News & Politics

The Lowdown on DC’s Best and Brightest Art Events

At these events, art, music, and entertainment combine to make an exceptional evening out.

Beer and music make the painting process much more social at any Art Jamz event.


Where: Various locations
When: Friday, September 23, and Saturday, September 24

ArtJamz’s mobile art experience—which has turned up at venues such as the Corcoran Gallery of Art and the Smithsonian American Art Museum—is setting up shop in Shaw’s Lamont Bishop Gallery for three September nights of beer-and-wine-fueled artistic expression. The Singles Session ($65) on Friday the 23rd brings together equal numbers of Fridas and Pablos hoping to ignite more than a creative spark. Still single at the end of the night? Try your luck at Night Owl Session ($45), held Saturday the 24th in conjunction with the first annual Art All Night: Nuit Blanche DC or the Peekaso Session ($65) on Saturday the 30th. Tickets include a 22-by-28-inch stretch canvas and all the paint and glitter glue you can handle. The Night Owl price also includes a drink; the Singles and Peekaso prices include unlimited drinks and hors d’oeuvres.


Africa Underground

Where: National Museum of African Art
When: Friday, September 30

Held four times a year, this popular event at the National Museum of African Art is known to sell out in days. That’s no surprise—in addition to having after-hours access to the museum’s exhibits, attendees can expect music, fashion shows, “Afrobeat” face painting, a spice-filled souk, authentic African food, drummers, and more. The event, from 7 to 11, features names such as designer Korto Momolu, DC-based “AfroRoots” duo Eme & Heteru, Sahel, and DJ Underdog ($25).


Phillips After 5

Where: Phillips Collection
When: Thursday, October 6

The Phillips goes Francophile in honor of the new exhibit “ Degas’s Dancers at the Barre: Point and Counterpoint,” opening October 1. In addition to live music, food, and a cash bar, Washington Ballet artistic director Septime Webre will be on hand to lend his perspectives on Degas’s works, and dancers from the ballet’s school will perform. If all of this makes you want to don a leotard and plié, you’re in luck—a ballet-basics class is also on the agenda. Ballet not your thing? Check out the Gallery Talk at 6 and 7: You’ll get to experience Washington Color School artist Morris Louis’s abstract, color-soaked canvases up close. Entry to Phillips After 5 and the Degas exhibit is included in museum admission ($12, students and seniors $10); admission to the Gallery Talk is by donation. Reservations for Phillips After 5 are recommended.


Hirshhorn After Hours

Where: Hirshhorn Museum
When: Friday, October 14

The Hirshhorn’s curved galleries and über-contemporary exhibitions have made it the edgiest spot on the Mall, and its events are quickly making it the grande dame of the Washington after-hours art scene. With two of our favorite exhibits of the fall in place—“ Andy Warhol: Shadows” and Dan Flavin’s fluorescent installation—we can’t think of a better time to go. Throw in music by the Crystal Ark and LCD Soundsystem’s Nancy Whang, and they’ll have to beg us to leave at midnight. Tickets $25.


NOW at Night

Where: Corcoran Gallery of Art
When: Friday, October 21

If you thought you had fun at April’s Artini, get ready—the Corcoran is back with another after-hours extravaganza. Put on your “creative cocktail attire” and celebrate the museum’s latest exhibitions—“30 Americans,” “Hank Willis Thomas: Strange Fruit,” and “Gordon Parks: Photographs From the Collection”—and then top off your evening with a cocktail-and-dessert buffet plus music by multimedia artist DJ Spooky. Tickets $150.


Portraits After 5

Where: National Portrait Gallery
When: Friday, November 4

The DJs known as Yellow Fever spin Vietnamese psych, and the Courtyard Café serves up Asian-inspired hors d’oeuvres and cocktails at the National Portrait Gallery’s next Portraits after 5 event, Asian 2 American. Mingle with curators and Smithsonian Asian Pacific Program staff at the exhibit “Portraiture Now: Asian American Portraits of Encounter,” and then stick around to have your own portrait made by a Corcoran College of Art & Design student or graduate in the Kogod Courtyard. Tickets $30.


Asia After Dark

Where: Freer and Sackler Galleries
When: May 2012

If you like a themed party, you’ll love Asia After Dark at the Freer and Sackler Galleries. These over-the-top events are probably the most fun you’ll have within the walls of a Smithsonian institution—but you’ll have to wait until the spring to catch the next one. Themes—which have included “One Thousand and One Nights” and “Asian Pop Rock”—are evident in everything from the dress code to the cocktails: Think kimonos, belly dancing, sake, scavenger hunts, and catering by the restaurant Kushi. Tickets $22 in advance, $25 at the door.