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Sunday, July 26, 2015

Last day for historic photographs at the National Gallery of Art


James Van Der Zee (1886-1983), Couple, 1924, National Gallery of Art, Washington

In celebration of the 25th anniversary of the Department of Photography at the National Gallery of Art, curators Sarah Greenough and Diane Waggoner selected 175 works from the Gallery's collection of almost 15,000 pictures for a special exhibition which traces photography's history from its inception in 1839 through the 1970s.

And today is the last day to see the exhibition entitled In Light of the Past: Celebrating 25 Years of Photography at the National Gallery of Art.

Talk about a job to choose one percent of a collection for commemoration! Imagine.
Weegee (1899-1968), The Critic, 1943, National Gallery of Art, Washington
Irving Penn (1917-2009),  Woman with Roses (Lisa Fonssagrives-Penn in Lafaurie Dress), Paris, 1950. National Gallery of Art, Washington

The cornerstone for the department was laid in 1949 by the artist Georgia O'Keeffe (1887-1986) and the estate of her husband, Alfred Stieglitz (1864-1946) who donated Stieglitz's Key Set, including 1,600 prints, to the National Gallery.  Wikipedia labels it the world's largest and most complete collection of his photographs. 

Later, after a Stieglitz exhibition in 1983, and one in 1985 featuring works by Ansel Adams (1902 -1984), Virginia Adams donated her husband's Museum Set.
Berenice Abbott (1898-1991), Vanderbilt Avenue from East 46th Street, October 9, 1935,  National Gallery of Art, Washington
Helen Levitt (1918-2009), New York, c. 1942, National Gallery of Art, Washington
Some of the other photographers represented in the exhibition are Walker Evans, Paul Strand, Marianne Brandt, Harry Callahan, Diane Arbus, Robert Frank, Robert Adams, and William Eggleston.
Julia Margaret Cameron (1815-1879), The Mountain Nymph, Sweet Liberty, June 1866,  National Gallery of Art, Washington

Julia Margaret Cameron (1815-1879), Summer Days, 1866,  National Gallery of Art, Washington


Nadar (1820-1910), Honore Daumier, 1856/1858
National Gallery of Art, Washington

In conjunction with the exhibition, another one, The Memory of Time: Contemporary Photographs at the National Gallery of Art, Acquired with the Alfred H. Moses and Fern M. Schad Fund, (through September 13, 2015) expands the presentation in adjoining galleries with 76 works by international artists.

The people are grateful to the Trellis Fund for making the exhibition possible. 

What:  In Light of the Past: Celebrating 25 Years of Photography at the National Gallery of Art

When: Sunday, July 26, 2015, 11 a.m. - 6 p.m.

Where: Ground Floor, West Building, National Gallery of Art, between Third and Seventh streets at Constitution Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. On the Mall.  (Closest exhibition entrance is on Seventh Street.)

Admission: No charge

Metro stations: Smithsonian, Federal Triangle, Navy Memorial-Archives, or L'Enfant Plaza

For more information: 202-737-4215 



Friday, July 24, 2015

Last chance to see 600 years of metalpoint at the National Gallery of Art


Otto Dix (1891-1969), Old Woman, 1932, metalpoint (probably silverpoint) and graphite (?) on white prepared paper. The Museum of Modern Art, New York

Art aficionados will want to be sure and see 100 distinctive metalpoint works at the National Gallery of Art before the show closes Sunday en route for London.

The "first comprehensive exhibition" of metalpoint, Drawing in Silver and Gold:  Leonardo to Jasper Johns, is laid out in chronological order beginning with art from the 14th century. Included are five works by Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519) and some by contemporary artists like Jasper Johns (b. 1930) and Susan Schwalb (b. 1940).
Hans Holbein the Elder (1465 -1524), Portrait of a Woman, c. 1508, silverpoint. National Gallery of Art, Woodner Collection.  The catalogue says Holbein knew this woman well, and drew her more than once.

A metalpoint artist uses a sharp pointed tool with metal on the end to make gold or silver point drawings of fine detail on specially treated paper, parchment, or wood.  The "carvings" cannot be erased. 

When he traveled to the Netherlands in 1520-1521, Albrecht Durer  (1471-1528) drew impressions of his trip in silverpoint sketchbooks.
Attributed to Jacquemart de Hesdin and others (active, 1384- after 1413), Sketchbook Formed of Six Panels of Prepared Boxwood, open to Women and Wild Men, c. 1390-1400.  Model book with drawings in metalpoint (probably silverpoint). The Morgan Library & Museum, New York, and one of the earliest pieces in the show which does not travel to London.

The technique almost died out near the end of the 16th century in Europe, but fascination in the 1890s with all things 15th century art revived it. Victorian artists and members of the public (including the Princess of Wales) bought kits and studied instruction they found in magazines.

The British Museum, owner of half the pieces in the exhibition, was the destination of many Victorian artists who visited that museum to see some of the very silverpoint examples now hanging at the National Gallery of Art.
Master of the Housebook (active, 1470-1500), Standing Lovers, c. 1485, metalpoint (probably silverpoint). Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Kupferstichkabinett.  The catalogue says the artist, who may have worked in Frankfurt, was an anonymous contemporary of Hans Holbein the Elder. Unfortunately, the photographer (me) cut off his unusual footwear which is shown in the original at the show.  Where is his hand and what is he holding?
Marsden Hartley (1877-1943), Mont Sainte Victoire, 1927, metalpoint (probably silverpoint) on commercially prepared paper.
Chazen Museum of Art, University of Wisconsin-Madison.  The catalogue says Hartley's landscapes "were executed while he was living abroad [Paris], following in the footsteps of Paul Cezanne." 

In the present exhibition are five works by "one of the most prolific metalpoint artists of all time," Hans Holbein the Elder, three by Raphael, three by William Holman Hunt, two by Rembrandt van Rijn, five by Jacques de Gheyn II, two by Pisanello, two by Gerard David, and many more.
Joseph Stella (1877-1946), Self-Portrait, c. 1925, metalpoint (probably silverpoint) and graphite on white prepared paper. Philadelphia Museum of Art
Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519), A Bust of a Warrior, c. 1475/1480, silverpoint on cream prepared paper, on loan from The British Museum, London. The introduction to the catalogue calls this work "one of the most widely admired drawings in the history of art."
Charles Haslewood Shannon (1863-1937), Eight Studies of a Dead Mouse, 1896, silverpoint on white commercially prepared paper, on loan from The British Museum, London.  It is an example of the detail and refinement of the Aesthetic Movement. "Several of the whiskers are drawn in with a needle," according to the catalogue.


The National Gallery of Art organized Drawing in Silver and Gold in collaboration with The British Museum.

Lenders to the exhibition are museums and private collectors from around the world, including the Louvre and Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

A color catalog of more than 300 pages is available in the shops, and a video in the exhibition demonstrates the methodology and tools.

The exhibition is made possible by a generous gift in memory of Melvin R. Seiden.   


What:  Drawing in Silver and Gold:  Leonardo to Jasper Johns


When: Now through Sunday, July 26, 2015, 10 a.m. - 5 p.m., Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. - 6 p.m., Sunday.


Where: Ground Floor, West Building, National Gallery of Art, between Third and Seventh streets at Constitution Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. On the Mall.  (Closest exhibition entrance is on Seventh Street.)

Admission: No charge

Metro stations: Smithsonian, Federal Triangle, Navy Memorial-Archives, or L'Enfant Plaza

For more information: 202-737-4215 



Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Barter Theatre's 'Southern Fried Nuptials' cooked the way you like it


From left are Andrew Hampton Livingston (Carter Canfield) and Carrie Smith Lewis (Harlene Frye) appearing in Barter Theatre's Southern Fried Nuptials/Photo by Justin Slone

You wouldn't go to this expecting Shakespeare, would you?

No, you come to find fried southern comfort and silliness for a fun time at the theatre tonight, and that's what you get, and more at Barter Theatre in Abingdon, Virginia, about 20 miles north of the Tennessee-Virginia line.

Naturally, Southern Fried Nuptials is about a weddin' going wrong.

Get ready for a surprise with a twist of lemon.

The slow start is soon forgotten once the guffaws begin, with lines like: "A wife waits until after a weddin' to tell a husband how he feels." 

Or, "your past is standing in the living room," to echo the night's refrain: "What's past is past."(We wish.)

Harlene Frye (played by Carrie Smith Lewis) is the bride-to-be who speaks a mite too fast (which a microphone would help translate for the audience), with a mite too much of an affected Southern accent, trained by none other than her "brother," Dew Drop (Zacchaeus Kimbrell), who pulls double duty as the dialect coach for the play.

Atticus Van Leer (Justin Tyler Lewis) is Harlene's fiance and the best actor on stage, if one has to choose a "best," for he delivers one of the most convincing, wide-eyed performances of the production. 

Harlene's mom, Dorothy (Tricia Matthews) does all right, but the show stealer without a doubt, who makes the audience "howl" every time she comes on stage is the director, Mary Lucy Bivins, also performing dual roles as the unwelcome substitute wedding planner, Ozella Meeks (but "meeks," she ain't). 

Ozella's booming voice carries well throughout the theatre, and her bright yellow garment (by Karen Brewster) marks her like a canary in the woods:   "Where are my manners?" she says, answering a question:  "I must have left them in my pocketbook."

Holly Williams is the bride's sister, Sammy Jo LeFette, another Nuptials standout with her ability, sassiness,  and presentation. 

Says Sammy Jo to husband, Beecham (Sean Maximo Campos):  "I know I must be depressed because I am talking to you about it." 

The second show stealer, another "odd-ball" (aren't they all?  So unlike us) is Fairy June Cooper (love these Mississippi names) riotously portrayed by Kate Denson who grows on you as time passes, like waiting for a firecracker to explode, and you know it's gonna, you just don't know when and exactly what will come out.  Costume Designer Brewster dresses Fairy June exactly like one would expect. 
From left are Kate Denson (Fairy June Cooper), Paris Bradstreet (Martha Ann Fox), and Zacchaeus Kimbrell (Dew Drop) appearing in Barter Theatre's Southern Fried Nuptials/Photo by Justin Slone

Carter Canfield (Andrew Hampton Livingston) is the antagonist, the epitome of the handsome cowboy come to town with an "aw shucks, m'am, I aim to please" personality, that you just want to jump up on stage and smack him around some, he makes you so mad.

Other cast members are Paris Bradstreet who is Martha Ann Fox, Dorothy's business partner, and Michael Poisson as Vester Pickens (the names!), paramour-in-waiting for Dorothy, both whose performances match the Barter troupe's professionalism, reputation, and attractiveness, which get better and better.

The solo set (by William J. Buck) is filled with almost too many props which can detract from the dialogue: wedding gifts on the side board, family photos on the walls, furniture, an upstairs to the left, a kitchen entrance to the right.  (D.C.'s contemporary minimalist theatre sets for sad and depressing content contrast with shows like delightful Nuptials.)

Andrew Morehouse, the lighting designer, illuminates the stage so that not one wrinkle is spared, expanding his talents outside to Buck's well-crafted front porch, "hedges" and a slamming screen door (nice sound by Miles Polaski).

In the show I saw, Dew Drop experienced a costume malfunction when he left the stage for the kitchen and returned a few minutes later wearing a different outfit which suggested a new scene, but it was not (if the other actors don't leave and change, and no one remarks or improvises on his change).

Minutes later, Dewey went back to the kitchen (a "safe harbor" for one or more of the characters off and on all night) and reappeared on stage in his original gear, which always looked like pajama bottoms (trending), increasing intended (?) confusion. 

Mr. Kimbrell's age did not seem to fit his character for he is far beyond the implied 11 or 12 years which Dewey's role and apparel suggest. 

It seems to me that a little bit of Mississippi fried music would have complemented the presentation which was thoroughly entertaining without it. (Huh?)

Cindi A. Raebel is stage manager.

The play was written by Dietz Osborne and Nate Eppler whose website says they work out of the Southeastern U.S. on commission, generally writing comedies.

What:  Southern Fried Nuptials

When: Now through August 8, 2015

Where: Barter Theatre, 127 West Main Street, Abingdon, Virginia 24210. From Washington, drive out I66 West and down I81, about 5.5 hours if you don't stop to eat.

Tickets: Start at $34 with discounts for seniors, AAA, military, students, and groups.  Call 276-628-3991 or purchase tickets at the box office or on the Web.

Other Barter performances: The Barter runs simultaneous plays, and you may also want to see Marvelous Wonderettes, Mary Poppins, Keep on the Sunny Side, The Understudy, and for the children, Rapunzel or The Jungle Book, depending upon the calendar.

For more information: 276-628-3991

Accommodations: Prices in Abingdon range from plain to fancy. There's the lovely, quaint "fab 50s" motel on the hill at Exit 19, the Alpine, with old-fashioned but newly modernized huge rooms, and lawn chairs outside each door for guests to use for gazing at the peaceful hills and farmlands. Mountain air arrives in rooms via open windows. If it's fancier digs you prefer (and ghosts), check out "The Martha" (as in "Washington"), across the street from the Barter. Built in 1832 for a general's residence, it became a woman's college until it was overtaken by the Great Depression, which started a few years before the Barter opened.

"The Martha" is one of several places in Abingdon with theatre packages.

About  Abingdon: A beautiful town with stately trees, hanging baskets and big, old homes to admire, Abingdon was founded in 1776, and, according to Wikipedia, was likely named after Martha Washington's ancestral home in Oxfordshire, England. The U.S. version has a variety of good places to eat, see, browse, and visit, including a gentle nearby mountain trail, the Virginia Creeper, which is an easy walk or bike (with plentiful rentals available) all the way down.


Friday, July 3, 2015

Olney's 'The Producers,' a super smash hit

Leo Bloom (Michael Di Liberto) with his Showgirls in Olney Theatre Center's production of THE PRODUCERS. (Photo: Stan Barouh)
 
The Olney Theatre Center has outdone itself with the most entertaining area performance in memory.

From the get-go, The Producers rockets off the stage and doesn't stop until the end. You say "Mel Brooks," and I say "hilarious!"

Stage and television star (The Wire) Michael Kostroff plays the main character, Max Bialystock (with the emphasis on "stock"), a producer who adopts an accountant (Leo Bloom played by Michael Di Liberto) to be his co-producer of the worst performance on Broadway so they can take advantage of "creative accounting" and rake in the bucks when the show quickly dies.

"A man can make a fortune with a flop," Max realizes.

Max and Leo set out to find the worst title (what could go right with Springtime for Hitler?), hire the worst director (Jason Graae as Roger de Bris), and the worst actors to join the terrible team. It becomes as garish and awful a show as the title suggests, but the costuming by Seth M. Gilbert is oh, la, la.

To secure "creative financing," Max calls upon his retinue of "little ole ladies" with deep pockets who still like to frolic, and, imagine...they look and dress alike. (In identical costumes and hair styles, they dance later on with their walkers which become props which become tap shoes.)
Michael Kostroff as Max Bialystock, Jessica Jaros as Ulla, and Michael Di Liberto as Leo Bloom in Olney Theatre Center's production of THE PRODUCERS. (Photo: Stan Barouh)

A blonde bombshell a la MM, "Ulla" (with a faithful rendition by Jessica Jaros), joins the duo to "help out," and add more hilarity.

I loved!  loved!  loved!  (and so did the audience) the fairy queen/king, Carmen Ghia (Robert Mintz) the director's assistant who flitted, who floated, and flew around the stage like Tinkerbelle in lilac.

With the exception of two off-key horns for a few seconds, the orchestra (under the direction of  Darius Smith with assistance from Christopher Youstra) seemed sharper and more polished than usual.

While it is true that you won't walk out humming or singing any of the songs, The Producers (introduced to Broadway in 2001) still holds the record for winning the most Tonys (12). (In another funny scene--heck, they all are--Max and his team stop and move in slow motion when the name "Tony" pops up.  "You say Tony?" Max whispers slowly.)

On opening night the actors skillfully handled some improv (the trip), which happened fast, but the audience quickly grabbed on, increasing the pleasure.

James Fouchard, scenic designer, must have gotten an early look at the new exhibition at the National Gallery of Art, Gustave Caillebotte:  The Painter's Eye anchored by Caillebotte's Paris Street, Rainy Day, for the likeness becomes The Producers' set anchor, too. 

Andrew F. Griffin's excellent lighting design works the entire night, from a single spotlight on a prisoner to lights changing the sky and the city scenes.

One word in the lights at the end made me wince, however: moron. Don't they know?

Others in the cast are Stephen F. Schmidt as Franz, and in the ensemble, Brandon Ambrosino, Kurt Boehm, Jennifer Cameron, Jennifer Cordiner, Gabriella DeLuca, Lance E. Hayes, John Jeffords, Amanda Kaplan, Ethan Kasnett, Emily Madden, Nurney, Natalie Perez-Duel, Derek John Tatum, and Vicky Winter.

This is a production I believe will earn Helen Hayes nominations, as in:

Outstanding Resident Musical

Outstanding Ensemble in a Musical

Outstanding Director of a Musical: Mark Waldrop

Outstanding Choreography in a Musical: Tara Jean Valley

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Musical: Michael Kostroff

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Musical: Jessica Jaros

Outstanding Supporting Actor: in a Musical:  Robert Mintz

What: The Producers, a new Mel Brooks Musical

Age recommendation: For 13 and up

When: Now through July 26, 2015 (look for an extension) at 8 p.m., Wednesdays through Saturdays, with weekend matinees at 2 p.m., and Wednesday matinees, July 15 and July 22, at 2 p.m.


Where: Olney Theatre Center, 2001 Olney-Sandy Spring Road, Olney, MD 20832

How much: Tickets start at $38, with discounts for military, groups, seniors, and students. 

Duration:  About 2.5 hours with one intermission.

Refreshments: Available for purchase and may be taken to seats.

Parking: Abundant, free, and on-site

For more information: 301-924-3400

For more reviews of The Producers and other plays, go to
DC Metro Theater Arts.


patricialesli@gmail.com

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Photos from the 2015 World Police and Fire Games, Fairfax County


In memoriam:  Carlos Silva, 48, Brazil, killed in a cycling accident July 2 at the World Police and Fire Games


At the World Police and Fire Games at Lerner Town Square at Tysons Sunday afternoon, children played in the sand while Norway's beach volleyball team practiced/Photo by Patricia Leslie

The fittest, best-looking men in the world are in Fairfax County this week, athletes in the World's Police and Fire Games.

And for once, the customary area ratio of women to men is turned upside down. (How do you like 1 to 9?)

Here's a link to a newspaper story and the website which lists the games schedule. Check it before you go for what's listed is not always right, but, for sure, at Lerner Town Square at Tysons II, the beer is pretty cheap ($4) and so are the tacos with meat ($2) and you can get "loaded" snow cones ($8), too. At Lerner's, the dodge ball competition is on tap from 4 - 8 p.m. tomorrow.

(You don't need a car to get to the Tysons games.  They are right beside the Tysons Metro station.)

Lots of fun, food, and good lookins'! Enjoy!
Washington's Area Law Enforcement hockey team (in dark blue) played the Royal Canadian Mounted Police at the Reston Skatequest/Photo by Patricia Leslie
Seattle sent its finest area firefighters to play ice hockey. From left are Michael Lingrey, Everett; Joel Willits, Kent; Ryan Berg, Tukwila; Lee Allen, Seattle; and Andrew Polmateer, Hoquiam/Photo by Patricia Leslie
Pull-ups were part of the "Toughest Competitor Alive" contest at Westfield High School in Chantilly/Photo by Patricia Leslie
At the "Toughest Competitor Alive" contest at Westfield High School in Chantilly/Photo by Patricia Leslie
Pull-ups at the "Toughest Competitor Alive" contest at Westfield High School in Chantilly/Photo by Patricia Leslie
Boise, Idaho's Kathlyn Peterson (on left) is a world volunteer/Photo by Patricia Leslie
Try lifting 225 pounds, why doncha? At the crossfit contest at the World Police and Fire Games at Lerner Town Square at Tysons /Photo by Patricia Leslie
Kim Holway was the world champion female weight lifter at past World Police and Fire Games. Here she attempts 165 pounds as part of the crossfit competition at Lerner Town Square at Tysons Sunday afternoon, /Photo by Patricia Leslie
Success for Kim Holway at the World Police and Fire Games at Lerner Town Square at Tysons Sunday afternoon/Photo by Patricia Leslie
At the World Police and Fire Games at Lerner Town Square at Tysons Sunday afternoon, Fairfax's best wanted headgear action from Norway/Photo by Patricia Leslie

P.S.  Sorry to read about the Russian policeman, a hockey player, who got arrested Tuesday for stealing at the Macy's at Tysons Galleria.

patricialesli@gmail.com

Saturday, June 27, 2015

We Three Kings of Orient are leaving the National Gallery of Art July 5


Juan de Flandes (1460-1519), The Adoration of the Magi, c.1508/1519, National Gallery of Art, Samuel H. Kress Collection, West Building, Main Floor, Gallery 40, Washington, D.C.
Before the parade on Constitution, the concert on the Mall, or anytime before the July Fourth holiday weekend comes to a close, residents and visitors will want to visit the cool confines of the National Gallery of Art with its comforting temperature, pleasures and stimulation offered by a few thousand pieces of art (including the newly opened Gustave Caillebotte:  The Painter's Eye and Pleasure and Piety:  The Art of Joachim Wtewael) and say adieu to Peter Paul Rubens:  The Three Magi Reunited.
From left on the wall, Peter Paul Rubens (1577-1640), all, One of the Three Magi, c. 1618, possibly Balthasar,  Museum Plantin-Moretus, Antwerp—UNESCO World Heritage;  center, possibly Gaspar, Museo de Arte de Ponce, and far right, possibly Melchior, National Gallery of Art, Washington, Chester Dale Collection.  Standing from left are Arthur K. Wheelock, Jr., National Gallery of Art, and Pablo Perez d'Ors, Museo de Arte de Ponce.


For the first time in 130 years, the faces of the Three Magi as portrayed by Sir Peter Paul Rubens (1577-1640) have been reunited at the National Gallery of Art in Washington.  Because possibly Melchior (far right, above, in red) is part of the National Gallery's Chester Dale bequest which prohibits travel or loans to other institutions, this grouping of three will likely be the only time they will be seen together for, perhaps, another 100 years.  

(Balthasar (far left, above) is on loan from the  Museum Plantin-Moretus, Antwerp—UNESCO World Heritage, and Gaspar (the old man in the center with the white beard) visits from the Museo de Arte de Ponce, The Luis A. Ferré Foundation, Inc. in Puerto Rico.)

No one knows, of course, what the three kings looked like.  The only Biblical reference to them is found in the Gospel of Matthew which pays the Magi scant attention. Nor is it firm that there were three Magi, but three gifts (gold, frankincense, and myrrh) are mentioned in the Bible which match the three ages of life (youth, middle, and old age) which have led scholars to settle on three.

Their origins may have been Europe, Asia, and Africa, or just Asia.

We three kings of Orient are
Bearing gifts we traverse afar
Field and fountain, moor and mountain
Following yonder star


At their opening in March, the National Gallery's Arthur K. Wheelock, Jr.,  said "they all are real people in some way or another. They are real figures" and how Sir Rubens brought them to life is "fascinating."  Their names, Balthasar, Melchior, and Gaspar, have evolved over time.

Wikipedia quotes Encyclopædia Britannica:  "According to Western church tradition, Balthasar is often represented as a king of Arabia, Melchior as a king of Persia, and Gaspar as a king of India."  (Myrrh, brought by Balthasar, is found in the Horn of Africa, close to Arabia.) 

Rubens painted them probably in 1618, upon commission from his good friend, Balthasar Moretus, whose parents named him and his brothers after the kings, a common practice then.

Balthasar, the king from Africa, brought the baby Jesus the gift of myrrh, a resin used in embalming. In the portrait Rubens placed it in a small chest similar to a sarcophagus, symbolizing the death and resurrection of Jesus.

Myrrh is mine, its bitter perfume
Breathes of life of gathering gloom
Sorrowing, sighing, bleeding, dying
Sealed in the stone-cold tomb


It is probably Melchior, the middle-aged king, who carries frankincense which scholars say represented sacrifice, prayer, and the Christ Child's divinity.

Frankincense to offer have I
Incense owns a Deity nigh
Prayer and praising, all men raising
Worship Him, God most high


The old man with the long, white beard, possibly Gaspar, wears a gold brocade mantle and has a dish filled with coins.  In many Adoration of the Magi renderings (the National Gallery has 60 in its collection; not all on view), Gaspar is the Wise Man who kneels closest to the Baby Jesus.

Born a King on Bethlehem's plain
Gold I bring to crown Him again
King forever, ceasing never
Over us all to reign


O Star of wonder, star of night
Star with royal beauty bright
Westward leading, still proceeding
Guide us to Thy perfect light



What:  Peter Paul Rubens:  The Three Magi Reunited


When: Now through Sunday, July 5, 2015, 10 a.m. - 5 p.m., Monday - Saturday, 11 a.m. - 6 p.m., Sunday and open on July 4.


Where: Main Floor, West Building, National Gallery of Art, between Third and Seventh streets at Constitution Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. On the Mall.

Admission: No charge

Metro stations: Smithsonian, Federal Triangle, Navy Memorial-Archives, or L'Enfant Plaza

For more information: 202-737-4215



 

Monday, June 15, 2015

Book review: 'Flight 232: A Story of Disaster and Survival' is eye glue

Do not pick up this book unless you have uncommitted hours to read.

On my way to the bed chambers, I made the mistake to stop and unload my bag of library books which included Flight 232:  A Story of Disaster and Survival which had been on the reserve list owing to its popularity, and it is no wonder.

It's a spellbinder, all about the crash of United Airlines Flight 232 on July 19, 1989 in Sioux City, Iowa (and not a book recommended for those who may be skittish about flying).

The mysterious cause of the crash, its discovery and the hunt for missing parts scattered over hundreds of miles read like a "whodunit" with lengthy descriptions and photos.

Of the 296 passengers and crew on board, 184 (or 185) survived.  That any lived is shocking, especially when you see the crash (link below). 

Without its tail-mounted engine, flight controls, and only the pilots' ability to turn the plane right, it crashed on a runway with the largest section of the plane landing in a cornfield where some of the passengers were thrown. When the survivors rose from the ground, one rescuer compared them to ghosts rising from a cemetery, while other rescuers thought they were more helpers who had arrived at the airport to help in the recovery.

The author, Laurence Gonzales, a commercial pilot who obviously knows his stuff, conducted hundreds of interviews (many with survivors) and studied many more documents to present an intricately researched, balanced, hour-by-hour, minute-by-minute description of the flight, its final minutes, and the aftermath. 

The extraordinary skill and experience of the pilots, aided by a flight instructor who happened to be on board, and their abilities to all work together ("crew resource management") resulted in many lives saved. (Perhaps on summer break, elected leaders in Washington could attend a "crew resource management" session(s).)

The harrowing tale follows many of the passengers en route, sketching their life histories and interests, and what happened to them, sometimes years later; however, it is difficult to keep their identities straight and to know, while reading, who lived and who died.  (The book has about everything in it except a map of the route from Denver to Chicago's O'Hare with the detour to Sioux City, and a list of all the passengers and whether they lived.)

Yes, I did skip many of the technical parts (e.g., the first half of Chapter Four), and I tried to overlook the color photographs of the makeshift morgue and caskets lined up in a hall at the airport hangar.  The 1989 practice of identifying the dead by cutting off fingertips and removing jaws has been discontinued. 

See the crash and hear the communications between the control tower and the pilots at laurencegonzales.com, and get ready for a long, but very fast, night.

patricialesli@gmail.com