Summer in Madison reaches its zenith this weekend with outdoor merrymaking at La Fête de Marquette, Opera in the Park, Art Fair on the Square, and Art Fair off the Square. The calendar also includes: the Systems for Abstraction exhibit at the Watrous Gallery and a trio of new shows at the Overture Galleries; a book reading by Kelly Harris; the Playwrights Ink 21st Century Showcase and the Bartell Theatre Awards; a production of Hound of the Baskervilles; the Madison Early Music Festival closing concert; the ElectroLUST dance party and the Clinic at a Time benefit show; and, move live music from Michael Zerang, Patchwork, Lowdown Brass Band, Masked Intruder, Kiernan McMullan, Trapper Schoepp & The Shades, and Jessica Hernandez & The Deltas.
NOTEWORTHY: Congress authorizes Medal of Honor, 1862.
East Washington at South Dickinson, 4:30 pm. Also Thursday (4-11 pm), Saturday (noon-11 pm) & Sunday (9 am-9 pm), July 11, 13 & 14
Madison's annual celebration of French-speaking cultures includes Ferris wheel rides (Friday and Saturday, 4:30-6:30 pm), a quiche breakfast (Sunday, 9-11:45 am) and musicians from Quebec, Louisiana and the Wassoulou region of West Africa. Musical highlights include bayou blues pianist Marcia Ball (Friday, 9:30 pm), Malian superstar Fatoumata Diawara (Sunday, 7:30 pm) and Boukman Eksperyans (Sunday, 3:15 pm), an act that fuses folk and rock with Haitian ceremonial music.
Watrous Gallery in the Overture Center, through Aug. 25. Reception: 5:30-7:30 pm
The three Wisconsin artists are grouped in an exhibition called Systems for Abstraction. As the title suggests, each is interested in abstract art, as well as an underlying "system" to the art-making.
Overture Center, through Sept. 15. Receptions: 6-8 pm
Check out three new shows: landscapes and still lifes by oil painters Ann Haberl and Amy Johnson; 2D works on the theme of "beneath the surface" by Wisconsin Visual Artists; and a meditation on memory by Heather McCalla and Jaydan Moore.
A Room of One's Own, 6 pm
The Madison author reads from her debut novel, The Good Luck Girls of Shipwreck Lane. It's about two women with the same name who both believe they've won a dream house in Maine.
Mitchell Theatre in UW Vilas Hall, 7:30 pm. Also Thursday (preview, 7:30 pm), Saturday (7:30 pm), Sunday (2 pm) and Thursday (7:30 pm), July 11, 13, 14 & 18
University Theatre presents an adaptation of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's classic thriller, set on the English moors, wherein the dynamic duo of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson face a mysterious curse and a slavering beast. A-woooo.
Bartell Theatre's Evjue Stage, 7:30 pm. Also Thursday (7:30 pm), Saturday (7:30 pm), Sunday (2 pm) & Thursday (7:30 pm), July 11, 13, 14 & 18
Members of this nonprofit group, which is dedicated to the development of area playwrights, present seven short plays. Discover new talent and support your local artists -- you'll be glad you did, and so will they.
Mills Hall in the UW Humanities Building, 7:30 pm
The festival's closing concert, performed by faculty and participants, features a Mass composed for a royal christening in 1616 Stuttgart.
Majestic Theatre, 8 pm
Madison's summertime celebration of electronic music and culture has a man-versus-machine theme in 2013. Local bands Moldover, Zero Beat and Golden Donna will represent humanity beginning at 8 pm, and DJs Wyatt Agard, Fabe, Tagrm, MCZ and Apple Country will pay homage to technology with house, trap and dubstep starting at 10 pm.
Shockrasonica, 9 pm
In addition to performing solo improvisational works on percussion instruments, the noted Chicago composer will jam with local psych-folk band Spires That in the Sunset Rise. With John Christensen and Stray Passage.
Tempest Oyster Bar, 9:30 pm
Singer-songwriter Jeremiah Nelson has focused on his self-titled solo project in recent years, but there's a reason veteran scenesters still refer to him as "the guy from Patchwork." The group's lo-fi sound should make the oyster bar a particularly cool hangout on a hot Friday night.
UW Memorial Union Terrace, 9:30 pm
Booming bass and fresh beats are this Chicago group's specialty, but you won't find a DJ in their ranks. Instead, a sousaphone leads funk, reggae and hip-hop jams featuring seven horns and a trio of drums.
Frequency, 10 pm
Madison's supremely silly pop-punk ambassadors team up with Red Scare labelmates Elway and Sam Russo for an evening of drinking, debauchery and delightful sing-along choruses.
Capitol Square, 9 am-6 pm. Also Sunday, July 15, 10 am-5 pm
Over the years, the fundraiser for the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art has grown from a shopping-mall sidewalk sale to a nationally recognized, juried fair featuring hundreds of artists. Join 150,000 other art lovers poring over paintings, photographs, prints, sculpture, jewelry, handmade clothing and the odd unclassifiable object. The extravaganza also includes four performance stages, food, kids' activities and a silent auction tent.
Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. & Monona Terrace, 9 am-6 pm. Also Sunday, July 14, 10 am-5 pm
The Wisconsin Alliance of Artists & Craftspeople presents the local complement to Art Fair on the Square, with scores of Wisconsin artists and craftspeople showing their high-quality work. The fair also offers its own food and kids' activities.
Bartell Theatre's Drury Stage, 7 pm (red carpet 6 pm)
The downtown theater hub throws a bash celebrating the best work of its resident companies (Stage Q, Madison Theatre Guild, Strollers Theatre, Mercury Players Theatre). Among this year's categories: Best Dude Play, Best Chick Play and Best Stage Kiss.
Redamte Coffee House, 8 pm
The Nashville singer-songwriter will share selections from his new Company EP, which pairs smooth vocals with an easygoing vibe that keeps things from sounding overly slick.
Garner Park, 8 pm
Get a taste of Madison Opera's upcoming season with a free outdoor performance of selections from Puccini's Tosca, Jake Heggie's Dead Man Walking and much more. (See Music.)
UW Memorial Union Terrace, 9:30 pm
These Milwaukee rockers have raised their profile quite a bit over the last two years, touring with Old 97's and Social Distortion, and releasing a song on American Songwriter's summer 2012 sampler. With Tedo Stone and Frankie Lee.
NOTEWORTHY: Parisians storm Bastille during French Revolution, 1789.
Capital Brewery, Middleton, 1 pm
Reggae and dub masters Natty Nation and Latin American beat kings Son Contrabando will perform at this family-oriented fundraiser featuring food, crafts and kids' activities. Proceeds benefit a not-for-profit organization building a maternal health center in Ethiopia.
High Noon Saloon, 8 pm
Though this Detroit act takes cues from the indie rock of Beach House and Arcade Fire, Hernandez's soulful voice has earned comparisons to that of Amy Winehouse -- and a recording deal with Blue Note. With Dakotas and the Earthlings.