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.


¡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.


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.


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.


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!


New Exhibitions Coming to Washington DC


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.


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.


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.


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. 


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.


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.


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


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


(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.


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.



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


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

luxury · travel

Review of The Fairfax at Embassy Row

I’m feeling so much better! A weekend of rest and care really did the trick. Now that I’m back to my normal self, I can finally post this review of my stay at The Fairfax at Embassy Row Hotel, in Washington, DC.

A few weeks ago, I stayed in DC to attend an event hosted by the Embassy of Kenya. Since I don’t live in DC or in any of the surrounding cities, I booked a room at The Fairfax for convenience. Also, I was overdue for a luxe experience, and since The Fairfax is a five-star hotel, I thought I’d be in for a treat.

I arrived the afternoon before my event and I was struck by the beauty of the lobby. I was greeted by the reception desk staff but it was not quite the warm, welcoming experience that I had at other hotels (the staff I encountered when I checked out, however, was far more affable). I received my room key and instructed on the location of the elevator, but that was it. Normally, especially with four- or five-star hotels, the desk staff that checks in guests tends to offer a bit of a concierge flavor: you can expect them to make you aware of any amenities as well as give you one or two local attractions or points of interest. I didn’t receive any of that. I also factored in whether there were other guests waiting to be checked in after me, but no, that wasn’t the case, either. The staff when I checked in was just mediocre: not spectacular but not awful, either.

I arrived at my room and I found it charming. The bathroom was beautifully designed and the rest of the room was classically appointed. It didn’t strike me as particularly luxurious, but it was lovely and tasteful.

I wanted to try the toiletries provided by the hotel, but the smell was overpowering. The scent of the soap, shampoo and conditioner was “Warm Oak” and it smelled like a high quality men’s cologne. I wish the hotel had opted for unscented or more neutral-scented toiletries for the rooms (to be fair, the hotel may offer unscented/neutral-scented toiletries, but I didn’t inquire about the availability).

The shower was heavenly, and the bed was comfortable. The Fairfax at Embassy Row also provided some very handy USB charging ports (I wish more hotels would make this standard in all rooms). However, you will need to bring your hot spot with you, unless you want to pay $12.95 for daily wireless internet usage. I’m still amazed that two- and three-star hotels offer free WiFi fairly consistently, but more luxurious hotels almost always charge for such a basic service within the rooms. However, public WiFi is available in the lobby, restaurant and lounge.

I took the Metro to The Fairfax, so I have no experience with the valet service. I also didn’t dine in The Capital Room restaurant or The Fairfax Grille and Lounge. My experience was pretty much all about the lobby, the elevator, and the room!

I checked out the morning after I attended the embassy event and, as I briefly mentioned, the reception staff that checked me out of my room was delightful. Checking out was easy and uncomplicated.

Would I stay at The Fairfax at Embassy Row again? Sure, especially since it is so close to the embassies. I don’t know that I would recommend it highly to anyone seeking a truly luxe experience; perhaps I missed the details that made this hotel qualify as a Five-Star location (per the Five Star Alliance).

Have any of you stayed at The Fairfax at Embassy Row? Did you all feel the “five-star”-ness of the hotel? If there was something I missed, let me know in the comments. I’d love to hear from you all!