By Thomas Consolo
Did you realize it’s just two weeks to Mardi Gras? Well, it is. That leaves you just time enough to feast on the abundance of arts and culture around town – if you pace yourselves. Let’s get started. (Sorry, you’ll have to supply your own pączki and king cake.)
FESTIVALS: Artful Food & Drink
The Carnegie | 1028 Scott Blvd., Covington, KY 41011; 859-491-2030
Friday, Feb. 22, 6 p.m.: The Art of Food
It’s lucky year 13 for this annual showcase for local chefs and local art, in the form of food. On the menu for 2019 are 17 masters of Tri-state kitchens, including Brad Bernstein (Red Feather), Alfio Gulisano (Alfio’s), Paul Weckman (Otto’s). If you spring for VIP tickets, you can attend the after-party and meet the chefs.
Memorial Hall | 1225 Elm St., Cincinnati, OH 45202; 513-977-8838
Sunday, Feb. 24, 4 p.m.: The Secret Society of Spirits
The Memo’s quarterly cocktail series in collaboration with Columbus, Ohio-based Watershed Distillery continues with an afternoon dubbed “Cabin Fever Antidotes.” Experience four cocktails with instructions to make them yourself and general mixology technique. They’re accompanied by cheese and charcuterie.
Esquire Theatre | 320 Ludlow Ave., Cincinnati, OH 45220; 513-281-8750
Wednesday, Feb. 20, 7 p.m.: “Spellbound”
The Esquire this month screens Volume 4 of its focus on Alfred Hitchcock, with three classics from the 1940s. This week, “Spellbound,” the 1945, Oscar-winning, psychiatric thriller starring Ingrid Bergman and Gregory Peck.
Mayerson JCC | 8485 Ridge Road, Cincinnati, OH 45236; 513-761-7500
Thursday, Feb. 21, 7 p.m.: “Heading Home – The Tale of Team Israel”
If you haven’t been paying attention because it’s, I don’t know, still winter, pitchers and catchers have already reported to Goodyear, Arizona, for Reds spring training, and the first Grapefruit League game is Saturday. Perfect timing, then, for the Mayerson’s Jewish and Israeli Film Festival to wrap up with the touching story of the Israeli team in the 2017 World Baseball Classic. They weren’t quite the Jamaican bobsled team, but to call them underdogs is an understatement. Presented in partnership with the Cincinnati Reds Community Fund at the 20th Century Theater (3021 Madison Road, Cincinnati, OH 45209) in Oakley.
National Underground Railroad Freedom Center | 50 East Freedom Way, Cincinnati, OH 45202; 513-333-7500
Sunday, Feb. 24, 3 p.m.: “The Untold Story of Emmett Louis Till”
In August 1955, a 14-year-old Chicago youngster named Emmett Till was visiting family in Mississippi when he was accused of flirting with a young white woman. In the Jim Crow South, it was a fatal mistake: A few days later, Till was abducted, beaten and shot. The brutal lynching became a touchstone for the nascent civil rights movement, especially after Till’s mother insisted on an open-casket funeral. As part of its Freedom 55 Film Series (marking 55 years since Freedom Summer), the Freedom Center screens Keith Beauchamp’s documentary about Till’s murder.
Mercantile Library | 414 Walnut St., Cincinnati, OH 45202; 513-621-0717
Friday, Feb. 22, 7 p.m.: “Good Kids, Bad City”
In 1970s Cleveland, three black men were convicted for the murder of a man outside a convenience store and sentenced to a combined 106 years in prison. They were not the perpetrators. After nearly 40 years, they were freed after the chief witness against them – not yet a teenager at the time of the killing – recanted his testimony. The story of the crime and Cleveland’s continuing racial tensions – Tamir Rice was killed in Cleveland, too, and that was just 2014 – is the subject of “Good Kids, Bad City,” a book by investigative journalist (and current Washington Post reporter) Kyle Swenson.
It’s a big weekend for jazz fans, thanks to celebrations of three 20th-century greats:
Cincinnati Contemporary Jazz Orchestra | 513-280-8181
Thursday, Feb. 21, 7 p.m.: “Moanin’ – The Music of Mingus with Lauren Sevian”
Sunday, Feb. 24, 2 p.m.: “Trio Con Brio – A Tribute to Nat King Cole”
As it usually does, the CCJO offers performances big and small this week. On Thursday, Lauren Sevian brings her baritone saxophone to town for the latest Big Band show. Sevian knows Mingus; she’s played with the Charles Mingus Big Band for 15 years (with whom she won a Grammy) and was the first female sax player to tour with the Count Basie Orchestra. At The Redmoor (3187 Linwood Ave., Cincinnati, OH 45208).
On Sunday, Phil DeGreg welcomes guitarist Andy Brown and bassist Paul Keller for a tribute to Nat King Cole as part of the Jazz @ First series. Brown is a New York native who’s been successful in Chicago as a soloist and in his regular trio and quartet. Keller moved from Grand Rapids, Michigan, to Ann Arbor for school and has since become so ubiquitous across the state that he’s jokingly called Michigan’s house bassist. At First Unitarian Church (536 Linton St., Cincinnati, OH 45219).
College-Conservatory of Music | 290 CCM Blvd., Cincinnati, OH 45221; 513-556-6638
Saturday, Feb. 23, 7:30 p.m.: Essentially Ellington Festival
Not to be outdone, the jazz folks at CCM present their annual tribute to Sir Duke. It’s an all-day affair, with the region’s top high school jazz ensembles playing through the afternoon. The CCM Jazz Orchestra caps the night with a gala concert featuring a special guest artist from the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra.
Not a jazz event, but just as modern. Violinist Leila Josefowicz gives her second round of performances with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra of Thomas Adés’s Concerto for Violin and Chamber Orchestra. Saturday, Feb. 23, 8 p.m., and Sunday, Feb. 24, 2 p.m. at Music Hall (1241 Elm St., Cincinnati, OH 45202; 513-381-3300). The program also includes Beethoven’s “Eroica” to soothe the easily nonplussed.
College-Conservatory of Music | 290 CCM Blvd., Cincinnati, OH 45221; 513-556-4183
Friday, Feb. 22, through Sunday, Feb. 24: “Dinner at Eight”
Two weeks ago, CCM offered a frothy operetta. Now for something completely different. William Bolcom and librettist Mark Campbell’s operatic setting of a 1932 play by the same name premiered in 2017. (It’s by George Kaufman and Edna Ferber, for the record.) The gist: As a 1931 Manhattan dinner party progresses, it becomes apparent that, despite appearances, everyone in attendance is on the brink of disaster, whether financial or personal, as the Great Depression looms. In the Cohen Family Studio Theater at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday.
Know Theatre | 1120 Jackson St., Cincinnati, OH 45202; 513-300-5669
Opens Friday, Feb. 22: “Always Plenty of Light at the Starlight All Night Diner”
The season of facing our fears continues with Earth in the crosshairs of an asteroid. Folks don’t seem to mind at the Starlight, though, where you should get a cup of coffee with your slice of pie. The diner might just be a time machine. It’s the world premiere production of Darcy Parker Bruce’s play.
Xavier University | 3800 Victory Parkway, Cincinnati, OH 45207; 513-745-3939
Friday, Feb. 22 through Sunday, Feb. 24: “Next to Normal”
It’s a typical, suburban family … except that nothing is quite as it appears to be. Love, loss and living with mental illness take center stage in this Tony- and Pulitzer-winning musical (yes, a musical) by Tom Kitt and Brian Yorkey. Four performances through the weekend at the Gallagher Student Center Theatre.
Dick Waller’s ArtPlace | 130 W. Court St., Cincinnati, OH 45202; 513-281-7726
Opens Friday, Feb. 22, 6 p.m.: “In Search of Charm – Art and Change”
For those of you who may not know (or remember), Dick Waller’s first arts career was as a clarinetist with the CSO. He’s long since successfully made the transition to visual artist, including running his own downtown studio. The latest show there is not just his own work, but an exhibition of works by 15 Cincinnati-based artists (Waller included) in several media, including paintings, photographs, sculptures and textiles. Opening reception is at 6 p.m. Friday; there’ll be live music at 8:30.
Cincinnati Art Museum | 953 Eden Park Drive, Cincinnati, OH 45202; 513-721-2787 (ARTS)
Friday, Feb. 22, 5 p.m.: Art After Dark
The latest in the art museum’s evening party series is dubbed “We Built This City,” a riff on the Cincinnati flavor of the current exhibition honoring the Art Academy of Cincinnati’s sesquicentennial. There’ll be chili from Camp Washington Chili, pizza from Dewey’s (yes, the chain is Cincinnati-based), guided exhibit tours with help from Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park and, weather permitting (which is optimistic these days), stargazing with Dean Regas of the Cincinnati Observatory Center. As usual, there’ll be live music and cocktails, too.
• “Color in Decline/Underfoot”: Work by veteran Enquirer photographer alumnus Michael Keating reflecting the passage of time on structures, objects and landscapes. Through Saturday at the Kennedy Heights Arts Center (6546 Montgomery Road, Cincinnati, OH 45213; 513-631-4278).
• “Similitude”/“Utility”/“Sinks and Chairs”: Triple simultaneous exhibitions on contemporary portraits, functional art and studies of – you guessed it – sinks and chairs. Through Friday at Manifest Galleries (2727 Woodburn Ave., Cincinnati, OH 45206; 513-861-3638).
• “Funniest Joke in Cincinnati”: U.K.-based artist Sophie Lindsey has for two months explored the nature of Cincinnati through the wide variety of its jokes. The project closes Saturday with a Chicken Crossing the Road Parade (supply your own punch line here) and publication of a collection of the region’s funniest jokes. At Wave Pool Gallery (2940 Colerain Ave., Cincinnati, OH 45225; 513-600-6117).