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Posted at 12:00 AM ET, 01/ 1/2010

Up next: January arts

By Stephanie Merry

This month's museums and galleries are paying tribute to a musical legend, spotlighting wacky fashion choices and taking deep dives into 19th- and 20th-century European art.

Good enough to eat: Wayne Thiebaud's "Neapolitan Meringue" is part of "Graphic Masters III." (Smithsonian American Art Museum)

The 75th birthday of the King is not going by unnoticed. The Portrait Gallery's "One Life: Echoes of Elvis" includes an array of Presley-inspired art from William Eggleston's shot of the TV room at Graceland to Robert Arneson's Roman emperor-like bust of Elvis, complete with slightly curled lip. (Jan. 8-Aug. 22)

Flashpoint also has a spread of portraits this month with "Inside Mouth," but the faces are far from famous; the bald figure of ambiguous gender seen throughout the exhibit comes from the imagination of Jackie Milad. In the rows and columns of drawings, the figure wears different facial expressions, and the comparison of one right next to another shows how a simple tweak can change a visage from enraged to sedate. Gallery-goers can get in on the action, too: following the opening reception on Jan. 9, there will be bald head pieces and mirrors on hand so that visitors can imitate the expressions on display in the art. (Jan. 9-Feb. 13)

Few clothing styles are as ostentatious as those found in Tokyo's Harajuku district. Multi-colored striped tights and cartoon-inspired dresses are a mainstay there, and the Textile Museum is bringing a little slice of these off-the-wall fashions to D.C. with the Harajuku Street Chic Demo and Fashion Show. In conjunction with the museum's show of Japanese garb from the Mary Baskett Collection, the afternoon includes a discussion, tutorial and refreshments. (Jan. 10)

The American Art Museum is dipping into its permanent collection to unveil its third Graphic Masters show this month. Some of the major draws will be the cartoonish work of Philip Guston, an almost edible piece by Wayne Thiebaud and Masami Teraoka's contemporary riff on traditional Japanese woodblock paintings. (Jan. 15-Aug. 8)

It turns out that the compulsion to doodle on binder covers and scrawl pictures in page margins has a real artistic precedent. The Folger Shakespeare Library's "Extending the Book: The Art of Extra-Illustration" offers a glimpse of texts that readers supplemented with art they procured or works readers created themselves. (Jan. 28-May 25)

"Cream: Washington Project for the Arts Art Auction Exhibition" comes to the Katzen Arts Center this month, showcasing works selected by art collector Mera Rubell. Before the pieces are auctioned off in March, museum-goers can see the chosen few, including work by local artists Lenny Campello, Barbara Liotta and Mary Early. (Jan. 30-March 6)

The Corcoran is offering a pretty serious art history lesson with this month's show "Turner to Cezanne: Masterpieces from the Davies Collection, National Museum Wales." The show makes its way from the romantic paintings of J.M.W. Turner to the post-impressionist landscapes of Paul Cezanne with pit stops along the way to showcase impressionism (Monet and Renoir), naturalism (Jean-Fran├žois Millet) and a late period piece by Vincent Van Gogh. (Jan. 30-April 25)

One good art lesson deserves another, so after getting a taste of 19th- and 20th-century European painting at the Corcoran, head to the National Gallery for the new show "From Impressionism to Modernism: The Chester Dale Collection." This exhibition of 84 paintings features Auguste Renoir's "A Girl with a Watering Can," "Boating Party" by Mary Cassatt and Toulouse-Lautrec's "A Corner of the Moulin de la Galette." (Jan. 31-July 31)

-- Stephanie Merry

By Stephanie Merry  | January 1, 2010; 12:00 AM ET
Categories:  Museums  
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