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SEPTEMBER 25

Earlier this year, when the National Museum of American Art attempted the multiculti thing in “American Kaleidoscope,” it ended up with a collection of articles that kowtowed to the show’s premise at the expense of the makers’ identities. Don’t expect such self-effacement at tonight’s event honoring this year’s recipients of the National Endowment for the Arts’ National Heritage Fellowships. If past evenings are any indication, it’s a good bet that for every expression you take to heart there’s another you’ll find somewhat forbidding. And that’s a good thing. Terence may have written, “Nothing human is alien to me,” but he was living in a rather small world. We know our world to be filled with such varied folk as bluegrassers Jim and Jesse McReynolds, Chinese Kunqu opera singer Hua Wenyi, santero and metalsmith Ramon Jose Lopez (pictured), gospel-shout trombonist Edward Babb, North Indian sarod player Ali Akbar Khan, African-American quilter Hystercine Rankin, blacksmith and ornamental ironworker Francis Whitaker, West Coast R&B pianist Charles Brown, Vietnamese musician and scholar Phong Nguyen, and Acadian/Cajun spinner and weaver Gladys LeBlanc Clark. That the world (or even a single country) contains more experiences than any one person can assimilate (never mind master) may be daunting, but it’s welcome news indeed. NEA naysayers should note that, at the deepest level, the agency’s recognition of these traditionalists and its support of such bomb-throwers as Andres Serrano, Robert Mapplethorpe, and Holly Hughes amount to the same thing: You’re not supposed to like everything, but everything’s out there. At 7:30 p.m. at George Washington University’s Lisner Auditorium, 730 21st St. NW. FREE. (202) 682-5428. (Glenn Dixon)