ART: UC's REED GALLERY It's hard to find art that attends to issues of an artist's own healing, or else monitors our society's ability to cope, without seeming cliché. But this month's exhibition at Reed Gallery in UC's College of DAAP teems with artists gathered by brilliant curators Maiza Hixon and Ryan Mulligan. Weight of the World deals with those often-misperceived issues in varied, smart and radically sincere ways. Contributions to a dialogue of "dealing" come from locals like Emily Momohara (photographs in shadowy funeral homes) and Brian Nicely (a collection of albums recreating his own father's collection from memory). They rub shoulders here with artists such as Laurel Nakadate, whose work was recently exhibited at New York City's PS1, and Brent Hoff, formerly a writer for The Daily Show. This exhibition is a must-see, promising to offer real insight into surviving the big and small crises of the human experience. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday. Through Feb. 1. (Get gallery details and find nearby bars and restaurants here.)
— MATT MORRIS
ONSTAGE: WICKED entertains subversively at the Aronoff Center for the Arts. See review here.
ART: ART ACADEMY'S PEARLMAN GALLERY offers up teacher Kim Krause's Chronos/Tropos. See The Big Picture commentary here.
ART: XAVIER UNIVERSITY'S WOMEN'S CENTER highlights 1000 Peacewomen Across the Globe. See related interview here.
ONSTAGE: THE BLONDE, THE BRUNETTE AND THE VENGEFUL REDHEAD It's a new year, so how about a new play? Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park has cued up Robert Hewett's show that, despite its soap-opera-ish name, actually is a fascinating psychological study of three women, each played by the same actress, Annalee Jeffries. As we hear a series of events and encounters described in monologues, each re-telling reveals more information about what's really happened — and changes your perspective on what the story is about. The play has been a big hit in Australia, where writer Hewett is also an actor, and at Canada's Stratford Festival last summer. This is its U.S. premiere. (Buy tickets, check out performance times and find nearby bars and restaurants here.) — RICK PENDER
LITERARY: SARA PARETSKY The popular mystery writer ditches her long-running detective series heroine, V.I. Warshawski (yes, the same high-heeled badass Kathleen Turner played in the 1991 movie), in favor a narrative that takes on a variety of current hot-button cultural issues. Bleeding Kansas centers itself on the Schapen family, a small-town clan which receives guidance at the Salvation Through the Blood of Jesus Full Bible Church. The Schapens' ire is raised when Gina Haring — a New Age Wiccan who also happens to be a lesbian from New York — moves to their rural Kansas farming community. (They label Gina a "sodomite," among other things.) Then there's the Schapens' battle with their more open-minded neighbors, the Grelliers, whose son ends up being killed in Iraq. War, lesbians, farming issues, religious intolerance set amid the politically volatile environs of Kansas? Paretsky knows how to stir up a hornets' nest. The author discusses her new book and likely much more at 7 p.m. Thursday at Memorial Hall in Over-the-Rhine. $8.50 general admission, $50 for VIP package, which includes a meet-and-greet with Paretsky, a signed copy of Bleeding Kansas, appetizers and special seating for the main discussion. Sponsored by the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County. (Get details and find nearby bars and restaurants here.) — JASON GARGANO
COMEDY: VINCE MORRIS This African-American comedian is anxious not be lumped in with so-called urban comics: "I'm tired of black comics acting as ignorant as they possibly can, (then) getting off the stage and start talking about their 401K plans and IRAs, politics and government. I'm like, I didn't hear any of that shit on stage. Why are you talking about the ghetto? Why are you trying to dumb everything down?' That's our problem. Black people really believe that if it's not ghetto it's not black." Morris also has his take on recently re-installed radio host Don Imus. "First of all, I'm not surprised when an old white man says something racist, but as far as the media firing him, they only fired him because his sponsors pulled out, believe it." Morris performs at Go Bananas in Montgomery Thursday through Sunday. $8-$12. $4 Thursday with college I.D., Sunday $3 Service Industry Night. (Buy tickets, check out performance times and find nearby bars and restaurants here.) — P.F. WILSON
MUSIC: FOXY SHAZAM unleashes a CD release party at the Mad Hatter. See interview here.
LITERARY: FRIENDS OF THE LIBRARY WAREHOUSE SALE Book-geek-mania begins Friday! The Friends of the Library January warehouse sale takes place just in time to help bibliophiles prepare for cabin fever 2008. "Gently used" books, audio books, DVDs, VHS tapes, CDs, records and other materials will be available at 8456 Vine Street in Hartwell this weekend. "Sneak Preview" day Jan. 17 is for members only from 5-8 p.m., but memberships are conveniently available at the door for as low as $25. All proceeds from this and all other used book sales will support the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County. Sale hours are 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Jan. 18-19 and noon-4 p.m. Jan 20. More information: 513.369-6035 or www.cincinnatilibrary.org. — MARGO PIERCE
MUSIC: MARTIN SEXTON brings his eclectic American songbook to the 20th Century Theater. See Sound Advice here.
MUSIC: NAPPY ROOTS makes a pit stop at the Mad Hatter. See Sound Advice here.
MUSIC: SCREAMING MIMES unveil their new disc via a CD release party at the Southgate House. See interview here.
CLASSES: HOMEGROWN PERMACULTURE Humans learned to conquer nature in the 20th century. Now it's time to learn how to cooperate with nature. That's the principle behind permaculture and sustainable systems — a way to live with, rather than resist, ecological cycles and energy flows. For example, why pay the water company to water your garden when a simple rain barrel holds free water? Grailville presents a half-day workshop that combines traditional knowledge, common sense and science in a way that householders can apply. "Homegrown Permaculture: Simple Sustainable Systems in Your Own Home or Yard" includes simple but effective ideas that can be applied in daily life. The program runs 1-5 p.m. Saturday at Grailville in Loveland. The registration fee is $50. To register, call 513-683-2340 or visit www.grailville.org. — GREGORY FLANNERY
MUSIC: ONE MORE GIRL ON A STAGE musical fund-raiser takes over the entire Southgate House. See feature story here.
MUSIC: JUSTIN ROBERTS Becoming a parent is hard enough as it is. But, believe it or not, the soundtrack to early child rearing doesn't have to suck. Musicians who make kids' music that doesn't make parents want to take a drill to their skulls should be sainted. Your kids will be listening to crap like High School Musical and Hannah Montana soon enough — so while you still have control of the stereo, grab a few discs by adult-friendly-ish artists like Dan Zanes, They Might Be Giants and Justin Roberts, a singer/songwriter who's bringing his "Not Ready for Naptime Players" band to Xavier University's Cintas Center Sunday for two shows (noon and 3 p.m.). In the late 1990s, Roberts' dual lives — preschool teacher and Indie rocker — collided when he began singing for his students. A hobby at first, Roberts' first CD became a kid and parental fave. Critics appreciated the solid songcraft. The kids? Here's a glowing "kid" review from Roberts' Web site: "He's so cute, I peed in my pants." So if you go, be sure to bring a change of clothes. And maybe some dry underwear for the kids as well. $15; children under 2 "free on lap." (Buy tickets, check out performance times and find nearby bars and restaurants here.) — MIKE BREEN
ART: VANISHING FRONTIER: ROOKWOOD, FARNY, AND THE AMERICAN INDIAN The Cincinnati Art Museum exhibition comes to a close this weekend after a great run. The show reveals the best kind of art history: It gathers visual information — in this case, turn-of-the-previous-century Rookwood pottery and paintings by Henry Farny — and sets it up to create an argument. The thesis of Vanishing Frontier is clear: Using contemporaneous visual tools, the CAM shows the "image" of the American Indian. These aren't newsreels; they are conceptions showing the romanticism of the American Indian after the settlers had shot, infested, "educated," Christianized or simply killed them until there was very little left of Native American cultures. As Tamera Lenz Muente wrote in her CityBeat review, "Once the mêlée was over, American consumers appeased their guilt by purchasing idyllic pictures of the culture they had decimated." Sunday is the exhibition's final day. Free. (Get museum details and find nearby bars and restaurants here.) — LAURA JAMES
EVENTS: AFRICAN CULTURE FEST If you're looking for a fun way to spend Martin Luther King Jr. Day, look no further than Cincinnati Museum Center's African Culture Fest. The second cultural festival in the museum's "Passport to the World" series invites you to experience an African village highlighting cultural diversity and daily life activities — including a bustling marketplace selling authentic jewelry, clothing, musical instruments and more. The younger set can create crafts, have their faces painted and hear folk tales told by professional storytellers. It's a good local opportunity to take in various performing artists from South Africa, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Ghana, Mauritania, Ivory Coast and Senegal. In particular, watch out for South Africa-via-Atlanta's renowned Soweto Street Beat Dance Theatre — you might even be asked to participate. Also make sure to catch Wideman/Davis Dance's preview performance of The Bends of Life, celebrating a slice of African-American history in Gee's Bend, Ala., where women are known for their quiltmaking artistry. Fittingly, it's the also opening weekend for Martin Luther King Comes North: A Fight for Fair Housing, an exhibit of photographs taken by famed Civil Rights activist Bernie Kleina during the 1965-66 Chicago Freedom Movement led by Rev. King to demand open housing. 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday through Monday. Free admission; parking is $5. (Get event details and find nearby bars and restaurants here.) — JULIE MULLINS
LECTURES: COLIN POWELL Want to know if retired U.S. Gen. Colin Powell, President George W. Bush's former secretary of state, regrets being used as a political patsy to sell the Iraq War to the United Nations? You might get to find out his answer when Powell gives a free speech Tuesday night at Miami University about diplomacy. Powell is this year's Jack R. Anderson Distinguished Lecturer at the campus. The speech, sponsored by Miami's Farmer School of Business, begins at 7 p.m. in Millet Hall. Besides working for Dubya, Powell had a 35-year career in the U.S. Army and served as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from 1989 to 1993 during the Gulf War. He also served as national security adviser to President Ronald Reagan. Perhaps knowing the limits to what military power can accomplish, Powell's speech is entitled "Diplomacy: Persuasion, Trust and Values." Free. (Get event details and find nearby bars and restaurants here.) — KEVIN OSBORNE