Get Out!

Event picks for this brisk week in Cleveland

Thursday | 01

Arty Party

Here's One for the Critters

Eat, drink, and help prevent pet overpopulation during tonight's kickoff to Orange Art Center's Animals in Art exhibition. Featuring animal-themed artwork from nearly three dozen creatives, the party doubles as a fund-raiser for PetFix, a local nonprofit that provides affordable spay/neuter options for pets, ferals, and animals awaiting adoption. Tonight's festivities give you first pick of animal-themed works by such well-known local artists as Mallorie Freeman and Pam Spremulli. A trunk show of pottery, ceramics, and jewelry expands on the animal-art theme. You can also check out the silent auction and the wine pull, where a $15 donation gets you a bottle of wine valued at $18 to $150. The catch? You don't know what you've bought until you open the bag. It all happens from 6 to 9 p.m. at the Orange Art Center. Tickets are $30 in advance or $35 at the door. Collar them by phone or online. The exhibition continues through December 9; see the website for more details. — Cicora

31500 Chagrin Blvd., Pepper Pike, 216-831-5130,

At Spaces Gallery

Spuds for Thought

You know how cool it used to feel to hang with the hip kids and discuss Big Ideas? Neither do we. But happily enough, Spaces is serving up a second chance to engage in meaningful conversation and feel all smart and stuff. Just show up at the gallery tonight at 6:30 p.m. with five bucks, and you too can enjoy Mashed Thoughtatoes: the gallery's mash-up of creatives who will provide your post-Thanksgiving RDA of brain food. Topping the evening's menu is experimental composer Christopher Auerbach-Brown, who will be performing part of a sound poem by Kurt Schwitters. Joining him will be Spaces' current artists-in-residence Ben Kinsley and Jessica Langley, who will be discussing their Making CATopia Real project, which, far as we can tell, involves interviewing local felines on what utopia means to them. A special wild-card presenter rounds out the evening's intellectual feast. Plus, there will be real mashed potatoes to eat, just in case all that mental heavy lifting makes you hungry. Each speaker gets 20 minutes for his or her presentation; pay attention, because a lively Q & A session follows. Find out more at the website below. — Cicora

2220 Superior Viaduct, 216-621-2314,

Friday | 02

Downtown Farmers Market

The Arcade Welcomes A Holiday Market

Where can you find fresh greens for your dinner, gourmet treats for Rover, and beautifully packaged vegan chocolates to give as gifts — all in one convenient downtown location? Try the Holiday Farmers Market at the Arcade, where nearly a dozen local farmers and vendors will be gathering today and every Friday through December 23. Thanks to the ever-increasing use of hoop houses, which allow for cold-weather growing, you'll find plenty of fresh produce, including beets, carrots, and potatoes. Also for sale: vegan bakery, locally made salad dressings, a spicy collection of salsas and sauces, and those organic dog treats. Today's hours are a lunch-break-friendly 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. — Cicora

401 Euclid Ave., 440-821-0254,

Swing & Things

Bainbridge Gets Hip to Hepcat Revival

Jump, jive, and maybe even make jazz hands during tonight's swing dance in Bainbridge Township. Don't know how to swing, you say? No problem: The fun begins at 8 p.m. with a one-hour lesson. Once you're clear on the details, the swinging begins in earnest, with music provided by Hepcat Revival, a seven-piece band of Toledo-based "roustabouts and ne'er do wells" laying down toe-tapping, finger-popping tunes from the likes of Louis Prima, Cab Calloway, and Big Joe Turner. There's really no excuse to stay home: Novices are welcome, all ages can attend, and no one's going to care if you show up without a partner. It's all happening in the gym at Kenston Intermediate School. Adult admission is $10 at the door. — Cicora

17419 Snyder Rd., Bainbridge Township, 216-316-0068.

Saturday | 03

Blue-Collar Comedy

Jeff Foxworthy Hits the Wolstein Center

Possibly the world's best-known redneck, Jeff Foxworthy will bring a heap o' down-home humor to the Wolstein Center tonight for one 8 p.m. performance. If the venue selection isn't clue enough, we'll just come right out and tell you that Foxworthy is one of the top-selling comedians in the U.S., with multiple Grammy nominations and more than two dozen books to his credit, including the best-selling Redneck Dictionary. But don't let the guy-next-door stuff fool you: Foxworthy is a pro when it comes to delivering funny, pointed, and sophisticated observations on friends, family, and the American way of life. Keeping Foxworthy company on his cross-country journey — aka Them Idiots Whirled Tour — are fellow funnymen Larry the Cable Guy and Bill Engvall. Tickets are $59.50 by phone, online, or in person at the Wolstein Center box office. — Matt Stafford

2000 Prospect Ave., 216-687-9292,

Merry & Bright

It's Time Again to Light Up Lakewood

If you got 'em, smoke 'em before you get to Lakewood. Name aside, tonight's Light Up Lakewood is not a public ganja fest. But what's not to like about ice skating in the City Center Park, dropping a gift list on the Jolly One, and losing yourself in some over-the-top Christmas decorations? The fun kicks off with a 5 p.m. parade, traveling west from Bunts to Arthur avenues. The lighting ceremony follows in front of Lakewood Hospital. "We've always wanted to make a big splash for the lighting," says Shannon Strachan of Lakewood Alive, the event's sponsor. That explains this year's Lighting Extravaganza, the details of which will remain secret until 6 p.m., when somebody flips the switch. Meantime, you can check out the carolers, choirs, and food vendors all along Detroit Avenue, or the kids' crafts, story hours, and an outdoor movie at the Lakewood Public Library. Admission is free. For more information, visit the website below. — Logan Boggs

Ohio Philharmonic

A Free Classical Christmas Concert

You can — and arguably should — drop some bucks on a Cleveland Orchestra holiday extravaganza this season. But don't overlook the offerings from some of our lesser known but no less worthy orchestral talents. That includes the Ohio Philharmonic, a newly launched professional ensemble performing under the direction of Bologna-born Domenico Boyagian. Tonight the Philharmonic offers its own holiday music extravaganza, complete with selections from Verdi's Aida and Ravel's Mother Goose Suite, along with music from Babes in Toyland and the Festive Sounds of Hanuka. Best of all, the 7:30 p.m. show is free, and seating is on a first-come, first-served basis. Afterward, join the musicians in the church's Spahr Center for a reception. It's all happening at the First Baptist Church of Greater Cleveland in Shaker Heights. Visit the website for more information. — Cicora

3630 Fairmount Blvd., Shaker Heights,

North Coast Men's Chorus

Gay Tidings of Joy

Cleveland's favorite gay men's chorus launches its 24th season today at the Hanna Theatre on Playhouse Square with Do You Hear What I Hear, a concert of Christmas music and merriment directed by Richard Cole. As befitting the chorus' rare combination of first-rate talent and flat-out funny, the entertainment promises to move smoothly between the sacred and the silly, the traditional and the trendy, and the majestic and the mistletoed. Throw in a couple of elves — and maybe a kick line — and you've got yourself a fine way to jump-start the holiday season. Today's performances are at 3 and 8 p.m., with an encore presentation tomorrow at 3 p.m. Tickets are $10 to $40 in advance by phone or online, or get them at the door for $15 to $45. — Elaine T. Cicora

2067 East 14th St., 216-241-6000,

Sunday | 04

Pop-Up Speakeasy

Party Like It's 1933

Tonight marks the final Emerging Chefs gala of 2011, and the gang is going out with a bang — with a Prohibition Party at Nighttown. "We'll toast the 78th anniversary of Prohibition's end, thumb our noses at the Volstead Act, and dine on a recreated meal from our past with a modern twist," promises Emerging Chef partner and co-founder Michael De Aloia. Each of the six courses from Nighttown's kitchen — starting with oysters Rockefeller and concluding with a Grand Marnier-flavored chocolate mousse — will be paired with wine or spirits. An authentic musical score from the 1920s and '30s will be supplied by Cleveland musicians George Foley and John Richmond, while Nighttown proprietor Brendan Ring serves as emcee. It all sounds like a fitting conclusion for a dynamic year that saw Emerging Chefs welcome more than 1,000 guests to 13 signature events in venues ranging from an Asiatown warehouse to a church on Gordon Square. "Next year," says De Aloia, "will be even better." Tonight's dinner starts at 6 p.m. General admission is $75, or grab a seat at Ring's table for an additional $10. Snag your tickets and more info at the website below. — Cicora

12387 Cedar Rd., Cleveland Heights, 216-544-7942,

Shop Till You Drop

The Rowdy Indie Craft Fair in Akron

Christmas shopping at the Big Box again? You've got no one to blame but yourself. With scores of quirky craft shows happening throughout the region, there's no excuse not to buy local. Take today's Rowdy Indie Craft Fair in Akron, where DIY is the order of the day. More than 30 vendors will be on hand selling not-your-average craft-fair goods. That includes cozies for your iPad, bags for your yoga mat, and hand-embroidered greeting cards for your writing pleasure. You'll also find food (of both the vegan and non-vegan persuasions), drink, craft demos, and live music starting at 7 p.m. from local bands ShiSho, Comfort Clouds, and Bethesda. It all goes down from 2 to 10 p.m. at Akron's Studio 526, conveniently located directly across from Thirsty Dog Brewery. Admission is free. For more info, check out their Facebook page. — Boggs

526 Grant St., Akron,

Family Fun

A Holiday Ballet at the Breen Center

Sundaes, Santa, and a dancing snowman are all part of the package today as Dancing Wheels brings back The Snowman, the troupe's biggest, most ambitious family ballet featuring 13 dancers playing 53 costumed characters. It's a familiar enough story: A little boy builds a snowman to help warm his lonely heart. At night, he dreams his new playmate transports him to a magical land where fantastic sights abound (no, not Austin). What may be a little less familiar is the nature of Dancing Wheels, a fully integrated company of dancers both with and without disabilities. Since 1980, the groundbreaking troupe has traveled across the country, introducing audiences to the beauty of inclusion. Adding to the loveliness, founder and artistic director Mary Verdi-Fletcher says this year's Snowman boasts all-new sets and costumes. "It's all designed so that audiences will stop looking at the disabilities and be drawn in by the beauty of the performance," says Verdi-Fletcher. Today's curtain rises at 2 p.m. at the Breen Center for the Performing Arts at St. Ignatius High School. After the Ohio City show, join the cast and Santa for snow cones, ice cream sundaes, and other seasonal treats. Tickets are $15 to $20 by phone or online, where you'll also find more information about the troupe and its mission. — Stafford

1911 West 30th St., 216-432-0306,

Monday | 05

Museum Quality

Holiday Show in the Heights

We can't be the only ones who cruise art museums pondering which pieces we'd like to pinch for our own walls and mantels. But art theft seems like hard work: Far easier to cough up the cash and shop at the Holiday Store at Heights Arts. Featuring the works of more than 75 regional artists, the gallery's 10th annual show and sale offers "creative, well-crafted, affordable art that is meant to be in our lives, not in a museum," says executive director Peggy Spaeth. Not that the offerings aren't up to snuff. Enamel jewelry artist Michael Romanik was recently selected as one of only 120 U.S. artists to be part of the 2012 Smithsonian Craft Show. And Cleveland Arts Prize winner Brent Kee Young has his glassworks on display in corporate, private, and public collections around the country, including the Smithsonian American Art Museum. "Northeast Ohio is uniquely rich in creative, professional artists, and this show is our way of connecting those artists to the community," says Spaeth. Shop the Holiday Store through December 30. Today's hours are 10 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. — Cicora

2175 Lee Rd., Cleveland Heights, 216-371-3457,

Tuesday | 06

University Heights Library

The Film Fest That

Starts With a Scream

Lest you think December is nothing more than an expensive exercise in mindless holiday cheer, the University Heights Public Library is standing by with something completely different. Tonight marks the launch of the library's annual Foreign Film Festival. First up: 2010's A Screaming Man, a sure bet to turn your ho-ho-ho's into a heartfelt "No-o-o!" Shot on location in Chad, the French drama follows the fate of Adam, a former swimming champ in his sixties who runs afoul of his employer, the government, and warring rebel factions before making a decision he will forever regret. The film scored a Cannes Grand Jury Prize last year and rates a respectable 88 percent approval on Rotten Tomatoes. You can catch it tonight at 6 p.m. in the library's Room A. Afterward, librarian and foreign-films expert Zahir Sutarwala leads a discussion. It's free. — Cicora

13866 Cedar Rd., University Heights,


Wednesday | 07

Oy Vey

Old Jews Telling Jokes

And now from the What You See Is What You Get Department, the Cleveland Museum of Art offers an encore presentation of Old Jews Telling Jokes, a 2009 flick from director Sam Hoffman that features — wait for it — a bunch of old Jews telling the kind of funny, often filthy jokes you might have heard in the Borscht Belt back in the 1950s. Adding to the merriment, the elderly jokesters are all amateurs — dentists, lawyers, business owners, and nary a professional comic among them — making it kind of like being stuck in an elevator with your Uncle Herschel. Nonetheless, the concept has tickled a cultural funny bone: You can now find an OJTJ web series, a book, coffee mugs, and a Facebook page that documents director Hoffman's quest to record funny old Jews from around the world. See how it all began tonight at 6:30 in the museum's Morley Lecture Hall. Tickets are $9, and less for students, seniors, and members. Get them by phone, online, or at the door. — Cicora

11150 East Blvd., University Circle, 888-CMA-0033,

Urban Living

Peeks & Eats in

the Warehouse District

It's time again for the annual Warehouse District Holiday Tour, your once-a-year opportunity to track snow through the condos, apartments, and offices of the historic Warehouse District. This year's peep show kicks off at 5:30 p.m. with an opening reception in the Bridgeview Apartments Atrium, before moving on to the condos of the Cloak Factory, the Grand Arcade, the Pinnacle, and the Riverbend. Adding variety: a look-see inside some unique office spaces and a preview stop at the Greater Cleveland Aquarium. Along the route, expect to find tasty tidbits from such Warehouse District restaurants as Blue Point Grille, John Q's Steakhouse, and Johnny's Downtown. And at the conclusion, don't forget to drop by the Hat Factory for a dessert reception and musical entertainment. Cost is $60 in advance or $75 at the door; make your reservations by phone and check out the website for more information. Besides the food, history, and home hunting, the tour is a great chance to see the city dressed in its holiday best. "People come simply to see the sights downtown," says coordinator Marcia Mandell. She adds just one advisory: "Dress warm." — Stafford

1300 West Ninth St., 216-344-3937,

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