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! 🙂

last days at the corcoran

Saturday, June 28:  The news about the Corcoran Gallery of Art‘s proposed collaboration with the National Gallery of Art and George Washington University seems to mean the demise of the Corcoran as we know it.  According to a New York Times article, the Gallery was “facing mounting debts, a shrinking endowment and tens of millions of dollars in renovations”: The Corcoran Gallery of Art May Cede Control of Its Collection.

The Corcoran Gallery of Art
The Corcoran Gallery of Art

In a February 19 article in The Washington Post, Phil Kennicott says: After decades of erratic and often incompetent leadership, {the Corcoran’s board} has seen the institution through to its demise. They will hand over the art to the National Gallery, which will take the pick of the lot and then distribute the rest through some program yet to be announced. A small “legacy” gallery featuring beloved works closely associated with the soon-to-be-defunct Corcoran brand will be maintained somewhere in the old building, which will be given to George Washington University. GWU will absorb the college and teaching functions. As a legal entity, the Corcoran will continue, although this will consist primarily of an advisory board and a name on the wall of the museum building on 17th Street NW.

Stained glass and reflection
Stained glass and reflection

For more details about the demise of the Corcoran, please see the Post article: The end of the Corcoran.

Since the gallery portion of the Corcoran will only be open until October 1, 2014, and since the Corcoran is offering free admission during Saturdays through the summer, I decide to visit the venerable art gallery one last time.  I’ve been to the gallery numerous times over the years, and was even inspired by a photography exhibit here to write a short story: The Red Star Sky.

According to a Washington Post article, The Corcoran Gallery’s Hidden Gems: In the center of the museum’s Salon Doré, a gilded 1770 French drawing-room designed by Jean-François-Thérèse Chalgrin, is a contemporary work the museum acquired specifically to display in this spot. Yinka Shonibare’s “Girl on Globe 2” is a politically charged sculpture of a headless African girl wearing a Victorian costume of Dutch wax fabric, which was manufactured in the Netherlands but intended for a colonial market. She is balanced on a globe that maps the effects of global warming.

Girl on Globe 2 by Yinka Shonibare
Girl on Globe 2 by Yinka Shonibare

According to the Arts Observer: “Girl on Globe 2″ by Yinka Shonibare is rife with symbolism. According to the museum, “Fascinated by the culture of 18th century Europe and its aristocrats, Shonibare intends for his headless figures to evoke the beheading of the French aristocracy during the Revolution of 1789-99, as well as to serve as a reminder of our own capacity for mindlessness in contemporary life.”

Girl on Globe 2
Girl on Globe 2

One exhibit is American Journey – Visions of Place.  This is a new installation of the Corcoran’s pre-1945 American paintings and sculptures that conveys the changing notion of place in the history of American art.

A sculpture on the Corcoran’s second floor announces the metal exhibit.

On the 2nd floor of the Corcoran
On the 2nd floor of the Corcoran

Another extensive exhibit here today is titled American Metal: The Art of Albert Paley. Spanning Paley’s 50-year career, the exhibition traces his work as a jeweler and progresses through his recent large-scale sculptural projects to reveal the artist’s unique place in American art.

Finally, the statue of Venus is surrounded by a 360 degree light show.

Venus in string lights
Venus in string lights

I’m sad to see the closing of a great art gallery in Washington.  It seems that bookstores and art galleries are toppling around us.  I can’t help but wonder what will be left in the future.  Will we all sit around staring mindlessly at our computers and phones, withdrawing increasingly from face-to-face and real life interaction?

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
Enhanced by Zemanta

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.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
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. 🙂

Enhanced by Zemanta