It's not uncommon to hear locals refer to the time between Memphis in May's Beale Street Music Festival and the World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest as the "off week." But I double-dog-dare those same folks to say that to those who organized the International Week Salute to Belgium, May 2nd through May 8th. For an "off week," there's a lot going on.
On display beginning May 1st is "Belgian Surrealism in Paintings," featuring the works of René Magritte and Paul Delvaux at the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art; "Art of the Outdoors: Sculpting Nature," phytoprints, monotypes, and photographs of outdoor installations by Belgian nature artist Bob Verschueren at the Memphis Botanic Garden; "The Diamonds of Antwerp," focusing on Belgium's diamond industry at the Mississippi River Museum; "Red Star Line and Van Mieghem: A Crossroads to America," paintings by Erwin Van Mieghem at the Memphis Jewish Community Center's Shainberg Gallery; "The Sax from Belgium to Stax," focusing on the saxophone — invented by Belgian Adolphe Sax — at the Stax Museum of American Soul Music; and "The Comic Art of Marc Sleen," on the work of comic-strip artist Marc Sleen at the Benjamin L. Hooks Central Library.
On Tuesday, May 3rd, at noon, as part of the International Speaker & Lecture Program, Martine De Maeseneer delivers a lecture on Belgian architecture at the University Club of Memphis ($20, aiamemphis.org). On May 4th, Indie Memphis gets in on the act with the first of five screenings of Belgian films. Tonight's feature, at 7 p.m., at Studio on the Square, is The Misfortunates, about a 13-year-old boy with family troubles ($7).
On May 5th, at 7 p.m., there's Belgium on Beale, a performance by the troupe Marc Malempré at the Orpheum ($12), and on May 6th, at 7 p.m., it's the International Gala at the Peabody ($150). And at Chez Philippe on May 6th and 7th, Chef Didier Bolle will create a menu of Belgian fare.
International Week Salute to Belgium, May 2nd-8th. For a full schedule and more information, go to memphisinmay.org.