If summer in Aspen is an overabundance of treats for the mind, body and spirit, then the Food & Wine Magazine Classic at Aspen is the ideal kickoff to the party. With more than 100 seminars featuring many of the brightest figures in the culinary world, the Classic offers a chance to learn about cooking, tasting, buying and talking about food and wine. The daily Grand Tastings afford a way to gorge to your palate’s content. Hot items this year are Spanish cuisine and cheese. Spanish-born, 20-year-old chef José Andrés, who trained at the famed El Bulli and owns several noted Washington, D.C.-area restaurants, presents “A Taste of Spain.” Part-time Aspenite Laura Werlin, author of several cheese books, teams with master sommelier Andrea Immer to offer “Artisanal American Cheeses.” Also look for big flavors and big noises from such Food & Wine regulars as Mario Batali, Jacques Pépin, Emeril Lagasse and Joshua Wesson.
Curator Elizabeth Armstrong says that even five years ago she wouldn’t have created an exhibit featuring only women artists. But times have changed – quickly – as women have become more prominent in the visual arts, and Armstrong was comfortable curating “Girls’ Night Out.” The exhibit, which opened in 2003 at the Orange County Museum of Art, includes work by 10 female artists representing six countries. All of the work is either photography or video, areas in which women tend to stand out, and addresses issues of female identity. Within that, there is plenty of room for exploration – from the revealing self-portraits by Finland’s Elina Brotherus to Daniela Rossell’s mocking images of Mexico’s rich and famous. “Girls’ Night Out” is at the Aspen Art Museum through July 24; Armstrong gives a public gallery talk July 1, and artist Rineke Dijkstra lectures on her work July 14.
How could any place but New Orleans produce a Dr. John? In America’s most musical, most character-filled locale, Dr. John (neé Mac Rebennack) is the most musical character of all. And while his Mardi Gras headdresses, his colorful lingo (it was Mac who popularized the word “Bonnaroo” with his 1973 album “Desitively Bonnaroo”) and his voodoo persona, Dr. John the Night Tripper, all contribute to his iconic status, his mojo is still built on the music. Over the last few years, the 64-year-old singer and pianist has released a gorgeous record featuring a bevy of English rockers (“Anutha Zone”), a funk reinterpretation of the Ellington songbook (“Duke Elegant”), a live solo CD (“All By Hisself”) and two more recordings (“Creole Moon” and “N’Awlinz, Dis, Dat or D’Udda”) that could only come from New Orleans, and only from Dr. John. He performs two shows – 8 and 11 p.m. – at the Belly Up on Monday, June 6.