Wes Anderson or Steven Soderbergh? Cher or Madonna? These are but two of the many weighty choices facing modern American pop-culture aficionados. Erudite consumers may wish to turn back the clock to the days before the talkies and consider the following dilemma: Lillian or Dorothy Gish? It is akin to choosing between Exquisitely Beautiful and Beautifully Exquisite. It requires thought and study. Happily, the folks at the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art (4420 Warwick Boulevard) are ever-diligent in their quest to facilitate the contemplation of all things exquisite and beautiful. To that end, they are screening D.W. Griffith’s 1922 classic Orphans of the Storm at 2 p.m. this Sunday as part of their Silent Cinema Series. The film follows the two Gish lovelies through the French Revolution and right up to the guillotine. And lest anyone miss the moral of Griffith’s tale or the contemporary relevance therein, here it is from the title cards, with original emphasis: “The lesson — the French Revolution RIGHTLY overthrew a BAD government. But we in America should be careful lest we with a GOOD government mistake fanatics for leaders and exchange our decent law and order for Anarchy and Bolshevism.” Anarchy or Bolshevism, anyone?— Kelley Sue DeConnick
Creature of Habit
Twyla Tharp speaks at Unity Temple.
“The business of being static makes me nuts,” esteemed choreographer Twyla Tharp has said, and that may explain her passion for conquering new art forms. She won a Tony Award in June for Movin’ Out, her collaboration with Billy Joel, and she’s writing a movie musical. Next Tuesday, she brings to Unity Temple on the Plaza lessons from her new book, The Creative Habit: Rules and Rituals for an Unruly Mind, which Publishers Weekly lauded as “more complex than its self-help title suggests.” For all her seemingly divine gifts, Tharp has said that creativity is not a gift from the gods; rather, it’s “the product of preparation and effort, and it’s within reach of everyone who wants to achieve it.” Tharp’s appearance, moderated by SuEllen Fried of the Academy of Dance Therapists and William Whitner of the Kansas City Ballet, begins at 7 p.m. at 707 West 47th Street. For more information, call 913-284-3126.— Steve Walker
Art and ideas map out Lawrence.
The concept of place as location and metaphor informs the Kansas Conference on Imagination & Place this weekend at the Lawrence Arts Center (940 New Hampshire Street). Conference administrator Laurie Ward says that the 2001 conference was inspired by the book Hypnogeography, which she describes as “an exploration of how the subconscious can tell us how we feel about place. The roster this year includes talks by architect Peter Pran and Marci Penner, of the Kansas Sampler Foundation; an art exhibit by John Louder; and a bus and walking tour titled “Space, Time and Memory in Lawrence, Kansas.” Despite the event’s intellectual ring, Ward insists, “It’s casual and homegrown, but the thinking is cutting-edge.” Call 785-843-2787 for information. — Walker
The genre known as “world music” sometimes conjures thoughts of a National Geographic magazine burned onto a CD. At the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art Friday night at 7, the traditional Indonesian orchestral music known as gamelan takes the spotlight for a free concert in Atkins Auditorium. Audiences can expect the Balinese Gamelan Ensemble to make sounds that have been likened to “moonlight and flowing water — mysterious … and always changing.” — Walker