And for the second consecutive year, One Columbia, the nonprofit organization that seeks to promote the city’s arts and culture, is celebrating the arts in April. The “One Month” celebration kicks off Thursday as part of First Thursdays on Main. Beginning at 6 p.m., more than 20 performers will be featured on stages at the Columbia Museum of Art’s Boyd Plaza and at Tapp’s Art Center. One Columbia has also produced a 20-panel folded pamphlet with eight, color-coded schedules of events from literature to historic preservation to film to visual arts.
There are more than 70 events listed, including those demarcated as must see.
There are two ways to look at April’s artistic and cultural development, maybe three.
1. Does one dare raise the argument that there is too much to do? Even with the Columbia Museum of Art’s gala and Columbia Open Studios being held in March instead of in April like last year, the schedule, somehow, feels more congested.
2. There can never be too many options in a vibrant city such as Columbia. The more the merrier, right?
21/2. Why isn’t every month like April — on the calendar and in terms of local support?
There’s probably more arguments to exhume, but I’m in favor of a stimulated cultural environment. It makes everything — food, shopping, people — more enjoyable. Navigating April will require a kind of resilience that’s essential to advancing in the NCAA tournament. Tough choices will have to be made (see Sunday’s Life & Style for a month-long bucket list curated by readers and Betsey Guzior, The State’s features editor), but at least you will have the ball in your hands.
There will be a photo booth at Boyd Plaza Thursday night, and photos taken could become part of a public artwork to be unveiled April 27 as part of the “One Month” finale. But before you get to the end, where do you start?
Here are 13 must-see events, in no particular order. You’ll notice that I couldn’t make up my mind in some instances. That’s because I like to play hard.
2. Cirque Du Soleil: This is the third consecutive year Cirque has brought a production to the Colonial Life Arena. This time it’s “Quidam,” a show of scintillating physicality. There will be seven performances April 24-28. $29.50-$97; www.coloniallifearena.com
3. The Indie Grits Festival: The festival, in its seventh year, has events within the event. There’s Cinemovements, Love Peace & Hip-Hop festival, Spork in Hand Puppet Slam, Slow Food at Indie Grits Sustainable Chefs Showcase and more. And that’s not mentioning the films. Get acquainted before this festival blows up like Dunk City, otherwise known as Florida Gulf Coast University; www.indiegrits.com
4. Bill Maher or David Sedaris: Two comically inclined smart guys. Both performing at the Koger Center, Maher on April 6 and Sedaris April 21. I talk to Maher in real time. Interview runs April 5; www.koger.sc.edu
5. Figure Out: The figurative art show, which include nudes, will hopefully cut a striking figure in the art landscape. The opening gala is at 6 p.m. Wednesday. $20; www.tappsartcenter.com
6. Walk a Mile in Her Shoes: There’s something about men in uniforms — and heels. See what I mean at 6 p.m. April 18 at Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center, 1101 Lincoln St. $15 early registration ends Saturday, and $20-$30 after; www.stsm.og
7. Parker Quartet or “Four Seasons” double play by the South Carolina Philharmonic: The first of Parker Quartet’s two 2013 residencies at the USC School of Music, includes two performances (7:15 p.m. April 15 and 7:30 p.m. April 19 at the school’s recital hall, 813 Assembly St.) and a master class at 7:30 p.m. April 16 in the recital. Free April 15 and 16 and $5-$15 April 19. For more, www.music.sc.edu/events. Members of the South Carolina Philharmonic, directed by Morihiko Nakahara, the orchestra’s music director, will perform Vivaldi’s “The Four Seasons” and “The Four Seasons of Buenos Aires” by Astor Piazzolla and Leonid Desyatnikov at 7:30 p.m. April 6 at Harbison Theatre at Midlands Technical College. The theater is at 7300 College St., Irmo. $22; www.harbisontheatre.org
8. The Engines: The quartet of Chicago improvisers — trombonist Jeb Bishop, saxophonist Dave Rempis, bassist Kent Kessler (filling in for Nate McBride) and drummer Tim Daisy will spark a jazz fuse April 16 at Conundrum Music Hall, 626 Meeting St., West Columbia; conundrum.us
9. Ballet Stars of New York: The eighth annual black-tie gala, at 7 p.m. April 19 at the Koger Center, will feature stars of the New York City Ballet sharing the stage with USC Dance Company. The USC Symphony will also perform. There’s a pre-show cocktail reception with music and food. $15-$125; artsandsciences.sc.edu/dance or (803) 777-5112
10. Contemporaries’ Artist of the Year Soiree: The 10th annual event features sometimes great art at an always great price. Want to start collecting art? Start here at this soiree and silent auction at 7 p.m. April 26 at the museum at Main and Hampton streets; (803) 799-2810
11. River Rocks Festival: The April 13 festival in Riverfront Park will feature canoeing, kayaking, stand up paddle boarding and a rock climbing wall. And music from Toubab Krewe, Town Mountain, Yo Mama’s Big Fat Booty Band, Black Iron Gathering and The Restoration. $12 in advance, $15 at the gate; www.riverrocksfestival.com
12. “My First Time”: A provocative title, indeed. Can you guess what this Trustus Theatre production, which opens April 12, is about?; www.trustus.org
13. The Big Nosh and Sparkleberry Country Fair: The Big Nosh, the Jewish culture and food festival, will be held from 11 a.m.-4:30 p.m. April 21 at the at Tree of Life Congregation, 6719 North Trenholm Road. The Sparkleberry Country Fair is 4-10 p.m. April 26 and 9 a.m.-10 p.m. April 27 at Clemson University Sandhill Research and Education Center. If you want to go to an event where you can make food a focus of the day’s activities like one might do at, say, the South Carolina State Fair, you can’t go wrong with either choice. Of course, you should do both; www.bignosh.org or www.sparkleberrycountryfair.org