The American Ingenuity Awards have honored the country's leading intellectuals and their contributions to education, social progress, and the arts and sciences at an invite-only dinner for the past three years. But now something's changed: This year, Smithsonian magazine has expanded programming to include public events.
On November 12, the Smithsonian will hand over awards--designed by artist Jeff Koons--to Fred Armisen and Bill Hader for their Documentary Now! television series; Alan Stern for leading the New Horizons mission to Pluto; Zoe Crosher and Shamim Momin for their 100-billboard art project, "Manifest Destiny"; Doo Yeon Kim and Rudolph Tanzi for their advances in Alzheimer's research; Françoise Mouly, art editor of the New Yorker; and Lin-Manuel Miranda, the playwright and composer of Hamilton, a highly praised musical about the founding father.
On October 29, Mosaic Theater Company launched its inaugural six-play season with Unexplored Interior, a sweeping exploration of the political and social forces behind the 1994 genocide in Rwanda.
It’s not every day that a much lauded--yet deeply controversial--theater player makes such an ambitious comeback. Mosaic artistic director Ari Roth spent 18 years at Theater J until his firing turned into a public relations fiasco last year. He didn’t leave quietly. In less than a year, he raised $1.6 million for his new venture, a highly anticipated company dedicated to provocative, socially conscious theater.
“I’ve come to believe audiences come to see portraits of themselves,” Roth says. “[Unexplored Interior] was a great starting point because it is smart enough to invoke our passivity to the plights of so many others who have suffered.”
MONDAY, NOVEMBER 9
MUSIC: Learn about the history of electronic music at the Kennedy Center on Monday. At Lounge Regime: 100 Years of Ambient Music, Mason Bates, the Kennedy Center’s composer-in-residence, will take you through the history of the genre, which has roots that go back to 1930s Paris. $20, 8 PM.
FOOD: At Dolcezza Factory’s Mole & Mezcal Tasting Dinner, attendees will learn about the delicious, smokey liquor and dine on delicious food pairings from the Oaxaca region. The family-style menu features cooking from Espita Mezcaleria, an Oaxacan restaurant set to debut in Shaw later this year. There are two seatings, one at 6 PM, and another at 8 PM. $75.
Singer-songwriter Rachael Yamagata was born in Arlington and went to high school at Holton-Arms in Bethesda. Now based in Woodstock, New York, she returned to Maryland to record her most recent full-length album, 2011's bluesy Chesapeake. The album was recorded at a studio built inside a Chesapeake Bay house owned by her producer, John Alagia.
"That record was my first release as an independent artist and it goes down among all who were involved as one of the most fun recording experiences ever," she writes in an email. "I think you can hear the energy and freshness through the recording--an 'at last' feeling that happens after a breakthrough."
Chesapeake still has the bluesy, sultry vibe that Yamagata cultivated on her previous major-label releases, but the album has a dynamic brightness that was missing on earlier tracks. Yamagata's husky voice smolders on "Starlight," while "You Won't Let Me" begins and ends with her on piano and has a gorgeous full-band arrangement in the middle.
Sofar Sounds has a shaky history in Washington. Three years ago, the community of pop-up concerts hosted a few shows here before shutting down. In January, DC native Fitz Holladay brought the concerts back. But after a handful of gigs, Sofar Sounds went on hiatus again.
Now the concerts are back for a third run--hopefully for good this time. On November 12, Holladay hosts his first concert in five months, and he's planning to make this gig better than ever.
Getting more than 5,000 animals to cooperate for portraits is no easy task, but for National Geographic photographer and wildlife conservationist Joel Sartore, it was a worthy cause.
His hard work will be featured in Photo Ark, a new exhibition opening Thursday at the National Geographic Museum. Centered around Sartore's efforts to photograph captive and endangered species before they disappear, the exhibition symbolizes the photographer's desire to preserve biodiversity. "We're on track to lose half of all species [at] the turn of the next century if we don't start being more responsible and better stewards of our planet," he says.
THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 5
OPERA: H Street bocce bar Vendetta classes up the joint and hosts Opera On Tap, a non-profit promoting opera and classical music. Sip on some prosecco and indulge in some sophistication as you check out local singers Simon Charette, Emily Crockett, Annie Gill, Becky Henry, Elizabeth Mondragon, Carla Rountree, and Rachel Sitomer, with Dave Chavez on piano. Free, 7 PM.
ART: Phillips After Five’s Swiss Spirit will transport you to Switzerland. Listen to the Brad Collins Trio perform famed musicians Les McCann and Eddie Harris's Swiss Movement album. Taste Swiss wines, espresso, and fondue. Look at the gallery’s latest exhibit, “From Gauguin to Picasso: Masterworks From Switzerland” along with short Swiss films. And get your hands on the Zurich University of the Arts’s "Fluid Morphologies" exhibit, where you’ll learn about “state of the art materials that generate fluid movements, opening up new visions for art, architecture, and design.” $12, 5 PM.
MUSIC: Julia Hale, the dreamy, Trish Kennan-esque voice behind Den-Mate, plays Luce Unplugged. Enjoy the stunning gallery while listening to Hale’s eerie-yet-lively electronic pop. Free, 5:30 PM.
On November 7, FotoWeekDC kicks off a weeklong celebration of screenings, installations, and lectures. The heart of the festival is FotoWeek Central, located at the Former Residence of the Spanish Ambassadors in Columbia Heights, where a powerful collection of works from iconic photographers and emerging artists serves as the festival's anchor exhibit.
WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 4
Architecture of the Holocaust lecture at the Holocaust Museum
Paul Jaskot, a professor at the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts at the National Gallery of Art, studies Nazi Germany's impact on post-war art and architecture. During this lecture, he'll explain why spatial analysis and the built environment are crucial to understanding the Holocaust. 7 PM.
Jennifer Angus’s immersive installation, “In the Midnight Garden,” looks like a kaleidoscope of dead bugs, with more than 5,000 ex-critters clinging to the room’s fuchsia walls. She scoured the world for these sci-fi-looking insects, painted the space with a natural dye produced by cochineals, and arranged them into the shapes of circles, octagons, and skulls.