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TO JULY 6

There’s a reason why so many horror movies begin with the sound of children singing some aimless schoolyard chant, their creepily naive voices wafting like a poisonous gas over images of, oh, some nice family’s dream house or the swank flanks of the Dakota or—brrr—festive carnival grounds. How close the innocent pleasure of childhood things are to terrors of grotesque exaggeration (clowns), forcible entertainment (clowns), and approximations of “adult” types (CLOWNS) depends on the eye, and probably the background, of the observer. So if you’re the kind of person whose certainty that inanimate dolls are actually just waiting is matched only by the fear that what they get up to when you’re not looking involves a group effort to topple a bookshelf on your sleeping person, welcome to your nightmare: It’s the “All Dolled Up” exhibit, fittingly scheduled to take place in the sunlit suburban Ellipse Arts Center in Arlington. Like film directors, visual artists understand that dolls, in their attempt to simulate and euphemize humanity, actually symbolize it in all its aspects. Twenty-five artists working in various media will be exhibiting a fascinating, sometimes disturbing, array of figures (Elsabe Dixon’s Mineral is pictured) inspired by dolls, what they mean, and how they look. Needless to say, almost all of the artists scheduled to display their work are (still shaken, damaged, but taking solace in their determination to work through this) women. “All Dolled Up” is on view from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday to Friday; and from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, to Saturday, July 6, at Ellipse Arts Center, 4350 N. Fairfax Drive, Arlington. Free. (703) 228-7710. (Arion Berger)