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All the D.C.-regional galleries have bounteous fall exhibits planned

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Many galleries have new exhibits opening this fall season including Touchstone Gallery’s ‘Color Grids’ featuring works by Charlie Dale such as ‘Chesapeake Waterman.’ (Photo courtesy Touchstone)

There are a lot of galleries all over the D.C. area and they all have new shows starting this fall season.

The Corcoran Gallery of Art (500 17th St., N.W.) has many events coming up. On Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., performer, choreographer and filmmaker Maida Withers will be giving an interactive performance with improvisation and a temporary installation. On Sep. 27 at 7 p.m. for Cosmo Couture 2012, the gallery will be holding “Fashion, Identity and Interiors: The Cosmo Couture Creative Process.” Tickets to this event are $15 for the public and $12 for members.

The gallery is having the first of what is planned to be an annual community day on Oct. 20 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. This event is free and for all ages. There will also be an exhibit entitled “Decades: 100 Years of Style and Fashion” on display on Oct. 25 at 7 p.m.

For more information on Corcoran and its upcoming events and exhibits, visit corcoran.org.

The Smithsonian’s Freer|Sackler Gallery (105 Independence Ave., S.W.) has a variety of exhibits coming up this season.

On Sep. 28, the gallery will be hosting “Asia After Dark: Asian Soundscape with DJ Spooky” at 7 p.m. The event will feature music set against Asian silent films. Attendees will be able to make their own eco-friendly drum and learn how to play rhythms from Asia. Tickets are $25 in advance,$30 at the door and $15 for Silk Road Society members.

“Nomads and Networks: The Art and Culture of Ancient Kazakhstan” featuring gold objects and gilded horns will be on display through Nov. 12.

“Road of Arabia: Archaeology and History of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia” opens Nov. 17. It will feature recently discovered archaeological material never seen in the U.S. including alabaster bowls, glassware, earrings and more. The exhibit will be on display through Feb. 24.

The Peacock Room will be on display, restored for the first time to its appearance in 1908. The room will be open through spring.

For more information, visit asia.si.edu.

Touchstone Gallery’s (901 New York Ave., N.W.) exhibits “Color Grids,” featuring paintings by Charlie Dale and “Seen/Unseen” featuring works by Rosemary Luckett, have already opened, but there will be an event on Sep. 20 from 6 to 8:30 p.m.

They gallery also has a few exhibits opening in October including a members show, Photoweek show and exhibits featuring work by Ai-Wen Wu Krats, Rhona Schonwald and Michael Lant. In November, a show featuring works by Gale Wallar opens.

For more information on Touchstone and the upcoming shows, visit touchstonegallery.com.

The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (200 North Blvd.) has multiple exhibits this season.

“Gesture: Judith Godwin and Abstract Expressionism” features 25 paintings by Godwin exploring a critical period in the artist’s development, will run through Jan. 27. “Fine Arts and Flowers” will feature work from more than 75 garden clubs through Virginia interpreting masterworks in VMFA’s collection with floral arrangements and will run through Oct. 28.

“Photography and Abstraction in the 1950s and ‘60s” will open Nov. 17 featuring work by photographers such as Aaron Siskind, Harry Callahan, Minor White and Gita Lenz. The exhibit will be on display through July.

For more information, visit vmfa.museum/exhibitions.

Artisphere (1101 Wilson Blvd., Arlington) is celebrating its second anniversary weekend in October with several exhibits. Opening Oct. 4 is “Craig Colorusso: Sun Boxes” at Freedom Park and Waterview Plaza at Le Meridien Hotel. “Forro in the Dark and Alma Tropicalia,” a party featuring Brazilian music and more is Oct. 6 at 8 p.m. in the Ballroom. Tickets are $20. On Oct. 7, there will be a free family day open house from 1 to 4 p.m.

Artisphere will also be holding Yarn Bomb meet-ups and stitch sessions on Wednesdays from 6 to 9 p.m. starting Oct. 17.

There are a few exhibits currently on view that will run throughout the fall including “Beyond the Parking Lot: The Change and Re-Assesment of Our Modern Landscape” will run through Nov. 4 and was inspired by the Joni Mitchell song “Big Yellow Taxi” and features contemporary landscapes by artists who are observing these changes, exposing the use of the environment in compromising ways and instigates the discussion of “where do we go from here?”

For more information, visit artisphere.com.

Torpedo Factory (105 North Union St.) is having a free event during the Alexandria King Street Art Festival. The sixth annual Art Activated will give festival attendees not only a place to cool down, but also several hands-on activities. Visitors can do screen-printing, bubble gum art, create their own button and more. There will also be a Q-Art Code Scavenger Hunt with a chance to win a $150 gift certificate to the Torpedo Factory.

For more information, visit torpedofactory.org/artactivated.

Other galleries that always have interesting exhibits and are worth checking out include Aaron Gallery at 2101 L Street NW (aarongallerydc.com), The Art League in Alexandria at 105 North Union Street (theartleague.org), Hillwood Estate, Museum and Gardens at 4155 Linnean Ave., N.W. (hillwoodmuseum.org), the Fridge D.C. at 516 8th Street, S.E. (thefridgedc.com) the Kreeger Museum at 2401 Foxhall Road, N.W. (kreegermuseum.org), the National Gallery of Art at 4th and Constitution Ave., N.W. (nga.gov) and the brand new Northern Virginia Art Center at 2120-A Crystal Plaza Arcade in Arlington (novaartcenter.org).

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Arts & Entertainment

After COVID hiatus, John Waters resumes touring schedule

‘Every single thing is different after COVID’

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John Watersis on the road again. (Blade file photo by Michael Key)

For the first time in nearly two years, writer and filmmaker John Waters will be appearing on stage this fall before live audiences in the Baltimore-Washington area, Los Angeles and San Francisco.

Waters, who lives in Baltimore, is scheduled to bring his spoken-word holiday show, “A John Waters Christmas,” to The Birchmere in Alexandria, Va., on Dec. 15, and Baltimore Soundstage on Dec. 21. He’ll also be at the Great American Music Hall in San Francisco on Nov. 29 and The Vermont Hollywood on Dec. 2.

Waters’ holiday shows were cancelled in 2020 due to the theater closings and travel restrictions put in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Some book signings for fans were converted to Zoom sessions. He last toured the country in November and December of 2019.

This year, with vaccinations on the rise, Waters has made a few in-person appearances, including a concert with gay country crooner Orville Peck in Colorado in July, where he was “special guest host”; a Q&A session with fans in Provincetown in August and a music festival last weekend in Oakland, Calif. He’s scheduled to visit another 18 cities between now and the end of the year, including a weekend in Wroclaw, Poland, where he’ll be honored during the American Film Festival there in November.

Waters said he has completely rewritten his spoken-word shows to reflect changes brought about by the COVID pandemic. “I haven’t done it in a year and a half,” he said in an interview with Town & Country magazine. “Every single thing is different after COVID. You cannot do the same show. Nothing’s the same.”

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Theater

‘Hadestown’ comes to the Kennedy Center

Levi Kreis discusses return to live theater

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Levi Kreis is an out actor who plays Hermes in the national tour of ‘Hadestown’ soon opening at the Kennedy Center. (Photo courtesy of Levi Kreis)

Hadestown
Through Oct. 31
The Kennedy Center
$45.00 – $175.00
Kennedy-center.org
For Covid-19 safety regulations go to Kennedy-center.org/visit/covid-safety/

Early in September at New York’s Walter Kerr Theatre, out singer/actor Levi Kreis was in the audience for the long-awaited Broadway reopening of “Hadestown,” Anaïs Mitchell’s rousing musical reimagining of the Orpheus myth in which the legendary Greek hero descends into the underworld to rescue his lover Eurydice. 

After almost 18 months of pandemic-induced closure, the Tony Award-winning folk opera was back and the house was full. In a recent phone interview, Kreis describes the evening as “love-filled, and electrifying and emotional after such a difficult time.” Now, Kreis is onstage in the national tour of “Hadestown,” currently launching at the Kennedy Center. As Hermes, the shape-shifting god of oratory, Kreis is both narrator and chaperone to the story’s young lovers. 

A Tennessee native, Kreis, 39, has triumphantly survived turbulent times including a harrowingly prolonged coming out experience that included six years of conversion therapy, education disruptions, and music contract losses. He officially came out through his acclaimed album “One of the Ones” (2006), which features a collection of piano vocals about past boyfriends. And four years later, he splendidly won a Tony Award for originating the role of rock and roll wild man Jerry Lee Lewis in the rockabilly musical “Million Dollar Quartet.” 

Throughout much of the pandemic, Kreis leaned into his own music and found ways to reconnect with his largely gay fan base. But he’s happy to now be touring, noting that all the “Hadestown” cast have been hungering to perform before a real live audience.

When not on the road, he’s based in New York City with his husband, classical-crossover recording artist Jason Antone. 

WASHINGTON BLADE: Hermes is the same role for which André De Shields—the brilliant African American actor, also gay, and some decades your elder won a Tony and has resumed playing on Broadway, right?

LEVI KREIS: That’s right. It’s really a testament to the creative team. Rather than laying us over what Broadway created. They’re creating a tour that’s uniquely different; still true to the beauty of the story but with a different flavor. 

BLADE: What attracted you to the part?

KREIS: First, I fell in love with the show. My own musical sensibilities understand the origins of where this music comes from. It’s very bluesy and gospel. Southern and rootsy. And that’s everything I’ve created in my career as a singer/songwriter.

BLADE: With your life experience, do you feel called to mentor?

KREIS: The biggest effort I’ve given to this narrative is being a pioneer of the out-music movement starting in 2005 which was a moment when gay artists were not signed to major labels. I want through eight major labels—when they found out I was gay things always went south. 

It’s been amazing to be a voice in LGBTQ media when no one was speaking about these things. It’s popular now, but back when it mattered it was a lot harder to start my career as an openly gay artist and speak about these issues rather than keep quiet, cash in, and only then come out. 

BLADE: Where did that nerve come from?

KREIS: Less about nerve and more about being beaten down. How many things have to happen before you give up and decide to be honest?  

BLADE: For many theatergoers, “Hadestown” will be their return to live theater. Other than it being visionary and remarkably entertaining, why would you recommend it? 

KREIS: We need encouragement right now. But we also need art that facilitates a lot of important conversation about what’s happening in the world. This has both elements.  

“Hadestown” is not a piece of art that you easily forget. You’re going to walk out of the theater with a story that sticks with you. You’ll realized that your own voice matters. There’s a part in the show, Orpheus’ song, when the gods encourage him to get the balance of the world back again by telling him that his voice matters. 

BLADE: Is it timely?

KREIS: Art is here to change the world. And this piece of art hits the nail right on the head. I’m a purist when it comes to art and song. There’s a reason why we do it. people are listening now in a way they haven’t listened before. To miss that is to miss the role of society, I think. 

BLADE: And going forward? 

KREIS: It’s going to be interesting. We could double down on super commercialized theater or we may decide to really go the other direction and reclaim innovation. That remains to be seen. 

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Books

Book details fight to repeal ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’

Clinton-era policy was horrific for LGB servicemembers

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‘Mission Possible: The Story of Repealing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’
By C. Dixon Osburn
c.2021, self-published $35 hardcover, paperback $25, Kindle $12.99 / 450 pages

When Senior Airman Brandi Grijalva was stationed at Tyndall Air Force Base, she talked with a chaplain’s assistant about some problems she had at home. The chaplain’s assistant said what she told him would be confidential. But when she revealed that she was a lesbian, the chaplain’s assistant no longer kept her conversation with him confidential. Grijalva, after being investigated was discharged.

Craig Haack was a corporal in the Marines serving in Okinawa, Japan. Haack, who had made it through boot camp, felt confident. Until investigators barged into his barracks. Looking for evidence “of homosexual conduct,” they ransacked everything from his computers to his platform shoes. Haack was too stunned to respond when asked if he was gay.

In 1996, Lt. Col. Steve Loomis’ house was burned down by an Army private. The Army discharged the private who torched Loomis’ house. You’d think the Army would have supported Loomis. But you’d be wrong. The army discharged Loomis for conduct unbecoming an officer because a fire marshal found a homemade sex tape in the ashes.

These are just a few of the enraging, poignant, at times absurd (platform shoes?), all-too-true stories told in “Mission Possible: The Story of Repealing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” by C. Dixon Osburn.

As a rule, I don’t review self-published books. But “Mission Possible” is the stunning exception that proves that rules, on occasion, are made to be broken.

“Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT) was the official U.S. policy on gay, lesbian and bisexual people serving in the military. Former President Bill Clinton announced the policy on July 19, 1993. It took effect on Feb. 28, 1994.

Sexual orientation was covered by DADT. Gender identity was covered by separate Department of Defense regulations.

Congress voted to repeal DADT in December 2010 (the House on Dec. 15, 2010, and the Senate on Dec. 18, 2010). On Dec. 22, 2010, Former President Barack Obama signed the repeal into law. 

DADT banned gay, lesbian and bisexual people who were out from serving in the U.S. military. Under DADT, it was not permitted to ask if servicemembers were LGB. But, LGB servicemembers couldn’t be out. They couldn’t talk about their partners, carry photos of their girlfriends or boyfriends or list their same-sex partner as their emergency contract.

It took nearly a year for the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” to go into effect. On Sept. 20, 2011, Obama, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff “certified to Congress that implementing repeal of the policy {DADT} would have no effect on military readiness, military effectiveness, unit cohesion or recruiting and retention,” Osburn writes.

Before DADT, out LGBT people weren’t permitted to serve in the military. “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” was intended to be a compromise—a policy that would be less onerous on LGB people, but that would pass muster with people who believed that gay servicemembers would destroy military readiness, morale and unit cohesion.

Like many in the queer community, I knew that DADT was a horror-show from the get-go. Over the 17 years that DADT was in effect, an estimated 14,000 LGB servicemembers were discharged because of their sexual orientation, according to the Veterans Administration.

But, I had no idea how horrific “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” was until I read “Mission Possible.”              

In “Mission Possible,” Osburn, who with Michelle Benecke, co-founded the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN), pulls off a nearly impossible hat trick.

In a clear, vivid, often spellbinding narrative, Osburn tells the complex history of the DADT-repeal effort as well as the stories of servicemembers who were pelted with gay slurs, assaulted and murdered under DADT.

Hats off to SLDN, now known as the Modern Military Association of America, for its heroic work to repeal DADT! (Other LGBTQ+ organizations worked on the repeal effort, but SLDN did the lion’s share of the work.)

You wouldn’t think a 450-pager about repealing a policy would keep you up all night reading. But, “Mission Possible” will keep you wide-awake. You won’t need the espresso.

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