"The evening was very ironic, we thought, for us, because it really was in a lot of ways a more professional, a larger-scale production than anything Jack had ever done," says Carol Cross of Axolotl, the performing arts group and main impetus behind the multimedia collaborative show "Metamorphosis," honoring the late Jack Guidone the week before last. Guidone, a local artist who headed Axolotl, died of AIDS last year.
"It was very sad -- he had often talked about trying to get all the dance troupes in the city together to do a performance on a common theme," adds Cross. "That never happened."
What did happen was more like a reunion of old friends who gathered to remember their friend and to move forward. The crowd was treated to dance, theater, video art, masks (made by Guidone) and music. The two-night engagement netted $4,500, which will go toward the commission of a piece of artwork for placement somewhere near Dupont Circle to commemorate AIDS victims. "The money is enough to start something," says Cross, though there are no firm plans for the piece yet.
More importantly, the night was a "hello and goodbye" for Axolotl; this was their first large-scale project since Guidone died. "I think the evening made a really good statement for us -- it made us see we could pull off a real quality evening without Jack," says Cross. "Even before the show closed we had a lot of artists saying, 'You guys should really do this again! I'd love to have Metamorphosis II!'" A Gem of a Diamond
The Smithsonian is getting yet another diamond for its gem collection -- but this one's not like any other on display. It's a 5.03-carat red diamond, which the National Museum of Natural History will unveil Feb. 2. A bequest from the estate of S. Sydney DeYoung, a Boston diamond dealer, the unmounted jewel will be the first of its kind displayed in a public museum. Red diamonds are so rare that only five are documented, and a piddling 0.95-carat purple-red diamond sold in an auction last April for almost $1 million. The Constitution, by Any Name
"Wij, het volk van de Verenigde Staten ..."
Yes, the celebration to honor the bicentennial of the Constitution has moved into full-scale overdrive, as the Law Library of the Library of Congress releases the text and amendments of the enduring document in more than a dozen languages, including the Dutch above.
So far, you can get the Constitution in French, Dutch, German, Korean, Spanish, Chinese and Armenian. Upcoming reprints include versions in Arabic, Greek, Italian, Japanese, Russian, Swedish and Vietnamese. The library based its selections of languages on the size of immigrant communities in the United States and the number of requests for the material over the years.
In some cases, the library had to use unusual equipment -- a typewriter with nonroman fonts (for Armenian) and a computer that could process Russian words. International Week
Greek Minister of Culture and former film star Melina Mercouri will be arriving in town tonight to inaugurate the much-awaited exhibit "The Human Figure in Early Greek Art." The show, featuring many pieces never seen in the United States, spans five centuries, from bronzes to marble kouroi and korai (idealized young men and women standing upright). During the week, Mercouri will lead a round of parties and previews celebrating next Sunday's opening.
And Walter Persegati, secretary general of the Vatican Museums, will speak Thursday night on the controversial Sistine Chapel ceiling cleaning. The lecture, "Michelangelo's Vibrant Colors Come to Light," will be in the Smithsonian's Baird Auditorium. Art experts are watching the restoration of the world-famous masterpiece closely, some angry that it's being touched at all, others thrilled by what is appearing from beneath centuries of grime. Washington, By the Book
The Washington art scene may not carry the weight of its counterpart in New York, but locals should at least feel a little more special with the publication of "Washington Art: A Guide to Galleries, Art Consultants and Museums." The fancy book -- with color illustrations and printed on 70-pound paper -- will list capital-area art doings and retail for $13.95 in local stores and museum shops. The Savoyards' Reprise
In their day, Gilbert and Sullivan were Stephen Sondheim, Andrew Lloyd Webber and Bob Fosse all in one. Their work may seem a little antiquated to some now, but not to the Washington Savoyards, who have performed the duo's 19th-century comic operas for the past 16 years. The nonprofit, semiprofessional opera company will do it again this year by presenting "The Gondoliers" Thursday through Sunday. To celebrate their debut in their new space at the Duke Ellington School of the Arts, the Savoyards will put on a benefit performance for the school on Thursday. Tickets are $55 for the show and reception.