This is the beginning of summer, People! Besides the obligatory grilling and swimming pool openings, you might want to balance things out with a little culture, with The Taste around all weekend as a back-up. But on a serious note, please save a space in your heart for those men and women who have gone to battle to keep us as free as we are. Their memory is the reason you have this Monday off.
Wednesday, May 24
University of Cincinnati Clermont College, “Putting it All Together: Stories We Tell Ourselves” | 6:30-8 p.m. Park National Bank Art Gallery, 4200 Clermont College Dr. Snyder Building, Rm S140, Batavia. 513-558-2787. DETAILS: In addition to her own creative output – using a wide variety of materials, much of it three-dimensional – Cincinnati artist/sculptor Mallory Feltz is director of exhibitions and public art at Kennedy Heights Arts Center. This exhibit features her fabric and paper collages that explore how we humans try to make sense of our strange world and our place within it. Using animals as a connection point, these works create stories and build relationships between our reality and the strange, the unfamiliar and the mythical. On display through June 27.
Thursday, May 25
American Sign Museum, “Greater Cincinnati Printing” | 7 p.m. 330 Monmouth Ave., Camp Washington. 513-541-6366. DETAILS: In the 1980s, I sold consumable supplies and equipment to the printing and graphic arts industry, which was at that time the fifth largest industry in the world – pre-Macintosh. Cincinnati had 385 ink-on-paper printers, but the scope of what was created through graphic arts encompassed so much more, from labels to dashboards, circuit boards and basketballs. Curator Jacob Simpson of the Cincinnati Type and Print Museum in Lower Price Hill helps make the connection between the history of local printing and sign making.
Cincinnati World Cinema, “If You Could Read My Mind” | 7 p.m. Garfield Theatre, 719 Race St., downtown. 859-957-3456. DETAILS: This tribute to the life and legacy of Gordon Lightfoot honors CWC director Tim Swallow‘s own fond memories of hosting performances by the Canadian singer-singwriter who passed away just three weeks ago. The documentary includes some 30 songs, reflections by Lightfoot and collaborators, and expert commentary about his place among the very best artists Canada has contributed within this genre, such as Joni Mitchell and Leonard Cohen.
May Festival, 150th Anniversary | 7:30 p.m. Music Hall, 1241 Elm St., Over-the-Rhine. 513-381-3300. DETAILS: In 1982, at the age of 32, then-May Festival Music Director James Conlon led a performance of Mozart’s iconic Requiem, in which I was lucky to perform as a member of the Vocal Arts Ensemble. Conlon returns this season as music director laureate to repeat the Requiem, first performed at a May Festival in 1882, plus a welcome premiere by Julia Adolphe, “Crown of Hummingbirds,” commissioned as part of the 150th anniversary season. The festival comes to a massive conclusion Saturday evening with Mahler’s monumental “Symphony of a Thousand”, his No. 8, with more than 200 performers on stage and eight vocal soloists. UPDATE: Principal conductor Juanjo Mena was meant to lead this, the final concert of his six-year tenure, but had to withdraw due to family emergency. Maestro Conlon, thankfully, knows the work and can stick around to finish things off. Helps to have handy people around.
Playhouse in the Park, “Origin Story” | 7:30 p.m. Rosenthal Shelterhouse Theatre, 962 Mt. Adams Circle, Mt. Adams. 513-421-3888. DETAILS: This world-premiere comedy by Nathan Alan Davis is about life’s biggest questions and the surprising ways we find the answers. Margaret finds herself in a quarter-life crisis, working two jobs to pay down her debt. So what’s really most important in life? This last show in the Shelterhouse season is directed by Joanie Schultz, associate artistic director of the Playhouse. Runs through June 25.
Friday, May 26
Cincinnati Art Museum, Art After Dark | 5-9 p.m. 953 Eden Park Dr., Eden Park. 513-721-2787. DETAILS: Final Friday = Art After Dark, and May is no exception. This month, the celebration is all things Queen City – including the 20th anniversary of CAM’s Cincinnati Wing – with live music from AfroChine, cash bars, food for purchase and docent-led tours of exhibits including ceramisist Roberto Lugo’s “Hi-Def Archives.
Fairfield Footlighters, “Mama Won’t Fly” | 7:30 p.m. 411 Wessel Dr., Fairfield. 513-867-5348. DETAILS: Originally planned for 2020, this show finally gets its due. A comic race against the clock begins when Savannah agrees to get her feisty mother all the way from Alabama to California in time for her brother’s wedding. Savannah’s problem: Mama won’t fly. With only four days to make it to the ceremony, this determined daughter has no choice but to drive cross-country with her equally willful mother in Mama’s vintage sedan. Repeats Saturday evening, along with matinees both weekend days at 2 p.m.
Saturday, May 27
Ensemble Theatre, “Maytag Virgin” | 7:30 p.m. 1127 Vine St., Over-the-Rhine. 513-421-3555. DETAILS: Which make for better neighborly relations – fences or clotheslines? In this regional premiere dramedy, barriers tend to soften over time and connections deepen between two high school teachers struggling to understand how you know when you’re ready to live, and love, again. Directed by Bridget Leak, the cast features Maggie Lou Rader, in her ETC debut, and Ryan Wesley Gilreath, who was in ETC’s “Queen” in 2022. Continues through June 18.
Riverbend Music Center, Dave Matthews Band | 7:30 p.m. 6295 Kellogg Ave., Coney Island. 513-232-6220. DETAILS: As of this writing, a couple hundred seats remain within Riverbend, with more, certainly, available on the lawn. Long considered one of the best “live” bands anywhere, maybe this is your year to find out.
Save Our Souls Art, AAPI Celebratory Art Exhibition | 2-6 p.m. Mt. Auburn Presbyterian Church 103 E. W. Howard Taft Rd., Mt. Auburn. DETAILS: Founded by UC/VA researcher Saad Ghosn, SOS Art challenges artists to address important issues in our society – not just make a pretty product intended for sale. This afternoon-long event and exhibit opening focuses on artists and literary creatives of East Asian, Southeast Asian and Pacific Island descent – panel discussions, poetry readings, visual art and performances. The art exhibit remains on display through June 11.
Taste of Cincinnati | 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Fifth Street east of Main Street, downtown. DETAILS: Tired of that beach-body diet you’ve been on for weeks? Time to take revenge. Here’s a great way to glutton-ize yourself into summer – food, food, drink, more food, with a little music on the side. My strategy is to try everything or just stay home. Otherwise, what’s the point? Our annual food orgy runs through Memorial Day, 8 p.m., so pace yourself! (Elizabeth Mariner says: Please throw away your trash. And wear your sunscreen!)
Monday, May 29
Blue Ash Montgomery Symphony Orchestra, Memorial Day Concert | 7 p.m. Tom Stone Amphitheater, 4309 Cooper Rd., Blue Ash. 513-549-2197. DETAILS: This annual tribute to those who have died to preserve our freedom includes music from “Saving Private Ryan,” “Bridge On the River Kwai” and Ken Burns’ PBS mini-series “The Civil War,” plus an Armed Forces Salute. Music Director Michael Chertock takes the reins. NOTE: new venue for this performance, necessitated by construction in downtown Blue Ash.