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Saturday, July 15, 2017

Seven centuries of drawings close Sunday at the National Gallery of Art

Pablo Picasso, Spanish, 1881 – 1973, Two Fashionable Women, 1900, charcoal, Woodner Collections, Dian Woodner. © 2017 Estate of Pablo Picasso/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York 
Francisco de Goya, Spanish, 1746 – 1828, Mendigos que se llevan solos en Bordeaux (Beggars Who Get about on Their Own in Bordeaux), 1824/1827, chalk on greenish paper, National Gallery of Art, Woodner Collection, 1993

Leonardo da Vinci, Albrecht Dürer, Raphael, Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres, Edgar Degas, Rembrandt van Rijn, and Pablo Picasso are some of the artists represented in the Woodner Collections, 106 drawings now up for only one more day at the National Gallery of Art.
Jean-Honoré Fragonard, French, 1732 – 1806, Avenue of Cypresses at Villa d’Este, 1760/1765, pen and ink with wash over chalk counterproof, National Gallery of Art, Woodner Collection, Gift of Dian Woodner, 2013

The 1000 works in the National Gallery's collections from Ian Woodner (1903-1990) and his daughters, Dian and Andrea, cover seven centuries, starting from around 1340 A.D. and ending with the 20th century. Some pieces are promised gifts to the Gallery.

The show stretches over several galleries, beginning with the Italians, then, the 18th and 19th centuries, 19th century watercolors, and beyond.

Odilon Redon, French, 1840 – 1916, Cactus Man, 1881, various charcoals with stumping, wiping, erasing, incising, and sponge work, Woodner Collections, Promised gift of Andrea Woodner

Mr. Woodner, a successful real estate developer, was an artist himself who began collecting in the 1950sIn his professional career, he helped design the Central Park Zoo and 1939 World's Fair buildings, and later he turned attention to development of residential and commercial properties in New York and Washington.  
Zanobi Strozzi, Italian, 1412 – 1468, Initial Q with a Procession of Children, c. 1430s, tempera and gold leaf on parchment, National Gallery of Art, Woodner Collection, Gift of Dian Woodner, 2013

His watercolors and pastels enjoyed exhibitions in New York, Munich, London, Madrid, and Jerusalem. At the Woodner Apartments in Washington, some of Mr. Woodner's works may still be seen in the lobby.

Curating the National Gallery's display was Margaret Morgan Grasselli, head of the Gallery's department of old master drawings.

We the people of the U.S. and visitors to the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. are grateful to the Woodners for their splendid gifts to the National Gallery whose walls fill with spectacular art for the people to see with free admission

Thank you.

What: The Woodner Collections:  Master Drawings from Seven Centuries

When: The National Gallery of Art is open 10 a.m. - 5 p.m., Monday through Saturday and 11 a.m. - 6 p.m., Sunday. The exhibition closes Sunday, July 16, 2017. 
Where: The ground floor of the West Building, the National Gallery of Art, between Third and Ninth streets at Constitution Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. On the Mall.

Admission charge:

Metro stations for the National Gallery of Art
Smithsonian, Federal Triangle, Navy Memorial-Archives, or L'Enfant Plaza

For more information: 202-737-4215


Friday, July 14, 2017

19th century photographs on display through Sunday

Edward H. Fox, 1851-1919, On Clear Fork, Rugby, Tennessee, 1880s.  From the collection of William L. Schaeffer.The label describes Rugby as a utopian coummunity established for British boys who were ineligible to inherit family estates due to primogeniture. A new railroad to Chattanooga permitted the viability of the town which still exists!

See America's 19th century history in 175 pictures on display through Sunday at the National Gallery of Art.

East of the Mississippi: Nineteenth-Century American Landscape Photography is the first show of its kind to focus on the Civil War century and its aftermath, not only in city scenes, but in visuals from  the country, too. Lenders to the exhibition include 42 collectors, museums and libraries from the U.S. and Canada.
 James E. McClees, 1822-1857, Entrance to Woodlands Cemetery, The Library Company of Philadelphia. This Philadelphia cemetery was like many of the era when citizens enjoyed the grounds like they would enjoy a park.  They relaxed and picnicked. 
Frederick DeBourg Richards, 1822-1903, The Hole in the Wall, 1859. Black Dog Collection. The "hole in the wall" was fencing installed to permit passersby opportunity to see Benjamin Franklin's grave at Christ Church, Philadelphia.

Photographers in the show include Charles Bierstadt, John Moran, Alfred Stieglitz, Edward Steichen, William Rau, and George Barnard.

The National Gallery of Art organized the exhibition in association with the New Orleans Museum of Art. With Yale University Press, the museums have published a catalogue of 288 pages with 220 color illustrations available in the shops.
 Jay Dearborn Edwards, 1831-1900, South Claiborne Avenue at Common Street (New Orleans), 1858-1861, The Historic New Orleans Collection
 Jay Dearborn Edwards, 1831-1900, Esplanade Street from Royal Street Toward Lake (New Orleans), 1858-1861, The Historic New Orleans Collection
  George Barker, 1844-1894, Silver Springs, Florida, c. 1886, Daniel Wolf, Inc.

Isaac A. Bonsall, 1833-1909, Chattanooga, Tennessee from Lookout Mountain, 1863-1865, Collection of Paul Sack

After the National Gallery, the exhibition moves to the New Orleans Museum of Art where it shall be up from October 5, 2017 through January 7, 2018. 

The National Gallery's Diane Waggoner was curator. Support from the Trellis Fund and Kate and Wes Mitchell made the show possible.

What: East of the Mississippi: Nineteenth-Century American Landscape Photography

When: The National Gallery of Art is open 10 a.m. - 5 p.m., Monday through Saturday and 11 a.m. - 6 p.m., Sunday. The exhibition closes Sunday, July 16, 2017. 
Where: The ground floor of the West Building, the National Gallery of Art, between Third and Ninth streets at Constitution Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. On the Mall.

Admission charge:

Metro stations for the National Gallery of Art
Smithsonian, Federal Triangle, Navy Memorial-Archives, or L'Enfant Plaza

For more information: 202-737-4215


Saturday, July 8, 2017

Last weekend to see Smithsonian's 'Greek Slave'

 Model of the Greek Slave, 1843, plaster, metal points, Hiram Powers (1805-1873)/Photo by Patricia Leslie

This life-size plaster cast was completed in Hiram Powers' Florence, Italy studio on March 12, 1843 from a clay model, and it served as the prototype for six marble statues which sculptors, working under Powers' watchful eyes, carved for patrons between 1844 and 1869.
The gallery at the Smithsonian American Art Museum for the Greek Slave/Photo by Patricia Leslie
Six million visitors toured the 1851 international fair in London where the Greek Slave rotated on a pedestal, the first time an exhibition allotted a section to the U.S. (The American portion included a teepee, Indians [seen in the background], portraits of presidents, and a cylinder engine.) This rendering is from a hand-colored lithograph at the Library of Congress/Photo by Patricia Leslie
A pointing machine and assistants allowed replicas and copies of the Greek Slave to be made at Hiram Powers' studio /Photo by Patricia Leslie
Life Cast of Left Forearm and Hand, fragment, about 1843, plaster, from the studio of Hiram Powers, Florence, Italy, 1837-1873/Photo by Patricia Leslie. The model for this cast is unknown but using a cast instead of modeling was verboten among sculptors. This model identically matches the Greek Slave's hand's and arm's dimensions and positions.

Catch her before the Greek Slave, "one of the best-known and critically acclaimed artworks of the nineteenth century," leaves display at the Smithsonian American Art Museum on Sunday.

With his Greek Slave sculpture, Hiram Powers (1805-1873) became the first American to gain international art acclaim. Powers said his statue represented a young woman kidnapped by the Turks during the Greek revolution (1821-1832). U.S. abolitionists adopted her
as a symbol of slavery, and John Greenleaf Whittier and Elizabeth Barrett Browning wrote poems about her.

One of the six original marble versions of the Smithsonian's plaster statue is at the West Building at the National Gallery of Art, a gift of William W. Corcoran to the Corcoran Collection/Photo by Patricia Leslie

The Greek Slave was the first publicly exhibited fully-figured nude female who, some venues required, demanded separate viewings by men and women, the Smithsonian notes. Even in this century, she continues to draw controversy and cover-up.

In 2004 Wikipedia says Vermont Governor James Douglas (R) ordered her likeness on a small lamp removed from his office, so afraid he was that children might see her, since it's doubtful that not all knew what a naked woman looked like.

 One of the six marble models is at the West Building at the National Gallery of Art, a gift of William W. Corcoran to the Corcoran Collection/Photo by Patricia Leslie

 Attracted by Florence, Italy's marble and carvers, Powers, who was born in Woodstock, Vermont, left the U.S. in 1837, never to return as he planned. The Smithsonian acquired the statue and other pieces from his Florence studio in 1968 and at the Smithsonian, the Greek Slave has occupied her own large gallery for almost two years.  One of the six original marbles stands on the ground level of the West Building at the National Gallery of Art which calls it "arguably the most famous American sculpture ever." 

She is "an emblem of the trial to which all humanity is subject, and may be regarded as a type of resignation, uncompromising virtue, or sublime patience," wrote the tour manager, Miner Kellogg when the statue toured the U.S.  in 1847 or 1848 (two different years listed by Wikipedia) drawing 100,000 viewers.[6]
One of the six marble models is at the West Building, the National Gallery of Art, a gift of William W. Corcoran to the Corcoran Collection/Photo by Patricia Leslie

What: The Greek Slave

When: Closes Sunday, July 9, 2017. The museum is open from 11:30 a.m.-7 p.m. every day.

Where: Smithsonian American Art Museum, 8th and F streets, N. W., Washington, D.C. 20004

How much: No charge

For more information
: 202-633-1000 or visit the web site.

Metro station
: Gallery Place-Chinatown or walk 10 minutes from Metro Center

Friday, June 30, 2017

I could have danced all night at the Olney (extended thru AG 6)

Brittany Campbell (Eliza Doolittle) and Danny Bernardy (Henry Higgins) dance all night in Lerner and Loewe's My Fair Lady/Photo by Stan Barouh

With a little bit of luck, you can, too! And still beg for more.

It's that much fun! And it's grand. Another huge hit at the Olney Theatre Center which brings the magic of My Fair Lady to the stage to enjoy and admire.

Chris Genebach (Alfred P. Doolittle) and the ensemble of Olney Theatre Center's production of My Fair Lady/Photo by Stan Barouh

The songs are all here, the ones you've grown accustomed to adore: I'm Getting Married in the Morning, On the Street Where You Live, I'm An Ordinary Man, Get Me to the Church on Time, glamorized by a 14-piece orchestra (hidden somewhere) and under the usual superb direction of Christopher Youstra and the baton of Andra Velis-Simon.

When Benjamin Lurye as Freddy Eynsford-Hill sang On the Street Where You Live, I was almost carried away to the top of the huge lilac branch hanging over half the stage to soar with Freddy. His knockout voice and stunning delivery are alone worth the price of admission. (Just you wait.)

Danny Bernardy is Professor Higgins who tries to teach Eliza (Brittany Campbell) a lesson or two about speech after he "rescues" her from life in the streets selling flowers.

Mr. Bernardy and Ms. Campbell are captivating with undeniable chemistry, enchantment pouring out of every step, critical to any show's success, the duo's confidence and strength adding to the production's allure.

Valerie Leonard's skilful performance and fast transition  from Mrs. Pearce to Mrs.Higgins and back again could be a lesson for every theatre student.

Chris Genebach is Alfred Doolittle, Eliza's dad, a scene stealer every time he appears to draw laughs and images of the mischief he is soon to make. (See if you can follow the fast-moving ladder and steps in-between.)

Another notable cast member is Todd Scofield as Colonel Pickering, a right jolly agreeable fellow and a nice balance to the rumpus kickers in the rest of the lot.

Ensemble members seem to love being here and dancing the night away which my notes reflect since "choreography, choreography, choreography" (by Grady McLeod Bowman in his Olney debut) is the refrain appearing throughout. 

Dialect coach Zachary Campion certainly succeeds for actors' speech patterns lack affectations and exaggerations.

The staging has been advanced to the 1920s when women got the right to vote in the United Kingdom, a twist to the original Edwardian timing by playwright George Bernard Shaw's whose adaptation of Pygmalion, Lerner and Loewe used as their basis for Lady.

Female suffrage receives a slight nod in the production, but the treatment is neither didactic nor annoying, barely noticeable, save some costuming by designer Pei Lee who dresses the characters in drab colors (browns, greys) until a perceptible lift is detected, and off we go to the races, but where did Lee find Eliza's last outfit? A trifling matter, especially when Eliza appears as a princess to descend the stairs, her brown skin beautifully contrasting with the ivory ball gown reminiscent of Michelle Obama's 2009 inaugural formal.

And those outlandish race hats!  Kate and William's wedding may have inspired Pei Lee.  Another scene worth the price of admission, especially combined with the marvelous sound effects Matt Rowe put together as the horses round the theatre's ring behind the audience and the ensemble closely follows their progression. 

However, brace yourself if you've seen My Fair Lady before and expect ostentatious Edwardian sets. They are not to be at the Olney. James Fouchard has created a "neo-minimalist" design like a chess board, and in Professor Higgins's library, there's a game of scrabble upon the wall.

At the end of the show a man told me he cried. He cried? I cried, too. And, at intermission. What's this? It's a happy show, but director Alan Souza got the best of us and our emotions at a dazzling performance.

I'll never get too accustomed to it. 

In the ensemble are: Ian Anthony Coleman, Warren Freeman, Julia Klavans, Christina Kidd, Alex Kidder (also, dance captain), Ashleigh King, Jimmy Mavrikes, and Christopher Mueller.

Other creative staff members are: Trevor A. Riley, production stage manager; Max Doolittle, lights; Ali Pohanka, wigs; Dennis A. Blackledge, director of production; Debbie Ellinghaus, managing director; and Jason Loewith, artistic director.

What: My Fair Lady

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

Wednesday through Saturday at 8:00 pm; matinees on Saturday and Sunday at 2:00 pm; Wednesday matinee July 12 at 2:00 pm. Now through August 6, 2017.

An audio-described performance for the blind and visually impaired on July 5 at 8:00 pm and a sign-interpreted performance on July 13 at 8:00 pm.

How much: Tickets begin at $45 with discounts for seniors, groups, military, and students.

Ages: 10 years and above

Duration: Two hours, 40 minutes with one intermission

Available and may be taken to seats

Parking: Free, nearby, and plentiful on-site

For more information and tickets
: 301-924-3400 for the box office or 301-924-4485

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Pre-Ossoff at Hoover Institution

 From left, Bill Kristol, Jeff Bell, and Spencer Abraham at the Hoover Institution/Photo by Patricia Leslie

Progressives have "a sense of inevitability," said Jeff Bell at "Political Parties in America: Trends and Truths in the Trump Era," a half-day event last Monday at the Hoover Institution,  

The day before the special election in Georgia (won by the Republican Karen Handel who surprised most with a larger-than-expected victory over Democrat Jon Ossoff, 51.9% v. 48.1%), politicos gathered for discussion, moderated by Bill Kristol, the editor-at-large of the Weekly Standard.
  From left, Jeff Bell, and Spencer Abraham at the Hoover Institution/Photo by Patricia Leslie

Overall, the tone throughout the afternoon was moderate; President Trump's name was not mentioned as much as anticipated in a session filled with much presidential election history.

Perhaps the most interesting part of the afternoon came from Morris Fiorina, a Stanford University political science professor who addressed the audience as one of three participants on "Party and Faction, In Principle and Practice" with Harvey Mansfield, Harvard University professor of government, and James Ceaser, University of Virginia professor of politics, all Hoover senior fellows.
  From left, Doug Sosnik and Neera Tanden at the Hoover Institution/Photo by Patricia Leslie

Fiorina presented charts and documentation on past presidential elections, information he gleaned from The Economist, he said. (His presentation would make a great program for political groups.)

Trump and Hillary Clinton were badly flawed, highly unpopular candidates, and Fiorina presented graphs to support his statements The only female voting segment Hillary Clinton won were women with post-graduate degrees. 

"Part of Trump's appeal was nobody knew where he was," Fiorina said. "He talked out of both sides of his mouth."
  Professor Harvey Mansfield at the Hoover Institution/Photo by Patricia Leslie

The "situation is very dicey for each party" said Jeff Bell, former speechwriter for President Ronald Reagan and New Jersey Republican senatorial candidate, speaking on an earlier panel "The Republican Party Today" where he was joined by  Spencer Abraham, the last Republican U.S. Senator from Michigan (1995-2001) and former Secretary of Energy under President George W. Bush.
  Professor Morris Fiorina at the Hoover Institution/Photo by Patricia Leslie

With the exception of Fiorina's remarks, Bell's and Abraham's discussion was the most riveting of the afternoon, and being first on the program helped.
Bell said there is "mutual suspicion between the [Republican] base and party elites," description heard throughout the day.

Senator Abraham may no longer be in the Senate, but he stays close to Michigan voters. 

Parties now are basically "data collection centers," which have become "a library of sorts," he said. "Elected officials are not all that happy with the brand.  The base is unhappy with the failure [of party leaders] to fight hard."
  Professor James Ceaser at the Hoover Institution/Photo by Patricia Leslie

Abraham said that people "were much more vocally supportive of their president" when he was George H. (?) Bush and Bill Clinton.

On the other hand, "when the going gets tough," said Bell, "Republicans bail out." When Bush was "savaged," especially in his second term, the president's response was to ignore the attacks, unlike Trump who "is going in the opposite extreme defending himself" on everything.

From left, James Ceaser, Morris Fiorina, Bill Kristol, and Harvey Mansfield at the Hoover Institution/Photo by Patricia Leslie

Abraham said Trump's condescension towards the establishment is obvious. 

Bell said that the last Gallup poll before the 2016 election revealed Trump's positive rating at 34% and, negative, 62% (not too different from the CBS poll released June 20, 2017: 36% positive, 57%, negative).

Kristol noted the "huge gap" in turnout of Democrats versus Republicans in the June 13 Virginia gubernatorial primary.   

Bell thinks Republican "Ed Gillespie has a pretty good chance" to win the Virginia governor's race in November, and if the Democrats make Trump's impeachment an issue, "it's not all bad for Trump," an opinion Kristol shares.
Abraham said there were really four parties represented in last year's election: Two each for the Democrats and Republicans.  

Now there's a much greater chance other parties will emerge outside the mainstream, Bell said.  

He mentioned last month's French vote as an example (?). Abraham said Republicans feared Trump would run as an independent. Bernie Sanders was the insurgent candidate versus the establishment on the Democratic side, and "Sanders's wing" is gaining momentum.

Bell said: "The conservative movement didn't keep its finger on the electorate  very well.  Right now it's more about the progressive movement," while "the conservatives can't figure out what to do with themselves."

Abraham noted last year Trump carried 65% of the vote in many of Michigan's "old industrial cities" (Battle Creek, Port Huron, Monroe were some he named). 

"The white working class," he said, has a "sense of hopelessness about themselves, their children and their futures" which the people in Washington "not only don't get," but "they don't take it seriously." 

Answering a question from a member of the audience, Bell described a "disconnect between people who run the parties and the electorate."

For another questioner, Abraham thinks" a more confrontational Republican party is likely to emerge here," which will make Republicans uncomfortable, being averse to conflict.

With the exception of pulling out of the Paris climate agreement, Trump's strength is his foreign policy, Bell said.

On the second panel were Neera Tanden, the president and CEO of the Center for American Progress (often called a "left-leaning think tank") and Doug Sosnik, former counselor to President Bill Clinton who has also worked for Senator Mark Warner (D-VA), John Kerry when he ran for president in 2004, and Senator Chris Dodd (D-CT). 
Tanden said the Democrats are " incredibly unified...extremely united with no leader in sight."  (Later, she named Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, Senator Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, and Senator Claire McCaskill of Missouri as rising Democratic stars.  Someone during the day mentioned New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

Sosnik said since 1972 the Democrats have moved further left, will move further left for next year's congressional races and will move even further left for the 2020 presidential campaign.

Political activism is the "greatest" Tanden has seen "in my lifetime." Leaders are not leading, they are following. Sosnik agreed he has never seen "this energy" either. The anti-Trump effect is having a positive benefit for the Democrats, but Democrats have to be convinced to show their "level of anger" by voting next year, said Sosnik.

The "president's problems impact his ability to govern," Sosnik said, and said opponents came out "like rabid dogs" to attack Bill Clinton when he was impeached in 1999. (Senator Abraham voted to convict him.)  

Kristol said that Trump should ignore diversions, but he does not.

Sosnik: "I thought [Trump] would become 'normalized'" once he took office, but "he's not." ("I used  to worry about it; now, I don't.") Trump is 71 and is not going to reinvent himself, Sosnik said.

After President Richard Nixon resigned and President Gerald Ford pardoned him, Kristol said it didn't take long for the matter to fade, and Ford "almost won" the 1976 election. (Jimmy Carter won with 50.08% of the votes and 297 electoral votes, and Ford drew 48.02% and 240 electoral votes.) Sosnik said with the signing of the Civil Rights Act in 1964, President Lyndon B. Johnson knew it would be the end of the Democratic Party as it was known then.

Tanden predicted nontraditional candidates will be running the U.S. 15 to 20 years from now, "not the suits in Washington."

Sosnik said that Bernie Sanders and Trump had more in common than perceived.

Sosnik said that Trump has "squandered" the most valuable time of his presidency, the first six months.  "He had no purpose to govern.  He had no theory, no organizing principle. He ran to win."

Tanden said  governing is harder work than running a race, and at the end of the day, the question remains:  Does Trump improve the lives of Americans?

About 50 attended.  A reception followed with the best broiled, spiced shrimp ever to fire up voters.