VETERAN AMERICAN ARTIST Sol LeWitt has a reputation as a hard-nosed conceptualist. This can cause the simple visual appeal of his art to come as a surprise. A work newly installed in the National Gallery's East Building at first might seem dour. LeWitt's "Wall Drawing #65" starts off as a kind of written definition of the work that he's envisioned: "Lines not short, not straight, crossing and touching, drawn at random using four colors, uniformly dispersed with maximum density, covering the entire surface of the wall." But once a team of assistants -- some of whom the artist may never have even met -- puts his instructions to work on the wall with color pencils, things come alive. The massive four-color scribble sparked by LeWitt's instructions has a childlike enthusiasm that belies its brainy roots.

-- Blake Gopnik

At the National Gallery of Art, on the Mall between Third and Ninth streets at Constitution Avenue NW. Open Monday-Saturday 10 a.m.-5 p.m. and Sunday 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Free. Call 202-737-4215 or visit


THE PROGRAM IS CALLED "Rejoice!," but the mood, it seems, will swing freely from celebratory to sorrowful when Cleveland Contemporary Dance Theatre performs this week. The small but ambitious troupe has assembled a raft of works centered on the broad theme of "people and relationships." Among the pieces included are a portrait of a woman suffering from Alzheimer's, a look at AIDS in the African American community and, in keeping with the evening's titular spirit, an upbeat mix of martial arts, Indian classical dance and hip-hop.

-- Sarah Kaufman

At Dance Place, 3225 Eighth Street NE. Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. $6-$18. Call 202-269-1600 or visit


THERE ARE STILL a few more chances to catch the Washington National Opera's production of Giuseppe Verdi's original 1853 version of his extraordinarily touching "La Traviata," with unfamiliar material he would later cut from the score. Moreover, a new cast of principals is in place. As of Wednesday night, soprano Andrea Rost will take over the role of Violetta, with Julian Gavin as Alfredo and Vassily Gerello as Germont; Gerello, in particular, comes to town with much advance acclaim, plus a new CD.

-- Tim Page

At the Kennedy Center Opera House. Wednesday at 7:30 p.m., Saturday at 7 p.m. and June 1 at 7:30 p.m. $41-$285. Call 202-295-2400 or visit