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Posted at 01:25 PM ET, 01/05/2012

Looking ahead: Must-see arts and culture in 2012


Carlos Cruz-Diez’s 1965 installation “Chromosaturation” will invite viewers to soak up color, rather than admire paintings from afar. The work, refabricated in 2010, will be one of several in the “Suprasensorial” exhibition at the Hirshhorn. (Photo: Iwan Baan/ Artists Rights Society)

This year promises a National Cherry Blossom Festival that blooms bigger and a touchy-feely exhibition at the Hirshhorn, not to mention a couple of highly anticipated musicals.

The Hirshhorn goes touchy-feely

When “Suprasensorial:Experiments in Light, Color and Space,” opened at Los Angeles’s Museum of Contemporary Art, the exhibition wasn’t confined to a gallery, but held in a warehouse — all the better to make room for the piece that was an actual swimming pool. (Museum-goers were encouraged to hop on in.) Though the Hirshhorn’s show, opening Feb. 23, will open sans pool, the idea of jumping in and feeling the space, light and color all around you will remain. The exhibition, featuring the work of five South American artists working in a prolific period around mid-century, invites viewers to experience art rather than admire static images from a distance. After getting a peek at this review and these photos from the L.A. show, we can’t wait till “Suprasensorial” moves into town.

Culture with a cherry on top

Things will be coming up roses — among other flora — for fans of the National Cherry Blossom Festival. This year marks the centennial celebration of the 3,000 cherry trees gifted to the U.S. from Tokyo, which means the typically two-week fest will stretch to five, spanning March 20 to April 27. More highlights will be announced closer to the festival, but promising exhibitions of Japanese art are already on the docket, including the Sackler’s exhibition of meticulous and lovely woodblock prints, “Hokusai: Thirty-Six Views of Mount Fuji.” Meanwhile, the National Gallery’s “Colorful Realm: Japanese Bird-and-Flower Paintings by Ito Jakuchu” features a set of 30 18th-century scrolls depicting swirling butterflies, regal peacocks and blooming lotus flowers. The delicate works are on loan from Japan’s Imperial Household, and the exhibition marks the first time the scrolls will be on view following a six-year restoration. Also keep an eye out for “5X5,” which promises 25 displays of public artwork throughout the city, plus a show devoted to samurai warriors at the National Geographic Museum.

A ‘Bloody’ good time at Studio Theatre 

July, is a long, long time from now, but nonetheless, we’ll be taking these months to commit to memory the words from Michael Friedman and Alex Timbers’ one-time Broadway banger so that we may sing along, at the top of our lungs, when it arrives at Studio Theatre on July 11. Two reasons for our excitement about “Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson”: Studio’s timing; the raucous musical about the seventh president arrives in time to offer some election-year comic relief. And Studio’s 2nd Stage has offered audiences musical gold before, with the thrilling “Jerry Springer: The Opera,” and “Passing Strange.”

At the National Gallery, a great ‘Escape’

The National Gallery hosts its first retrospective of work by Catalan artist Joan Miro this year. “The Ladder of Escape,” opening in May, features 80 pieces, including paintings, drawings and sculpture, that demonstrate the artist’s response to the day’s tumultuous political climate, from the Spanish Civil War to World War II. To whet artistic appetites for the show, which first went on view at London’s Tate Modern last year, the National Gallery has already hung Miro’s massive 1962 display of colorblocking, the triptych “Mural Painting I–III,”in the East Building. But there’s much more to follow, including “The Farm” (once owned and beloved by Ernest Hemingway) and the iconic simplicity of the “Head of a Catalan Peasant” series of paintings from the mid-1920s.

Here comes ‘Trouble’

After Arena Stage hit the jackpot by injecting some high-kicking spirit into the old standby “Oklahoma!” we’re hoping for an equally effervescent rendition of “The Music Man.” The musical, which opens in May under the direction of Arena’s artistic director Molly Smith, stars Tony nominee Kate Baldwin, who will croon “Till There Was You” as Marian the librarian. Truth be told, we’re more excited for the high wattage skipping, prancing and twirling that will no doubt accompany “76 Trombones.”

By and  |  01:25 PM ET, 01/05/2012

Categories:  Museums, Theater

 
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