Don Gahr and Francisco X. Mora
Grace Chosy Gallery, through Dec. 29
Gahr shows his quirky wooden animal sculptures, Mora his whimsical paintings of animals and people, inspired by Mexican life.
Aaron Bohrod: A Life and Still Life
Watrous Gallery in the Overture Center, through Dec. 30
Bohrod was an artist-in-residence at the UW from 1948 to 1972 and remains one of Wisconsin's most important arts figures. This exhibition celebrates his centenary with his famous trompe l'oeil still-life paintings, photographs, magazine illustrations, ceramics and textiles.
Glass Nickel Pizza Co., 2916 Atwood Ave., through Feb. 1
Now based in Madison, the photographer has an eye for landscapes. In a show called "Earth+Sky+Water," he shows striking images from nature with a timeless feel.
A Christmas Carol
Overture Center's Capitol Theater, 7:30 pm. Also Saturday (2 & 7:30 pm) & Sunday (2 pm), Dec. 22 & 23
Children's Theatre of Madison presents an affecting version of Charles Dickens' holiday tale, featuring lavish costumes, evocative lighting and a strong performance by Robert Spencer as the Christmas-hating Scrooge. The production easily holds the kids' attention and has adults wiping away tears.
A Christmas Celebration with the Steeles
Overture Center's Overture Hall, 8 pm
The five siblings in this internationally known gospel group feature songs from their albums This Must Be Christmas and It's Christmas. Expect pungent harmonies, heartfelt solos and wailing climaxes from folks who take the holiday season very seriously.
Wil-Mar Center, 8 pm
The blues-rock pioneer celebrates his easygoing new live disc, Getting Old, with an hour or two of country blues and other engaging acoustic material.
Malice in Wonderland
Annex, 9:30 pm
Malice in Wonderland should make it a very metal Christmas with their WJJO-approved thrashing and brooding. To make things a little more interesting, fans dressed in clown suits get in free. Kunu opens.
High Noon Saloon, 10 pm
Having a hellish holiday? Musical ghoulies Knuckel Drager and their punishing, biker-flick-worthy instrumentals should have you in stitches as soon as the stage smoke begins billowing toward the rafters. Helliphant and the Facesteak freak out earlier in the evening.
Jose 'n Sumlimes
Mr. Roberts, 10 pm
The local Sublime tribute act is around to banish gray thoughts of another endless winter with some of Brad Nole's lilting rock-reggae just as the season of ice kicks off in earnest.
Overture Center Rotunda, 9:30 am, 11 am & 1 pm
Here's the perfect way to start off the holiday weekend. The local singer-guitarist will have the kids singing and laughing in his appearance at the free Kids in the Rotunda series. The show is called "A Kenland Holiday," featuring traditional carols and songs from various traditions.
When Water Was Here
Vilas Park walking path, between Grant Street and Edgewood Avenue, through June 21. Opening: 10 am-noon
Local artist Brenda Baker's site-specific installation, made from native willow and dogwood, is based on primitive canoe structures found in Northern European graves over 5,000 years ago. The piece comments on the fragile Lake Wingra watershed and the cultural geography of the surrounding land. It looks to the past, when Lake Wingra was surrounded by marshland, effigy markers and native camps; and to a possible dark future, with the lake destroyed by human intervention.
Bobby Bryan & the Original Downtown Players
Brink Lounge, 3 pm
L.A.-bred singer/guitarist Bryan is equally adept on gutbucket blues, smooth R&B and Hendrix-influenced blues-rock. This afternoon gig is a fund-raiser for his band's trip to the 2008 edition of the International Blues Challenge in Memphis.
Crystal Corner Bar, 8 pm
Yes, the partially Madison-based Blueheels top the bill with their yearning update of country-rock, but the whole night is devoted to versions of the twangy country tradition with sets by Jim James & the Damn Shames, Andy's Automatics, and Honky Tonk Twisters. Tear-in-your-beer pick of the week.
Ben & Leo Sidran
Cafe Montmartre, 9 pm
Expect the cheek-to-jowl crowd to lean in close as acclaimed keyboardist Ben and accomplished son Leo provide a jazz backdrop for a reading of How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Dr. Seuss' sneakily upbeat Christmas yarn.
Eddie Butts Band
Badger Bowl, 9:30 pm
Smokey-voiced Milwaukee R&B vet Eddie Butts and his band aren't satisfied until everybody's out on the floor showing their stuff. Their song list is vast, so don't be shy about requesting some Ohio Players or Barry White.
Perry Weber & the DeVilles
Harmony Bar, 9:45 pm
Members of singer-guitarist Weber's polished Milwaukee-based crew worked with blues heavyweights like Hubert Sumlin, Luther Allison, Buddy Guy and James Cotton before putting together their own Americana/roots act. Needless to say, they know all about vibing up a barroom.
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.
King Club, 9 pm
The positive-minded MadisonHipHop.com founder is in town from Washington, D.C., to spin some grooves and reconnect with old friends.