Sunday, August 25: After giving up trying to find photos of people interacting with art at the National Gallery of Art, I went to the Sculpture Garden to see if I would have any luck there. This search was to meet the challenge posed by Instagram to post photos taken over the weekend for their Hashtag project: #WHPartwatching.
Finally, I got this interesting fellow wearing purple athletic pants and a turquoise shirt, with a video camera partially balanced over his turquoise-dyed hair. He was actually interacting with this metal tree sculpture. Bingo! Not the greatest, but it met the challenge.
After I got my picture, I walked around the Sculpture Garden, taking more photos of all the cool sculptures on the grounds.
By this time I was getting pretty hungry, as I always do, and I found these colorful food trucks, or kiosks, sitting along the road serving up some culinary delights.
I decided I would indulge at the “froyotogo” truck, mainly because it was painted purple, on some frozen yogurt with raspberry and kiwi toppings.
Now that the Instagram project was over, I could simply enjoy my frozen treat on a bench along the long stretch of the Mall. A lovely day in Washington, D.C. 🙂
On Friday evenings during the summer, jazz concerts are held at the Sculpture Garden. I didn’t make it to any concerts this summer, but here’s me before I went to Korea, in the summer of 2009, holding a leafy plant (??) at Jazz in the Sculpture Garden. I don’t know why, but I always get a hoot out of this photo. 🙂
Sunday, August 25: On this Sunday, I went in search of photos to enter in Instagram‘s Weekend Hashtag Project: #WHPartwatching. The challenge, as posed by Instagram, which I just joined, was this: The goal this weekend is to take creative photos and videos of people interacting with art. Some tips to get you started: Head to a museum or sculpture park if you have one nearby, but don’t be afraid to explore unconventional art like neighborhood murals and statues. Look for interesting colors and patterns, both in the art and in the clothing of the people in your shot. Finally, think about the way your art watchers move and pause—groups assembling, viewers sketching or solitary people contemplating a piece.
I thought it sounded like an interesting challenge, but I found it was much harder than I imagined. If I had taken along a willing subject to pose “interacting with art,” it might have been much more interesting. Instead, I went around trying to take surreptitious pictures of strangers interacting with art. I didn’t have much success at this project, but it was fun to try anyway. I headed first to the National Gallery of Art’s East Wing. I went to the East Tower, where there was a special exhibition of paintings by Kerry James Marshall, born in the same year as I was. His work explores the experiences of African-Americans and the narratives of American history that have often excluded black people. Drawing upon the artist’s prodigious knowledge of art history and the African diaspora, his paintings combine figurative and abstract styles and multiple allusions, drawing from “high” and “low” sources (National Gallery of Art: In the Tower: Kerry James Marshall).
Upon first entering the Tower Gallery, I found this man sitting on a bench looking at the paintings, but I felt uncomfortable being so intrusive, even though his back was turned to me. We were the only two people in the gallery, besides the guard, and I’m sure he could hear my camera clicking behind him, taking a shot that included him in the picture.
I didn’t think this picture was particularly interesting, so I continued to search. But the pictures I wanted to take would have required me to get up close and personal, and intrusive, on that person’s experience of art. So instead I resorted to just taking pictures of the paintings. 🙂
It’s difficult to take pictures of people interacting with art when there are only one or two people in the gallery. The only exhibit that had big crowds was the Diaghilev and the Ballets Russes, 1909–1929: When Art Danced with Music exhibit. However, when I pulled out my camera to take pictures in that gallery, the guard wagged his finger at me. “No pictures in this exhibit, miss!” And he promptly pointed out the sign that said just that.
In a small exhibit next to the Ellsworth Kelly Colored Paper Images, I saw some fish hanging in a small exhibit. I especially liked the shadows the fish made on the wall.
Still, no people were interacting with this colorful fish! I found this cool sculpture in the lobby, but no one was interacting with it.
And later, when I walked past it again, people were interacting with it, but I couldn’t get a good angle.
I was fascinated by this colorful wall art, but I couldn’t figure out a way to get someone in front of it. Even if someone had been in front of it, it wouldn’t have been interesting unless they were posing or doing something interesting!
Oh well. I was starting to get discouraged so I went to the Concourse walkway between the East and West wings. At least I could get some lunch and see the Multiverse, the largest and most complex light sculpture created by American artist Leo Villareal. The work features approximately 41,000 computer-programmed LED (light-emitting diode) nodes that run through channels along the 200-foot-long space. Development of this LED project began in 2005, and installation took place between September and December 2008.
You can see a couple of people “interacting” with this art, but they were kind of blurry in the dark!
When I reached the end of the moving walkway, I came to the cafeteria, where I ordered lunch and watched this waterfall flowing down steep steps behind glass. It’s very soothing to watch while eating lunch.
Finally, I gave up and went outside, where I found these little mini glass pyramids and fountains, and I took some photos here. I found this couple interacting with the fountain, which I guess you could say is “art!”
And these young people walking through the pyramids.
But I actually thought the pyramids were more interesting with no people and their interesting reflections.
I finally gave up and went to try my luck at the Sculpture Garden….
By the way, the thousands of people who entered the Instagram Weekend Hashtag project seemed to have taken much better photos than I was able to get, and I couldn’t help wondering if many of them were posed. Next time I think I better take along an accomplice. 🙂
Sunday, August 25: Since I returned home to the USA at the end of July after three years living abroad, I’ve been posing as a tourist in my own country. I’ve lived in the Washington, D.C. area for most of the last 25 years, and though I don’t live in the city itself, I live in one of the largest of the metropolitan area suburbs: Fairfax County, Virginia. The monuments in Washington seem commonplace to me since I’ve seen them so many times. In fact they seem so commonplace that I’ve hardly ever bothered to photograph them. Isn’t it funny how sometimes you don’t even notice the things in your own backyard?
Today I venture into Washington on a Sunday morning in search of photos for the Instagram Weekend Hashtag Project: The project is called Partwatching and the goal is to take creative photos of people interacting with art. I’m heading for the National Gallery of Art, where I hope to surreptitiously capture people interacting with art. However, before going there, I decide I’ll talk a little stroll around the United States Capitol, the iconic symbol of Washington. I’ve taken the tour of the interior before, but today I just walk around the grounds out front.
The United States Capitol, according to The U.S. Capitol Visitor Center, is a symbol of the American people and their government, the meeting place of the nation’s legislature. It is built in neo-classical style with a white exterior. Construction of the U.S. Capitol began in 1793. In November 1800, the U.S. Congress met in the first completed portion, the north wing. In the 1850s, major extensions to the North and South ends of the Capitol were authorized because of the westward expansion of our nation and the resultant growth of Congress. Since that time, the U.S. Capitol and its stately dome have become international symbols of our representative democracy.
Though it has never been the geographic center of the federal district, the Capitol is the origin by which the quadrants of the District are divided and the city was planned (Wikipedia: United States Capitol).
The Ulysses S. Grant Memorial is a presidential memorial at the base of Capitol Hill, honoring American Civil War general and U.S. President Ulysses S. Grant. The sculpture of Grant on horseback faces west toward the Lincoln Memorial, which honors Grant’s wartime president, Abraham Lincoln; together, the Grant and Lincoln memorials define the eastern and western boundaries of the National Mall.
A striking feature of the central statue is Grant’s calm attitude amidst the raging fighting going on around him. This is not surprising because Grant was known for his calmness and coolheadedness during battle. In sharp contrast to Grant are the sculpture groups on either side, Cavalry Charge and Artillery (Wikipedia: Ulysses S. Grant Memorial).
Standing on the grounds of the Capitol and looking West, I can see the National Mall stretching before me, with the Washington Monument, covered in scaffolding, standing between the Capitol and the Lincoln Memorial.
I hop into a small traffic circle with a garden and a statue, behind which looms the dome of the Capitol.
I love the view below of the National Mall and the Washington Monument. The Monument is like an alien object now; it’s covered in black scaffolding while it undergoes repairs due to structural damage from the 2011 earthquake. My first reaction when I saw it upon my return was the same irritation I felt when I went to Angkor Wat and found its front facade covered in scaffolding and green netting. But… now that I’ve gotten used to it, I think I like it! Maybe they should keep it like this forever. 🙂
I then head to the National Art Gallery, in search of people interacting with art.