ART: THE ART ACADEMY The Art Academy of Cincinnati's Pearlman Gallery has been transformed into a dense salon of paintings in a tribute exhibition of work by Jack Meanwell, a local artist and teacher who died in 2005 but whose significance remains. These paintings that only loosely reference their subjects (many female nudes, vases of flowers and craggy landscapes) offer an involved trip through the crowded gallery that is both rich and challenging. Among the many paintings on display, unexpected moments and highly original aesthetic choices make the works' meaning mysterious. Saturated hues clash together to result in something akin to a murky anti-Impressionism. As physical objects, many of the paintings might seem unassuming but they are striking documents of activity, full of impasto gestures and slaps of paint. Exhibition runs through June 13 with special hours. 513-562-6262. Get gallery details and find nearby bars and restaurants here.)
— MATT MORRIS
ART: THE JOHN WELD PECK FEDERAL BUILDING This week, add an aesthetic errand at an unlikely place — the John Weld Peck Federal Building — to your "to do" list. Just inside the entrance are two mosaic murals by Charley Harper. This public-art piece is a gem. Don't let the security booth deter you; the murals are just past the elevators and accessible to the public. Completed in 1964, the murals are each 18-by-10.5-feet, and contain over 100 creatures in Harper's signature graphic style. His iconic cardinal, an alligator and a mountain lion are just a few of those rendered in ceramic tile and plastic strips. Diagrams name these subjects. June 10 will mark one year since the passing of Harper, the beloved local artist with international renown. Free. 8:15 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday. 550 Main St., Downtown. 513-263-3333. Get gallery details and find nearby bars and restaurants here.) — ANGELA KILDUFF
MUSIC: THE COOL KIDS While it's hard to deny that Chicago has a strong Hip Hop scene, like in Cincinnati, it's been hard to pinpoint a defining Chicago Hip Hop "sound." Many are heralding new duo The Cool Kids as the definers, leading a new school of artists that rely heavily on old-school aesthetics, with a forward-looking, "alternative" twist. The beats are heavy and dance-club influenced but crafty in their sheer minimalism (reminiscent in some ways of Clipse's first album a few years back). Chuck Inglish and Mikey Rocks recall the nimble rope-a-dope of EPMD in their flow and, lyrically, they keep it smart, fun and relevant, while either celebrating BMXing or criticizing today's mainstream Rap motif. Is the world ready for the "Chicago Sound"? If interest in the Cool Kids is any indication — after drawing major attention with MySpace tracks, their new EP, The Bake Sale (a precursor to this summer's full-length debut), rocking the iTunes Top 10 and playing seemingly every big fest this summer — then the answer is, "Aw, hell yeah." The Cool Kids bring their worldwide tour (which sends them over to Europe for much of the next two months) to Cue on Main Street this Thursday. A chance to see the possible next big things at a tiny club? That is cool. Fly Union, Buggs the Rocka and DJ Identity are also on the bill. $20. 8 p.m. 513-379-4283. (Buy tickets, check out performance times and find nearby bars and restaurants here.) — MIKE BREEN
COMEDY: PABLO FRANCISCO If you've ever seen Pablo Francisco live, you're no doubt familiar with his signature bit: the movie preview guy. "The movie guy will never leave the show," he says. "It's always the last thing; it's huge." Recently, Francisco met the actual movie preview guy, voice actor Don Lafontaine, courtesy of fellow impressionist Frank Caliendo. "I went to his house for like four or five hours and it was fantastic. He showed me the ropes. He showed me what he does. We went downstairs to his studio and he showed me how he does it." Lafontaine, of course, is big fan of the bit. "He loves it," Francisco says. "He said he couldn't believe it when he saw it, it just really blew him way. He said, 'I always wanted someone to do me.' He's a great guy." Indeed, if you log on to Pablo's Web site you'll hear and see both men welcoming you. Mixing vocal effects, impressions and observational humor, Francisco describes his show as "a high-pace sketch show. It's Saturday Night Live times two." $20. Francisco performs Thursday-Sunday at the Funny Bone on the Levee. 859-957-2000. (Buy tickets, check out performance times and find nearby bars and restaurants here.) — P.F. WILSON
ONSTAGE: HOW TO SUCCEED IN BUSINESS WITHOUT REALLY TRYING Of course, the 2008 Fringe is still going strong, but if your taste runs to more traditional theatrical fare — especially in the vein of classic musicals — you might want to check out the second and final weekend of Showbiz Players' production of How To Succeed in Business Without Really Trying. Power, sex, ambition, greed ... it's just another day at the office. Before "WWW" referred to the World Wide Web, there was the "World Wide Wicket Company" — the business that J. Pierpont Finch succeeds "without really trying." His meteoric rise up the corporate ladder from a lowly window washer to the chairman of the board is prompted by a self-help book providing simple advice about back-stabbing, nepotism, office parties, coffee breaks and the executive washroom. The tongue-in-cheek satire of Big Business won the Pulitzer Prize in 1961, when Big Business was the way of the world. It features music and lyrics by Frank Loesser, the "guy" behind Guys and Dolls. Showbiz is one of Cincinnati's hardest-working community theater companies, and their annual productions at Xavier University's Gallagher Center Theater are ambitious and well done. 8 p.m. Thursday-Saturday; 3 p.m. Sunday. $16-$18. 513-981-7888. (Buy tickets, check out performance times and find nearby bars and restaurants here.) — RICK PENDER
DANCE: CONTEMPORARY DANCE THEATER'S CHROREOGRAPHERS FESTIVAL runs for two weekends at the Aronoff Center for the Arts. See feature here.
ATTRACTIONS: GIRAFFE RIDGE We could make a lot of bad jokes about the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden sticking its neck out on the line with its new attraction or how it offers visitors a chance to do a little necking this summer, but we'll show some self-restraint for a change. Instead, we'll just give you the basics and let the attraction sell itself: Friday the zoo is opening Giraffe Ridge, a new, 27,000 square-foot exhibit that features an interactive experience with a herd of giraffes. Its big drawing card is an elevated viewing platform that brings guests eye-to-eye with the long-necked animals — a rare experience indeed. The herd consists of five young Maasai giraffes, all younger than two years of age. A giraffe can eat up to 75 pounds of food each day and the zoo will let visitors feed special crackers to the animals for a small fee. The Maasai Giraffe, also known as the Kilimanjaro Giraffe, is the largest subspecies of giraffe. They originally lived throughout Africa but currently, due to loss of habitat and deforestation, they can only be found in Kenya and Tanzania. Exhibit is free with admission: $13; $8 children ages 2-12. 9 a.m.-6 p.m. daily. 513-281-4700. (Get gallery details and find nearby bars and restaurants here.) — KEVIN OSBORNE
MUSIC: BIG BAD VOODOO DADDY plays its amped-up '40s/'50s Swing routine at the Madison Theater. See Sound Advice here.
MUSIC: JEFF SCOTT ROBERSON holds a CD release party for his triumphant solo debut, Summer's Here, at the Northside Tavern. See feature here.
EVENTS: KID'S PEACE MEDITATION/YOGA CAMP Peace of mind can be difficult to find in a world in which conflict and competition are the norm. By learning how to calm the mind with meditation and the simple moves of yoga, kids can be happier and healthier. Using proven, ancient practices, moms, dads, grandparents, aunts and uncles can benefit as the family learns together! In addition to meditation and yoga instruction, watch a movie about peace in our world and learn to make butter lamps for peace. Please bring a picture or an item (e.g. globe, stuffed animal) that represents your idea of peace or a photograph or drawing of someone whom you wish to enjoy peace. Offered by GSL Buddhist Monastery. Space is limited for adults and kids ages 7-14. Free, but donations are appreciated to support the new building fund. 1-5 p.m. 513-385-7116. (Get gallery details and find nearby bars and restaurants here.) — MARGO PIERCE
SPORTS: CINCINNATI ROLLERGIRLS Today's roller derby is not the fake-crashing spectacle of the 1970s. Flat track derby is a legitimate sport now, as evidenced by the Women's Flat Track Derby Association, a 52-league nationwide organization with universal rules and regulations. The sport is basically a fast-paced roller skating race through a crowd of people, with four skaters from each team lining up in a pack in front of one skater from each team with a star on her helmet. A two-minute oval-skating session ensues with each team's blockers trying to keep the other team's star-wearer from getting past. It's fast and loud — the local announcers comment during the action — and it's actually pretty rough. Front-row seating at the home base of Cincinnati Gardens is "at your own risk." But to say that the glamour and spectacle of the late-staged version is completely gone would be false. The Cincinnati Rollergirls' Black Sheep have a home bout against the Steel City Derby Demons. 7:30 p.m. $10 advance, $15 at the door; $5/$7 kids 12 and under. www.cincinnatirollergirls.com. (Get gallery details and find nearby bars and restaurants here.) — DANNY CROSS
MUSIC: BE YOUR OWN PET supports its deliberately ironic release Get Awkward at Bogarts. See feature here.
MUSIC: SHE WANTS REVENGE plays a blend of agreeable Pop and Goth music at Bogart's. See feature here.
MUSIC: THE BLACK LIPS, Atlanta Flower Punks, play their mix of '60s Pop and Punk at the National City Pavilion. See Sound Advice here.
LITERARY: CYNTHIA TUCKER Cynthia Tucker isn't afraid to voice her opinion. As the editorial page editor and a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Tucker's wide-ranging intellectual curiosity and strong reporting skills have yielded an incisive body of work informed by an acute sense of social justice. "I get paid to tell other people what I think," the 53-year-old journalist says of her longstanding, highly influential gig at the paper. "How cool is that? I really did start in journalism because I wanted to change the world. It seems corny now, but it really was true, and it remains true." Tucker calls the current presidential contest the most exciting — and important — of her lifetime. "As a black woman, I find the idea of these two major contenders — one who is black and one who is a woman — extraordinarily exciting." Yet Tucker says all is not rosy for the likely Democratic nominee. She believes race will play a large role in the November election. "There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that Barack Obama is a long-shot candidate," she says. "Of course he's a long shot. Race matters to a lot of white voters who are too polite or too sophisticated to admit it to a pollster or a reporter. I happen to admire those voters in West Virginia who said, 'Yeah, we'll never vote for a colored,' as several of them put it." Tucker will likely discuss this topic and more when she speaks at the Mercantile Library's sixth annual Harriet Beecher Stowe Lecture at 7 p.m. Tuesday. $25; $20 for library members. To reserve a seat, call 513-621-0717. (Get details and find nearby bars and restaurants here.) — JASON GARGANO
LITERARY: KARIN BERGQUIST Take a trip to the Mercantile Library where prominent local figures continually lecture and discuss issues close to their hearts. Karin Bergquist has become the voice of her band, Over the Rhine, with a variety of messages that have been able to reach diverse audiences. She has contributed different songs to the community and has also collaborated with other artists. At the library, she'll discuss books that have influenced her career and what has kept her so driven as part of the By the Book lecture series. As she speaks, relax in the air conditioning, for a much-needed break from the muggy weather and dine on a lunch that is provided. Don't forget to RSVP by June 9! $8-$10. Noon. 513-621-0717. (Get details and find nearby bars and restaurants here.) — BETH RUDOLPH