The open atrium in I.M. Pei’s triumphant National Gallery of Art East Building is punctuated by breezeways that connect its gallery wings, but the real power of the space comes from the art that dominates and enhances its marble and glass. Multiple pieces are noteworthy here, but one of the most clever—and most subtle—is American artist Ellsworth Kelly’s work spread across an angled wall, facing a glass wall and Constitution and Pennsylvania avenues NW. Kelly’s piece, “Color Panels for a Large Wall,” is less visible from the entrance than some other pieces in the building’s breezy atrium, but it holds its own among all the negative space. 

Kelly was an American color field painter, a movement associated with abstract expressionism (think Jackson Pollock) but defined by a restraint and simplicity (think Piet Mondrian) that set it apart from contemporaries who were practicing action painting and taking cues from German expressionism. “Color Panels for a Large Wall” was created in 1978 for a bank in Cincinnati, but found its way to the National Gallery after the Cincinnati Art Museum couldn’t find a wall large enough for the 18 large oil canvases, each a painted a solid, bold hue. In D.C., Kelly’s work is arranged in three rows of six panels, spaced generously, and the colors repeat rhythmically across the wall in no particular pattern. At a glance, it’s the kind of thing modern art skeptics would say a child could do. But Kelly’s project is situated in a larger project of abstraction: He was one of many artists trying to create a new art form, working to distill painting into its simplest forms—bold patterns, shapes, and colors—and trying to evoke emotion instead of depicting anything recognizable. And for drivers passing by on the avenues outside, the viewer looking up at “Color Panels” becomes the foreground of a larger frame enclosing a three-story marble canvas punctuated by pops of color. Try seeing it through that lens soon. —Emma Sarappo


Ted Leo and the PharmacistsEven though he grew up in New Jersey, spent years in New York, and now resides in Rhode Island, Ted Leo has always felt like a “hometown guy” in D.C. After all, he spent much of the ’90s here, first as a member of mod punk act Chisel and then with The Pharmacists, the act that has defined his last 20 years of music. Ted Leo and the Pharmacists have remained a constant, in D.C. and around the country, thanks to seemingly nonstop touring and a handful of beloved albums. There’s a timeless quality to Leo’s music: sing- and scream-alongs that bound between power pop, punk, no-frills rock, and beyond. Read more >>>Ted Leo and the Pharmacists perform at 8 p.m. at Black Cat, 1811 14th St. NW. $20–$25. (202) 667-4490. (Chris Kelly)

It’s Hammer time in Southeast: MC Hammer is bringing a star-studded lineup—Sir Mix-a-Lot, Kid ‘N Play, Tone Loc, and DJ Kool—to his Hammer House Party. 8 p.m. at Entertainment and Sports Arena, 1100 Oak Drive SE. $20–$75.

Or you could go see Satisfaction, a Rolling Stones cover band, and dance in the pit like the good old days are back. 8 p.m. at The Hamilton, 600 14th St. NW. $19.75–$24.75.

New York Times reporter Jason DeParle discusses his book about three generations of a Filipino family in A Good Provider Is One Who Leaves: One Family and Migration in the 21st Century. 7 p.m. at Politics and Prose, 5015 Connecticut Ave. NW. Free.


Brittany HowardThe Runaways, No Doubt, Gladys Knight and the Pips: all bands led by women who didn’t give a damn about a bad reputation and furiously cultivated their solo careers. Brittany Howard, primarily known as the frontwoman of Alabama Shakes, follows that path with grace. With her new album Jaime, the guitarist is stepping into her solo career—while staying true to her blues and soul roots. The album is a very personal one for Howard; she named it after her late sister, who taught her how to write songs and shred on the (piano) keys. Read more >>> Brittany Howard performs at 8 p.m. at 9:30 Club, 815 V St. NW. $55. (202) 265-0930. (Mikala Williams)

Mahogany Books is giving kids free children’s books that tell uplifting, empowering, and exciting stories about African Americans. 12 p.m. at the Anacostia Arts Center lobby, 1231 Good Hope Road SE. Free.

Rascal Flatts—the country act turning 20 this year—plays in Bristow. 7:30 p.m. at Jiffy Lube Live, 7800 Cellar Door Drive, Bristow. $30–$129.

There’ll be a day full of EDM, trap and AfroBeat DJs—plus live go-go, naturally—at CityFest DC. 12 p.m. at Cornerstone Plaza DC, 625 T St. NW. Free–$25.


Tame ImpalaLike a half-full glass of wine—which is also the title of an extremely underrated song from their 2008 self-titled EP—Tame Impala, the Australian psychedelic project led by Kevin Parker, has only gotten better with time. Tame Impala made a splash touring their debut album InnerSpeaker as an opening act for MGMT in 2010, and made bigger waves in 2012 with Lonerism, which Filter and NME selected as album of the year. Read more >>> Tame Impala perform at 8 p.m. at The Anthem, 901 Wharf St. SW. $55-$95. (202) 888-0020. (Ella Feldman)

Loved Fosse/Verdon? Catch a restoration screening of Bob Fosse‘s hallucinatory, confessional masterwork All That Jazz . 2:45 p.m. at AFI Silver Theatre and Cultural Center, 8633 Colesville Road, Silver Spring. $8–$10.

Catch Mike Love‘s version of The Beach Boys (Brian Wilson is on a separate tour) for a fun, sunny afternoon sing-along. 3 p.m. at the Filene Center at Wolf Trap, 1551 Trap Road, Vienna. $35–$85.

And lean into 2019’s cowboy vibes by seeing blues rocker and Texan Gary Clark Jr. with Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats. 6:30 p.m. at Merriweather Post Pavilion, 10475 Little Patuxent Parkway, Columbia. $45–$75.


StingSince parting ways with bandmates Andy Summers and Stewart Copeland, Sting—former front man and lead vocalist of English rock group The Police—has enjoyed a successful solo career. In addition to releasing a steady stream of chart-topping hits, he has collaborated with the likes of Alison Krauss, Shaggy, and Rod Stewart, produced an album of 16th-century lute music, and even composed a Broadway show inspired by his childhood in the shipbuilding town of Wallsend. The artist’s latest global tour, named in honor of his new album, My Songs, reflects on this musical legacy by offering up reimagined versions of favorite tracks. Read more >>> Sting performs at 8 p.m. at the Filene Center at Wolf Trap, 1551 Trap Road, Vienna. $55–$175. (703) 255-1900. (Meilan Solly)

Chicago-based Minor Moon presents An Opening—the title of their most recent album—for a D.C. audience. 9 p.m. at Velvet Lounge, 915 U St. NW. $10–$12.

Catch The Young’Uns at local pub The Public Option. 7:30 p.m. at The Public Option, 1601 Rhode Island Ave. NE. Free.

Or enjoy your beer with your best friend—your dog, that is—at a “yappy hour” to celebrate what is apparently “national dog day.” 5:30 p.m. at Bluejacket, 300 Tingey St. SE. Free.


Rion Amilcar ScottAuthor and professor Rion Amilcar Scott invented Cross River, Maryland, as the setting for his work, and he’s stuck to it. “Everything I write is set in Cross River,” he told Brooklyn Magazine. The setting was introduced to the public in Scott’s debut collection of stories, Insurrections. That title is apt, because Cross River’s fictional history begins when its enslaved founders successfully revolted and founded their own town. Read more >>> Rion Amilcar Scott speaks at 7 p.m. at Politics and Prose, 5015 Connecticut Ave. NW. Free. (202) 364-1919. (Malika T. Benton)

In other literary news, poets Camisha L. Jones and Katherine Anderson Howell will be discussing their work and their philosophies on resistance through creative endeavors, and as the flyer says, there will be “free wine :).” 7 p.m. at Loyalty Bookstore, 827 Upshur St. NW. Free—$16.

Reggae king Capleton is back at the Howard Theatre “live n direct from Jamaica.” 8:30 p.m. at the Howard Theatre, 620 T St. NW. $25–$30.

Detroit hip-hop duo Slum Village are bringing their act to Northeast. 7:30 p.m. at City Winery, 1350 Okie St. NE. $22–$35.


VoltaNo one goes to a Cirque du Soleil show for the plot. But as acrobatic backstories go, Volta has one of the best. This summer’s show under the tent in Tyson’s Corner is like the classic 2000 film Billy Elliot—but on LSD: It’s “Billy in the Sky With Diamonds.” Waz, the central character in Volta, is a lovable kid who lost his mom and longs to be a dancer, but he’s mocked for his dreams—and his blue-feathered hair. After being laughed off a reality TV talent show, Waz takes his prodigious talents to the streets, where he learns to mix up ballet, hip-hop, and b-boy moves from BMX stunt bikers and trampoline acrobats. Read more >>> Volta runs to Sept. 29 at Tysons II, 8025 Galleria Drive, Tysons. $38.50–$145. (877) 924-7783. (Rebecca J. Ritzel)

Mames Babegenush, the Danish klemzer giants, have a unique east-meets-north interpretation of the genre. 8 p.m. at AMP by Strathmore, 11810 Grand Park Ave., North Bethesda. $26–$46.

Pop punk’s not dead; The Catching, a group of Gen Z kids inspired by Fall Out Boy, is bringing it back to stages around town. 8 p.m. at DC9, 1940 9th St. NW. $10–$12.

Join a walking tour commemorating the 1963 March on Washington—and the 56th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.‘s “I Have a Dream” speech. 6 p.m. at the Washington Monument Lodge, 15th St. NW between Madison Drive and Jefferson Drive NW. Free.


Vampire WeekendVampire Weekend’s early albums are skittering, pell-mell genre juxtapositions, yacht rock playfully mashed together with Latin and African music. They’re compulsively listenable, but when their self-titled album first blew up in 2008, one could have been forgiven for assuming that Vampire Weekend’s sound was a gimmick with an expiration date. A decade later, most of their blog-era contemporaries (see: the bands you used to use to pad your playlists) have disappeared or been reduced to laboring in obscurity, but Vampire Weekend are as cheeky as ever—and the easy charisma of their music is only getting more charming with age. Read more >>> Vampire Weekend perform at 7:30 p.m. at Merriweather Post Pavilion, 10475 Little Patuxent Parkway, Columbia. $39.50–$89.50. (410) 715-5550. (Will Lennon)

Mayor Bowser‘s 202 Creates event features music, art installations, and multiple kinds of dance this year. 6 p.m. at Eaton DC, 1201 K St. NW. Free.

Want to use up summer produce and make delicious cocktails? Go to a DIY shrub workshop (and learn to make the drink, not the plants). 6:30 p.m. at 300 V St. NW. $30. 

One Way Out is committed to bringing back classic rock, with a little help from their friends Bluewreck, Uptown Boys Choir, and Flowerbomb. 8 p.m. at Union Stage, 740 Water St. SW. $12–$15.


News: The D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities’ acting director resigned, throwing the future of the Mayor’s Arts Awards into confusion. 

Galleries: Learn more about Hen House, this weekend’s all-female art show raising money for the District Alliance for Safe Housing.

Galleries: Catch The Phillips’ Collection’s “achingly prescient” exhibition The Warmth of Other Suns before it closes next month.

Books: Miracle Creekis a thrilling (and depressing) legal drama set in our backyard.

Film: There’s just no good narrative reason for Angel Has Fallen to exist.

Theater: Enron skewers corporate greed in a mock epic retelling of the tale. 

Theater: Betrayal is based on a real affair—and its thrust staging forces you into the middle of it.


Discount Theatre Week tickets for upcoming local shows are on sale now. Sept. 10 to 29 at various theaters. $15–$35.

Tickets go on sale 10 a.m. Friday for Fantasia with Robin Thicke, Tank, and The Bonfyre, playing EagleBank Arena on Oct. 27. 7:30 p.m. at 4500 Patriot Circle, Fairfax. Prices to be announced at time of sale.

Want a heads up about artsy goings-on? Sign up for To Do This Week, a twice-a-week email roundup of arts and cultural events.