The Big Read
In a rush-rush, media-rich world, the thrill and enrichment that come from reading isn’t always evident. But reading makes you think. It takes you on an adventure. It makes you smart. Next month, the Louisville Free Public Library shares the journey of Janie Crawford with the pubic through a community reading of “Their Eyes Were Watching God,” in which the heroine’s experiences growing up in the 1930s reveal and challenge beliefs about power, gender, race, consumerism and sexuality. The library has reached out to all corners of the community, scheduling 44 book discussions for the public, purchasing thousands of books to distribute and adding hundreds of copies to its stacks.
“The Big Read” opens with the Feb. 1 performance of “The Last Dust Track,” a one-woman play about author Zora Neale Hurston. “The Big Read” is funded in part by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Institute of Museum and Library Services, the Community Foundation of Louisville and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. —Elizabeth Kramer
Louisville Free Public Library
Thursday, Feb. 1
Architecture of ‘Vertigo’
Everyone knows the 1957 thriller “Vertigo” is one of Hitchcock’s best — and least overrated — classics. An interesting event Thursday night at the Speed Art Museum shines a different kind of light on a different aspect of the film: set design. Most of us take background buildings, cars and color schemes for granted when we watch a film. This can often be a big mistake.
Author and lecturer Sandy McLendon will give a talk sponsored by the Hite Art Institute as part of the Morgan Lecture Series. McLendon contends that the costumes, backgrounds (particularly San Francisco’s glorious architecture and natural environment), furniture, makeup and automobiles used in the film carry great significance and add immeasurably to the film’s overall impact. Perhaps this lecture will provide a better understating of a true classic. —Paul Kopasz
Speed Art Museum Auditorium
2035 S. Third St.
Free; 6 p.m.
Friday, Feb. 2
Wrap your mind around this — improv and anime. The ANI-HISTA-ME-NIACS will debut at the Pink Door on Friday. Their show, labeled a live mash-up, mixes two different media for something innovative. Shawn Utterback, a member of the group, named the troupe in honor of Louisville’s ability to kick up everyone’s allergies. And “anime” makes up part of the name.
The experiment follows like this: The classic anime film “Bubble Gum Crisis 2040,” chosen cleverly for sharing its color scheme with the name of the locale as well as its B-movie status, will play on a 25-foot screen at the front of the restaurant while the ANI-HISTA-ME-NIACS perform in front of it. Utterback describes the show as a blend of “Mystery Science Theater” and “Movie Dub,” a game played on “Whose Line is it Anyway?” The show will also feature improv theater games and audience suggestions. The show should be fun and fresh, and Utterback says anything could happen. Best of all, it’s free. —Claudia Olea
The Pink Door
2222 Dundee Road
Free; 9 p.m.
Feb. 2 & 4
‘The Pearl Fishers’
Don’t let the title throw you off on this opera. It’s not about fishing. Oh, they’ve got the singers all dolled up in scanty native costumes, and the thing is set on a faraway beach on the isle of Ceylon. But what Kentucky Opera is presenting in song this weekend in Whitney Hall is the age-old conflict of two guys, one girl. Zurga and Nadir are the two guys, and the one girl is Leila. The guys, recognizing that a conflict over the lovely Leila could jeopardize their friendship, make a vow that neither will purse the vixen. But, of course, things go wrong when Nadir and Leila end up alone at the temple ruins — and you can imagine the rest. The next thing you know, the lads are busting out in a fistfight at the Z-Bar, the cops are on the way and Leila is begging … no, wait! It’s not the Z-Bar, they’re in Ceylon. —Bill Doolittle
Whitney Hall, Kentucky Center
$9-$81; 8 p.m. (Fri.), 2 p.m. (Sun.)
Saturday, Feb. 3
Interesting factoid about this trio: Nate Borofsky, Doris Muramatsu and Ty Greenstein scheduled their first rehearsal for Sept. 11, 2001.
“It brought us in touch with our own mortality,” Borofsky says on the group’s Web site. “We realized that we wanted to have fun, to do what felt right to us, and to not take ourselves too seriously.”
The group is out and about promoting Little Star, its second album on Daemon Records, the label owned by Indigo Girl Amy Ray. —Mat Herron
1032 Story Ave.
$15; 8:30 p.m.
Feb. 3-March 3
‘Clay Lancaster: The Man and His Art’
Clay Lancaster was a busy man; he died in 2000, yet his life’s work continues to be as active as he was. He wrote about architecture, including two important texts, “The American Bungalow, 1880-1930” and “The Japanese Influence in America.” He also wrote and illustrated children’s books and was profoundly active in historic preservation. He also managed to find the time to teach in New York City and Kentucky. To honor him, KMAC is exhibiting 31 of his drawings of architecture, landscapes and children’s book illustrations.
A new book on his life, “Clay Lancaster’s Kentucky: Architectural Photographs of a Preservation Pioneer,” will be available in March for $50, but KMAC will have a limited number of copies available on Thursday. The show’s opening reception is during the Feb. 2 First Friday Gallery Hop from 5-9 p.m. Two folk art exhibits are also on display through March 3. —Jo Anne Triplett
Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft
715 W. Main St.
Free; 10 a.m.-5 p.m. (Mon.-Fri.), 11 a.m.-5 p.m. (Sat.)
African-American History Celebration
The Muhammad Ali Center has a series of four interactive performance-art events planned to celebrate Black History Month in February, titled the “Find Greatness Within Series.” It starts on Sunday, Feb. 4, with “Follow the Beat of Your Own Drum,” a performance by the River City Drum Corp that includes lessons and demonstrations in African drum-playing. Next, on Feb. 11, is “Sing Loud and Proud,” by the West Louisville Boys Choir, who will present songs of African-American historical significance and interactive lyrical exercises. On Feb. 18, it’s “Let Your Voice Be Heard,” a play that illustrates how the spoken word served as a powerful tool for African Americans. Finally, on Feb. 24, the Imani Dance Company and Forest Missionary Baptist Church Step Team present “Step in Harmony,” featuring dance performances and interactive dance and step exercises. Seating is limited, so advanced tickets are recommended. —Kevin Gibson
Muhammad Ali Center
144 N. Sixth St.
$5; 2-3:30 p.m.
Wednesday, Feb. 7
Yeah, he’s a big-time, Oscar-winning movie star whose piano chops were approved by the almighty Ray Charles. Now his album, Unpredictable, has been nominated for three Grammys, including Best R&B Album. But we were in on his jokes long before then, when he used to leave us in stitches with his skits on “In Living Color.” —Mat Herron
625 S. Fourth St.
$49.75-$69.75; 8 p.m.
Through Feb. 28
‘The Glass Canvas’ by Susie Garbee Slabaugh
Common sense tells us paint would have no chance of surviving the blistering heat of hot glass. Susie Garbee Slabaugh, co-owner of Flame Run Hotshop and Gallery, is here to tell us otherwise. She recently learned the Swedish glassblowing technique of Graal last year at the Haystack Mountain School of Crafts in Deer Isle, Maine, which involves painting a cooled glass core, then reheating it and blowing it to the desired shape, thus fusing the paint to the surface.
“My undergraduate degree is in printmaking and painting, so I’ve always wanted to bring that into my glass,” she says in a press release. “I just love the idea of taking the glass surface into the painterly realm.” That proves, once again, that common sense isn’t always right — especially in the hands of a talented artist. —Jo Anne Triplett
Flame Run Hotshop and Gallery
828 E. Market St.
Free; 10 a.m.-4 p.m. (Tue.-Sat.)