the january cocktail hour: preparing for adventure in the year ahead

Wednesday, January 31:  It’s that time again – our January cocktail hour! 🙂 Please, come in out of the cold and make yourselves comfortable. I’m so glad the holidays are behind us and we can get back to the routines of everyday life. I would offer you a cocktail, my current favorite being a cucumber jalapeno margarita, but the ice maker in our two-year-old refrigerator has inexplicably stopped making ice. So, it’s either wine or beer.  For those of you who don’t drink, I have sodas and seltzer water of various flavors.  Or milk.  There’s always milk. 🙂

I hope January has been good to you so far. Have you played in snow, gone skiing, ridden dog sleds or stayed in igloos? Have you read any good books, seen any good movies, binge-watched any television series? Have you learned anything new? Have you been to the theater or to a concert? Have you started planning your adventures for the year? Have you had any winter getaways? Have you sung along with any new songs? Have you dreamed any dreams? Gone to any exotic restaurants, cooked any new dishes?  Have you undertaken any new exercise routines?

Our first two weeks of January in northern Virginia were wicked, with temps below freezing.  A few light snowfalls made for icy messes outdoors.  Although I’d made all kinds of exercise-related resolutions, I just couldn’t bring myself to crawl out from under my furry white blanket and leave my house.  Mike has taken to calling me his Japanese snow monkey because he’s only seen peeks of my pink face enveloped in a swirl of white hair and fuzzy blanket.  No matter.  This cozy position under my blanket has been conducive to reading, as I finished 7 of my 45-book goal for the year.  Of these, I especially enjoyed The Mysteries of Pittsburgh, Whistling Past the Graveyard, and Follies.

The most rewarding and challenging thing I’ve been doing is preparing for my 2018 adventures.  I have the following plans up my sleeve:

  1. A road trip to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania: March 2-4 (a three-day weekend).
  2. A road trip to the Four Corners area, the only point in the USA where four states come together: Utah, Colorado, Arizona, and New Mexico.  I plan to take a solo road trip to Colorado, visit my son in Denver and do some hikes there with him, then go on my way to visit Monument Valley, Navajo National Monument, Canyon de Chelly National Monument, Hoventweep National Monument, Four Corners Monument Navajo Tribal Park, Chaco Culture National Historic Park, Mesa Verde National Park, Arches National Park, and Canyonlands National Park.  If Alex could come with me for part of it, I’d be thrilled, but as he has to work, he may not be able to. Logistics will be tough, because I don’t want to drive him back to Denver once I leave there. I would also love it if my daughter Sarah or my sister Stephanie could join me for any part of the trip, but they have so many obligations, I’m not sure it’s possible.   Mike does plan to join me for some parts of the trip, ending back in Denver, but we haven’t yet worked out those logistics either.  I imagine the whole trip will take at least three weeks; I plan to do it in April.
  3. A 4-5/day road trip to Buffalo and Niagara Falls, NY, possibly crossing the border into Ontario in late June. I might be able to meet my friend Mona Lisa for some part of this trip.
  4. The pilgrimage on the Camino de Santiago. I want to do the route that most pilgrims do: the Camino Francés (The French Way), from St. John-Pied-du-Port to Santiago de Compostela (769 km) or nearly 500 miles.  I imagine it will take me at least 6 weeks, possibly longer, as I don’t plan to do it as a race! After I finish the walk, Mike plans to meet me in Santiago and we’ll visit Porto, Lisbon and Sintra in Portugal for our 30th anniversary.  I even have an idea about renting bicycles in Santiago de Compostela and riding with Mike to Cape Finesterre, known in Roman times as the end of the world, but I haven’t researched yet whether that’s possible.  I hope to do this in September-October.

I love preparing for trips as much as taking them. Here’s what I’ve been doing so far:

For the Camino, reading:

  1. A Pilgrim’s Guide to the Camino de Santiago St. Jean – Roncesvalles – Santiago by John Brierly.
  2. Camino de Santiago by Sergi Ramis
  3. In Movement There is Peace by Elaine Orabona Foster

Watching:

I have already watched the movie, The Way, and we recently watched Walking the Camino: Six Ways to Santiago, both of which I found inspirational.

Doing:

I attended a talk about the Camino by a fellow named Don Shaw at REI last night (luckily the talk made me miss the State of the Union Address, but I planned to boycott it anyway). He’s done the Camino five times using different routes. It turns out that he is also hosting a potluck at his house this Saturday to which I’ve already RSVP’d.  He started the Mid-Atlantic chapter of the American Pilgrims on the Camino, which I joined in December.  We have our first Camino group hike (8.6 miles) on Sunday, February 25.

Luckily, REI allows you to try out hiking boots and then return them if they cause discomfort.  I bought a pair of size 8 Oboz Sawtooth low BDry boots and I wore them for a five-mile walk.  My toes were hitting the end and my feet were killing me, so I’ve decided to return them.  Last night, I bought a pair of Keen Targhee low boots in size 8 1/2 and walked in them today.  They felt better, but I did feel my size 7 1/2 feet were sliding around in them a bit. I’ve been told that whatever boots I get, I need to put 100km on them BEFORE I do the Camino.  So I need to commit to a pair and get busy walking!

I have stared increasing my walking distance as it has thawed outside.  It’s not very inviting outside, as you can see from a walk on the Cross County Trail in early January.  Drab, snowy, mottled and dirty, with mostly dingy skies: days like these simply don’t entice.

An ice-over Difficult Run Stream

Walking in sub-freezing temperatures isn’t much fun, although a bit of blue sky does ease the pain.

Lake Audubon
birds at Lake Audubon
Lake Newport

I started an aerobics class to whip other parts of my body into shape: upper body, core, lower body.  I’ve also asked my son to draw up a fitness plan of calisthenics and weight lifting to build strength to carry a 16-20lb backpack.

I’ve also finished planning our Pittsburgh trip and am reading now about The Four Corners area.  I’ll write more about my planning on those later.

Family, photo outings, and restaurants:

Sarah went to her dad’s for Christmas, so even after we took our Christmas tree down, her pile of presents still sat in a pile in the corner of our living room.  Laden with gifts, I visited her in Richmond on the 19th.  She has been busy doing freelance work for Richmond Magazine, and she had an article due, so she couldn’t spend much time with me.  Before I showed up at her house, I wandered through Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden so I could get my winter dose of color.

Humpty Dumpty at Lewis Ginter
Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden

I especially enjoyed the cacti and succulent collection is on display in the West Wing of the Conservatory.

cacti and succulent collection
cacti and succulent collection
cacti and succulent collection
cacti
cacti
cacti and succulent collection

In the central Palm House, I enjoyed the palm and cycad collection.

palms in the Palm House

And in the semi-tropical East Wing, I wandered through tropical plants, including the orchid collection.

orchids

Outside, I walked through Asian Valley, which displays plants native to Asia and offers a place for quiet contemplation.

Asian Valley

When I arrived at Sarah’s, we enjoyed a glass of wine while she opened her presents (lots of cookbooks and a toaster oven), and then we went out to dinner at Sabai, which serves authentic Thai street food. Sitting at the bar, we shared an appetizer of Larb Gai: minced chicken seasoned with red onions, lemongrass, Thai chilies, basil, and mint in a spicy lime dressing.  Sarah ordered Koa Soi Gai:  Northern Thai style curry with bone-in chicken and egg noodles served with pickled mustard greens, red onions and spicy chili lime oil.  And I ordered Pad Se Ew: Flat rice noodles stir-fried with egg, black bean sauce, shrimp and broccoli.  The atmosphere was lively and the food was delicious.

As for the rest of the family, Alex moved successfully to Denver and is trying to adjust to his new life there.  Adam is working long hours at his job and, surprisingly, he loves it.  It’s good to see him so busy and so enthused about work.  As for me, I’ve been still attending Al-Anon and keeping the focus on myself, as no one else is my business (I keep having to remind myself of that).  Overall, I’m thankful that everything is good for the moment.  Taking life one day at a time.

Urban hikes & museum-going:

Mike and I did an urban hike in downtown D.C., stopping first at the Renwick Gallery.  Our goal was to see the exhibit of miniature crime scenes called “Murder is Her Hobby: Frances Glessner Lee and the Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death.” The exhibit was packed and the crime scenes so small that it was impossible to see anything.  So instead, we just walked around the gallery, enjoying the other exhibits.

 

The Renwick

While waiting in a fast-moving line, we walked past The Blair House, the home of Francis Preston Blair (1791-1876), founder and editor of The Globe (1830-1845), a newspaper which championed democratic causes and vigorous journalism notably during the administration of President Andrew Jackson in whose “kitchen cabinet” Blair loyally served.

The Blair House

At the end of this post are descriptions of the places, statues and art we encountered today.  If you’re interested in them, you can read about them based on the picture captions.

The Final Stop by Rick Araluce
Parallax Gap by David Freeland and Brennan Buck

I loved this fabulous Monopoly game made with fired clay.

Monopoly
Shadow of Amboseli

I love this delicate piece that evokes a quiet forest in Japan.

The Renwick has a fabulous variety of art and installations.

After the Renwick, it was quite a hike to the National Gallery of Art.

Washington streets

At the National Gallery of Art, our goal was to see the exhibit “Vermeer and the Masters of Genre Painting: Inspiration and Rivalry.”  How foolish it was to attempt to see such an exhibit on the last day it was open.  Hundreds of people were in a long snaking line curled all around the perimeter of the museum.  Instead of standing in that line, we opted to drop in on a small Edvard Munch exhibit.

Across the hall, we also dropped in on another small exhibit: “Posing for the Camera.”  Many photographers were featured, but I especially loved two by Lee Friedlander of the photographer and his wife.

After this, we left by way of the fountain and began our trek back to the Renwick.

fountain in the National Gallery of Art

On our way back, we stopped for tapas and wine at Jaleo, one of my favorite D.C. restaurants.

As we continued on our way after lunch, we passed by the SunTrust Bank headquarters, where I used to work (the bank was called Crestar at the time) as a credit analyst.

Suntrust Bank

I share the sentiments of this protester!

protesters at the White House
Rochambeau

Movies & plays

As for movies, we haven’t been to many this month, mainly because we didn’t feel like going out in the cold.  We loved The Post, which told the story of how The Washington Post, and the press in general, went up against the U.S. government during the Vietnam war over the Pentagon Papers.  The press, a vital pillar of our democracy, is under attack these days by our divider-in-chief, so I’m happy when the press wins over the government.  Especially in the case of Vietnam, the government lied to the American people for years; it was the press that finally revealed to the public the extent of those lies. The audience, a full house, cheered at the end of the movie.

Another movie we saw on Netflix was a quiet Japanese movie called Sweet Bean, which told of a doryaki pastry maker who hired a 76-year-old woman and the relationship that grew between them.  I love Japanese movies for their delicate portrayal of human emotion.

Finally, at the end of the month, we went to a matinée showing at Theater J of Everything Is Illuminated; the play was based on the book of the same title by Jonathan Safran Foer.  The main character goes to Ukraine in search of a woman who possibly saved his grandfather during the Holocaust. Some parts were hilarious, some sad; we loved it overall.

Everything is Illuminated

Then we went to Logan Tavern for a delicious early dinner.  I took a picture of the Butternut Squash and Ginger Soup, but I was so hungry, I didn’t think to take pictures of my Trumpet Mushroom ‘Risotto:” cauliflower and squash “risotto”, chimichurri, fig balsamic, & crispy Parmesan. It was so delicious, I polished it off in one fell swoop.

Butternut Squash and Ginger Soup

Other stuff:

I’ve been reading a lot, working on my memoir, and still trying to catch up on editing pictures and blogging about all my travels to Japan and Czech Republic.  I haven’t begun to write about my solo trip to Cape May, NJ and Mike’s and my trip to Nashville, TN in December!

I hope you’ll tell me what you’ve been up to in January. I can’t wait to hear of your plans for the year, as well as your everyday lives and what you make of them. 🙂

********************

Here are some of the details about the art shown above, as taken from signs at the museums, unless stated otherwise:

The Renwick

The Final Stop by Rick Araluce. Visitors find themselves transported to an anonymous subway station, an eerie subterranean world nestled within the gallery, where flickering lights and distant rumblings suggest the passage of trains and cavernous tunnels seemingly stretch for miles.

Parallax Gap by architects David Freeland and Brennan Buck.  To create Parallax Gap, nine ceilings from iconic works of American architecture were drawn, printed at large-scale, and then suspended in layers above the Renwick’s Bettie Rubenstein Grand Salon. The architects have challenged the medium’s typical role by transforming their drawings from two-dimensional illustrations to three-dimensional installations.

Shadow of Amboseli (2016) by Wendy Maruyama.

Monopoly (2007)- paint and ink on unfired clay by Kristen Morgin: Morgin’s illusionistic sculptures resemble found objects weathered by time, but they are in fact meticulously crafted assemblages made from unfired clay.  Inspired by abandoned objects from people’s pasts, she investigates age, nostalgia, and value in culture – themes rooted in the mythology of the American Dream.

Notice – Forest  (Autumn) 2002 – McDonald’s Neverland paper bag and colored pencil by Yuken Teruya born Okinawa, Japan.  Teruya transforms paper bags into magical tableaux. He cuts the silhouette of a tree into one side, then bends the paper inward to seemingly take root, leaving the lacy holes above to evoke mottled sunlight.  Teruya’s reuse of these discarded materials memorializes the trees in ingenious floating worlds and suggests a cycle of renewal.

Untitled #192 (1989) burdock burrs and apple wood by John McQueen.

Woman and Child (2002) by Akio Takamori, born Nobeoka Miyazaki, Japan 1950.

Raft (1997) by William Morris.

Downtown D.C.

General Casimir Pulaski is a bronze equestrian statue at Freedom Plaza,13th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue. Pulaski immigrated to North America to help with the American Revolutionary War. He distinguished himself throughout the revolution, most notably when he saved George Washington’s life. Pulaski became a general in the Continental Army and reformed the American cavalry as a whole. At the Battle of Savannah, while leading a daring charge against British forces, he was gravely wounded, and died shortly thereafter (Wikipedia: Casimir Pulaski).

At the National Gallery of Art

Edvard Munch: Man’s Head in Woman’s Hair: It is unclear whether the woman is imagined by the man, or if the man’s head floating in the woman’s hair is a figment of her mind…Perhaps she is thinking of him sympathetically, or he is recalling a woman he encountered.  One figure conjures the image of the other, producing the image of the thought.

Lee Friedlander: Los Angeles: Friedlander and his new bride, Maria, seem eager to embark on their journey together through life.

Vernal Falls, Yosemite National Park, California: Maria Friedlander candidly wrote in the introduction to her husband’s 2004 book, Family: “There are no photographs of arguments and disagreements, of the times when we were rude, impatient, and insensitive parents, of frustration, of anger strong enough to consider dissolving the marriage… a book of pictures doesn’t tell the whole story.” Nevertheless, she concluded, Friedlander’s pictures are about “the celebration of the small moment that only Lee saw.  [They are] Lee’s gift to me of my own private memoir in pictures.  I look at it and feel the moments both revealed and evoked, the joy and the hard times – it’s all there.”

***********

Happy February, everyone! 🙂

 

 

 

an outing with a fellow blogger: the national gallery of art, oyamel, & the navy memorial

Tuesday, October 20:  This morning, I meet fellow blogger Toby of Travels with Toby in Washington, D.C. Our plan is to visit the National Gallery of Art.  She is from Minnesota, but is here in Virginia helping her sister to care for her elderly mother.  Toby had lived in Washington during the late 80s and had visited the National Gallery of Art several times. She wanted to spend a few hours in D.C. revisiting the Impressionists.  Here is Toby’s write-up of our meeting: Travels with Toby: My few hours in Washington, D.C.

I arrive before Toby because I have been commuting downtown for the last month and have the commute down pat. I sit for a while in Cosi having some coffee and a yogurt parfait.  Then I make my way over to the gallery where, at the front desk, I get a brochure about the collection highlights at the museum. As I’m standing at the front desk, Toby calls and tells me she has entered the museum at the 7th St. entrance.   I head in that direction and we finally meet, after several years of reading each others’ blogs on the blogosphere.  Toby has a great love of Spain, having studied there at one time, and she hopes to retire there one day.  I believe we met through my blog: in search of a thousand cafés.  I was writing on that blog about my travels through Spain and Portugal.

The main highlight the docent pointed out to me was Edgar Degas’ Little Dancer Aged Fourteen.  I show Toby the brochure about the highlights and we head directly to see the dancer.  She’s quite impressive.

According to the brochure Collection Highlights, “one of the many poor girls who danced for the Paris Opera, Marie van Goethem stands with head high, arms tautly stretched behind her.  Degas dressed her image, the only sculpture he ever exhibited publicly, in cloth garments and human hair.”

Edgar Degas, Little Dancer Aged Fourteen, 1878-1881, waxed satuette
Edgar Degas, Little Dancer Aged Fourteen, 1878-1881, waxed statuette
Edgar Degas, Little Dancer, bronze statuette
Edgar Degas, Little Dancer, painted plaster

The brochure’s map points the way to the Impressionist collection.  We admire other paintings along the way, but I’m not sure what they are.

painting at the National Gallery of Art
painting at the National Gallery of Art

I know I recognize this painting, but I can’t for the life of me remember who the artist is.  If anyone knows, please tell me in the comments.  It’s driving me crazy!

painting at the National Gallery of Art
painting at the National Gallery of Art

Finally, we’re in the galleries that showcase the Impressionists.  The National Gallery has some wonderful treasures, and I’m sorry to say my photos don’t do justice to them.

Boulevard des Italiens, Morning, Sunlight (oil on canvas, 1897) - Camille Pissarro
Boulevard des Italiens, Morning, Sunlight (oil on canvas, 1897) – Camille Pissarro
painting at the National Gallery of Art
Place du Carrousel, Paris (1900) – Camille Pissarro
Seascape at Port-en-Bessin, Normandy (1888) - Georges Seurat
Seascape at Port-en-Bessin, Normandy (1888) – Georges Seurat
Montagne Sainte-Victoire, from near Gardanne (1887) - Paul Cezanne
Montagne Sainte-Victoire, from near Gardanne (1887) – Paul Cezanne
painting at the National Gallery of Art
Little Girl in a Blue Armchair, 1878 – Mary Cassatt
Young Girl at a Window (1883-1884) - Mary Cassatt
Young Girl at a Window (1883-1884) – Mary Cassatt
an artist painting a famous painting, Woman with a Parasol, by Claude Monet
an artist painting a famous painting, Woman with a Parasol – Madame Monet and her son, by Claude Monet
painting at the National Gallery of Art
painting at the National Gallery of Art
Oarsmen at Chatou (1879) - Auguste Renoir
Oarsmen at Chatou (1879) – Auguste Renoir
Monet
The Japanese Footbridge (1899) – Claude Monet

Personally, I love the Cezanne paintings.  He is my favorite Impressionist for sure.

Hamlet at Payonnet, near Gardanne (1885-1886) - Paul Cezanne
Hamlet at Payonnet, near Gardanne (1885-1886) – Paul Cezanne
Paul Cezanne
Houses in Provence: The Riaux Valley near L’Estaque c. 1883 – Paul Cezanne
Paul Cezanne
Château Noir (1900/1904) – Paul Cezanne
painting at the National Gallery of Art
At the Water’s Edge, c. 1890 – Paul Cezanne

I also love Gauguin.

painting at the National Gallery of Art
The Bathers (1897) – Paul Gauguin
painting at the National Gallery of Art
Roses (1890) – Vincent van Gogh

I ask Toby to pick her favorite painting and I take a photo of her in front of it. She chooses Renoir’s Oarsmen at Chatou.

Toby with Oarsmen at Chatou (1879) - Auguste Renoir
Toby with Oarsmen at Chatou (1879) – Auguste Renoir

The gallery has some beautiful atriums and rotundas and halls, where tropical gardens abound.

an atrium at the National Gallery of Art
an atrium at the National Gallery of Art

We pick a few more of the collection highlights from the brochure, including Niagara, by Frederic Edwin Church.  According to the brochure, “Church’s powerful rendering of the magnificence of Niagara Falls made him famous virtually overnight.  The vantage point just before the precipice captures the falls’ fearsome power, which the artist emphasizes with a panoramic format and by tilting the picture plane down toward the viewer.  The glimmer of rainbows, the clearing sky, and the sunlight on the far shore (looking toward the US from Canada) reflect the commonly held nineteenth-century belief that spirituality could be found in nature.”

Niagara (1857) - Frederic Edwin Church
Niagara (1857) – Frederic Edwin Church

I love the light, shadows and dramatic skies of the three paintings below.  I guess that’s the photographer in me that is attracted to the light.

painting at the National Gallery of Art
painting at the National Gallery of Art
Buffalo Trail: The Impending Storm (1869) - Albert Bierstadt
Buffalo Trail: The Impending Storm (1869) – Albert Bierstadt
Thomas Moran
Green River Cliffs, Wyoming (1881) – Thomas Moran

I’ve always been a fan of John Singer Sargent, and I especially love his painting Repose.

Repose (1911) - John Singer Sargent
Repose (1911) – John Singer Sargent
Wind from the Sea, tempera on hardboard (1947) - Andrew Wyeth
Wind from the Sea, tempera on hardboard (1947) – Andrew Wyeth
Breezing Up (A Fair Wind) (1876) - Winslow Homer
Breezing Up (A Fair Wind) (1876) – Winslow Homer

Being a lover of all things Spanish, Toby seeks out the Francisco de Goya paintings.

Senora Sabasa Garcia (c. 1806/1811) - Francisco de Goya
Senora Sabasa Garcia (c. 1806/1811) – Francisco de Goya
another hall at the National Gallery of Art
another hall at the National Gallery of Art

Finally, we stop to see Leonardo da Vinci’s Ginevra de’ Benci.  According to the brochure, “Ginevra’s face displays the delicate translucence of porcelain.  Behind her, the misty landscape assumes a soft, atmospheric effect.  Perhaps an engagement portrait, this is the only painting by Leonardo da Vinci in North America.”

Ginerva de' Benci (c. 1474/1478) - Leonardo da Vinci
Ginevra de’ Benci (c. 1474/1478) – Leonardo da Vinci

As Toby doesn’t have much time, she wants to have lunch, so we head to Penn Quarter, a short walk, where we have a fabulous lunch at oyamel cocina mexicana.  According to the website: “Oyamel Cocina Mexicana combines Mexico’s rich regional diversity with the modern urban atmosphere of Mexico City: antojitos—traditional snacks or small plates—authentic and creative tacos, ceviches, and impressive desserts.” We’re served up some chips and fresh guacamole and I order camarones al mojo de ajo negro, or “wild caught Gulf Coast white shrimp sautéed with shallots, árbol chile, poblano pepper, lime and sweet aged black garlic.”  We also order some papas al mole:  “José Andrés’ favorite potato fries in a mole poblano sauce of almonds, chiles and a touch of chocolate, topped with Mexican cream and queso fresco.”  Yum!!

The restaurant’s decor is festive, with butterflies galore, flowers on the ceilings, Mexican writing on the walls, and Mexican masks.

butterflies at Oyamel
butterflies at Oyamel

After lunch, we make our way to the nearest metro station (Archives – Navy Memorial/Penn Quarter), where we come upon the Navy Memorial. We don’t even realize what it is at first until we see the metro sign that says “Navy Memorial.” 🙂 According to the website, “the United States Navy Memorial honors the men and women of the United States Navy – past, present and future.”

Captain John Paul Jones
Captain John Paul Jones
the fountain at Navy Memorial Plaza
the fountain at Navy Memorial Plaza

Finally, we get on the yellow/green line, where we hop the train to L’Enfant Plaza; there we transfer to the Silver line to Reston, where we part ways after a brief but enjoyable meeting.

What a lovely day, and I really enjoyed meeting another of my blogging friends in real life! 🙂

the sculpture garden at the national gallery of art

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.

a wild looking man interacting with a metal tree at the Sculpture Garden
a wild looking man interacting with a metal tree at the Sculpture Garden
this is what I entered on the Instagram #WHPartwatching
this is what I entered on the Instagram #WHPartwatching

After I got my picture, I walked around the Sculpture Garden, taking more photos of all the cool sculptures on the grounds.

Alexander Calder American, 1898-1976 George Rickey American, 1907-2002 Cluster of Four Cubes, 1992 stainless steel
Alexander Calder
American, 1898-1976
George Rickey
American, 1907-2002
Cluster of Four Cubes, 1992
stainless steel
Mark di Suvero American, born 1933 Aurora, 1992-1993
Mark di Suvero
American, born 1933
Aurora, 1992-1993
Joan Miró Spanish, 1893-1983 Personnage Gothique, Oiseau-Éclair (Gothic Personage, Bird-Flash), 1974, cast 1977
Joan Miró
Spanish, 1893-1983
Personnage Gothique, Oiseau-Éclair (Gothic Personage, Bird-Flash), 1974, cast 1977
Typewriter eraser by Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen
Typewriter eraser by Claes Oldenburg
and Coosje van Bruggen
Alexander Calder American, 1898-1976 Cheval Rouge (Red Horse), 1974 painted sheet metal
Alexander Calder
American, 1898-1976
Cheval Rouge (Red Horse), 1974
painted sheet metal
Alexander Calder American, 1898-1976 Cheval Rouge (Red Horse), 1974 painted sheet metal
Alexander Calder
American, 1898-1976
Cheval Rouge (Red Horse), 1974
painted sheet metal
Alexander Calder American, 1898-1976 Cheval Rouge (Red Horse), 1974 painted sheet metal
Alexander Calder
American, 1898-1976
Cheval Rouge (Red Horse), 1974
painted sheet metal
Sol LeWitt American, born 1928 Four-Sided Pyramid, 1999, first installation 1997
Sol LeWitt
American, born 1928
Four-Sided Pyramid, 1999, first installation 1997
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Flower by Mother Nature 🙂
pond & fountains at the Sculpture Garden
pond & fountains at the Sculpture Garden
Barry Flanagan British, born 1941 Thinker on a Rock, 1997
Barry Flanagan
British, born 1941
Thinker on a Rock, 1997

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.

Food kiosks on the Mall
Food kiosks on the Mall
Food kiosks on the Mall
Food kiosks on the Mall
Food kiosks on the Mall
Food kiosks on the Mall
Food kiosks on the Mall
Food kiosks on the Mall

I decided I would indulge at the “froyotogo” truck, mainly because it was painted purple, on some frozen yogurt with raspberry and kiwi toppings.

Food kiosks on the Mall
Food kiosks on the Mall
Frozen yogurt with raspberries and kiwi :-)
Frozen yogurt with raspberries and kiwi 🙂

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. 🙂

me at Jazz in the Sculpture Garden in the summer of 2009
me at Jazz in the Sculpture Garden in the summer of 2009
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in search of the weekend hashtag project: the national gallery of art

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.

the West Wing of the National Art Gallery
the West Wing of the National Art Gallery

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.

In The Tower: Kerry James Marshall ~ "artwatching" :-)
In The Tower: Kerry James Marshall ~ “artwatching” 🙂

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. 🙂

In The Tower: Kerry James Marshall
In The Tower: Kerry James Marshall

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 The Tower: Kerry James Marshall
In The Tower: Kerry James Marshall
In The Tower: Kerry James Marshall
In The Tower: Kerry James Marshall
In The Tower: Kerry James Marshall
In The Tower: Kerry James Marshall

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.

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fish scales & shadows

Still, no people were interacting with this colorful fish! I found this cool sculpture in the lobby, but no one was interacting with it.

a cool sculpture in the lobby
a cool sculpture in the lobby

And later, when I walked past it again, people were interacting with it, but I couldn’t get a good angle.

a father and daughter interacting both with each other and the sculpture
a father and daughter interacting both with each other and the sculpture

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!

I liked this colorful wall art, but couldn't find any people interacting with it!
I liked this colorful wall art, but couldn’t find any people interacting with it!
Another colorful painting, with no people!
Another colorful painting, with no people!

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.

Multiverse
Multiverse
Multiverse
Multiverse
Multiverse
Multiverse

You can see a couple of people “interacting” with this art, but they were kind of blurry in the dark!

Multiverse
Multiverse

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.

waterfall in the concourse
waterfall in the concourse
the waterfall in the concourse
the waterfall in the concourse

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!”

a couple interacting with the fountain!!
a couple interacting with the fountain!!

And these young people walking through the pyramids.

mini glass pyramids between the East and West wings of the National Gallery of Art
mini glass pyramids between the East and West wings of the National Gallery of Art

But I actually thought the pyramids were more interesting with no people and their interesting reflections.

more mini pyramids
more mini pyramids

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. 🙂

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