art · culture

Celebrating the Arts

One of the greatest joys of my life was visiting museums. Prior to 2019, I regularly worked in Washington, DC, which meant that I could easily go to a major museum during my lunch break or after work. I loved walking those corridors and taking in art from all around the world, as well as art that documented the history of America. Nothing was as soothing to me as spending time at the Smithsonian and checking out the latest exhibitions.

However, things changed drastically at the end of 2018. I was unable to walk more than a few feet without getting winded, I could only sleep for an hour or so at a time, and the unrelenting body aches that I experienced left me frustrated and frightened. As someone that was used to being far more active, I was terrified of these mysterious symptoms that took away my basic abilities to navigate the world like I’d previously done. As it turns out, I had fibromyalgia, and I immediately started a telework schedule that would allow me to rest as needed throughout the day. Unfortunately, my condition made traveling to DC absolute torture. So, I had to put my museum mini-trips on hold until my health improved.

I still haven’t gone back to visit the museums in DC, though I have spent some time at my local museum earlier this year (I was thrilled to finally be able to walk around a bit without experiencing excruciating pain). However, it’s National Arts and Humanities Month, and I just want to take a moment to share some of the amazing things happening at the Smithsonian in honor of this month-long celebration.

On October 23rd, the Smithsonian will be kicking off its own craft show. The show will occur virtually, and the theme is Celebrating American Artistry. The crafts featured in the show are created by carefully selected artisans that create work that reflects American aesthetics and sensibilities. What better way to celebrate art than to purchase some for yourself? Interested shoppers can securely purchase items through the Smithsonian platform, adding a layer of assurance for both shoppers and the craftspeople that are involved in the exchange. The event ends on October 31st.

The Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, the Asian art museum within the Smithsonian, is the host of the DC Turkish Film Festival. The films that are featured in this festival are all available online for free, so anyone can enjoy from the comfort of their homes. The films will be available through the Sackler Gallery through October 31st.

The companion to the Sackler Gallery is the Freer Gallery. At the Freer Gallery, the Hokusai: Mad About Painting exhibition is a fascinating dive into the art of Katsushika Hokusai, a Japanese artist that is arguably among the country’s most famous painters. The Freer Gallery has an impressive collection of Hokusai’s work, and anyone interested in learning more about this gifted artist would do well to check out this exhibition. But hurry: it will only be at the gallery until January 9, 2022.

The National Museum of African Art (located just one block from the Free and Sackler Galleries) is currently displaying Heroes: Principles of African Greatness, an exhibition that centers on how art is used to tell the stories of heroism and the traits of effective African leaders. This one is definitely worth checking out sooner rather than later, since the end date for this exhibition is still to be announced. Nothing is worse that postponing a visit and finding out that you mistimed your travel and lost the opportunity to do something that you wanted to do (trust me: it’s happened to me, and it was no fun!)

Finally, the Archive of American Art is hosting the exhibition, What is Feminist Art? This exhibition is a continuation of a discussion that was initiated back in 1976, and some of the same artists that participated in the 1970s also participated this time around. This exhibition promises to be an eye-opening discussion on feminism and how it has changed, or remained the same, over the past 45+ years. This exhibition closes on December 31st.

Would you check out any of these exhibitions? Or, do you have other plans to celebrate National Arts and Humanities Month? I’d love to hear all about it in the comments below!

art

This Week in DC Art

Happy Tuesday, friends! This is a holiday week, so you may be trying to find something to do other than simply eating turkey with family and friends (though that’s a perfectly good plan, as well!) If so, I have a few art-related things that you can check out if you want to do something different during this holiday weekend.

For starters, the National Portrait Gallery has an exhibit highlighting the history of the selfie-er, I mean, the past 100+ years of self-portraiture. Eye to I: Self Portraits from 1900 to Today showcases 75 different works that show how different artists during this period chose to depict themselves. It should be a fun and fascinating exhibit.

The National Portrait Gallery also recently acquired a photograph of Celia Cruz that is worth a trip all on its own, so if you go, make sure to pay homage to Queen Celia.

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¡Yo soy de Cuba la Voz, Guantanamera! by Alexis Rodríguez-Duarte, inkjet print, 1994 (printed 2016). National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution © 1994, Alexis Rodríguez-Duarte

At the National Gallery of Art, this is the last full week that you can check out the exhibition Water, Wind and Waves: Marine Paintings from the Dutch Golden Age. If you love the sea (like me), this exhibition shouldn’t be missed. With the Dutch being personally invested in seafaring activities, these paintings have a level of realism and intensity that is rarely duplicated by other artists.

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Estuary at Day’s End by Simon de Vlieger, c. 1640/1645

Finally, if you’re spending time at the National Portrait Gallery, you might as well swing over to the Smithsonian American Art Museum (these two institutions are housed in the same building). Pushing the Envelope: Mail Art form the Archives of American Art is showcasing a fascinating subset of art: mail art. Artists in the 1960s and onward started using postal mail as a new outlet for their creativity. This exhibition has mail art that captures the spirit of the times, including pieces that mark significant political periods.

These are just a few of the exhibitions in DC this week that are worth checking out. I hope you spend a little time patronizing these fine institutions over this upcoming weekend!

 

life curation

Winter Socializing: My Game Plan

Happy Hump Day! I’m already looking forward to the weekend, but I’m two days away and trying to make the best of it. As the days get shorter and the air gets cooler, I’m considering what my social calendar will look like. I hate having to go outside during the winter so any social events I attend must be pretty special in order for me to participate.

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My ideal calendar for December 2018 to March 2019 would involve the following:

  • A monthly art event
  • One wine event during the season
  • Two or three workshops (less than 3 hours long each)
  • One long workshop (more than 3 hours)
  • Biweekly dinners with friends
  • One date per week

I’m an introvert, so this schedule is ambitious for me. In fact, there’s a good chance I could line up my calendar to include everything I’ve written above and I still may end up flaking simply because I don’t have the energy. But what I’m learning is that it’s really important for me to set social goals, much like I set career, education, health and financial goals. Social goals can really help me with managing the emotional lows that I tend to experience during this time of the year.

As much as I love to isolate myself, I really benefit from interacting with others in small doses. If I don’t overdo it, being around others tends to lift my spirits and give me some energy. So I’m going to spend some time today figuring out which events to add to my calendar. And, once I have those all lined up, you can look forward to some reviews and discussions regarding the stuff that I’m doing as I ride out this fall and winter. Wish me luck!

art · life curation

How I Prepare for an Art Event

As you all know, I LOVE great art events. I haven’t been to one in a few months, though I expect that will change in the upcoming weeks. With my soon-to-be busy calendar on my mind, I thought I’d share how I prepare for art events. This is a super-brief guide, but it may be helpful for someone that’s never gone to an art event before.

First, I figure out which artist and/or movement is being honored. I’ll do some research so that I’m knowledgeable about the subject being discussed. Even if I don’t talk to many people at the event, I still like to be able to follow whatever is being discussed.

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Next, I set a goal for the event. Am I there just for fun? Am I looking to make new connections? Am I only seeking more information about the artist and/or movement being honored? I come up with talking points if I plan to socialize.

My look for my first art gala

After that, I determine the theme of the event, as well as the dress code. I plan my outfit and I always, always pay attention to my shoes: if I’ll be standing for a while, I want to make sure that my shoes will be comfortable for the duration of the event.

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My look from my last art event

I then determine the location and how long it will take me to get there. I hate being late so timing my travel is imperative.

On the night of the event, I get dressed and I fill my purse with the necessities, including touch-up beauty items and business cards. I’ll make sure that my event tickets are in my purse and on my phone (if I have digital tickets). Then, I go, have fun, and take lots of pictures!

That’s my very (very!) abbreviated guide to prepare for art events. Do you all go to art events? If so, let me know what you do to prepare!

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New Exhibitions Coming to Washington DC

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Happy Thursday, friends! Before we welcome the month of June, I thought you all might enjoy a list of some of the exhibitions coming to DC during the month. Have fun planning your museum trips! I know that I will.

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Kreeger Museum, June 5 – July 31, 2018: The art for this exhibit is coming from the Museum of Art, Architecture, and Technology (MAAT) in Lisbon. This museum is fairly new: it opened to the public in October 2016.  This is a special exhibition because it is the first group exhibition of 21st century Portuguese art of the 21st century to be presented in the United States.

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Fabergé piece on display at Virginia Museum of Fine Arts

Hillwood Estate, Museum and Garden, June 9, 2018 – January 13, 2019: As a lover of all things bejeweled and antique, Peter Carl Fabergé’s work is an eternal fave. So I won’t miss this exhibition at Hillwood Estate, Museum and Garden in DC.  Fortunately, this exhibit will be here for several months, so if you can’t make it this summer, you have until early 2019 to visit and check it out.

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Daguerrotype of Louis Daguerre, one of the fathers of photography

National Portrait Gallery, June 15, 2018 – June 2, 2019: The National Portrait Gallery (NPG) will be exhibiting daguerrotypes collected over 50 years. This early form of photography was the predecessor to photography as we know it today. The collection has some very famous faces, like P. T. Barnum and Matthew C. Perry, within it. The museum is celebrating it’s golden anniversary this year, so you can bet that there will be a lot of great exhibits throughout the year. 

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Smithsonian Folklife Festival

National Mall, June 27 – July 1, 2018; July 4 – 8, 2018

June ends on a strong note with the Smithsonian Folklife Festival. This year’s festival will highlight Armenia, Catalonia and the Sisterfire Concerts. It’s technically not an art exhibition, but if you’re in the area, you can’t miss the festival. This is always a great opportunity to take in international culture over several days.

culture

Women’s History Month in Washington, DC

As many of you know, I work (and play) in Washington, DC. Since I’m in the District several times a week, I try to explore and take in the city as much as possible during my breaks and (occasionally) after work. Out of curiosity, I looked up what is happening in DC during Women’s History Month (WHM), happening right now, until the end of March. I’m happy to say that DC didn’t disappoint, with several museums and other institutions hosting WHM events for the public.

You can find a list of events on the Women’s History Month website (click here for more information). I’m really eager to go to the Library of Congress, to view the exhibition, Drawn to Purpose, which puts the spotlight on women illustrators and cartoonists. Even if you can’t make it in person, you can view the exhibit online. I’m also excited to see Michelle Obama’s portrait over at the National Portrait Gallery.

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Anita Kunz’s Tugged is one of the photos featured on the main page of the Drawn to Purpose exhibition at the Library of Congress

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The portrait of Michelle Obama, painted by Amy Sherald, is a popular new addition at the National Portrait Gallery

Now, on this blog, WHM is EVERY month. But I love that DC has so many events that reflect the month’s theme. I’m looking forward to sharing all of the photos with you as I tour around and have a good time in DC!

art · life curation

Meet the Artist: Carrie Mae Weems

On Tuesday, February 6th, the National Gallery of Art (NGA) is hosting acclaimed artist Carrie Mae Weems. This event is a lecture that will discuss Weems’s Kitchen Table Series, a set of photographs capturing (as NGA describes it), “[…] the story of a woman’s life as seen through the intimate space of the kitchen—the traditional sphere of women and a site of sanctuary, creation, shared experiences, and emotional honesty”.

Carrie Mae Weems

(Photo of Weems, courtesy of the MacArthur Foundation)

Weems has won numerous awards during her career, including the prestigious MacArthur Fellowship. It’s going to be a treat to listen to her discuss her work during her lecture at NGA. You won’t want to miss this event!

art · culture

Return of the Drawing Salon at The National Gallery of Art

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(image courtesy of ClipArtPanda)

Recently, I shared that the National Gallery of Art hosts Writing Salons, to assist all interested in getting in touch with their inner author. However, the Writing Salons have a counterpart that is equally as, if not more, popular: the Drawing Salons. NGA has finally began accepting reservations for the Drawing Salons, and I’m here to tell you all about it, both as an art enthusiast and as a former salon attendee.

Similar to the Writing Salons, the Drawing Salons are hosted monthly and the salon topics vary for each session. The Drawing Salons also run from now into the springtime, though they end one month after the last Writing Salon session. There are also only 5 Drawing Salon themes, as opposed to the 6 Writing Salon themes available this season.

The topics being explored during this season of the Drawing Salon are as follows:

American Impressionism

Cézanne’s Landscapes

Picasso’s Palette

Rodin’s Sculptures

Matisse’s Cut-Outs

I attended one of the Drawing Salons in 2015, and thoroughly enjoyed it. NGA provides supplies and is well equipped for each group of budding artists. I found that the art instruction was solid and appropriate for any skill level. I liked that the groups were small enough that the art instructor could provide each attendee a measure of one-on-one attention. But the most impressive part of the session was the art history lesson provided to attendees: the historical context deeply informs the sketch that attendees create during the session.

So, much like the Writing Salons, if you have a chance, GO! You won’t be disappointed!

international · luxury

Fine and Rare Wine Auction at Sotheby’s

As a wannabe sommelier, I love to learn all that I can about wine. So, on a hunch, I decided to look up wine auctions. Lo and behold, Sotheby’s London will be auctioning fine and rare wines on September 20, 2017.

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(This 62+ year old The Dalmore, The 12 Pointer, is expected to command more than $66,000 USD at auction. Photo courtesy of Sotheby’s.)

I’d never heard of many of the brands, but I was in awe of the prices that some of these wines were expected to fetch. Some lots were expected to go for upwards of $66,000 USD. I’ll never cease to marvel at the concept of wine as a collectible asset!

Even more interesting was the wine catalogue: it’s more than 100 pages long and very informative. I enjoyed reading about the flavors of the wines; the descriptions are superb. If you can’t use these terms to describe some of the wines you’re drinking, then it may be time to try some different wines!

This event sounds like the perfect place for wine connoisseurs and anyone that loves luxury. Again, it will be held on September 20, 2017, at 10:30 BST, at Sotheby’s London (34-35 New Bond Street, London W1S 2RT UK). However, you don’t have to attend to bid. You may complete the absentee bid form, or register online to bid electronically.

Do you collect wine? Have you ever attended a wine auction? Please comment and let me know!

art · international

A Night with Neneh Ada Yang

A few months ago, I was invited to a red carpet event to celebrate the first US art exhibition of Neneh Ada Yang. The stunning Sierra Leonian married Chinese artist Yang Yan, and soon discovered artistic talents of her own. She mastered traditional Chinese painting techniques and now creates beautiful artwork that she sells to support her Queennak Foundation. Her foundation serves as a global diplomacy program, specifically engaging Sierra Leonians abroad.

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I was struck by Neneh’s beauty: petite, perfectly coiffed and elegant. She was so dainty and refined, yet possessing a quiet magnetism that drew everyone to her. She is soft-spoken and so gracious.

I enjoyed the experience very much, and I’m just sharing a few photos from the event. I suggest that you follow Neneh’s Facebook page and check out the Queennak Foundation.

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As a bonus, I’m including a photo of the gorgeous painting that Neneh gifted me. I’ll treasure it forever.

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Have you all gotten any beautiful artwork recently? Let me know in the comments below!