• The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts recently announced the 36th annual Kennedy Center Honors recipients – five deserving and talented artists who will be celebrated for their contribution to American culture through the performing arts. This year’s honorees are opera singer Martina Arroyo; pianist, keyboardist, bandleader, and composer Herbie Hancock; pianist, singer, and songwriter Billy Joel; actress Shirley MacLaine; and musician and songwriter Carlos Santana. The Kennedy Center and President and Mrs. Obama will pay tribute to these extraordinary honorees at a Gala on December 8 – but since most of us can’t make it to this spectacular show in person, we can see all the highlights when it’s broadcast on CBS on December 29 at 9:00 p.m. Learn more about the honorees and the Gala celebration at the Kennedy Center’s website.
• Hurry! The American Horticultural Association’s online auction has begun, so visit AHS’s website to bid on once-in-a-lifetime garden tour packages offered at some of the most beautiful public gardens across America. From George Washington’s Mount Vernon, to the Santa Fe Botanical Garden, and the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center – and many more – each garden’s creators and leaders will take auction winners behind the scenes on a personal tour. Auction proceeds will support AHS’s outreach efforts to children and gardeners of all ages and skill levels. Bidding closes at noon on October 27, so don’t miss out.
• Save the date! The National Museum of Women in the Arts is holding a trunk show for acclaimed jewelry designer Diane Liljestrom from October 31 through November 1, 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Ms. Liljestrom will be on hand to discuss her unique designs and help you choose the piece that’s right for you. Visit NMWA’s website for more information and to see some examples of this exquisite jewelry.
• The National Museum of African American History and Culture* will opens its doors on the National Mall in 2015, but until then, the National Museum of American History has devoted a gallery to the NMAAHC, to offer important and fascinating exhibits. From December 14 through September 7, 2014, the NMAAHC Gallery will present Changing America: The Emancipation Proclamation, 1863 and the March on Washington, 1963. As described on the Museum’s website, In 2013 the country will commemorate two events that changed the course of the nation – the 1863 Emancipation Proclamation and the 1963 March on Washington…[This exhibition] explores the historical context of these two crucial events, their accomplishments and limitations, and their impact on the generations that followed.
• The National Museum of the American Indian* is the site of a terrific ongoing show: Grand Procession: Dolls from the Charles and Valerie Diker Collection, open from now until January 5, 2014. As NMAI describes it, this exhibition celebrates Native identity through 23 colorful and meticulously detailed objects that are much more than dolls. Traditionally made by female relatives using buffalo hair, hide, porcupine quills, and shells, figures like these have long served as both toys and teaching tools for American Indian communities. And on Saturday, October 26, visit the Museum to experience a centuries-old tradition – the annual Día de los Muertos (“Day of the Dead”). This celebration originated in Latin America, and is a time to commemorate the lives of the dearly departed and welcome the return of their spirits. This lively event is a chance to learn about and participate in ancient practices, including pre-Hispanic and Spanish customs. Check out NMAI’s website for more information on its Día de los Muertos events.
• The New Jersey Performing Arts Center is thrilled to welcome Motown legend Smokey Robinson to its stage on Friday October 11. He’ll perform his timeless R&B classics like Tracks of My Tears, I Second that Emotion, and The Tears of a Clown. And if you don’t get enough Smokey during the concert, reserve a spot at NJPAC’s NICO Kitchen + Bar after the show for Smokey Robinson Karaoke! Visit NJPAC’s website for ticketing information.
• Going on now through October 26, Pittsburgh Cultural Trust’s Pittsburgh International Festival of Firsts is presenting international performers and artists premiering works never before seen in the United States. PCT describes it this way: They will capture your imagination, challenge you to think BIG, and leave you seeing the world in an entirely new way. Theater, dance, music, performance, visual arts, the real and the surreal merge. Deep breath. Get ready. For tickets and more information, go to PCT’s website.
*PLEASE NOTE: As of this blog posting, the National Museum of the American Indian, the National Museum of African American History and Culture, and the National Museum of American History are all closed due to the federal government shut-down. Please call or check the Musuems’ websites for more information.