We’ve mentioned the daffodils already, but the surest sign of spring in these parts may be the reopening of neighborhood ice cream stands. Last weekend was the magic day for several. It won’t be time for humid 10 p.m. sunsets for quite a while, though, so hold off on the dipped cones and feed your soul with some calorie-free art and culture.
Last chance: ‘Bloom & Grow’
Through Sunday, March 8 | Krohn Conservatory, 1501 Eden Park Drive, Cincinnati, OH 45202
While real spring is still a few weeks away, Krohn Conservatory for more than a month has been offering a preview. “Bloom and Grow” boasts tulips, daffodils and other spring favorites. There’s an art corner and, at 6 p.m. Friday, a special event – Botany and Brews, in partnership with Woodburn Brewery. You’ll be able to sample a special-release beer, Kumquat Citrus, made with Krohn-grown fruit.
cincinnatiparks.com or 513-421-5707
‘Aaron Burr: American Bastard’
Thursday, March 5, 6 p.m. | Cincinnati Museum Center, 1301 Western Ave., Cincinnati, OH 45203
During Union Terminal’s massive restoration, the Museum Center took its Museum on Tap series – evenings on topics that are, shall we say, more adult than the center’s usual fare and mixed with food and potent potables – on the road. Well no more. Now back in the terminal, the next dose of grown-up learning focuses on a Founding Father gone bad: Aaron Burr. What you know of Burr these days is likely to have come from “Hamilton,” the juggernaut musical about the man Burr fatally shot in an illegal duel. Yet Burr fought honorably for independence, went on to serve as a U.S. senator and then as vice president. By 1808, though, he had left the country and was deep in debt after defending himself against charges of treason. You’ll learn more about his reversal of fortune Thursday and about the role our region played in the saga. Don’t throw away your shot to know.
cincymuseum.org or 513-287-7000
FAIRS & FESTIVALS
ArtsWave Days: The Power of Her
Saturday, March 7 | Seven regional venues
ArtsWave’s community campaign has kicked off, and, to help spread the word about what it does, the arts advocacy group has organized days of free events across the region. The first, on Saturday, showcases the Power of Her, a thematic, yearlong, cross-discipline collaboration celebrating women in this, the centenary year of the adoption of women’s suffrage. Participating in this weekend’s showcase are the Behringer-Crawford Museum, Clifton Cultural Arts Center, Fitton Center, Kennedy Heights Arts Center, Taft Museum, UC Clermont College and the Woman’s Art Club (aka the Barn). In other words, it’s all over town. Check the website for specific times and offerings.
guide.artswave.org or 513-632-0134
Oscar-nominated live-action and animated shorts
First show Friday, March 6, 7 p.m. | 719 Race St., Cincinnati, OH 45202
Just over a month ago, Cincinnati World Cinema showcased all the short documentaries up for an Oscar at this year’s Academy Awards. Now they’re giving the same treatment to the animated (Program A) and live-action (Program B) shorts. The only real difference is that, for this group, you can find out which film won before you go. As before, there are alternating offerings of programs A and B so that you can easily see both sets. There are six showings of each through March 15; check the website for the details. Watch trailer.
cincyworldcinema.org or 859-957-3456 (FILM)
FotoFocus: ‘United Skates’
Tuesday, March 10, 7 p.m. | 1910 Elm St., Cincinnati, OH 45202
Another month, another showing in another venue for the Second Screens series, brought to us by the folks at FotoFocus. The 2018 documentary “United Skates,” directed by Dyana Winkler and Tina Brown, takes a look at the underground subculture of African-American roller skate communities, including their social, historical, and creative importance – and why they’re in danger of disappearing. The series moves around the city; Tuesday’s screening is at Rhinegeist in Over-the-Rhine.
fotofocus.org or 513-287-7000
First show Friday, March 6, 7 p.m. | Esquire Theatre, 320 Ludlow Ave., Cincinnati, OH 45220
Some of you may think “Sunset Boulevard” was created as an Andrew Lloyd Webber musical. I assure you it was not. The now legendary story of faded silent screen star Norma Desmond and the former copy editor from Dayton, Ohio, who falls into her web still stands as perhaps the greatest Hollywood story about Hollywood. The 1950 Billy Wilder film was nominated for 11 Academy Awards and won three – one for the incomparable score by Franz Waxman. Five showings through Monday for you wonderful people out there in the dark.
esquiretheatre.com or 513-281-8750
The Memoir Lecture: Kiese Laymon
Tuesday, March 10, 6 p.m. | 414 Walnut St., Cincinnati, OH 45202
Kiese Laymon is a black, southern writer whose observant, often hilarious work confronts the personal and the political: race and family, body and shame, poverty and place. His writing has earned comparisons to Ta-Nehisi Coates, Alice Walker and even Mark Twain. His bestselling memoir, “Heavy: An American Memoir,” won the 2019 Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Nonfiction and the 2018 Christopher Isherwood Prize for Autobiographical Prose, and it was named one of the 50 Best Memoirs of the Past 50 Years by The New York Times. The Mercantile already is down to limited seating (i.e., no more available online), so call right away.
mercantilelibrary.com or 513-621-0717
CCJO: Janelle Reichman
Sunday, March 8, 2 p.m. | First Unitarian Church, 536 Linton St., Cincinnati, OH 45219
Janelle Reichman, one of the greatest clarinet and saxophone players around today, made a name for herself while still in high school. She went on to perform with Diva, the all-female big band in New York, and in Jazz at Lincoln Center programs of the music of Benny Goodman. She’s since moved back to her hometown, Ann Arbor, Michigan, which makes it easier for her to drop down to the Queen City and join the Phil DeGreg Trio this week. The program, latest in the Cincinnati Contemporary Jazz Orchestra’s Jazz@First series, is a tribute to the music of Billy Strayhorn, best known for his work with Duke Ellington (he wrote “Take the A Train”).
cincinnatijazz.org or 513-280-8181
American Originals: The Cincinnati Sound
Saturday, March 7, 8 p.m. | Music Hall, 1241 Elm St., Cincinnati, OH 45202
John Morris Russell’s American Originals project with the Cincinnati Pops has plenty of room to grow. After earning a Grammy nomination last year for “1918,” the team is back at it with a program dedicated to the important pop music created right here in the Queen City. The focus is on the recordings of King Records and Herzog Studios. A talented cast headed by Morgan James and Mykal Kilgore performs music by the Isley Brothers, Hank Williams, Mamie Smith, the Stanley Brothers and, of course, the godfather of soul, James Brown. Co-hosting and curating the evening is Paul Shaffer, master of the World’s Most Dangerous Band, i.e., David Letterman’s studio band. That’s not a gimmick: Paul’s known for crazy outfits and glasses, but he’s been immersed in the top echelons of pop music for nearly 50 years. He knows pop music history because he lived it. Program repeats at 2 p.m. Sunday.
cincinnatisymphony.org or 513-381-3300
Ariel Quartet: ‘Hungary’
Tuesday, March 10, 7:30 p.m. | Werner Recital Hall, 290 CCM Blvd., Cincinnati, OH 45221; 513-556-4183
CCM’s quartet in residence welcomes pianist and CCM alumnus (of close to my vintage) Anton Nel for a program dedicated to music connected with Hungary. On the program are Haydn’s “Kaiser” quartet, Dohnányi’s Piano Quintet No. 2 and the great Brahms Piano Quartet No. 1.
ccm.uc.edu or 513-556-4183
Opens Saturday, March 7 | Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati, 1127 Vine St., Cincinnati, OH 45202
It’s the regional premiere of this 2016 Dominique Morisseau portrait of parenthood, education and the experience of young black men in America. Nya, an inner-city public high school teacher, is committed to her students but desperate to give her son, Omari, opportunities her students will not know. Morisseau is fast becoming a local favorite: ETC staged her “Skeleton Crew” last season. She’s an actress, playwright, television story editor … and, oh yeah, a MacArthur Foundation grant recipient – colloquially known as a genius award. Runs through April 4.
ensemblecincinnati.org or 513-421-3555
Last chance: ‘AmericUS’
Through Sunday, March 8 | Playhouse in the Park, 962 Mount Adams Circle, Cincinnati, OH 45202
This world-premiere show challenges, moves and entertains you through a fusion of theatre, poetry, dance, jazz, hip-hop and down-home blues. Its creator, Universes, is an award-winning, multicultural performance ensemble based in New York.
cincyplay.com or 513-421-3888
Manifest Gallery: Three exhibitions
Opening Friday, March 6, 6-9 p.m. | 2727 Woodburn Ave., Cincinnati, OH 45206
Yes, the coronavirus has actually affected the Tristate. The exhibit trifecta from our artistic friends in East Walnut Hills was supposed to include a fourth component, but disease-related travel restrictions from China forced Jiachen Liu to stay put in Wuhan, where he was visiting family.
Three exhibitions remain, though, including the headliner, the annual Regional Showcase. This year’s includes 22 works by 17 artists from Ohio (6), Indiana (4) and Kentucky (7).
Also opening Friday is “Storytellers and Other Works,” a solo exhibition of paintings by Perin Mahler. Mahler previously taught at both the University of Cincinnati and the Art Academy of Cincinnati; he’s now teaching figure painting at Cal State Long Beach.
The eight works in the third show, “Topographies: Layers, Mapping and Paths,” address our understanding of layers, lenses for revealing the surface of things and the strata that lay beneath.
All three run through April 3.
manifestgallery.org or 513-861-3638