Things to Do

Holiday Wine Pairing, Ken Burns, and Chicanx Graphic Art: Things to Do in Washington, November 19-22

Plus: Rebecca Roanhorse's epic fantasy, Black Sun.

Illustration by Hannah Good.

Hi folks!

We’ve got holiday wine pairings, cupcake decorating, and a chat with Barack Obama.

Me at the holiday-themed wine pairing class.

Here’s what you should check out this weekend:

More election talk: Documentarian Ken Burns will chat with Georgetown president John J. DeGioia and professors Lynn C. Ross and Rosa Brooks in a Zoom event on “Consequential Elections in American History.” Stay after the talk for a Q&A. Thursday 11/19 at 4 PM; Free, register here.

Get creative: Try painting Cardi B with visual artist Sarah Albert (@sarahpaintsrappers) in an outdoor Paint and Sip event on the Viceroy hotel’s patio. Albert will show you how to portray Cardi, Biggie, Tupac, or Post Malone on canvases with outlines of each rapper. Art supplies and one drink provided. Thursday 11/19 at 6 PM; $30, buy tickets here.

New art: Preview the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s upcoming virtual exhibit, “¡Printing the Revolution! The Rise and Impact of Chicano Graphics, 1965 to Now.” The show features activist posters and prints with messages supporting civil rights, queer rights, Black Lives Matter, and feminist movements. Join the museum’s artist chat with Juan Fuentes, Ester Hernandez, and Zeke Peña to explore how social justice informed Chicanx graphic art and culture and hear from prominent collectors of these artworks about why they consider their collecting efforts a type of activism. Thursday 11/19 at 7 PM; Free, register here.

Pop bottles: Delve into the world of tannins and oak in a virtual Smithsonian Associates class on holiday wine pairings led by sommelier Erik Segelbaum. He’ll offer tips on how to pair reds and whites like a pro. Friday 11/20 at 6 PM; $65-$75, buy tickets here. Note: Sales end Friday at 9 AM. Pick up kits at Maxwell Park in Navy Yard on Thursday and Friday from 1-5 PM.

Movie night: Watch a movie at the Alexandria Drive-in this weekend. Catch Seabiscuit on Friday 11/20 at 7:45 PM and Chadwick Boseman-starring 42 on Saturday 11/21at 9 PM. Later screenings include The Grinch and Love Actually. $35 per car, buy tickets here.

Bake off: Learn how to decorate six cupcakes to make them look like Thanksgiving meals of cherry pie, mashed potatoes, brussels sprouts, and more with Cake Time, a cake decorating studio in Chantilly, VA. Saturday 11/21 at 7 PM; $45 (complimentary wine and beer included), buy tickets here.

Sing along: Watch the 100 singer-strong Congressional Chorus’s online concert, Vogue: Return to the 90s. The cabaret performance includes classics like The Lion King’s “Circle of Life” and, of course, Madonna’s “Vogue.” Saturday 11/21 at 8 PM; Free (donations encouraged), RSVP here.

Closing time, again: Many museums around town are once again closing due to increasing Covid cases locally and nationally. Today, Smithsonian museums, the National Gallery of Art, and the National Zoo all announced that they would shutter for the time being.

Book talk: President Barack Obama will chat about his new memoir, A Promised Land, with Michele Norris, opinions columnist at the Washington Post, and Elizabeth Alexander, president of the Mellon Foundation, in a virtual event on Monday. Obama will talk about his writing process, influences, and—what else—the presidency. Let’s hope they ask about his questionable playlist, too. Monday 11/23 at 11:30 AM; Free, register here.

Self-care chat: Explore the power of intention and ritual with the duo behind DC wellness company Black Magick Sisters, Risikat and Olutoyin, in a “Curative Collective Conversation” with the National Museum of Women in the Arts. Monday 11/23 at noon; Free, livestream the event here.

What I’m reading: 


I finished Rebecca Roanhorse’s latest fantasy novel Black Sun this week and my mind is still replaying the story of a man/crow god destined to eat the sun to avenge his decimated nation who falls in love with a part-woman-part-fish ship captain. The Black Indigenous author created a fantasy world based in pre-Columbian America where cacao is currency, loincloths are common, and matrons are the rule, not the exception. The prophesied crow god protagonist takes aim at an oppressive priesthood and we see behind the curtain that the religious leadership is in turmoil, despite the efforts of the head priest who’s struggling to keep her lower class family a secret. Roanhorse writes compelling characters who grapple with challenging questions of identity, home, and ancestry. She’s also the first author I’ve read who seamlessly incorporates gender-neutral and nonbinary folks with xe/xir pronouns. (She won’t be the last on my reading list!) The work is beautifully queer and gender-expansive, including characters who identify with third genders, similar to those identified in various indigenous cultures for hundreds of years.

Roanhorse also represents a really interesting new thread within the conversation in the fantasy/sci-fi genre. Her previous works faced criticism from indigenous artists and writers who accused her of cultural appropriation of Diné (Navajo) stories. Yet she also has a large group of support from readers, indigenous and beyond, who are thrilled to see elements of their storytelling traditions within epic stories about indigenous heroes. As we continue to see publishers eager to invest in diverse stories and writers, I think we’ll see more of these questions that demand we confront complicated histories, nuanced ancestry, and respectful storytelling. You can read more about the controversy and hear from Roanhorse herself in “The Sci-Fi Author Reimagining Native History” by Vulture’s Lila Shapiro.

Thanks for reading! Tell me what you’re up to at home by dropping me a line at rcartagena@washingtonian.com.

Web Producer/Writer

Rosa joined Washingtonian in 2016 after graduating from Mount Holyoke College. She covers arts and culture for the magazine. She’s written about anti-racism efforts at Woolly Mammoth Theatre, dinosaurs in the revamped fossil hall at the Smithsonian’s Natural History Museum, and the horrors of taking a digital detox. When she can, she performs with her family’s Puerto Rican folkloric music ensemble based in Jersey City. She lives in Adams Morgan.