For many local arts organizations, we’re entering what one might call the heart of the season. It’s what happens when there’s less distraction from things like … well … sunlight. That hardly means that there isn’t a feast for your senses on the cultural buffet, though. From millions of tiny lights to a preserved landmark, from music you know to music you ought to know, from provocative images to resourceful, talented women, there’s something here for your taste.
I know, it’s still early, but the Christmas Creep continues as Thanksgiving becomes ever more overshadowed (and eroded as the dam it provided against the tide of all things Santa-rific). Turkey day is quite late this year, though, and we have already had a nice snowfall. So why not break out the holiday lights? Here’s when some of the big events light up.
- Festival of Lights: The staff at the Cincinnati Zoo starts stringing their trees with lights in late summer. They have to: They have 3 million of them to put up. This year’s incarnation, the 37th, opens Saturday, Nov. 16. Also back are Madcap’s black-light puppet show and the Toyland Express train. Through Jan. 4. (3400 Vine Street, Cincinnati, OH 45220; 513-281-4700)
- Holiday in Lights: North of town, Sharon Woods lights the night with a million bulbs of its own, starting Saturday, Nov. 16. It’s mostly a drive-through event, but look for the coming announcement of “walk the lights” nights, when no cars are permitted and one can stroll at leisure through the holiday scenes. Through Dec. 31. (11450 Lebanon Road (U.S. 42), Sharonville, OH 45241; 513-521-7275)
- Holiday Toy Trains: There’s more than one holiday railroad display in these parts, and Northern Kentucky climbs aboard the tradition Saturday, Nov. 16. It’s the 28th year for the display at the Behringer-Crawford Museum. Check the website for train-themed events through the display’s run. Through Jan. 5. (1600 Montague Road, Covington, KY 41011; 859-491-4003)
Grand opening celebration: Kenton County
Friday, Nov. 15, 5:30 p.m. | Kenton County Government Center, 1840 Simon Kenton Way, Covington, KY 41011.
The address might not be familiar to you, but the building is. It’s the latest lease on life for the century-old Bavarian Brewery building, the landmark at I-71/75 and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard (the former 12th Street) in Covington. The namesake brewery closed in 1966, and subsequent ventures there failed, as well (I was partial to BrewWorks, too.). It looked like the complex had a date with the wrecking ball, but Kenton County stepped up and made it the core of its new government center. You can see what they’ve done with the place on Friday during the grand opening celebration, and thank them for saving a piece of the region’s history.
Contemporary Dance Theater
Friday and Saturday, Nov. 15 and 16, 8 p.m. | College Hill Town Hall, 1805 Larch Avenue, Cincinnati, OH 45224
The 2019-20 Performance & Time Arts series kicks off this weekend with programs that include a diverse blend of music, spoken word, visual art and, of course, dance. It’s produced and directed by Colleen Byrne and Glenda Figueiredo.
cdt-dance.org or 513-591-1222
Tuesday, Nov. 19, 7 p.m. | Esquire Theatre, 320 Ludlow Avenue, Cincinnati, OH 45220
It can be a burden to be known as the greatest film ever made. It can make folks feel as though they need to watch it as some sort of cultural homework assignment. So pay no attention to rankings (they’re subjective anyway), just sit back and enjoy Orson Welles’s audacious 1941 portrait of newspaper tycoon Charles Foster Kane. It’s a haunting story and a technical marvel with a spectacular debut score by Bernard Herrmann. If you don’t know what all the fuss is about yet, here’s a chance to see it as you should – on a silver screen. It’s part of the Esquire’s Essential Viewing series. If this one doesn’t qualify, nothing does.
esquiretheatre.com or 513-281-8750
‘Robert Beatty: Video Works 2010-2019’
Thursday, Nov. 14, 7:30 p.m. | The Mini Microcinema, 1329 Main Street, Cincinnati, OH 45202
Lexington, Kentucky-based artist and musician Robert Beatty uses outmoded technology and emulation of obsolete techniques to create works that encompass drawing, digital art, sculpture, video, graphic design and sound. Beatty also has quietly created dozens of moving-image works: music videos for compositions by himself and others, elements of his art installations, videos made collaboratively as part of the Resonant Hole collective he co-founded, and stand-alone pieces. Experience an hourlong collection on Thursday.
‘Americana: On Life and Loving’
Thursday, Nov. 14, 7:30 p.m. | Church of Our Savior, 65 E. Hollister Street, Cincinnati, OH 45219
Cincinnati Song Initiative’s flagship Americana series turns to the music of living composers. Centerpiece is John Corigliano’s “Mr. Tambourine Man,” a cycle of seven settings of Bob Dylan (that’s Nobel Prize-winning Bob Dylan, you know). There’s also a bicentennial tribute to Walt Whitman in settings by several composers, and Philip Lasser’s “Elemental Earth” receives its Midwest premiere.
cincinnatisonginitiative.org or 859-431-2060
CSO: ‘American Life’
Friday, Nov. 15, 11 a.m. | Music Hall, 1241 Elm Street, Cincinnati, OH 45202
For too many classical music listeners, the list of African American composers runs something like: Scott Joplin, William Grant Still,… uhhh …. [awkward silence]. As you might imagine, there are plenty of others, both historic and contemporary, and the Cincinnati Symphony would like to introduce you to a few. Most important (as in most unjustly ignored) is Florence Price, who faced the double discrimination of being black and a woman in early 20th-century America. Many of her works were rediscovered and saved only in 2009, when stacks of manuscripts were found in her former home in Illinois. Swiss pianist Louis Schwizgebel performs her Piano Concerto this weekend. Also on the program are works by Adolphus Hailstork, James Lee III, Still (the usual Symphony No. 1) and Edward “Duke” Ellington (whose compositions encompass far more than big band music). Thomas Wilkins conducts. Program repeats 8 p.m. Saturday.
cincinnatisymphony.org or 513-381-3300
Sunday, Nov. 17, 3 p.m. | Memorial Hall, 1225 Elm Street, Cincinnati, OH 45202
The email from Matinée Musicale bills this show in the warm confines of Memorial Hall as “string quartet nirvana.” We understand their enthusiasm. The Dover Quartet, now in its 11th year, was formed by teenagers at the Curtis Institute in 2008. Just two years later the members won their first grand prize. Now the Dover is quartet-in-residence at its alma mater. Main courses on Sunday’s program are the Brahms Quartet No. 3 and Britten’s Quartet No. 1, the latter written in the United States as a commission of the musician, heiress and arts patroness Elizabeth Sprague Coolidge. Mozart’s Adagio and Fugue rounds out the afternoon.
matineemusicalecincinnati.org or 513-977-8838
Saturday, Nov. 16, 7 p.m. | Xavier University Bellarmine Chapel, 3801 Ledgewood Drive, Cincinnati, OH 45207
Speaking of limits women have faced, it’s been just 50 years that women have been admitted as full students at Xavier University. To mark the watershed date, a new work was commissioned of California-based jazz pianist, bandleader and composer Josh Nelson. The result – “Over Millennia” for soloists, chorus and piano – sets original poems by Xavier faculty members Anne McCarty, Kristen Renzi and Kathleen Smythe. It’ll be performed by Xavier choruses, mezzo-soprano Ellen Graham, along with Nelson; Megan Boyd conducts. The performance also is a tribute to Helmut Roehrig, one of the founders of XU’s music department, and of community chorus Musica Sacra. Roehrig died two years ago this month.
Nelson will be on hand for Saturday’s performance and, since he’s in town anyway, will perform solo at Caffe Vivace. That counts off at 8 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 14 (975 E McMillan St., Cincinnati, OH 45206; 513-601-9897).
xavier.edu or 513-745-3383
caffevivace.com or 513-601-9897
‘The Merry Wives of Windsor’
Opens Friday, Nov. 15, 7:30 p.m. | Budig Theater, 1195 Elm Street, Cincinnati, OH 45202
Everyone’s favorite Shakespearean boor, Sir John Falstaff, has a plan to marry a rich widow (just to be safe, he has two targets). They have much better plans … to humiliate the bumbling schemer. Cincinnati Shakespeare Company’s production of this woman-power comedy gives a nod to the centenary of women’s suffrage by setting the action in 1919. The Ohio History Connection’s traveling exhibit “Ohio Women Vote: 100 Years of Change” will be on display in the lobby. Through Dec. 7.
cincyshakes.com or 513-381-2273
Veterans Day is only a few days behind us, so it’s still timely to talk about the struggles many vets face with readjusting to civilian life. De-Cruit, is the inverse of “recruit,” using theater to treat veterans suffering from trauma. Cincy Shakes takes on the subject by offering two, one-night shows. Admission to both is free to active and retired military personnel and their families. Ready to deploy are:
- Monday, Nov. 18, 7:30 p.m. “Cry Havoc”: Stephan Wolfert performs his one-man play that interweaves Shakespeare’s most famous speeches with personal experiences to illustrate the national crises we face when we fail to reintegrate veterans. This one comes with a warning of strong language and graphic depictions of war.
- Tuesday, Nov. 19, 7:30 p.m. “She-Wolf”: This co-creation of Wolfert and Dawn Stern speaks to the experiences of women in the armed forces, again incorporating Shakespeare to tell the story of Margaret of Anjou. She was taken as a prisoner of war, then ransomed off by her father, and then went on to command armies.
cincyshakes.com or 513-381-2273
Opens Friday, Nov. 15 | Fairfield Community Arts Center, 411 Wessel Drive, Fairfield, OH 45014
If you liked “Hidden Figures,” this Lauren Gunderson play is for all intents its prequel. It’s the story of Henrietta Leavitt and her colleagues, who worked at Harvard’s observatory but were never allowed to touch the telescope. Nevertheless, Leavitt and her team of analysts made breakthrough discoveries on which the later work of people like Edwin Hubble relied. Through Nov. 24.
fairfieldfootlighters.org or 513-867-5348
Last chance: ‘The Lifespan of a Fact’
Through Saturday, Nov. 16 | Marx Theatre, Playhouse in the Park, 962 Mount Adams Circle, Cincinnati, OH 45202
Facts can become blurry when they’re twisted into fiction in the high-stakes world of publishing. We’ll just say it’s an extremely timely issue.
cincyplay.com or 513-421-3888
Dick Waller 90th birthday celebration
Saturday, Nov. 16, 1-3 p.m. | Dick Waller’s ArtPlace, 130 W. Court Street, Cincinnati, OH 45202
It’s understandable if you’re a little confused. Wasn’t it just a couple weeks ago that we were telling you about a Dick Waller birthday celebration? Yes it was. That was for musician Dick Waller, though, celebrated by Linton Music. This is the party for Dick Waller, Act II, the visual artist and operator of a namesake downtown gallery. Stop by Saturday to wish him well and to congratulate him on managing to enjoy two successful careers in the arts.
dickwaller.com or 513-399-6960
Harper Art Show
Wednesday, Nov. 13, though Sunday, Nov. 17 | Farbach-Werner Nature Preserve, 3455 Poole Road, Cincinnati, OH 45251
It’s the annual show honoring wildlife artist Charley Harper, the West Virginia native who came to Cincinnati to study and made it his home base. Charley’s son, Brett – also an artist – will be on hand 1-3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday to sign books. A free copy of 1974’s “Once There was a Field” will be given with the purchase of a print.
greatparks.org or 513-521-7275
Talk: Wednesday, Nov. 13, 6:30 p.m. | Contemporary Arts Center, 44 E. Sixth Street, Cincinnati, OH 45202
Exhibition: Thursday, Nov. 14, 6-9 p.m. | Miller Gallery, 2715 Erie Avenue, Cincinnati, OH 45208
The provocateur photographer, sometimes screenwriter and director, and former pro skater Tyler Shields has been called the “Warhol of his generation.” You have two ways to find out why, starting tonight (apologies as always for the late notice). First, there’s “Talk with Tyler” at the CAC’s Black Box Theater. One would assume some of his images will be shown along with Shields’s comments, maybe including the one with Kathy Griffin that caused so much hubbub. An exhibition of his works opens on Thursday at the Miller Gallery in Hyde Park. Its title, “Fairytale,” is a play on his 2011 Los Angeles exhibition of celebrity photographs, “Life is Not a Fairytale.” The Miller exhibit runs through Dec. 24.
millergallery.com or 513-871-4420
Last chance: ‘Emanate’
Through Sunday, Nov. 17 | Weston Art Gallery, 650 Walnut Street, Cincinnati, OH 45202
It’s the last few days for this group exhibition designed to coincide with BLINK, last month’s light spectacular. Participating artists have contributed works including phosphorescent painting, neon sculpture, illuminated photography, video and projection.
cincinnatiarts.org or 513-977-4165