Moechella Returns for Juneteenth and More Best Bets for June 16–23

Hallelujah! It’s Thursday. As always, City Lights is here with the best events—hand picked by our staff!—happening in D.C. over the next week.

Saturday: Iron & Steel Reception at Washington Printmakers Gallery

A central paradox fueled the thinking behind artist Leslie Rose’s most recent collection of woodblock prints, aptly entitled Iron & Steel. Created over the last two years, Rose supposes it was the assured solidity and tangibility of steel during such an “ephemeral” period that attracted her to the objects in question. The resulting collection is both a vibrant celebration of what she calls a kind of “domestic peace” so synonymous with sturdy ironworks and industrial innovation, combined with a sobered seriousness. In the past few months in particular, as Russian forces under the direction of Vladimir Putin have destroyed and rampaged Ukraine—its land and its peoples—the symbolism and stillness Rose captures in her prints have retained a curious poignancy. Especially as Russian forces concentrated its bombardment on the Ukrainian Azovstal Steel Factory in Mariupol, the complex, before an emblem of Ukrainian freedom and nationalistic pride, now became a global focal point for Ukrainian heroism and the fragility—and steeliness—of democracy. The collection at Washington Printmakers Gallery, on view online and in person (and via specially curated Facetime appointments!) until June 26, features a lattice of structures (electric towers, bridges, escalators) rendered softer and almost disguised in baths of lime, sky, and chestnut. One piece in particular, “Balconies,” encapsulates Rose’s talent for juxtaposition; gently repetitive cobalt shapes reminiscent of a skyscraper’s windows and fire escapes seem to glow in amber’s backlight, evoking the inescapability of capitalism coupled with a kind of peaceful, quiet domesticity. Despite the subject matter, all of Rose’s prints emanate a certain softness. Thanks to the delicate printing process, the introduction of natural elements—color and wood—blur the hard lines etched into the original—and how fittingly—metal. Iron & Steel‘s opening reception starts at 5 p.m. on June 18 at the Washington Printmakers Gallery, 1641 Wisconsin Ave. NW. The exhibition is on display through June 26 in person and online at Free. —Emma Francois

“Little Rock Bridge” by Leslie Rose

Sunday: Moechella at 14th and U streets NW

Though long celebrated, Juneteenth was finally deemed a national holiday by Congress in June 2021. Since then, however, the anniversary commemorating the day enslaved Texans learned that slavery had been abolished—two years after the 1863 Emancipation Proclamation—has become a bit commercialized. Pharrell Williams’ Something in the Water festival, taking place June 17–19 near the National Mall with ticket prices averaging more than $300, in particular, has received some flack for falling on the holiday but making it inaccessible to residents, many of them Black and Brown people, who can’t afford the steep entry fee. Long Live GoGo founder, activist, and rapper Justin Yaddiya Johnson prefers to stay true to a more community-based model as means to recognize the day. On Juneteenth, aka June 19, Yaddiya hosts another iteration of Moechella, a free, go-go band-led event full of Black cultural spirit and anti-gentrification passion at 14th and U streets NW, just as he’s done since 2019. The festival’s name blends D.C. slang for friend— “moe”—with the seminal Southern California music fest, Coachella. Yaddiya, who led a handful of anti-Trump protests in front of the White House as well as elsewhere with go-go bands on flatbed trucks, tells City Paper, “We’re doing something for the people that’s inclusive. I don’t really feel like it’s a Juneteenth event if you’re charging a lot for it.” This Moechella will include Critical Condition Band, whose single “Phatty” with its perky melody and catchy rhythm, received local R&B radio airplay in 2007 and TikTok attention in 2020. They’ll be joined by New Impressionz, who utilize chanted vocals overtop nervous energy bounce beats and gritty, psychedelic funk. TOB, another local band that employs pounding keyboard and drum grooves with the occasional and tuneful R&B touches, also joins the lineup. The event’s full roster includes rapper Big Nintendo, Adobo DMV’s Pedro Night, and guest speakers. Yaddiya, who will be releasing a new rap EP shortly, will host. The festive crowd can be expected to dance, sing along, and engage in call and response chants without having to show a pricey ticket. Moechella runs from 4 to 8 p.m. in front of the Reeves Center at 14th and U streets NW. Free.Steve Kiviat

Sunday: Pascuala Ilabaca & Fauna at Bossa Bistro

Pascuala Ilabacal; courtesy of the artist

Ask singer-songwriter Pascuala Ilabaca anything, from how she identifies to what genre she considers her and her band, Fauna, and she’ll sidestep the path from Point A to B, resisting simple answers. The former question elicits an exploration into the problem of Chilean nationalism, a childhood enjoying folkloric festivals in the Andean mountains, her collaborations with Aboriginal women, and the false binary of cultural appropriation and appreciation. (She laughs over the idea of jeans being more her legacy to wear than an embroidered top simply because she’s a light-skinned woman, albeit one with Andean ancestry.) The latter summons the specters of Chilean legends like La Nueva Canción folk musician-activist Violeta Parra; Victor Jara, a folk singer and icon of resistance before and after his death during the military coup of Salvador Allende; and Los Prisioneros, the political pop band that popped up after the bloody Augusto Pinochet regime. Other musical influences are closer to home. Her family of visual artists has lived in Guatemala, Mexico, and India, where she returns for lifelong learning of classical North Indian music. In Chile, the family lived in tents for a one-year investigation into nomadic and circus communities. From her hometown, the major port city of Valparaíso, a seedbed of exposure to traditional and pop culture, Ilabaca connected with the languages of Latin America and forged an appreciation of diversity to complement her classic musical training. Her side steps to City Paper’s questions into nuance are not unlike the andina movements she and native Andean women portray in the music video of her new single, “Por que se fue la paloma.” The song, with Spanish-language lyrics that roughly translate to “Why did the dove leave? Since you call me a dove, can’t you see my wings?” is a clapback to misogyny, to the traditional love songs of men who howl about the woman who breaks a man’s heart and flies away like a dove. “When the sensation of vulnerability makes you uncomfortable and makes you move to transform it, it ceases to be a vulnerability and becomes more of a strength,” she says in Spanish, referring to the current social and political movements in Chile and themes in her women- and migrant-centered songs like “El Baile del Kkoyaruna.” She invites anyone attending her upcoming live show at Bossa Bistro on June 19 to prepare “to dance and come as they are, … because this is precisely about not keeping ourselves boxed into the norms of what folklore is but to experience culture, diversity, and unearth a lot about what happens in Chile and Latin America in this moment.” Pascuala Ilabaca performs at 7:30 p.m. on June 19 at Bossa Bistro & Lounge, 2463 18th St. NW. $18–$20. —Ambar Castillo

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