April's arts agenda isn’t just about exhibits. You’ll want to hit a party or two and, maybe, cut out of work early for a stroll around a sculpture garden.
First up? Cherry Blast.The cherry blossom festival’s adult soiree has boasted a tenuous connection to art in the past (ahem, body painting?), but we’ll take it: The bash April 2 sets the tone for a summer of art openings and parties. This year, Cherry Blast moves to the Southwest Waterfront, into the old Zanzibar space, where it will follow the Southwest Waterfront Fireworks Festival; expect muraling by artists from Art Whino’s roster, as well DJs, and a covetable view of the festival’s fireworks display (set for 8:30 p.m.).
It’s fairly rare that the Kreeger Museum has new exhibition — so rare, in fact, that it’s quite possible not to know the Philip Johnson-designed mansion and museum even exists.It’s only open without appointment on Saturdays, so it’s not so easy to visit. This month, the Kreeger ushers in a retrospective of drawings by painter Tom Wesselmann, one of the founders of the American pop art movement. (His contemporaries included Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein.) Before he died in 2004, Wesselmann was working to curate a show devoted to his drawings; his wife revived the idea after his death, and on April 8, Tom Wesselmann Draws, a traveling show with more than 100 cheeky, rarely exhibited studies and drawings, will open at the Kreeger.
If you’ve been to one of the Freer and Sackler’s Asia After Dark parties, you’ve probably stumbled into the Freer’s crown jewel, the Peacock Room — an ornate, Orientalist alcove done up in shades of blue and gold by James McNeill Whistler in late 1800s London and painstakingly shipped to the United States by Charles Lang Freer 40 years later. It’s worth a second look next month, because on April 9, the Freer Gallery will unveil the room restored to look as it did in Freer’s day, when he lined the dining room’s shelves with 250 ceramic pieces he collected from across Asia.
Yuri’s Night, an annual event celebrating the birth of space travel, has set up shop at Artisphere this year. An exhibition of lowbrow-ish paintings inspired by space has been up in the art space’s Mezz Gallery since mid-March; on April 9, visit for something a little more “cosmonaughty” — the Countdown to Yuri’s Night party, with cocktails, dancing, and, um, space-themed burlesque.
If music is more your thing, perhaps you’ll be into the jaw-dropping shots captured by concert photographers Kyle Gustafson and Josh Sisk (whom the Post recently profiled in a story about getting the shot). Head to Baltimore on April 15 to see “Full Speed or Nothing” an exhibit of the duo’s photos of performances by Beach House, Dan Deacon, Wilco, M.I.A., Double Dagger, Pavement and others. A reception for the show, at the Windup Space is from 7 to 9 p.m.
In a couple of months, plenty of us will be heading to the National Gallery of Art’s Sculpture Garden for the Perennial Favorite Summer Thing to Do, Jazz in the Garden. But I’m already dreaming of lazy afternoons on the lawn. The garden is open now, and on Saturday and Sunday afternoons in warm-ish April, a picnic for two around the fountain could prove an awesome spring date — and maybe even give you a reason to actually look at the sculptures, rather than just at other people.
Speaking of dates, the quarterly Hirshhorn After Hours is a reliable Washington meet-market for scenesters, and it’s usually being a lot of fun. The next one, pegged to the new exhibit, “Blinky Palermo: Retrospective 1964-1977 ,” rounds out the month of art events on April 29; tickets go on sale on March 29.