NEXTfest 2021
Maimouna Youssef, aka Mumu Fresh, performs at NEXTfest 2021; Credit: Viva Ventura/Darnell Smith

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Let the Beat Bop: NEXTfest, the city’s largest and free celebration of jazz, funk, and go-go music culture, returns to Malcolm X Park on Sept. 24. CapitalBop, the local nonprofit promoting, presenting, and preserving jazz in the region, made the announcement today, Aug. 8, promoting an “all-star lineup” featuring go-go hotshots UCB, TOB Band & Show, and New Impressionz. Jazz vocalist Cecily will also perform as will visiting multi-instrumentalist Ben LaMar Gay. The Malcolm X Drummers & Dancers, known for leading Sunday drum circles, will open the second annual fest, produced via partnership with Long Live GoGo and Washington Parks & People. The lineup, which more artists will be added to, was curated collaboratively by CapitalBop’s Luke Stewart and Long Live GoGo’s Justin Yaddiya Johnson. NEXTFest debuted last year to celebrate the evolution of Black music in D.C. According to CapitalBop’s announcement, the inaugural event brought 4,000 fans to Malcolm X Park “for a historic day of music and culture, making a powerful statement about the resiliency of D.C.’s music scene amid pandemic and widespread gentrification.” This year’s festival, which runs from noon to 9 p.m. on Sept. 24, will include a second day of cultural programming that will include workshops, panel discussions, and additional performances. The Sept. 25 events will take place inside and outside the Josephine Butler Parks Center across from the park. 

Night at the Museum: This one doesn’t star Ben Stiller, but this fall, the National Gallery of Art’s East Building will again host after hours events on the second Thursdays in September, October, and November. Each night will feature a variety of experiences from live performances and music to art-making and pop-up talks. Like always, it’s free to enter, but registration is required. (Tickets become available one week in advance at noon via

Chester Higgins Jr. “Early Morning Coffee,” Harlem, 1974, gelatin silver print; image: 15.9 x 23.8 cm (6 1/4 x 9 3/8 in.) sheet: 20.3 x 25.3 cm (8 x 9 15/16 in.) National Gallery of Art, Washington; Alfred H. Moses and Fern M. Schad Fund; 2022.21.4

Putting the Nation Back in the National Gallery: Speaking of NGA, the museum continues its quest to diversify its collection to better showcase that country it calls home. The Gallery has recently acquired eight works by four contemporary Black photographers: Adger Cowans, Chester Higgins Jr., Herman Howard, and Herb Robinson. Each is notable for their efforts to document their Black communities during the civil rights movement. Cowans, Howard, and Robinson were part of the Kamoinge Workshop. Formed in 1963, the group of Black photographers not only studied together, they also shared their work and ideas. Higgins began photographing friends, family, and civil rights protests during his time studying at Alabama’s Tuskegee University. Known for documenting Harlem’s Black community and its spiritual connections to the African diaspora, Higgins worked as a staff photographer for the New York Times from 1975 to 2014.

Catherine Opie. “John.” 2013, printed 2022. Collection of John Waters © Catherine Opie. Courtesy Regen Projects, Los Angeles and Lehmann Maupin, New York, Hong Kong, Seoul, and London

Crybaby: Meanwhile, at the Baltimore Museum of Art, approximately 90 works from the collection of filmmaker John Waters will be on display this November. A Bawlmer icon, Waters’ collection offers an intimate look at the transgressive creator’s taste as well as a selection of the 372 objects he’s giving to BMA as part of his bequest. Curated by photographer Catherine Opie and artist Jack Pierso, two longtime friends of Waters, Coming Attractions: The John Waters Collection features work from Diane Arbus, Nan Goldin, Cindy Sherman, Gary Simmons, Cy Twombly, and Andy Warhol among numerous others. “The selected works capture elements of key importance to Waters’ collecting vision, including a commitment to daring artists and artworks that exude confidence, wit, and humor,” states the Aug. 4 press release. Coming Attractions will be on view from Nov. 20 through April 16, 2023.

KaNikki Jakarta; Credit: Lakaye Mbah

Poetry in Action: Two Northern Virginia poets will receive $50,000 from New York’s Academy of American Poets. KaNikki Jakarta and Holly Karapetkova, Alexandria and Arlington’s poets laureate, respectively, are two of the 22 state, city, and county 2022 Poet Laureate Fellows. Each has been named for their positive poetic contributions to their communities. The money is intended to support the poets’ respective public programs for the year ahead. In April, Jakarta—Alexandria’s first Black poet laureate—was named the Northern Virginia Fine Arts Association’s first-ever poet in residence. She’s the author of two poetry collections, and plans to launch an eight-week seminar ranging from manuscripts, marketing, and booking profitable performance opportunities as well as performance mentorships to young poets. Likewise, Karapetkova has authored two poetry collections and, with Day Eight, will curate an anthology of youth poetry open to all Arlington high school residents.

Holly Karapetkova; Credit: Kalina Karapetkova