- - Thursday, February 14, 2013

Pick of the Pack

Comedy

An Evening with Mark Russell

It’s easy to make a Washingtonian chuckle — just make a joke about Congress’ inability to get anything done. If you need an antidote to last year’s bitter election cycle, spend your Presidents Day poking fun at the dysfunctional politics that have overtaken Washington with Mark Russell, who has been performing his sharp political satire for more than 30 years. Mr. Russell, who is known for roasting politicians on both sides of the aisle, started his shtick at a piano bar on Capitol Hill and eventually landed a television show and syndicated column, as well as numerous live gigs. His current one-man show includes stand-up comedy with satirical songs and piano accompaniment, with a focus on politics. Get ready for jokes like this one: When asked if he has any writers, Mr. Russell says, “Oh, yes. I have 535 writers — 100 in the Senate and 435 in the House of Representatives.” Monday at Ford’s Theatre, 511 Tenth St. NW. 202/347-4833. Web: www.fords.org.

Concert

Mardi Gras with the Metropolitan Jazz Orchestra

The Lenten season is here, with fond memories of Fat Tuesday’s sugary king cakes and revelry behind us. Just because you can’t indulge in the food and drink of Mardi Gras, however, doesn’t mean you can’t continue to enjoy the soulful sound of Mardi Gras — so don’t put your mask away just yet. On Saturday evening, the Washington area’s Metropolitan Jazz Orchestra will perform a concert inspired by Mardi Gras in the Big Easy. Led by Jim Carroll, the head of George Mason University’s jazz department, who has performed with everyone from jazz clarinetist Woody Herman to Michael Jackson, the orchestra will play the greatest hits from the heyday of the jazz scene in New Orleans. It may be easier to stick to your Lenten promises if you can allow yourself some Dixieland jazz and New Orleans’ famous second-line sound. Saturday at the George Mason University Center for the Arts, Braddock Road and Route 123, Fairfax, 888/945-2468. Web: http://cfa.gmu.edu.

Exhibit

Faking It: Manipulated Photography Before Photoshop

These days, the media often gets rapped for “photoshopping” seemingly perfect models and celebrities to remove any trace of imperfection. Even amateurs take part in the photo conspiracy by cropping, recoloring, and even removing blemishes from ordinary family photos. Yet, Adobe’s popular software isn’t necessarily to blame. In fact, photographers have been carefully manipulating photos practically since the invention of the camera, from tinting techniques and faux group portraits of the 19th century to the pre-digital techniques of the 1980s. On Sunday, the National Gallery of Art will unveil a new exhibit featuring 200 altered photos by some of the world’s most famous photographers, including Gustave Le Gray, Edward Steichen, Weegee, Richard Avedon and Yves Klein, as well as doctored and even fake photos used throughout history for propaganda purposes. The exhibit, which debuted at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, will make you question every photo you see. Through May 5 at the National Gallery of Art West Building, 4th Street & Constitution Avenue, NW. 202/737-4215. Web: www.nga.gov.

Exhibit

Nobel Prize

In 2009, the world was surprised when President Obama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize after having been in office fewer than 10 months. The prize was created by Alfred Nobel, the Swedish inventor of dynamite who used his fortune to fund the Nobel Foundation, dedicated to those who most benefit mankind each year. Though the winners occasionally include a few sleeper picks, overall their accomplishments have vastly improved life on earth, and the laureates range from Albert Einstein and Ernest Hemingway to Martin Luther King Jr. and Mother Teresa, to name a few. Starting Wednesday, learn about these winners and many more at the Kennedy Center’s new exhibit devoted to the Nobel Prize and the winners from all prize fields. The exhibit is part of Nordic Cool, the Kennedy Center’s festival celebrating the cultures of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Greenland, the Faroe Islands, and the Aland Islands, with theater, dance, design, and much more. Through March 17 at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, 2700 F St. NW. 800/444-1324. Web: www.kennedy-center.org.

Dance

Tour-de-Force: Stars & Stripes

The presidential inauguration has come and gone, but there’s always a place for a little pomp and circumstance in Washington. If you missed the inaugural parade featuring marching bands from across the country, the Washington Ballet’s newest performance will give you an opportunity to feel that patriotic pride. Founded in 1944 by pre-eminent ballet teacher Mary Day, the company will open its first tour-de-force showcase Thursday evening with an homage to America. The performance will include excerpts from classic ballets such as “Le Corsaire,” based on Lord Byron’s poem, and “Don Quixote,” based on Miguel de Cervantes’ novel. The highlight of the evening, however, will be “Stars and Stripes,” a uniquely American ballet originally choreographed by George Balanchine of the New York City Ballet and set to John Philip Sousa’s patriotic marches, such as “Stars and Stripes Forever.” Through Feb. 24 at Sidney Harman Hall, 610 F St. NW. 202/547-1122. Web: www.washingtonballet.org.

Festival

Washington, D.C. International Design Festival

Design is important to Washington, D.C. — the soaring dome of the Capitol, the geometry of the Mall, the important works found in the halls of the Smithsonian’s museums. If design intrigues you, head to Arlington’s Artisphere for the Washington, D.C. International Design Festival. The free, three-month event will explore the purpose of design and its impact on humans. The highlight of the festival is an exhibit called “The Next Wave: Industrial Design Innovation in the 21st Century,” featuring 4,000 square feet filled with some 100 innovative objects from around the world. The festival opens Thursday evening with a reception, and will include a variety of free lectures, films and other programs through its duration. Through May 19 at Artisphere, 1101 Wilson Blvd., Arlington, 703/875-1100. Web: www.artisphere.com.