Donald Lipski and Buzz Spector are well-known for their use of found objects in creating sculpture. However, it is not the objects but the meanings associated with them that are the real materials of their work, represented in a show titled "Transgressions" at the Corcoran Gallery of Art. Spector's loaves of bread connote nourishment, warmth and community; his roses, passion and love. Lipski's flags symbolize patriotism, America and the divisive controversy over the protection of the flag itself. The unaccustomed situations in which these artists put such culturally loaded objects create an enigmatic tension from which a leap of understanding may occur.
This is indeed art that transgresses the boundaries of everyday thought, requiring questions of the roots of one's perceptions. The connections made in this way are unexpected, often humorous and sometimes exhilarating when a glimpse of sheer understanding comes through.
Henry Purcell's "King Arthur," a baroque extravaganza with alterations to suit modern tastes, will be the Washington Opera's next attraction, beginning Saturday night in the Kennedy Center Eisenhower Theater. Other extravaganzas this week, mostly connected with the shift from 1990 to 1991, include the D.C. Youth Orchestra's 30th Anniversary Gala Concert, today in the Kennedy Center Concert Hall; George Manos conducting "Music of Vienna," tonight at the National Gallery; and "A Night in Old Vienna," New Year's Eve at the Kennedy Center.
The National Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Randall Craig Fleisher, with pianist Jennifer Hayghe and narrator Yolanda King, will present "Written in My Soul," an African American symphonic tribute, Friday night at the Kennedy Center.
Also worth noting: the Lieurance Quintet, today at the Phillips Collection; the Friday Morning Music Club, Thursday morning at Strathmore Hall and Friday at the Sumner School.
The annual "Nutcracker" roundelay winds this week with concluding performances by the Virginia Ballet (Fairfax), the Donetsk Ballet (Baltimore), and the Metropolitan Ballet Theatre (Columbia). The new year takes off at Dance Place with Saturday evening and Sunday afternoon performances of "Dansketches," a shared program of dances by choreographers Nancy Havlik (who is curating the program), Cathy Ward (of the Erick Hawkins Dance Company), and the teams of Stephen Mudd and Robin Kautz, and Monique Staskiewicz and Lysa Nicholson.
The year's last really big show is at Cap Centre tonight, a rap/hip hop/go-go spectacular headlined by Tony! Toni! Tone!, Salt N' Pepa and Poor Righteous Teachers.
Washington's most acclaimed (and contractually anonymous) postmodern rock band, just back from a European tour, makes a surprise appearance Wednesday and Thursday at the 9:30 club.
In a season overstuffed with sugarplums, it's nice to encounter a sourball. The comedy "A Tuna Christmas," back for a second year at the Kennedy Center Terrace Theater through Jan. 20, takes a raucous, irreverent attitude toward the sacred season; it's the show for everyone who understands what P.G. Wodehouse meant when he wrote, "Christmas is almost at our throats again." But like a good sourball, "A Tuna Christmas" has a sweet center. By celebrating the worst of Christmas so zestfully, the play earns the right to its poignant, shyly happy ending.