Arnott’s Arts Happenings Highlights For Dec. 23-29
by Chris Arnott | Dec 20, 2013 10:11 am
Posted to: Arts & Culture
Norse gods of metal, Blue Man Group, the Beehive Queen—What Happened to Santa Claus?
Yes, the calendar is Christmas-centric this week. But while that holiday, and its attendant days-off and church gatherings, may dominate the schedule, the events themselves range from the sultry Rhythm & Blues of Christine Ohlman & Rebel Montez to the full-scale sensory assault of metal mythologists GWAR, from ancient religious artifacts to contemporary Christmas-gift crafts. And a couple of events elude religious affinity, such as the Mystic Seaport whaling talk at the library or The Blue Man Group at the Shubert. Go ahead, have a blue Christmas.
Monday, Dec. 23
Trees and Paper
Lots of museums are closed on Mondays. The Knights of Columbus Museum used to be closed on Mondays and Tuesdays, but now is open seven days a week from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. (except on Christmas Eve, Christmas, Good Friday and Thanksgiving). The place specializes in Christian religious artifacts from around the worlds, so with Christmas approaching it’s an especially good week to stop in. There’s the Ninth Annual Christmas Exhibition, “Ordinary Materials, Extraordinary Message: Christmas Nativities in Paper,” featuring 39 elaborate crèche scenes. There’s the 13th Annual Christmas Tree Festival, for which children from 24 area Catholic schools (including New Haven’s own St. Bernadette’s) crafted ornaments. There’s “Windows Into Heaven: Russian Icons and Treasures,” which has been on view since the fall but has special resonance at this time of year. 1 State St. Free. (203) 865-0400.
The Art of City Planning
A city such as New Haven, with its complementary histories as a port town, a college town and the cultural capital of Connecticut, often eludes the best efforts of urban planners. Rod Stevens of the Spinnaker Strategies real estate and finance consulting firm in Washington State, will share his observations of other U.S. cities that “are rebuilding the economies of their communities through the passions of distinctive skills of local residents,” with specific recommendations for New Haven’s downtown and Fair Haven districts. Stevens, who uses words like “craft” and “placemaking” a lot, speaks at noon in The Bourse, 839 Chapel St. Free
Tuesday, Dec. 24: Shop Local, Even at the 11th Hour
Creative Arts Workshop’s 45th Annual Celebration of American Crafts is an essential stop for last-minute Christmas gift shopping. And don’t they know it! CAW keeps its “exhibition and sale of fine, contemporary crafts” open for a few final hours today, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. This year’s selection offers everything from one-of-a-kind toy mice (one of which resembles Groucho Marx) to framed paintings, handbags, clothing and serving bowls. 80 Audubon St. (203) 562-4927.
Wednesday, Dec. 25: A Light! A Light!
It’s Christmas. What’s closed? The library, museums, public schools, and most bars and restaurants. (Thank goodness for Mamoun’s on Howe Street!). Silent night indeed, yet the city’s left the lights on. Take a stroll downtown and beam at the grandiose Christmas tree on New Haven Green. Or drive out to Lighthouse Point Park and ogle the illuminated neon art of the Fantasy of Lights.
Thursday, Dec. 26: Blues Band
Blue Man Group may seem as if they’ve come from a different planet, but the world-traveling rhythmic performance art sensation began as a collegiate lark just down the road from New Haven at Middletown’s Wesleyan University. In their early days, Blue Man Group played as an opening act at Toad’s Place. Decades later, BMG has standing companies in numerous cities and tours internationally. This current U.S. tour has been going for four years straight and over 1000 performances. The blue-skinned trio returns to the Shubert this week for seven performances (a longer run than a lot of touring Broadway musicals get at this theater): tonight at 7:30 p.m., Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 2 & 8 p.m., Sunday at 2 & 7:30 p.m., Monday the 30th at 7:30 p.m. and New Year’s Eve at 8 p.m. $15-$125. 247 College St., New Haven. (203) 562-5666.
Friday, Dec. 27
Our neighbor down the coastline, Mystic Seaport, maintains a 19th century historical village. When Spielberg made his Amistad movie, it was Mystic that got the plum role of playing olde New Haven. Representatives from Mystic Seaport turn up at New Haven Free Public Library today at 2 p.m. for an all-ages discussion of “whales, whaling and the lives of whalers.” Registration is required. 133 Elm St., New Haven. (203) 946-8129.
Saturday, Dec. 28
A Horse of a Different Color
The electric trolleys didn’t pan out, but for the past few weeks New Haven Green has gone for an even more old-fashioned transportation: horse-drawn carriages. Take a free ride today between noon and 4 p.m., thanks to a slew of City of New Haven departments (Arts, Culture & Tourism; Parks, Recreation & Trees; Transportation, Traffic & Parking) plus the Town Green District.
Beehive & Baker
Café Nine has stockpiled all the holiday spirit this week. The club may have been closed on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, but ho-ho-hosted Vomitoke!! (a live-band karaoke variation of Dean Falcone’s beloved Thanksgiving Vomitorium show) on Thursday, and now delivers the Second Annual Beehive Holiday Blowout. The star of course is the Beehive Queen herself, Christine Ohlman with her band Rebel Montez. The longtime singer for the Saturday Night Live house band and a genuine Connecticut music legend dating back to The Scratch Band in the 1970s and including a slew of extraordinary solo albums, the R&B goddess has always held a special place in her heart for Café Nine. This event also boasts another major talent, guitarist George Baker and his band. Baker was a journeyman musician from the 1960s through the ‘80s, serving as Marvin Gaye’s music director and backing everyone from Sammy Davis Jr. to several Motown acts on tour. He settled in New Haven in the ‘90s. 250 State St. (203) 789-8281.
Of Course You Know This Means GWAR
On the other side of downtown, the mythological, scatalogical Norwegian god act GWAR is making its annual wintertime stop at Toad’s Place. It’s not exactly a festive holiday show—GWAR literally spews blood and bile by the gallons, decapitates effigies of annoying celebrities, and is basically the antithesis of peace on earth. But these Antarctic marauders have been known to don pop-pommed red elf hats on occasion, and have even gone Christmas caroling (see video). What their December shows are really good for is making you hot, sweaty and damp when all outside is icy. 300 York St. (203) 624-TOAD.
Sunday, Dec. 29
Carols and Cookies
Bring cookies to share at a Neighborhood Carol Sing and Christmas Party. The sing-along involves the St. Brendan and St. Aedan church choirs with piano/organ accompaniment… and those cookies. Free. 4 to 5:30 p.m. at St. Brendan Church, 455 Whalley Ave.
Stella Blues is known for its support of bar bands, jam bands and blues bands, but the intimate club on Crown Street also has a Hip-Hop legacy, thanks to the regular “Two Foot Tour” showcases produced by Hustle & Progress The Movement. Tonight’s five-hour (8 p.m. to 1 a.m.) event is hosted by T. Bostic and DJ Six Four. Free. (203) 752-9764.
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I keep thinking of Family Guy when Stewie was in the Blue Stewie Group, and a guy in the front says “I don’t get it, what am I watching?”. And Stewie says “We don’t know either”.