Women artists take center stage in Washington this fall.
By Anne Kim-Dannibale
There’s no denying it, we are in the midst of a women’s moment. Fresh off the heels of the London Olympics, where women dominated and broke barriers, we’re entering a fall season full of other women-centric celebrations.
First up is the National Museum of Women in the Arts’ “Women Who Rock” exhibit, exploring the contributions that “the fairer sex” have made to popular music. Follow in the footsteps of music’s foremothers as they made their way from singing the blues and gaining the right to vote in the 1920s, through the dawn of the feminist movement and the ’90s riot grrrl post-feminism revolution. This exhibit pulls more than 250 artifacts, including costumes and sheet music, from the original exhibit at the Cleveland, Ohio-based Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum where it took up two floors.
Once you’ve got the history right, go see the real — or at least semi-real — thing. Playwright Randy Johnson’s “One Night with Janis Joplin” at Arena Stage creates a concert-like experience with the preternaturally gifted artist who tragically died of an accidental heroin overdose just as her star was beginning to rise in the late 1960s. Real-life blues singer Mary Bridget Davies brought Joplin to life in the Cleveland Play House production. She’s got the hair, the moves and, most importantly, the voice.
For a little more inspiration, head over to Smithsonian Folkways and listen to moving archival recordings from some of music’s leading ladies, including bluegrass pioneers like Hazel Dickens and Alice Gerrard and jazz composers like Mary Lou Williams — both of whom are featured artists on the site.
Top it all off with a candy-colored bow and a black whip with the original “Material Girl” known for breaking all kinds of taboos in pop music. Madonna’s MDNA Tour stops at the Verizon Center for two nights. If yo don’t have tickets (it’s sold out), there’s always the CD.
Elsewhere, if you happen to find yourself in New York in coming days, check out Andy Warhol’s Polaroid snaps used for painting his famous pop portraits of Bianca Jagger, Debbie Harry, Dolly Parton and others. On view at the Danziger Gallery.