FROM A DISTANCE, the National Museum of the American Indian is defined by its massive Kasota limestone facade. Up close, the visitor's experience will be refined, deflected, focused and perhaps confused by the exotic landscape that marries curvilinear form and Minnesota stone to Washington's classically inspired Mall.
On Thursday, Grant R. Jones and Ilze Jones, principals of the Seattle architecture and landscape design firm Jones and Jones, will be able to shed light on both. The firm was involved in the completion of the building and the creation of the so-called native environment of ancient "grandfather rocks," multiple water features, fire pit, crops, meadow, wetland and forest. The project is an example of the 35-year-old firm's holistic approach to design. Projects have ranged from placing zoo animals in natural habitats to injecting a highway gracefully into pristine Kentucky bluegrass country. For Washington, the 27,000 plants and 25 species would not have been complete without a patch of panic grass.
-- Linda Hales
At the National Building Museum, 401 F St. NW. Thursday at 6:30 p.m. $10-$17. Prepaid registration required. Call 202-272-2448 or visit www.nbm.org.
THERE ARE THREE dance styles featured in "Gajamukha," performed by Jayanthi Raman's Oregon-based Indian dance company. But the real star of this dance-theater event is an elephant. Or rather, the elephant-face deity of Hindu mythology. Raman based her five-part work on stories about Gajamukha, also known as Lord Ganesha, whom she researched in ancient scriptures. These stories, she said recently, sparked her interest "as a dancer and as a devotee." The work includes scenes of the deity's birth, the practice of offering him gifts of grass and flowers, and temple rituals from south India that, Raman says, have never been seen onstage before. A specially commissioned musical score performed live and based on south Indian traditions accompanies the work. Narration in English is provided before each section.
-- Sarah Kaufman
At George Washington University's Lisner Auditorium, 21st and H streets NW. Friday at 8 p.m. $25-$45. Call 202-785-9727 or visit www.wpas.org.
THE WORLD OF WEARABLE ART (aka "art jewelry") is amazingly small in the United States. It's so small that the tiny Washington space called Jewelerswerk -- it's more like a glass booth, really -- counts as one of the genre's most important venues. The gallery is 20 years old this year, and its current show, a solo by German artist Iris Bodemer, helps explain its long survival. Bodemer's high- concept jewelry makes most other bodily adornment look like schlock. She makes little sculptures from found objects and handcrafted precious stuffs and then assembles them to fit the human body. One necklace features a string of wildly contorted baroque pearls, a piece of rubber tubing, a strangely biomorphic lump of cast silver, a scrap of silver sheet and a chunk of rock sliced cleanly in half. It has the ambitious presence of contemporary art, and it looks good on you, too.
-- Blake Gopnik
At Jewelerswerk, 2000 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, through Oct. 20. Open Monday-Friday 10 a.m.-7 p.m. and Saturday 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Free. Call 202-293-0249.
LISTENERS WITH an interest in unusual and contemporary music grieved when the Theater Chamber Players ceased operation last year. But now several of the leading musicians in the group (including cellist and former acting director Evelyn Elsing) have formed the Left Bank Concert Society. The new ensemble will make its debut performance Saturday with Beethoven's "Harp" Quartet, Op. 74; Debussy's Sonata for Flute, Viola and Harp; Michael Mauldin's "Birds in Winter," Six Preludes for Solo Harp; and Luciano Berio's "Naturale," for viola, tam-tam and tape. An extra treat will be Nicholas Maw's soliloquy for solo flute, "Night Thoughts," as performed by flutist Marina Piccinini.
-- Tim Page
At the Kennedy Center Terrace Theater. Saturday at 7:30 p.m. $25. Call 202-467-4600 or visit www.kennedy-center.org.
IT'S TIME TO ADMIT your secret shame: You love Barry Manilow. That's right, I'm talking to you, Mr. Tough Guy in the truck howling along to "Weekend in New England" with the windows rolled up. And you, the so-hip alterna-girl who shimmies like a tattooed Lola whenever "Copacabana" lights up your bleak basement apartment. Manilow makes all of us -- the cool and the uncool -- sob like babies, and now he's bidding adieu on a farewell tour. Yeah, he's probably pulling a Cher, and he just might do 10 more toodle-oo tours. But you can't take that chance, can you? Go tell Barry that you can't smile without him. Trust me: We'll all understand.
-- Sean Daly
At MCI Center, 601 F St. NW. Thursday at 8 p.m. $38-$128. Call 202-397-SEAT or visit www.mcicenter.com.