Madison Children's Museum
Winter Wonder Week
Competition and Collaboration
Chazen Museum of Art, through Jan. 6
This exhibition features over 120 Japanese prints from the Utagawa School, drawn from the Chazen's Van Vleck collection. The "pictures of the floating world," as they are known -- the world of courtesans, entertainers and the like -- have a timeless appeal owing to the exquisite sense of design honed by Japanese printmakers. Elegant lines, rich colors and the judicious use of empty space create prints of lasting impact.
Karl Wirsum: Winsome Work(some) and Hairy Who (and some others)
Madison Museum of Contemporary Art, through Jan. 6
These exhibitions explore the vibrant Chicago Imagist movement that began in the late '60s. "Karl Wirsum: Winsome Works(some)" features Wirsum's fantastical paintings, influenced by shop signs, advertisements, elevated trains and other manifestations of exuberant city life. "Hairy Who and Some Others" offers works by Wirsum's contemporaries in the influential Hairy Who group, including Ed Paschke and Robert Lostutter, whose dark energy forms a contrast to Wirsum's sprightly work.
Winter Wonder Week
Madison Children's Museum, through Jan. 6
Your winter-break babysitting headquarters, the Children's Museum offers a Winter Science Lab on Friday, featuring ice-boat, ice-cube and dry-ice experiments (9:30 am, 10 am, 10:30 am, 11 am, 2 pm). On Saturday is a Winter Carnival, with Truly Remarkable Loon (11 am) and activities. On Sunday admission is free, with activities at 1 and 3 pm.
Eric Zillner and Hans Grinde
Absolutely Art, through Jan 31. Reception: 5-10 pm
Grinde's paintings are inspired by petroglyphs; Zillner's explore intense emotions.
Mazomanie Community Building, 9 Brodhead St. in Mazomanie, 7:30 pm
Improvisational dancers descend on Mazomanie for four days of classes, performances and open-dance jams. You can see them make movement art on the fly at Friday night's festival show.
The Duck Variations
Bartell Theatre, 8 pm. Also Thursday (8 pm) & Saturday (4 & 8 pm), Jan. 3 & 5
Madison Theatre Guild presents David Mamet's early play, in which two elderly men sit on a park bench and discuss life, death and ducks in 14 short scenes. It's an un-Mamet Mamet play, warm and gently funny. The production is a benefit for the Theatre Guild.
Scott Kirby & David Edmisten
Cafe Montmartre, 8 pm
Thanks to exposure on satellite radio, affable beach folkie Scott Kirby has become a favorite with the Parrothead crowd. Can't make it to Key West this year? Here's a chance to soak in a little of the island vibe without leaving the snowbound north.
David Scott Crawford
Ivory Room, 9 pm. Also Saturday, Jan. 5, 9 pm
The accomplished pianist is a regular at Chicago's Redhead Piano Bar. At the Ivory Room, Madison's own piano bar, he'll have you singing along to familiar tunes. Here's hoping he also plays his own compositions from the recent CD Belle Epoque.
Mighty Short Bus
The Bean, 9:30 pm
The local band play the sort of heavy-rockin' sets that get a beer-soaked roadhouse all hot and bothered on a Friday night. They make '70s-style boogieing seem like serious business.
Badger Bowl, 9:30 pm. Also Saturday, Jan. 5, the Bean, 9:30 pm
The local band's energetic covers make a fine capper for an evening's worth of strikes and spares.
Annex, 10 pm
Having survived their stint with a major label, the Pimps kept doing what they do best: charging through a mix of roiling metal styles in front of delighted fans. Madison's Skintones (who reunite with Darwin Sampson) and Skullcranes open.
This World Fair
High Noon Saloon, 10 pm
Minneapolis' This World Fair (who feature a former UW engineering student) have turned heads with piano-and-strings-powered chamber rock that bears the influence of Coldplay. Their would-be hit "Don't Make Me Wait" was featured in the 2007 thriller Disturbia. Atomic Blue and Blue Owl open.
Espresso Royale Café, through Jan. 31
Colm McCarthy's photographic monotypes rework the human forms he found painted on antique tin noisemakers. McCarthy zeroes in on the forced quality of the old-fashioned gaiety.
Alliant Energy Center Coliseum, 3 & 8 pm
TSO's holiday-themed orchestral hard rock is part of the reason it outdraws The Nutcracker in many towns. A stadium-grade light show and flashy pyrotechnics also help pack in the fans. Bedazzled pick of the week.
Curtis & Loretta
Wil-Mar Center, 8 pm
The beloved Twin Cities folkies charm all comers with their glistening vocal harmonies and facility on everything from Celtic harp to steel ukulele to kazoo. The bona-fide road warriors deliver a well-tuned show full of laughter and engaging music.
Black Eyed Snakes
High Noon Saloon, 9:30 pm
Low's normally sedate Alan Sparhawk takes on an entirely different musical personality with Black Eyed Snakes, a noisy, blues-influenced outfit that recalls '80s post-punk. Special bonus: Furthermore Beer debuts a new brew during the proceedings. Decibully and Scag 48 open.
Mickey's Tavern, 9:30 pm
The local dub-influenced poppers throb into terra incognita on their new double album, Homeward Into Howling Storms, dipping into free jazz, ambient electronics and more. Tonight's CD-release party doesn't cost a dime, which should please all those folks who got a little too caught up in the Christmastime consumer fest.
Club Tavern, 9:30 pm
The charismatic singer-guitarist offers a one-man music and comedy show. He plays originals like "Sex and Beer," revises pop songs from the '80s and '90s, and interacts with the crowd. He boasts a 900-song repertoire and a quick wit.
Jim Schwall Band featuring Andy Ewen
Harmony Bar, 9:45 pm
Schwall and Ewen, two local guitar heroes, offer a veritable clinic in the blues.
Chazen Museum of Art, 12:30 pm
A member of the UW-Eau Claire faculty, the accomplished pianist shows her stuff in works by Liszt, Schumann, Chopin, Messiaen and Ivar Lunde.
High Noon Saloon, 9 pm
Missing the fuzztone-smudged guitars and narcotized vocals of the high shoe-gazer era? Then you'll love Louisville's People Noise, who emerged from the breakup of Beta or VHS. They're a psychedelic kid's dream band.