Enjoy local art in the newly expanded Independence Botanical Gardens at the Plein Air Event this Saturday, May 26. Photo by Kelli Bozeman.

Arts around town: Plein air painting, Summer reading kickoff, and more

This Saturday, May 26, the recently expanded Independence Botanical Gardens will be on display as the Baton Rouge Botanic Garden Foundation hosts a Plein Air Event starting at 2:30 p.m. The event will feature the sale of paintings created by local artists over the previous three days that depict areas of the garden in mediums from oil to watercolor. A portion of the proceeds will benefit the foundation’s continued mission to grow and nurture the garden. For more information on the expanded garden, check out this story from the May issue of inRegister.

The East Baton Rouge Parish Library’s annual Summer Reading Program is kicking off with the theme “Libraries Rock!” The program, which aims to keep not only kids and teens but also adults reading, requires that kids, teens and adults to pick up a log from a local library branch to record the five, or more, books they read throughout the summer, with special prizes and free books awarded after the logs are turned in on August 15. For more information on the program, visit ebprl.com.

Theatre Baton Rouge is giving guests a glimpse into its next show, Mamma Mia, with a special Happy Hour Sing-A-Long event tonight, Thursday, May 24, from 6 to 7 p.m. The cast of the show, which officially opens Friday, June 8, will sing favorite ABBA songs, while guests are invited to wear ABBA-inspired outfits and enter the costume contest, with the winner taking home a pair of opening-night tickets. Tickets are available here.

Tonight, May 24, from 6 to 8 p.m., the Manship Theatre is hosting an opening reception for Louisiana-native Jennifer Poe’s newest exhibition Rock, Paper, Crayons which will be on display in the Shaw Center for the Arts through July 14. The exhibition uses mixed media and plenty of color to demonstrate Poe’s own “no rules” approach, while transporting her audience back to days of childhood freedom. For more information on the exhibition or the free reception, visit the event page here.

This weekend, May 24 through 27, the Christian Youth Theater is bringing to life the story of a legendary candy man, spirited Oompa Loompas, golden tickets and more with performances of Willy Wonka Jr. at the LSU Shaver Theatre. For a full list of showtimes, as well as ticket information, visit the event page here.

Lemieux Studios is bringing artists and musicians together starting tonight, Thursday, May 24, for an Art and Music Festival at The Parlor in downtown Baton Rouge. The festival, which will host events through Saturday, May 26, will feature everything from a string quartet accompanied by mobile artist George Ufford to audience participation in calligraphy workshops and youth events. For a full schedule of events and more information on the festival, visit the event page here.

Tonight, May 24, at Manship Theatre, the Red Dragon Songwriters Series will present the David Bromberg Quintet for a show at 7:30 p.m. featuring hits from both Bromberg’s own 18-album career, as well as his contributions to the albums of artists including Willie Nelson, Los Lobos, Vince Gill and more. Tickets for the show are available here.

Spay Baton Rouge is hosting its annual Raise the Woof: Comedy for a Cause benefit event tonight, May 24, at L’Auberge Casino & Hotel. With three comedians, including headliner James Uloth, as well as a silent auction, wine pull, live music and more, this event offers countless opportunities to help Spay continue its mission to reduce and prevent animal homelessness. To buy tickets, visit the event page here.

New Orleans songwriter Andrew Duhon will perform on the Manship Theatre stage tomorrow night, May 25, at 7:30 p.m. with opening act Lynn Drury. Duhon, who has released three albums and earned a Grammy nomination in 2014, will be performing his new release, False River. Tickets for the show are available here.

To honor those who have given their lives to secure our freedom, the Baton Rouge Concert Band is hosting a Memorial Day Concert next Monday, May 28, at 7 p.m. in the North Boulevard Town Square. Conductor Sheily Bell and assistant conductor Daniel Modenbach will lead the band in a program of classic American favorites including “The Star Spangled Banner” and “America, The Beautiful,” as well as other patriotic ballads. For more information, view the program here.