebrate the Bard of Avon's incomparable use of the English language and if his 38 plays and 154 sonnets aren't enough, you can help write another in the writer's iconic style during this special event. The Improvised Shakespeare Company will perform two shows on Friday night, in which the audience will suggest a title for a yet-to-be-written Shakespearean play that the company will then cobble together on the fly. Each show will surely be unique and you won't even know if you're in for a comedy, tragedy or history. The acclaimed Chicago-based company has received numerous awards, including a New York Nightlife Award for Best Comedic Performance by a Group. Friday at the Artisphere, 1101 Wilson Blvd., Arlington. 703/875-1100. Web: artisphere.com.
21st Century Consort: Dance the Night Away
The 21st Century Consort, the Smithsonian Institution's contemporary ensemble-in-residence, was founded in 1975 as the 20th Century Consort to perform music by living composers. Led by artistic director Christopher Kendall, the group, which includes musicians from the National Symphony Orchestra as well as other prominent, local chamber ensembles, is celebrating its sixth season performing at the Smithsonian American Art Museum. On Saturday, the award-winning ensemble will perform contemporary dance compositions, including the world premiere of Pasadena, Calif.-based composer Donald Crockett's "Dawn Dance." Saturday at 5-7 p.m. at the Smithsonian American Art Museum, 8th & F Streets NW. 202/633-1000. Web: americanart.si.edu.
Smithsonian Craft Show
If you want to spruce up a studio apartment that's no larger than a jail cell, you're in luck, because this week, decorating specialist (and one-time jailbird) Martha Stewart will be in town for the Smithsonian Craft Show. The annual show, now in its 31st year, features 121 artisans selling their wares, including many high-end, one-of-a-kind pieces of furniture, home decor, wearable art and more. The show opens on Wednesday evening with a preview benefit that includes the opportunity to meet Ms. Stewart and the artists and get first pick of the crafts over cocktails. On Thursday, Ms. Stewart will also be on hand for a lecture about crafting and pursuing your passions, and other events throughout the show include panels on collecting fine crafts and home decorating techniques, as well as exclusive dinners at the sure-to-be-impressive homes of local interior designers. The event benefits the Smithsonian Institution's education, outreach, conservation, and research programs. Through April 28 at the National Building Museum, 401 F St. NW. Web: smithsoniancraftshow.org.
Last week, "Motown: The Musical" premiered on Broadway, with musical legends like Smokey Robinson, Diana Ross and Gladys Knight among the stars on the red carpet to get a first look at the story of Berry Gordy Jr.'s Detroit record label. It's sure to be a hit but you don't need to see actors play the musicians with the Empress of Soul herself coming to Washington this week. Miss Knight rose to stardom in the 1960s and 1970s with her group Gladys Knight and the Pips, and went on to win seven Grammy awards, including one for the 1986 AIDS benefit song "That's What Friends Are For" with Dionne Warwick, Stevie Wonder and Elton John. For two nights only, starting Thursday, Miss Knight will appear at Bethesda's Music Center at Strathmore to perform her Motown favorites as well as newer songs. April 25-26 at the Music Center at Strathmore, 5301 Tuckerman Lane, Bethesda. 301/581-5100. Web: strathmore.org.