Married to Comics and QUEEROTICA this week
John Kinhart’s documentary on married couple and autobiographical comics Justin Green and Carol Tyler premieres Sept. 8, the opening night of this year’s SPX convention.

Friday: Married to Comics at AFI Silver

At the September 2013 Small Press Expo, the annual D.C.-area comic arts conference, Silver Spring-based filmmaker John Kinhart first met two giants in the world of autobiographical comics: Justin Green and Carol Tyler. Now, 10 years later, it’s only fitting that Kinhart is premiering his documentary about the couple, Married to Comics, at the AFI Silver Theatre on Friday, Sept. 8, the opening night of this year’s SPX convention. Before Art Spiegelman’s Pulitzer Prize-winning Maus, before Harvey Pekar’s American Splendor, there was Green’s magnum opus, the autobiographical comic book Binky Brown Meets the Holy Virgin Mary. Kinhart’s film shows how Binky rocked the world of underground comics with Green’s deeply personal story of living with obsessive-compulsive disorder. “His comic panels were like little secular confession booths,” Spiegelman says in the film; he adds that no comic artists had done anything like that before. When Tyler, who was also an aspiring comic artist, read Binky before coming to San Francisco in the early 1980s, she, too, fell in love with the comic book, and then the man behind it. When they got together, Green mentored Tyler; she went on to write and draw many of her own award-winning personal comic narratives. But as we see in the film, life’s not easy living with a man with such strong OCD tendencies; when Green spills a box of matches behind their working stove, he systematically takes the appliance apart piece by piece so he can be sure to get every last matchstick that fell. As Tyler tells this story in exasperated amazement, we see the troubled side of this creative team’s day-to-day life. Married to Comics takes us on a journey through a complicated marriage and the redeeming art that could possibly save it. Featuring interviews with other comic greats including underground legend Robert Crumb and New York Times cartoonist Chris Ware, Kinhart’s masterful directing and editing bring Green and Tyler’s comic pages to life through sweeping animation in a deeply moving exploration of comic arts, love, tragedy, and redemption. A Q&A with Kinhart and Tyler, moderated by Fantagraphics’ Gary Groth, will follow the screening. Stick around on Saturday and Sunday to attend SPX at the Bethesda North Marriott. Presented in partnership with the Small Press Expo, Married to Comics plays at 7:15 p.m. on Sept. 8 at AFI Silver, 8633 Colesville Rd., Silver Spring. $15. —Diane Bernard

Friday: Sarah Sherman at Miracle Theatre

Sarah Sherman; courtesy of Union Stage

Live from Washington, D.C., it’s Sarah Sherman! The featured Saturday Night Live player brings her solo show, Sarah Squirm, to Eastern Market’s Miracle Theatre on Sept. 8 for a night of comedy. Sherman’s style is zany, full of physical gags that have been integral to her stand-up since coming up in the Chicago comedy scene. Her creative use of her body and willingness to physically commit to the bit has made her stand out among SNL’s cast members. Aesthetically, her fashion is as memorable as her comedy—she’s often adorned by bright mismatched outfits, which bring a fun pop of color to Barracks Row. Beyond SNL, Sherman has worked with the biggest names in comedy: She’s previously opened for Eric André and has worked as a writer on his show, and recently co-starred with Adam Sandler in the new Netflix comedy You Are SO Not Invited to My Bat Mitzvah. Watching Sherman’s stand-up in contrast to her late-night TV skits is interesting—while she isn’t inhibited on SNL, she truly lets her freak flag fly when flying solo. Her grotesque humor will make audiences squirm and what a perfect way to kick off the weekend while SNL is on summer hiatus. Sarah Sherman performs at 8 p.m. on Sept. 8 at Miracle Theatre, 535 8th St. SE. $25. Serena Zets 

Saturday: QUEEROTICA Opening Reception at 11:Eleven

QUEEROTICA runs from Sept. 9 to Oct. 8; courtesy of 11:Eleven

Instead of fighting this early September heat wave, I’m giving in to it with help from 11:Eleven gallery’s latest art exhibit. Opening Saturday, QUEEROTICA, features works from local creators Sarah Kahle and Glenn Fry, as well as New Yorker Mekia Machine and UK-based latex artist Michelle Mildenhall. As the aforementioned latex suggests, the show spotlights a range of mediums, including screen printing, painting, sketches, and film, to explore and celebrate queer sexuality. 11:Eleven calls QUEEROTICA a “bold, thought-provoking, and provocative queer and erotic” show. Each of the artists brings their own queer lens to the project: Kahle lends a sapphic, voyeuristic gaze to her depictions of queerness. Her watercolor series “As We Came” makes up her QUEEROTICA contribution, which, according to her website, “expand[s] how we understand femininity, represent the diversity of womxn, and allow the audience to experience the fluidity of LGBTQ+ sexuality.” Fry experiments with acrylics, silkscreen, and wood to capture dramatic portraits and body parts. Jamaican-born Machine explores a more multidisciplinary practice, using paint, sound, and performance. Visually gripping, her work plays between overtly sexual and subtle kink with thickly textured paintings and an abundance of brilliant colors. Mildenhall, on the other hand, creates pop art-esque prints that explore sexual objectification, largely of women, and fetish subculture. Daring for the sake of shock art isn’t really my jam, but because queerness and sexuality are so intrinsically tied together it’s both thrilling and satisfying to find a show willing to explore through various eyes, the complex beauty and small nuances of queer love. The opening reception takes place Saturday from 4 to 7 p.m. with drag host Lady Tula. QUEEROTICA runs through Oct. 8 at 11:Eleven gallery, 10 Florida Ave. NW. Wednesdays through Fridays, 2 to 6:30 p.m.; Saturdays and Sundays, noon to 5 p.m. Free. —Sarah Marloff

Next Thursday: Squeeze and the Psychedelic Furs at Wolf Trap

Courtesy of Wolf Trap

It’s hard to imagine a better way to spend a late summer evening than cozying up on the Wolf Trap lawn for some finely aged new wave under the stars. If you or a loved one happens to live near Vienna, let this be a warning. There will likely be a flood of middle-aged eyeliner enthusiasts crowding up the Whole Foods hot bar before catching the inimitable double bill of Squeeze and the Psychedelic Furs. The two represent differing brands of ’80s rock that seamlessly complement one another. Squeeze have a knack for bookish pop confections and are best known for singles (“Tempted,” “Pulling Mussels (From the Shell)”) that swam comfortably with Elvis Costello in the mainstream section of the new wave pool. The Psychedelic Furs are akin to Squeeze’s Joy Division-loving older brother; Richard Butler’s brooding vocals reflect a romantic yearning that aches just as deep as it did 40 years ago. The Furs recently released their first new music in close to 30 years  (2020’s Made of Rain), but recent set lists suggest that the nostalgic masses will surely walk away pleased. Squeeze play with the Psychedelic Furs at 8 p.m. on Sept. 14 at the Filene Center at Wolf Trap, 1551 Trap Rd., Vienna. $49. —Matt Siblo

Ongoing: Lost Europe: On the Edge of Memories at the American University Museum

Karel Cudlín, Jewish cemetery, Bukovina, 1996. Pigment print on archival cotton paper, 31 ½ x 23 ½ in. Courtesy of the artist and AU Museum

The locations of many of the photographs in Lost Europe: On the Edge of Memories, an extensive documentary project on Ukraine, have become depressingly familiar from recent news coverage: Kharkiv. Odesa. Donetsk. Donbass. But Lost Europe is far from a chronicle of Russia’s invasion; surprisingly, the exhibit mentions it only once, in passing, and its 75 photographs were all made before the war, between the early 1990s and 2018. The three Czech photographers who collaborated on the project—Karel Cudlín, Jan Dobrovský, and Martin Wágner—used old-school, unflashy black-and-white and are so stylistically unified that it’s all but impossible to tell their works apart. Their collective portrait shows a country impoverished, isolated, and bereft—even before the tanks rolled in. Viewers see bridges paved with flimsy wooden boards; desolate rail stations; cramped apartments in prefab, Soviet-era high-rises; run-down horse stables; half-toppled Lenin statues; Jewish cemeteries inhabited by chickens and goats; black smoke rising from a trio of smokestacks. In one particularly fine image, three children play and two cows ruminate in a pasture, as a tall fence post casts a zigzagging shadow on the grass. Many of the photographs echo the style of fellow Czech photographer Josef Koudelka, especially one of holiday carol singers dressed as devils, walking a rainy, mud-covered path. In these images, explicit politics is rare, mainly cropping up in one image of the Maidan protests in 2014. For a project that sometimes verges on communist ruin porn, the question that lingers is how representative these images are of Ukraine? Almost all of the photographs were taken in rural settings, far from the more developed cities. But the more trenchant question may be the one raised in the wall text: “Why does more drama take place here than anywhere else?” Lost Europe runs through Dec. 10 at the American University Museum, 4400 Massachusetts Ave. NW. Wednesday through Sunday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Free.—Louis Jacobson