Born a commoner, Japanese painter Tawaraya Sōtatsu (c. 1570–c. 1640) honed a style so bold that it propelled him into the highest social spheres of Kyoto and defined Rinpa ( Japanese courtly art) for four centuries. “Sōtatsu: Making Waves,” at the Smithsonian’s Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, is the Western Hemisphere’s first-ever retrospective of his work. The exhibition unites 70 Edo-period masterpieces illustrating Sōtatsu’s signatures—abstraction, vibrant color, and pioneering tarashikomi (in which ink is dropped on a wet surface to create ripple effects)—and revealing his influence on modern artists, including Gustav Klimt and Henri Matisse. October 24–January 31, 2016. 1050 Independence Ave. SW, 202- 633-1000
Swiss it Up
“Gauguin to Picasso: Masterworks from Switzerland” brings 60 celebrated works of art from the personal collections of early-20thcentury businessmen Rudolf Staechelin and Karl Im Obersteg to the Phillips Collection. October 10–January 10, 2016. 1600 21st St. NW, 202-387-2151
Virginia’s horse country provides the ideal setting for four days of film screenings and discussions with directors and actors at the third annual Middleburg Film Festival. The 2015 lineup is curated by Emmy and Peabody Award–winning filmmaker Susan Koch, who has a track record of bringing prizewinners, like The Imitation Game and Nebraska, to Loudon County in advance of the Oscars. October 22–25. Various venues, Middleburg
Meet the Write Person
The dry wit of Erma Bombeck comes to life at Arena Stage.
Arena Stage is one of 55 companies presenting original works by women this season under the aegis of the Women’s Voices Theater Festival, the largest festival of its kind in the nation. In Erma Bombeck: At Wit’s End, actress Barbara Chisholm embodies the American humorist, whose weekly columns chronicled the funny side of suburban life for millions of women in the 1960s and ’70s. Drawing from Bombeck tomes like If Life Is a Bowl of Cherries, What Am I Doing in the Pits?, playwrights (and twins) Allison and Margaret Engel create a worthy successor to their previous solo project, Red Hot Patriot: The Kick-Ass Wit of Molly Ivins. October 9–November 8. Arena Stage, 1101 Sixth St. SW, 202-554-9066
Two DC-born books top our fall reading list. Longtime District resident and New York Times best-selling author Gayle Tzemach Lemmon tells the story of First Lieutenant Ashley white and her groundbreaking all-female special-ops unit, which paved the way for women in combat, in Ashley’s War (HarperCollins). For history buffs, trivia nuts, and the otherwise curious, award-winning white House correspondent Paul Brandus’s Under This Roof: The White House and the Presidency (Lyons Press) shares behind-the-scenes tales of “21 Presidents, 21 rooms, and 21 Inside stories,” answering such eternal questions as “If Lincoln never slept in the Lincoln bedroom, where did he sleep?” Available at Politics & Prose, 5015 Connecticut Ave. NW, 202-364-1919