May-June 2021

Best bets

Our picks for things to see and do in May and June

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Reading rainbow

May 1-28

The annual Gaithersburg Book Festival features an exciting and diverse array of writers, including Mateo Askaripour, whose debut novel, Black Buck, was Jenna Bush Hager’s January pick for her Today show book club; Carole Lindstrom, winner of the 2021 Caldecott Medal for her book We Are Water Protectors; and journalist Susan Page, author of biographies on Barbara Bush and Nancy Pelosi. Gaithersburg native Jeanine Cummins, the author of the controversial novel American Dirt, received lots of attention when it was announced earlier this year that she’d be a speaker. The festival, which is virtual this year, runs throughout May and features more than 30 author presentations as well as writing workshops for adults and children.

Free, gaithersburgbookfestival.org


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For the birds

May 8

Bird-watching surged in popularity last year. People staying home grabbed their binoculars and watched out their windows. Others headed to parks and trails for the perfect outdoor social distancing activity. If you’ve been curious about bird-watching, Locust Grove Nature Center’s Migratory Bird Day Hike might be a great place to start. During the naturalist-led hike, see migration in action and learn about the dangerous journey many birds take each spring and fall. Bring your own binoculars or borrow a pair from the nature center. Social distancing guidelines will be in place, and masks are required. For ages 8 and older.

2-3 p.m., free, registration required, Locust Grove Nature Center, Bethesda, montgomeryparks.org


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Moon river

May 28, June 25, July 24, Aug. 22, Sept. 18, Oct. 22

If paddling down a river under the light of a full moon sounds like your type of adventure, check out Full Moon Kayak tours of the Potomac River through Calleva, a Poolesville-based outdoor education and water sports organization. Participants meet up with a guide at Riley’s Lock for a cookout-style dinner and a brief lesson on gear and safety. They then set out on the water for a four-hour tour to see the river nightscape, constellations and planets. After the tour, the group returns to land for a campfire and drinks (bring your own).

6-10 p.m., $145, Riley’s Lock, Poolesville, calleva.org


The art of resilience

May 28-Aug. 8

Iranian-born artist Mojdeh Rezaeipour takes commonplace items like toys and personal photographs, as well as natural elements such as branches and dirt, and turns them into thought-provoking collages, sculptures and videos. VisArts hosts an exhibition of her artwork, which touches on themes of resilience and spirituality. A virtual reception and artist talk will be held from 5-7 p.m. on June 11.

Free, visit by appointment, Gibbs Street Gallery, VisArts, Rockville, visartscenter.org


Photo courtesy of Glen Echo Park Partnership for Arts and Culture

Along for the ride

May 22, June 19

One of the most iconic elements at Glen Echo Park, the Dentzel Carousel has been delighting visitors for generations. The historic ride turns 100 this year, and the park is marking the anniversary with a monthslong celebration. Galleries in the park will exhibit carousel-themed artwork by local artists throughout the month of May. Kids can create their own carousel art during a pair of Family Days, which will feature hands-on art projects and entertainment in the park’s unique setting. If COVID-19 restrictions allow, the carousel will be open for rides. Tickets for the carousel cost $5 for two hours of unlimited riding.

11 a.m. to 3 p.m., free, Glen Echo Park, Glen Echo, glenechopark.org


Photo courtesy of Bethesda Urban Partnership

In the paint

June 4-27

New technologies offer artists all kinds of novel ways to express themselves, but the Bethesda Painting Awards competition recognizes the decidedly old-school art of applying paint to a surface. Old school, however, isn’t the same as old-fashioned, as winners of the annual art contest have proved year after year. The contest awards more than $10,000 to painters from Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C. Gallery B’s exhibition of artwork by the finalists of this year’s competition reveals how broad, creative and innovative painting can be.

Noon-4 p.m., Fridays-Sundays, free, Gallery B, Bethesda, bethesda.org


Life and death

June 14-July 11

Written and originally performed by experimental playwright Young Jean Lee, along with her band, Future Wife, We’re Gonna Die is part one-woman show, part indie rock concert. True anecdotes from Lee’s life are interspersed with quirky and honest songs about topics related to breakups, illness and even death. Despite the depressing subject matter, the live band and sensitive, humorous tunes lend the performance a hopeful and uplifting feeling. Bethesda’s Round House Theatre presents a streaming production of the show, starring actress Regina Aquino as the narrator/singer performing on stage at Round House along with a band.

$32.50, streaming on demand, roundhousetheatre.org