By Thomas Consolo
A lot of work (and money) has been put toward turning Elm Street into Cincinnati’s arts axis. How is that paying off? Well, four of our first five picks this week take place along a two-block stretch of Elm. And that doesn’t even count the CSO – and they’re playing, too. So park once, and enjoy often.
SATURDAY IN THE PARK
Asian Food Fest | 1230 Elm St., Cincinnati, OH 45202
- Saturday, May 12, noon-10 p.m.; Sunday, May 13, noon-8 p.m.
Crafty Supermarket | 1241 Elm St., Cincinnati, OH 45202
- Saturday, May 12, 11 a.m.-6 p.m.
The redevelopment of Washington Park has been one of the great success stories in Over-the-Rhine’s rebirth and has given the city a new, outdoor living room to enjoy. The park really comes into its own when the weather warms up and festivals call it home all summer. This weekend is a great way to kick off the season, inside and out.
Outside, in the park proper, more than two dozen restaurants and would-be restaurateurs convene for the Asian Food Fest, offering both traditional and creative takes on the cuisines of Cambodia, China, India, Nepal, Korea, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam. Between trips to the food booths, enjoy live music and dance groups each day.
Inside, in Music Hall Ballroom, enjoy one of the year’s two Crafty Supermarkets. These bazaars of creative crafters had been based in the Clifton Cultural Arts Center, but the CCAC’s forced move this year also forced Crafty to find a new home. Browse and shop for a wide variety of wares created by an equally wide variety of artisans, many of them local.
THE BIG TALK
Memorial Hall | 1225 Elm St., Cincinnati, OH 45202; 513-977-8838
- Saturday, May 12, 4 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.: TEDxCincinnati
You’ve probably heard of TED talks, the short, live addresses that bring together TED’s main threads – technology, entertainment and design. It’s proven to be such a powerful formula that it’s inspired a sort of spinoff movement around the world, including here in Cincinnati, called TEDx. This year’s mainstage event of “ideas worth spreading” includes two shows of talks by 12 passionate advocates in fields as varied as medical marijuana, immigration, blockchain and traditional Asian music – a conveniently complementary topic for an event that’s also being held across the street in Washington Park.
Aronoff Center | 650 Walnut St., Cincinnati, OH 45202; 513-621-2787 (ARTS)
- Friday and Saturday, May 11 and 12, 8 p.m.: Dance Theatre of Harlem
In 1970, Arthur Mitchell wanted to transform the lives of the young people of Harlem, the New York neighborhood in which he grew up. As the first African-American to be a permanent member of a major U.S. ballet company – he was principal dancer of George Balanchine’s New York City Ballet – he logically chose to make his mark through classical dance. In the 48 years since, Dance Theatre of Harlem, the group he created, has become one of the country’s leading dance troupes, known for eclectic repertoire from classics to the cutting edge even as its community activities continue its mission of engagement. The dancers perform two shows in Procter & Gamble Hall.
Cincinnati World Cinema | 1225 Elm St., Cincinnati, OH 45202; 513-977-8838
- Sunday, May 13: The British Arrows Awards
Now how much would you pay? But wait, there’s more! More happening along Elm Street this weekend, that is. Cincinnati World Cinema presents this annual treat for short-film fans, bringing the best UK adverts (we’d call them commercials) and public service announcements distributed on television, cinema and online. They’re short films of surprising artistic achievement starring everything from children and animals to A-list actors, and they range from comedy (as only the British can do it) to the daring. Two showings: 2 and 4 p.m.
Mercantile Library | 414 Walnut St., Cincinnati, OH 45202; 513-621-0717
- Tuesday, May 15, 6 p.m.: The Ursuline Manuscript
When Ursuline nuns came to New Orleans in 1727, their primary mission was to be educators of girls in what was then the most important city of New France. Among the treasures they brought with them was a love of music: The sisters crafted their own compositions, many of them hymns that adapted popular, secular melodies to sacred use thanks to new words. The collection of their work, the Ursuline Manuscript, proved to be – excuse the pun – instrumental to the development of music in French Louisiana. (Remember that, through the first quarter of the 19th century, the Big Easy was North America’s wealthiest city and an unrivaled hub of culture.)
Musicologist and performer Kim Pineda discusses the manuscript and its effect on the culture of 18th-century New Orleans on Tuesday at the Mercantile Library. The evening is presented in conjunction with the Catacoustic Consort, whose May 20 season-closer features that music of the Ursulines. It’s like really good program notes – but live and interactive.
Cincinnati Contemporary Jazz Orchestra | 536 Linton St., Cincinnati, OH 45219
- Sunday, May 13, 2 p.m.: “The Colors of Samba-Jazz”
Phil DeGreg has been one of Cincinnati’s pre-eminent jazz keyboard players for a long time (13 years as part of the Blue Wisp’s house trio tops that resume), but he’s more than nimble fingers. The retired College-Conservatory of Music professor in 2008 won a Fulbright scholarship to lecture in Brazil. One of the ways DeGreg kept that experience alive after coming home was by forming the group Brasilia. The group’s repertoire includes songs in samba, bossa-nova, choro, baião and frevo styles and seamlessly merges South American rhythms with fluid jazz improvisation.
Brasilia closes out the CCJO’s Jazz@First series, held at First Unitarian Church.
Also on the playlist:
Kentucky Symphony Orchestra | 1 Nunn Dr., Highland Heights, KY 41076; 859-431-6216
- Saturday, May 12, 7:30 p.m.: “Instrumentally Yours”
Among the KSO’s more creative moves was its decision to take a kind of “original instrument” approach to popular music. Its forays into U.S. chart-toppers studiously recreate the studio ensembles that first performed those tunes through a series of subsidiary ensembles. The latest, the K-so Combo (yes, pronounce it like queso), offers instrumental hits of the second half of the 20th century. Full disclosure: I’ll be performing, so stop by Greaves Hall and say hello.
This week, two openings …
- Cincinnati Music Theatre: “Camelot” – Opens Friday, May 11, in the Aronoff Center’s Jarson-Kaplan Theater. The classic Lerner and Loewe take on the Arthurian legends. (650 Walnut St., Cincinnati, OH 45202; 513-621-2787)
- Beechmont Players: “When We Are Married” – Opens Friday, May 11, at the Anderson Center Theater. Three couples’ 25th anniversaries don’t turn out quite as planned. (7850 Five Mile Rd., Cincinnati, OH 45230; 513-233-2468)
… and two closings.
- Know Theatre: “Ada & the Engine” – Through Saturday, May 12. Lord Byron’s daughter Ada sees the true potential of Charles Babbage’s analytic engine – the first mechanical computer. (1120 Jackson St., Cincinnati, OH 45202; 513-300-5669)
- Clifton Players: “Champagne Gods” – Through Saturday, May 12, in the Liberty Exhibition Hall in Northside. (3938 Spring Grove Ave., Cincinnati, OH, 45223; 513-813-7469 [SHOW])
Another opening …
- Eisele Gallery: “Spring Creations” – Opens Friday, May 11. The Fairfax gallery shows new works by Gail Morrison, Jeff Morrow and Cindy Nixon focusing on traditional landscapes, portraits and still lifes. Opening reception is at 5 p.m. Friday. (5729 Dragon Way, Cincinnati, OH 45227; 513-791-7717)
… and two closings.
- Behringer-Crawford Museum: “Storied Threads” – Closes Sunday, May 13. Read our story on this quilt show. (1600 Montague Rd. Devou Park, Covington, KY 41011; 859-491-4003)
- Marta Hewett Gallery: “The Banana Issue: Jorge Rodríguez Diez (R10)” – Closes Saturday, May 12. The artist’s first U.S. solo exhibition presents paintings and limited-edition prints produced locally by DIY Printing. (1310 Pendleton St., Cincinnati, OH 45202; 513-281-2780)