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Holiday Fun in December at Detroit Institute of Arts makes the Season bright: Enjoy puppet shows, art-making, storytelling and more

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

(Detroit)—Puppet shows, storytelling and special holiday fun are on tap in December at the Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA). Exhibitions include Faberge: The Rise and Fall, The Collection of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts; Picasso and Matisse: The DIA’s Prints and Drawings; and Hidden Treasures: An Experiment. Opening Dec. 14 is Motor City Muse: Detroit Photographs, Then and Now. 

Programs are free with museum admission unless otherwise noted. For more information, call (313) 833-7900 or visit




Monday and Tuesday, Dec. 24 and 25

Tuesday, Jan. 1


Saturday, Dec. 1, Noel Night, 10 a.m.–9 p.m.

Wednesday and Thursday Dec. 26 and 27, 9 a.m.–7 p.m.

Friday, Dec. 28, 9 a.m.–10 p.m.

Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 29 and 30, 10 a.m.–7 p.m.

Monday, Dec. 31, 9 a.m.–4 p.m.


Guided Tours: Tuesdays–Thursdays, 1 p.m.; Fridays, 1, 6 and 7:30 p.m.; Saturdays–Sundays, 1 & 3 p.m.


Detroit City Chess Club: Fridays, 4–8 p.m.

The club’s mission is to teach area students the game and life lessons. Members have won state, regional and national competitions. People wanting to learn how to play chess should show up between 4 and 6 p.m. There will be no teaching between 6 and 8 p.m., but visitors can play chess.


Drawing in the Galleries (for all ages): Fridays, 69 p.m. Sundays, noon4 p.m.


Drop-In Workshops (for all ages)

Fridays, 6–9 p.m., The Artable Egg: Transform egg-shaped materials into miniature works of art using beads, baubles and bling.

Saturdays, December 1, 8, 15, & 22, Noon–4 p.m., Notecards: Use foam printing plates, water-based inks and a pencil to create one-of-a-kind hand-pulled notes or greeting cards.

Saturday, December 1, Noel Night, 5–9 p.m., Gingerbread Puppets: Decorate gingerbread cookies with icing and beads. Then add felt and a tongue depressor to create a sweet one-of-a-kind puppet.

Sundays, December 2, 9, 16, & 23, Noon–4 p.m., Envelopes and Boxes: Use a variety of decorative and heavy weight papers to create stunning envelopes and small boxes.


Special Holiday Week Puppets Drop-In Workshops

Wednesday, December 26, 11 a.m.–6 p.m. Tongue Depressor Puppets: Bring characters to life as you create a simple puppet using fabric, markers, yarn and a host of other materials.

Thursday, December 27, 11 a.m.–6 p.m. Pencil Puppets: Make a simple puppet with colorful air drying clay, beads, wire and a pencil. Then use your pencil to write your own puppet story.

Friday, December 28, Noon–4 p.m., Glove Finger Puppets: Bring a simple finger from a glove to life as you decorate it with a variety of art-making materials.

Saturday, December 29, 11 a.m.–6 p.m., Snake & Spider Marionette: Use felt, ribbon or yarn and a tongue depressor to make a simple puppet that moves.

Sunday, December 30, Noon–4 p.m., Rod Bug Puppet: Pieces of foam board and toothpicks morph into whimsical one-of-a-kind fantastic bugs when you use markers, pipe cleaners, beads and a wooden skewer.

Monday, December 31: Noon–4 p.m., Sock Puppets: Turn an ordinary sock into an extraordinary puppet with a variety of fun materials.


Saturday, December 1

Detroit Film Theatre: Neighboring Sounds: 7 p.m.

Neighboring Sounds peers into the lives of a group of middle-class families residing on a quiet street in Recife, Brazil. The viewer is never quite sure where things are headed, even as the film builds toward its payoff. In Portuguese with English subtitles. Tickets: $7.50; DIA members, seniors and students, $6.50.


Detroit Film Theatre: Kumaré: 9:45 p.m.

Sri Kumaré is a guru from the East who comes to America, where he finds devoted students who embrace him as a true spiritual force. But Kumaré is actually a filmmaker from New Jersey named Vikram Gandhi who wanted to see if he could pull off this deception. Vikram discovers that he cares for his followers, and his growing sense of responsibility toward them forces him to look inward as he contemplates the risks and rewards of revealing his “true self.” Tickets: $7.50; DIA members, seniors and students, $6.50.


Family Sunday, December 2

Sunday Music Bar: Vanguard Chorale: 1 p.m.

Led by Director G. Kevin Dewey, the Vanguard Chorale performs choral repertoire, ranging in music from the Renaissance period to the 20th century. The Vanguard Chorale will perform a program of holiday music, including music from Handel’s Messiah.


Storytelling: Hanukkah Stories: 2 p.m.

Judy Sima lights up the holiday season with Hanukkah stories of miracles, menorahs and magic dreidels.


Detroit Film Theatre: Neighboring Sounds: 2 p.m.

(See Dec. 1 for details)


Detroit Film Theatre: Kumaré: 4:45 p.m.

(See Dec. 1 for details)


Friday Night Live, December 7

Music: Chamber Soloists of Detroit: 7 & 8:30 pm

The Chamber Soloists of Detroit, in their inaugural season, present the area’s finest musicians in collaboration with renowned guest performers. Pianist/artistic director Pauline Martin, flutist Sharon Sparrow and cellist Una O’Riordan play compositions by George Crumb, Hector Villa-Lobos, Astor Piazzola, Paul Taffenel and Bohuslav Martinu.


DIA Moment: Behind the Scenes, Detroit Directors: 8 p.m.

Behind the Scenes features works from Detroit’s performing artists. This installment will feature Detroit directors, each presenting their own interpretation of a short scene.


Saturday, December 8

Lecture: Dining with the Tsars: 2 p.m.

Peter the Great introduced European cuisine to Russia as part of his 18th-century reforms, and by the time of Catherine the Great (172996), the Russian aristocracy was infatuated with all things French. Culinary historian Darra Goldstein, Francis Christopher Oakley Third Century Professor of Russian, Williams College, Williamstown, MA, and founding editor of Gastronomica: The Journal of Food and Culture, discusses 200 years of Russian haute cuisine from its start in the 1700s to its demise in the early 1900s. Sponsored by the Bernard J. Reilly Fund


Ford Second Sunday, December 9 – Free general museum admission; Half-off Fabergé tickets

Sunday Music Bar: Kathy Kosins To the Ladies of Cool: 1 & 3 p.m.

Kathy Kosins performs her love letter To The Ladies of Cool—Anita O’Day, June Christy, Julie London and Chris Connor. Kosins tells the stories and sings the songs associated with these ladies from the 1940s and ’50s west-coast jazz scene. Joining Kousins are Cliff Monear (piano), Marion Hayden (bass) and Sean Dobbins (drums).


Clay: Potter’s Wheel Workshop (adults only): 1–4 p.m.

Enjoy an introductory potter’s wheel experience in this hands-on class that includes demonstrations and individual guidance. Projects will be fired for pick-up at a later date. Class size limited to 12 students. Cost: Members $36, Nonmembers $48. To register, call 313-833-4005.


Storytelling: Cozy Christmas Stories: 2 p.m.

Sit a spell with jolly interactive stories for children and cozy tales for adults from the European Christmas tradition performed by award-winning storyteller Yvonne Healy.


Lecture: Zé Diabo, Mimito and Detinha de Xangô: Three Religious Artists in Bahia, Brazil: 2 p.m.

Charles Daniel Dawson, independent scholar, photographer and filmmaker, celebrates the vitality and vision of three African Brazilian artists—Zé Diabo (José Adariao dos Santos), Mimito (Clodomir Menezes da Silva), and Detinha de Xangô (Valdete Ribeiro da Silva)—whose contemporary creations reflect inspiration from Yoruba, Congo-Angola, Fon, and other indigenous African religions and technologies. Sponsored by Friends of African and African American Art


Wednesday, December 12

Lecture: Winslow Homer as Illustrator and Artist: 6:30 p.m.

As a young man, Winslow Homer was a successful designer of illustrations for the equally young pictorial press of the 1860s. Michael Leja, professor of art history and director of the visual studies program, University of Pennsylvania, discusses the ways Homer’s early experiences as a draftsman shaped his mature work as a painter. Sponsored by Associates of the American Wing


Friday Night Live, December 14

Class: Hand-Printed Holiday Cards: (ages 12 and up, with an adult): 6–8 p.m.

Check out Picasso and Matisse: The DIA’s Prints and Drawings, then head to the art studio and create your own holiday cards by learning simple block printmaking techniques using a flexible printing plate. Class size limited to 16 students. Cost: Members $24, Nonmembers $32. To register, call 313-833-4005.


Music: The Golden Palominos: 7 & 8:30 pm

The Golden Palominos are the brainchild of New York drummer/producer Anton Fier. Never an ordinary band, the Palominos were a loose collective of musicians who made eight albums between 1982 and 1996. Collaborators have included Arto Lindsay, John Zorn, Fred Frith, Michael Stipe, John Lydon, Syd Straw, Richard Thompson, Carla Bley, Jack Bruce, Bernie Worrell, Lori Carson and Bootsy Collins, among others. This performance will feature the music of Lori Carson and Lianne Smith.


Saturday, December 15

Meet Me at the DIA: A Program for People with Early-Stage Dementia and Their Caregivers: 10:30 a.m.–noon

People with early-stage dementia (including Alzheimer’s) and their caregivers can participate in gallery discussions about art led by DIA staff and volunteers with expertise in this area. Participants are made to feel welcome and comfortable, and discussions are based on the observations and connections made by the group. The program provides opportunities for social engagement and intellectual stimulation in a safe, inspiring environment. Participants are given small prints of DIA artworks to take home so conversations can be continued. Members $17 per couple, nonmembers $20 per couple. Register at Sponsored by HealthPlus of Michigan


Family Sunday, December 16

Brunch with Bach: Igor Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring by Aebersold and Neiweem: 11 a.m. &1:30 p.m.

Pianists Aebersold and Neiweem are master performers of music for two pianos and one piano, four hands. They play their arrangement of Igor Stravinsky’s groundbreaking ballet The Rite of Spring and other compositions by the composer. Tickets for 11 a.m. are $20 and include continental breakfast and concert. Tickets for 1:30 p.m. are $35 and include brunch and concert. Tickets for concert only at either time are $15. Call 313-833-4005.


Storytelling: Kwanzaa Stories: 2 p.m.

Listen to folk tales exploring Kwanzaa themes and traditions from acclaimed storyteller LaRon Williams.


Friday Night Live, December 21

Music: A Jazz Nutcracker featuring the Mike Jellick Quintet: 7 & 8:30 p.m.

This modern jazz version of Tchaikovsky’s holiday classic The Nutcracker Suite was written by Detroiter Mike Jellick, who is joined by Miles Brown on bass, Jesse Kramer on drums, Kira Frabotta on vocals and Marcus Elliot on saxophones.


Family Sunday, December 23

Sunday Music Bar: NO CONCERT


Movie: Heather Henson presents the Handmade Puppet Dreams for Families: 2 p.m.

The Handmade Puppet Dreams for Families series is a selection of short puppet films for all ages selected by Heather Henson. It showcases the voices of independent filmmakers and puppeteers who embrace film as their medium.



Wednesday and Thursday, December 26 and 27

Puppet Show: microScope Toy Theater presents A Real Elephant (ages 4 and older with an adult): 2 and 4 p.m.

A Real Elephant is based on the children’s novel by Russian author Alexander Kuprin. Promoted as “one of the best family events in Moscow” in 2011, this toy theater performance is about Nadia, a little girl who has lost her passion for life until she is inspired by a dream and wishes for a real elephant to visit her.


Friday and Saturday, December 28 and 29

Puppet Show: Hobey Ford’s Migration: 2 and 4 p.m.

In this sequel to Animalia, Hobey Ford returns to the natural world of animals to explore the wonders of migration through the story of a Mexican girl named Beatriz and her migration to the United States. The story of Beatriz’s journey is compared to the stories of other animals that migrate, including monarch butterflies, polar bears, godwit birds and the sperm whale.


Friday Night Live, December 28

Music: Planet D Nonet Sun Ra Tribute: 7 & 8:30 pm

Planet D Nonet (the D stands for Detroit) plays a tribute to the late Sun Ra. Led by group founders R.J. Spangler and James O’Donnell, the Nonet will perform the music from Sun Ra’s six-decade career.


Sunday, December 30

Sunday Music Bar: NO CONCERT


Puppet Show: Hobey Ford’s Migration: 2 p.m.

(see Dec. 28 and 29 for description)


Hours and Admission

Museum hours are 9 a.m.–4 p.m. Tuesdays–Thursdays, 9 a.m.–10 p.m. Fridays, and 10 a.m.–5 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. Admission is $8 for adults, $6 for seniors ages 62+, $4 for ages 6–17, and free for residents of Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties and DIA members. For membership information, call 313-833-7971.




The Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA), one of the premier art museums in the United States, is home to more than 60,000 works that comprise a multicultural survey of human creativity from ancient times through the 21st century. From the first Van Gogh painting to enter a U.S. museum (Self-Portrait, 1887), to Diego Rivera's world-renowned Detroit Industry murals (1932–33), the DIA’s collection is known for its quality, range, and depth. The DIA’s mission is to create opportunities for all visitors to find personal meaning in art.


Programs are made possible with support from the City of Detroit and residents of Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties.

Contact:    Pamela Marcil      (313) 833-7899