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Monday, August 3, 2015

Love nights and jazz notes at the Sculpture Garden


Another party night at the Sculpture Garden at the National Gallery of Art/Photo by Patricia Leslie
In the distance is the dome of the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History and beyond it, the top of the Washington Monument, seen from one of the entrances to the Sculpture Garden.   In the winter, the Sculpture Garden's center becomes an ice rink/Photo by Patricia Leslie
Shoes are not required at the Sculpture Garden at the National Gallery of Art.  And shirts?/Photo by Patricia Leslie
This is an impressionist painting of a veggie sandwich hanging at the Sculpture Garden at the National Gallery of Art/Photo by Patricia Leslie
Hidden love under a Chagall umbrella at the Sculpture Garden at the National Gallery of Art/Photo by Patricia Leslie
Incendio made music at the Sculpture Garden at the National Gallery of Art on July 31, 2015/Photo by Patricia Leslie
The amount of visible grass at the Sculpture Garden set a record for the summer.  (You have to attend to know what I mean.)  A guard told me the week before was packed, and we mused about the reason.  The salsa dancing?  He said people were dancing galore.  Center in the photo is Joan Miró's Personnage Gothique, Oiseau-Éclair (Gothic Personage, Bird-Flash), 1974, cast 1977, bronze, Gift of The Morris and  Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation/Photo by Patricia Leslie

I can see clearly now the grass is there.
I can see all obstacles moved away.
Gone are the crowds that made me sad.
It's gonna be a bright (bright)
bright (bright) moonlighty night.
It's gonna be a bright (bright)
bright (bright) moonlighty night.

Oh, yes I can make it now the crowd is gone.
All of the bad feelings have disappeared.
Here is that seat I've been longing for.
It's gonna be a bright (bright)
bright (bright) moonlighty night.

(ooh...) Look all around, there's nothing but green grass.
Look straight ahead, there's nothing but green grass
This could be a park at the beach with a big, pink elephant to admire.  It was actually a lark in the park at the Sculpture Garden with Alexander Calder’s Cheval Rouge (Red Horse), 1974, on long-term loan from the Calder Foundation, New York/Photo by Patricia Leslie
Look at these beauts!  The latest in head fashion, newly arrived from Hermes for next year's entrants in New York City's Fifth Avenue Easter Parade/Photo by Patricia Leslie
Something which never changes at the Sculpture Garden's party nights:  the long line for the ladies room/Photo by Patricia Leslie
One last kiss, oh, baby, one last kiss, it never felt like this, oh, baby, not like this, you know I need your love, oh, oh, oh, oh, baby one last kiss at the Sculpture Garden at the National Gallery of Art/Photo by Patricia Leslie

This year is the 15th season of free sculptures in the jazz garden or free jazz in the Sculpture Garden (take your pick, they both are available) to be seen and heard on Friday evenings, now through the end of August at the National Gallery of Art's prized outdoor jewel.

Inside the gated community (outsider alcohol, verboten, with bag check) are fascinating sculptures to admire (both of the permanent and human varieties), live music to hear, and food and beverages to consume to launch the weekend celebration.   


Which sculpture is your favorite?  As you ponder the answer, you may settle on the meaning of life.  Stand at different corners of Roy Lichtenstein's House I (1996, fabricated 1998, fabricated and painted  aluminum, Gift of The Morris and Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation) and watch it move.  What does it mean?  

Or consider Roxy Paine's Graft, (2008 – 2009, stainless steel and concrete, Gift of Victoria and Roger Sant) waving towards Capitol Hill.  It's easy to determine a meaning.

Last Friday night, it was not the band which stole the show, but the usual suspects:  the people, the scenery, the young, the old, the babies and bold were all on hand.  It's lots of fun. With lots of food and beverages to buy.  

Unless you bring your own chairs (which are allowed),  blankets, or towels, you may be standing, standing, standing, since unoccupied seating is not available unless you get there long before the opening bell.

Upon arrival I ducked in the cool (air conditioned) Pavilion Cafe to find just a few ahead of me in the food line, and my favorite dish, the hummus plate.  

I placed my order with the fellow behind the counter who skidded it across the counter top to me, and upon examination, I tossed it back:

"Where are my grape leaves? This is the wrong plate."

 "Oh," he said, "those were last year's menu.  I miss them, too."  So yesterday. 


Yesterday all my food plans since have gone astray,
Now the menu is in serious decay,
          And I may have to eat at the Subway

Suddenly I'm not as excited as I used to be.
There's a leaf hanging over me.
Oh, yesterday came suddenly.

Why grape leaves had to go, I don't know, no one would say.
They made dinner gong, and I long for yesterday.

Yesterday, eating hummus was such a holiday
       Now I found a place to hide away 
       Which may be on the dreaded subway 

And this was heard in passing:


Where have all the grape leaves gone, long time passing?
Where have all the grape leaves gone, long time ago?
Where have all the grape leaves gone?
Menu planners got them everyone.
When will they ever learn?
When will they ever learn?

 
With drooped shoulders and a sadness that only grape leaves could shatter, I made my way to the sweltering outdoors and the line for bar-be-cue.  And beer.

Alas!  No lite on draft!  Only Stella.  Pullease.

And no place to sit.  

Ho hummus, I bought some bar-be-cue.  (Honestly, these Nawrtherners don't know what bar-be-cue is. Have they ever been to the Saoyuth and tasted bar-be-cue?)

In a roped-off area, a guard stood on a stone wall where a fellow sat smoking near the constantly long line for the ladies room, and with the guard's permission, I sat down to eat.  No problems. Not even smoke got in my eyes.

But, Sculpture Garden:  Why so few seats?  I declare the number of bars at your party has doubled, and it does seem like seats have been removed to fit more people inside the province.

Sculpture Garden:  Have you ever been to the South and sat in grass and later discovered you've been devoured by invisible chiggers?  The aggravation lasts about five days, and you have to scratch in the most private of parts!  Once done, you will never sit in grass again, I don't care if it's plastic grass the Inuit have planted for decoration in Nunavut.

Sculpture Garden:  I do not sit in grass.  But, I do have a suggestion for a new sales item for your Friday night gigs:  towels for rent.


Party people, hurry!  There are not many Friday weekends left (4) before summer fun ceases, and soon, it will be brown and dull winter when the temperature may drop to minus 30, and we shall be frozen solid in our winter tombs.  Better to enjoy life now while we've got it!  

 Who: 
August 7   – Miles Stiebel (jazz violin)
August 14 – Origem (Brazilian jazz)
August 21 – Seth Kibel (clarinet)
August 28 – Afro Bop Alliance (Latin jazz)

When:  5 - 8:30 p.m. every Friday through August 28, 2015 (During the summer, the Sculpture Garden opens every day at 10 a.m. (11 a.m., Sunday) and closes at 7 p.m.)

Where:  The Sculpture Garden, National Gallery of Art, between Seventh and Ninth streets at Constitution Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. On the Mall.  

Admission: No charge, but you may want to bring some coins for drinks and treats.

Metro stations: Smithsonian, Federal Triangle, Navy Memorial-Archives.

For more information: 202-289-3360.  And/or check 

www.nga.gov/jazz for the latest information.



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