H Street Life

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Cheick Hamala Diabate in Concert. Photo: Cheick Hamala Diabate

February can be a blustery and gray month in the District, making it all the more tempting to stay inside where it’s cozy and warm. But if you spend this month hibernating, you’ll miss out, as this February turns out to be a great month for both the visual and performing arts in our community.

Atlas INTERSECTIONS Festival Returns in Late February
The annual Atlas INTERSECTIONS Festival (www.atlasarts.org/intersections) will soon be upon us again, running from Feb. 23 through March 10. This is a performing arts festival that brings together works that impact our society, culture and world by informing, inspiring, educating and entertaining. For the 2018 festival, the Atlas Performing Arts Center (1333 H St. NE) is working in partnership with the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and 14 other DC arts organizations to celebrate the Leonard Bernstein centennial. The festival presents works in a variety of mediums, including music, dance, spoken-word storytelling and film.

In the award winning “Little Stones” documentary, filmmaker Sophia Cruz weaves together the tales of four women artists from around the globe who use their art forms to empower women and raise awareness of and combat gender-based violence. A Brazilian graffiti artist confronts the topic of domestic violence. A dancer and sociologist helps survivors of sex trafficking heal and reclaim their bodies and lives through dance movement therapy and community building in India. A Senegalese hip-hop star spins lyrics that touch on themes of forced marriage and female genital mutilation. An American who moved to Kenya with her missionary parent and grew up to become a fashion designer founded a nonprofit that provides a free, 18-month intensive training and certification program in advanced sewing techniques to vulnerable women. Upon completion the women choose to accept a position with an associated clothing company or use their newly acquired skills to enter the job market.

Musician Cheick Hamala Diabate treats his audience to an engaging evening of song, dance and Malian oral history and legend. Diabate is known as the king of the n’goni, a traditional West African plucked lute with a body made of wood and stretched animal skin. It’s a sort of distant cousin to the American banjo, another instrument Diabete plays skillfully. He’s previously collaborated with artists including Bela Fleck and Bob Carlin. His band includes bass, sax, djembe drum, guitar, drum kit and more.

The full schedule of INTERSECTIONS events is posted on the Atlas website. You can purchase tickets to individual events online or through the box office. There are also multi-show subscription packages that offer discounts. Buy a two-show package and save 10 percent, a three-show package and save 15 percent, or a four-show package and save 20 percent. Discount packages require you to select your shows up front (event ticket prices vary), and only one ticket from a package may be used for a particular performance (you can’t buy a two-ticket package and use both tickets for you and a friend to attend the same concert).

This year’s INTERSECTIONS festival also features two Family Fun Days on Saturday, Feb. 24, and March 3, and the Youth Summit on March 10, which highlights performances by youth groups.

Art in the Alley returns in spring. Photo: Elise Bernard

Art in the Alley Celebrates Local Art in Local Spaces
The Trinidad neighborhood’s freewheeling, do-it-yourself festival Art in the Alley will take place Saturday, April 28. The festival originally launched in 2011 and has taken place in the fall over the past few years. The organizers took a break last year, promising to return this spring, partly in an effort to avoid the inevitable scheduling conflicts with the District’s many festivals that take place in the fall. The free event celebrates local art in local spaces, specifically an alley located behind the 1200 and 1300 blocks of Florida Avenue and Morse Street NE. For one night, residents transform an alley into a cheerful gallery and invite neighbors and visitors alike to view works by local professional and amateur artists while mingling with friends new and old. Paintings, photos, weavings, jewelry and more are on display. The evening traditionally features both live musical performances and a DJ.

Art in the Alley returns in spring. Photo: Elise Bernard

Driftwood Kitchen Quietly Closes
Driftwood Kitchen (400 H St. NE) quietly shut its doors last month. A note posted on the door greeted would-be diners with the message, “To Our Neighborhood Friends: Driftwood Kitchen is now closed. We want to thank you for your support.” Driftwood Kitchen joined the H Street NE dining scene in October 2014, offering modern American food with Mediterranean influences and some skillfully crafted cocktails in an impressive space. There’s no word yet on what might replace Driftwood at the location.

Enter the Uncanny, Fantastic World of J. D. Deardourff
CulturalDC (https://www.culturaldc.org) has set up its mobile art gallery SPACE4 outside Union Market (https://unionmarketdc.com, 1309 Fifth St. NE). Inside SPACE4 you’ll find works by artist J. D. Deardourff (https://www.instagram.com/jddeardourff), known for his vividly hued prints that reference a comic-book aesthetic. The solo show “Uncanny Fantastic” features new, experimental monoprints focused around themes of color and energy. It coincides with the release of Deardourff’s self-published comic book series bearing the same name.

The exhibition, which runs through Feb. 23, includes free community workshops where Deardourff will demonstrate screen printing basics and produce small works of art with participants. Gallery hours are Wednesday-Friday, 12 to 8 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday, 10 a.m.-8 p.m.

Community Collective Photography Showcase at Capital Fringe
Capital Fringe (https://www.capitalfringe.org, 1358 Florida Ave. NE) presents the third iteration of “The Community Collective Photography Showcase,” which highlights the work of 48 artists, some local and others hailing from more distant locales. You can visit The Community Collective on Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/communitycollectivedc). The exhibit will be open to the public through Feb. 17. Specific days and hours are listed on Fringe’s website.

 

For more on what’s abuzz on and around H Street NE, you can visit my blog at http://frozentropics.blogspot.com. You can send me tips or questions at elise.bernard@gmail.com.