If you had to pin a label on New York sculptor Joel Shapiro you could call him a magical minimalist. The sculptures he is showing at the Baltimore Museum of Art are modernist, Manhattanesque, reductionist, enchanted. The magic happens all at once.
You're looking at a piece composed of three, or five, or seven connected blocks of wood or bronze. You've seen such forms before. You're thinking, as you think you should, gray and formal thoughts of additive assemblage, emptiness and Euclid, when suddenly the spell takes hold. All at once -- there's someone there!
That beam's become a human leg, that wedge a human torso. When glimpsed from the right angle, Shapiro's mute and boxy forms start behaving just like people. One is crouching in the corner in a mood of deep dejection. Some are striding through the gallery, or somersaulting gaily. Some are gliding as if skating. You've felt them come alive.
"Joel Shapiro: Tracing the Figure" is on display until Oct. 7. CLASSICAL MUSIC
The National Symphony Orchestra will be led by its associate conductor, Randall Craig Fleischer, in its annual free Labor Day concert tonight on the West Lawn of the Capitol.
There will be two free lunch-hour concerts downtown this week, both on Wednesday: operetta highlights at Lisner Auditorium at 12:15 p.m. and music for wind trio at 1 p.m. at the IMF Visitors' Center. Those who hurry can probably catch most of both.
Also worth noting: pianist Charles Foreman, Friday night at the Baird Auditorium; a Soviet chorus and wind ensemble, Friday night in Lisner Auditorium. DANCE
The wonderfully innovative and imaginative Margolis/Brown Adaptors movement-theater troupe presents its newest opus, "Decodanz: The Dilemma of Desmodus & Diphylla" at Mount Vernon College's Hand Chapel in four performances Wednesday through Friday evening. POP MUSIC
Van Morrison brings his mystic melodies and spatial grooves to the Merriweather Post Pavilion on Wednesday.
Virginia's best boys, Bruce Hornsby and the Range, share a Wednesday Wolf Trap bill with Canada's languid Cowboy Junkies.
Guitar star Michael Fath unveils his new album at the Bayou on Friday, stepping ever closer to the national spotlight.
Young trumpeter Roy Hargrove joins veteran saxophonist Arnie Lawrence at Trumpets Friday and Saturday.
Voices of the Soviet Union are rich voices: the 14-male voices of Mtiebi Choir, throat singer Oleg Kuular (who can somehow create a three-voice sound), the six-voiced Muzhiteno Women's Choir plus the shepherd's horns of Nerekhski Horn Ensemble. They're all at Lisner Auditorium on Friday..
Martinho da Vila helps celebrate Brazilian Independence Day Saturday at Kilimanjaro's.