May is the official beginning of summer festival season. While music festivals tend to get all the attention, don’t forget to also look out for special summertime visual and performing arts events (and no, we’re not just talking about Fringe). Here are three we’re particularly excited about this month.
Did you know there used to be a trolley station under Dupont Circle? Back in 1949, the city built 75,000 square feet of underground platforms and tunnels, but the tunnels were soon abandoned and forgotten. Now, years later, a group of local arts entrepreneurs have banded together to revitalize the tunnels, hoping to create an extensive arts venue underneath the circle. Open to the public for the first time in years, the Dupont Underground just launched its first art project, “Raise/Raze,” by New York-based architecture and design firm Hou de Sousa. Installed in a corner of the tunnels, “Raise/Raze” consists of large cubes made entirely from the plastic balls that populated “The Beach” at the National Building Museum last summer. Touching and moving the art is encouraged. “It’s a fully community-driven art experience,” says board member and Pink Line Project founder Philippa Hughes. “Every part of the project has been community oriented.” Dupont Underground opened officially on April 30. Registration required. Dupont Underground: Dupont Circle, NW, DC; www.dupontunderground.org
IRELAND 100: Celebrating a Century of Irish Arts & Culture
Every year, the Kennedy Center puts on a festival focused on a single country. This year, the focus is on Ireland, which just celebrated the hundredth anniversary of the Easter Rising – and the beginning of its struggle for independence from Great Britain – last month. Highlighting Irish culture’s relationship to the U.S., “IRELAND 100” will feature Irish dancers, musicians, writers, artists and theater companies, a whiskey tasting, a Samuel Beckett radio play, and a tribute to Irish-American John F. Kennedy, whose own centennial is coming up next year. “IRELAND 100” takes place from May 17 to June 5. Prices vary based on individual event. The Kennedy Center: 2700 F St. NW, DC; www.kennedy-center.org
Last month, DC creative agency No Kings Collective took over a space at Union Market. Dubbed Lab 1270, the pop-up space is hosting a reincarnation of No Kings Collective’s 2015 exhibition from May 13 to June 5, celebrating local artists and drawing attention to the needs and desires of the DC arts community. The free show will be design-oriented, with examples of typography, 2D works, multimedia, sculpture and prints, all by local artists. Union Market’s Lab 1270: 1270 5th St. NE, DC; www.hustledc.com
IRELAND 100 photo: Rich Gilligan
Dupont Underground photo: Courtesy of Dupont Underground