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!

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Virtual Art Exhibits Available Now

This is a frustrating time for all of us art lovers that are currently stuck at home and unable to explore the world as we’d like. However, we can get our art fix by viewing incredible works from the comfort of our home. At least twenty world-famous art museums are currently offering virtual tours that can satisfy our craving for art and culture.

All in for equality

The list below is compiled from articles featured on Travel + Leisure, The Guardian and MentalFloss. Enjoy!

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British Museum, London

Guggenheim, Bilbao

J Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles

Louvre, Paris

Musee d’Orsay, Paris

Museu de Arte de São Paulo

NASA

National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC (my personal favorite!)

National Gallery London

National History Museum, London

National Museum of Anthropology, Mexico

National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, South Korea

National Women’s History Museum

Pergamon Museum, Berlin

Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

Smithsonian Institution National Museum of Natural History

The Met, New York

Uffizi Gallery, Florence

Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam

Vatican Museums, Rome

 

art · culture

Welcome Back, Smithsonian Institute!

I’m finally writing a post that I’ve wanted to write for weeks now: welcome back to the Smithsonian Institute! During what is officially the longest shutdown in US history, visitors had to go without this cultural treasure.The Smithsonian Institute (SI), along with the National Gallery of Art (NGA), are finally running again after shuttering their doors at the end of December. Even when several other federal agencies were furloughed, SI and NGA both made sure to continue operating until the end of the calendar year.

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It’s this commitment to the American public that really distinguishes these fine organizations. No one is happier to welcome them back that I am.

You’ve been missed.

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Art and its Appreciators Suffer During Government Shutdowns

Happy Thursday, friends! I hope that this Thursday sees you in good health and fantastic spirits. I wanted to post a quick update because, as you all may recall, a few weeks ago I posted about Smithsonian exhibitions that were scheduled to leave the museums in January 2019. I wanted to make sure you all knew the exhibitions that would be leaving soon so that you could take advantage of these before they left DC.

However, my post about the exhibitions came right before the government shutdown. I was not aware that the shutdown would be affecting  the Smithsonian Institution as well as the National Gallery of Art. As a federal employee, I’m aware of what a shutdown can do. I’m also aware that the Smithsonian is part of the federal government.  Despite knowing these things, I did not know that the shutdown would happen for such a long period of time. I also didn’t know to the extent that the Smithsonian would be affected.

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The Smithsonian Castle

Regrettably, while the shutdown continues, the Smithsonian and the National Gallery of Art are not available to serve the public who have funded them throughout the year. I regret that so many people will not be able to enjoy these fine museums until the government is up and running again. Fortunately for us, the Smithsonian and the National Gallery of Art have made many exhibitions viewable on their respective websites.  Yes, I know that websites don’t compared to viewing these treasures in person, but until the museums reopen, we’ll have to make do with what we have.

Let’s all send good vibrations to the hard-working staff of the Smithsonian and National Gallery of Art, who will not receive compensation while the shutdown is occurring. Let us also send good vibrations to the legislators who are trying their best to resolve the shutdown issue with as little negative impact to the workers as possible.

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Leaving Soon – Smithsonian Exhibitions Leaving in January 2019

Happy Sunday! It’s a dreary, rainy Sunday in central Virginia but here’s hoping the weather is more pleasant wherever you are.

If you are planning any trips to the Northern Virginia/District of Columbia/Maryland area during January 2019, then you’ll want to carve out a little time to visit the Smithsonian Institute, one of the most extensive museum collectives in the world. And, if you’re an art lover (like me), you’ll probably want to know which exhibitions are leaving so you won’t miss them during your visit.

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Visitors at the National Collection of Fine Arts touring a gallery of contemporary art by Unidentified Artist, Photo Blow-up, 1968, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, D.C. (as seen in the Celebrating Fifty Years exhibition)

So, for your visiting convenience, here is a list of Smithsonian exhibitions slated to leave the Institute in January 2019. They are organized from early in January to the end of January, so you know which ones to check out first. Enjoy!

January 1 – In Memoriam: George Herbert Walker Bush (National Portrait Gallery)

January 4 – Pushing the Envelope: Mail Art from the Archives of American Art (Archives of American Art Lawrence A. Fleischman Gallery)

January 6 – Celebrating Fifty Years (National Portrait Gallery)

January 6 – UnSeen: Our Past in a New Light, Ken Gonzales-Day and Titus Kaphar (National Portrait Gallery)

January 6 – Trevor Paglen: Sites Unseen (Smithsonian American Art Museum)

January 6 – Let’s Get It Right: Work Incentive Posters of the 1920s (National Museum of American History)

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One of the work posters in the Let’s Get It Right exhibition

January 21 – No Spectators: The Art of Burning Man (Renwick Gallery)

January 21 – Diane Arbus: A box of ten photographs (Smithsonian American Art Museum)

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One of the prints shown at the Diane Arbus exhibition (Diane Arbus, A woman with her baby monkey, N.J. 1971)

January 24 – Japan Modern: Photography from the Gloria Katz and Willard Huyck Collection (Arthur M. Sackler Gallery [Sackler Gallery])

Daikon Embankment Woodblock print

Kawase Hasui, Daikon Embankment (from the series Twelve Scenes of Tokyo), 1920 (as featured in the Japan Modern exhibition at the Sackler Gallery)

January 24 – Japan Modern: Prints in the Age of Photography (Sackler Gallery)

January 27 – Charline von Heyl: Snake Eyes (Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden)

 

I hope this list helps you plan a fun and art-filled trip to the Washington, DC area! Take care, and enjoy your Sunday!

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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!

 

art · life curation

The Writing and Drawing Salons Are Back!

You’ll recall last year that I wrote about how the National Gallery of Art offers writing and drawing salons seasonally (during the fall, winter and spring). I’m delighted to share that the salons are back! In fact, I’m a little late to the party: the first salons have already happened! Here is the schedule for the remaining salon events:

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Writing Salon

  • Character: The Power of Detail (November 2018)
  • Perspective: Inside Out (January/February 2019)
  • Setting: Capturing Place (February 2019)
  • Story: The Narrative Arc (March 2019)
  • Poetry: Movement and Meaning (April/May 2019)

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Drawing Salon

  • Rachel Whiteread and Sculpting Memory (November/December 2018)
  • El Greco’s Expressive Figures (January/February 2019)
  • Illuminating American Landscapes (March 2019)
  • The Portraits of Sir Anthony van Dyck (April/May 2019)

Kudos to the National Gallery of Art for expanding the schedule to accommodate more participants during this salon season. I recall the years when the events were held over three days only. However, this year (and last year, if I recall correctly), each theme has up to 8 different dates for attendees! More people can participate in these events with all of these dates available.

I plan to attend several salons this year. I didn’t make it to any last year, but I should have a lot more schedule flexibility over the next few months. If you decide to attend, I’ll see you there!

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Spotlight on Monet

Happy Monday, beloveds! Can you believe it’s almost been a whole month since I went to Philadelphia? That trip, which was mainly for the purpose of attending my first Freeman’s auction, was a lot of fun, and a great “break” in the monotony of my day-to-day life.

While at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, I made sure to tour the European art wing, because I’d be experiencing a bit of a deficit. The museum nearest to me, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, has an incredible European art collection featuring impressionist works by Claude Monet and Edgar Degas. However, the Monet and Degas works are on an international tour and won’t be returning to VMFA until 2020.

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The Japanese Footbridge and the Water Lily Pond, Giverny (Monet, 1899)

So, as you can imagine, I was excited when I saw some Monet works in Philadelphia. I got to enjoy different versions of his Water Lilies series. I love both versions that I saw: the painting that has deeper tones feels more dynamic and calls to mind a scene from a lake during the autumn season. On the other hand, the painting with the lighter colors evokes warmer weather and the freshness of spring and summer.

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Water Lilies, Japanese Footbridge (Monet, 1918-2916)

What I love most about Monet is the thing he is known for: impressionism is one of my favorite art movements. The gentle intermingling of colors (the result of applying wet paint to wet paint), the way that light is captured, and the softness of nature all speak to me in indescribable ways. Monet’s depictions of his environment make me want to experience Giverny (the commune where Monet spent more than 40 years) in person.

Ah, how I enjoyed these! I’m excited to check out more of Monet’s work at the National Gallery of Art this summer. The museum currently has 16 of his works on view, and I plan to check out each of them!

art · life curation

A Day at NGA

A couple of weeks ago, I had a free afternoon and I was feeling artsy (to be honest, I can’t think of a time when I’m NOT feeling artsy). So I took a stroll to National Gallery of Art (NGA) to check out the exhibits. It’s been nearly two years since my last visit, so I was overdue.

Tomorrow’s post will be “heavier”, as far as subject matter goes, so today, I’m taking it light and easy. Here are a few photos from my last visit to NGA. This post features a few of the sculptures that I saw at the museum. Enjoy!

Nymph and Satyr by Edward McCartan (1920)

This satyr is nothing but trouble! Look at how he’s looking at the nymph.

Play coy, little nymph! Maybe that naughty satyr will leave you alone.

Justice by Barthelemy Prieur (1610)

It’s hard to believe this lovely lady is over 400 years old! It was completed the year before Prieur’s death.

I had to do some research on this one: I’d never heard of “zephyr” before.

A Garden Allegory: The Dew and Zephyr Cultivating Flowers by Benoit Massou, Anselme Flamen and Nicolas Rebille (1683/1732)

This beautiful woman depict dew, the gentle moisture found on vegetation in the morning hours.

The charming little cherub next to Dew is Zephyr, the soft gentle breeze that can be felt on a pleasant spring day

art · life curation

What’s Inspiring Me This Month

Happy Sunday friends! I was just reflecting on what I’ve been enjoying so far this month. As you all know, I’m participating in the Joy Challenge, so I’ve relished any opportunity to enjoy myself.

it's timeto shop!

I am constantly inspired by the things going on around me, and ht epeople that I interact with daily. However, there are a few things that have been especially inspiring to me this month, and I want to share those things with you all. They are as follows:

Mashonda Tifrere’s Instagram:

Perfect, poised and beautiful

Mashonda is a stunningly beautiful recording artist that is now a curator and art champion. Her organization, ArtLeadHer, focuses on supporting female artists, curators and collectors, giving them a platform and visibility in the male-dominated art environment. Mashonda recently curated a show in honor of International Women’s Day, and I’m positive that we will continue to see more incredible things from her in the near future.

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Jeannette Maw’s “What’s On Your Wall?” podcast episode:

You already know I’m a Jeannette fan, as I’ve written about her before on this blog. However, I found myself going back to this podcast several times since it was released in February. Listening to it impressed upon me the importance of visually surrounding yourself with that which inspires you. Make sure that what adores your walls brings you delight: whatever you observe, you create. As a side note, I think it’s important to mention that I posted affirmations along my wall in my old job, a while before I got my current dream position. I suspect that those visual reminders were powerful in helping me to create my current situation. I actually could stand to restart this practice: there are some more things I’m longing to create, and using my wall décor to help me get what I want is easy and fun.

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National Gallery of Art’s (NGA) Foundation for Art and Preservation in Embassies (FAPE) recordings:

I attended my first FAPE event in 2015, and I enjoyed it tremendously. This year, I couldn’t get to the museum, but I watched the event via live stream on NGA’s website. I have since listened to several of the archived FAOE discussions on NGA’s website. If you’d like to stay abreast of the cross-cultural discussions surrounding art, diplomacy and culture, this series is a must.