Thursday, September 27, 2012

Save the date: Oct. 3, free noon concert at St. John’s

The U.S. Army Chorus

The U.S. Army Chorus will perform at 12:10 p.m. October 3 at St. John's, Lafayette Square, and introduce the church's First Wednesday Concert Series for 2012-13.

The chorus is one of the few men’s professional choruses in the U.S., and has performed at the White House, the Vice-President’s home, the U.S. Capitol, the U.S. Supreme Court and the State Department.  The group was founded in 1956 as a vocal counterpart to the U.S. Army Band, “Pershing’s Own,” and has a repertoire which includes patriotic, Broadway, folk, and classical music.
St. John's Episcopal Church, Lafayette Square/Patricia Leslie

St. John's, known to many Washington residents as the yellow church at Lafayette Square, is called the “Church of the Presidents” since every president beginning with James Madison, who served from 1809 to 1817,  has either been a member of, or has attended services at St. John's, including President Barack Obama and his family.  A plaque at the rear of the church designates the Lincoln pew where President Abraham Lincoln sat when he often stopped by St. John's during the Civil War.

Other concert dates in the St. John's series are: 

Nov. 7:  Michael Lodico, associate choirmaster and organist, St. John's Church, performing Works for Musical Clock by Haydn and Mozart

Dec. 5:  Madrigal Singers from St. Albans and National Cathedral School, directed by Benjamin Hutto, performing "Music of the Season"

Jan. 9 (second Wednesday):  Marvin Mills, concert organist, performing Avec une touche Francaise, with works by Saint-Saens, Widor, Durufle, Litaize, and Dupre

Feb. 6:  Soloists from St. John's Choir

Mar. 6: Bianca Garcia, flute, assisted by Michael Lodico, organist, featuring the world premiere of a work by Stephen Cabell

Apr. 3:  Benjamin Hutto, director of music ministry and organist, St. John's, performing "Organ Treasure Old and New"  

May 1:  Alvy Powell, bass-baritone and Gershwin interpreter

June 5: Jeremy Filsell, Washington National Cathedral Artist-in-Residence, performing organ works by Bach, Dupre, and Rachmaninov

What: U.S. Army Chorus                           

When: 12:10 p.m., October 3, 2012

Where: St. John’s, Lafayette Square, 1525  H Street, NW, at the corner of 16th, Washington, D.C. 20005

How much:  No charge

Duration:  About 35 minutes each

Wheelchair accessible

Metro stations:  McPherson Square or Farragut West

For more information202-347-8766

Monday, September 24, 2012

Washington architects can cans at the Building Museum

EYP designed this entry, All You Need Is LOVE, using 4,700 cans of tomato sauce, roasted chilies, and salsa to win the Jurors' Special Recognition Award/Patricia Leslie

Although this year's can competition staged by the Washington Architectural Foundation to raise money for the Capital Area Food Bank has ended at the National Building Museum, photos of the different can sculptures can leave viewers with deep appreciation for team members' smarts and know-how. 

This may look like a summer igloo made of stacks of quarters but it is actually cans of Le Seuer peas and tomato sauce canstructed by WDG and labeled To Bean or Not To Bean/Patricia Leslie

Architects from the 22 participating firms used about 75,000 cans to make "edible architecture," all contents in different sizes and colors and all donated to the food bank.

That three teams chose the Discovery space shuttle to feature for this year's theme of "Monumental" was monumental itself, but considering  Discovery did journey 149,000,000 miles over its 27- year working life and made its last trip when it came to Washington in April, circled the National Mall four times, and landed at the Smithsonian's Udvar-Hazy Center of the National Air and Space Museum, its final destination, maybe it's not so coincidental, after all.  Whew!

Hartman-Cox designed Monumental Flight:  Discovering An End to Hunger.  On the floor are bags of rice/Patricia Leslie
This (and below) are Hunger:  We Have a Problem by URS.  Wrote the design/build team:  "It's one small step with cans but it's one giant meal for mankind."/Patricia Leslie
URS's entry/Patricia Leslie
To CAN-finity and Beyond! by Leo A. Daly won the People's Choice Award.  The team used 3,500 cans of white beans, soups, chilies, tuna, and black coffee to depict Discovery, downtown buildings, and the U.S. Capitol with a honey bear bottle on top, representing the Statue of Freedom/Patricia Leslie

 The 2012 canstruction awards announced by the District Architecture Center:
  • Jurors' Favorite: One Small Step for a Can, One Giant Leap to End Hunger by Wiencek + Associates, Architects + Planners
  • Best Use of Labels: Grand CANyon by Barnes Vanze Architects, Inc.
  • Structural Ingenuity: A Colorful Meal of Golden Proportions by Perkins + Will
  • Best Meal: A Colorful Meal of Golden Proportions by Perkins + Will
  • Honorable Mention: CAN You Hear Me Now? by Cannon Design
  • Honorable Mention: Grand CANyon by Grimm & Parker Architects
  • Jurors' Special Recognition: All You Need is LOVE by EYP
  • People's Choice Award: To CAN-finity and Beyond! by Leo A Daly

Since 1992 when the competition was founded by the Society for Design Administrators, more than 20 million pounds of food have been collected for communities around the world, according to the District Architecture Center.

The 2012 canstruction competition and fundraiser for the Capitol Area Food Bank at the National Building Museum/Patricia Leslie

Nobody can can cans like Washington architects can can cans at the National Building Museum where they can can cans and can can-can (maybe).

The National Building Museum/Patricia Leslie

What: National Building Museum

When:  Open every day, 10 a.m. - 5 p.m., Monday through Saturday, and 11 a.m. - 5 p.m., Sunday

Where:  401 F Street, NW, Washington, D.C. 20001

Admission:  $8, adults; $5, students, youth, seniors; $3 for Building Zone only, and reduced prices for the last hour of the day

For more information:  202-272-2448

Metro stations:  Judiciary Square and Gallery Place-Chinatown

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Snakes at Tysons Corner

After he was thrown out of my peaceable kingdom and into the hallway.  What kind is it? Answer at bottom/Patricia Leslie

Last Sunday night I zipped around the corner in my wee abode to look up a word in my big fat American Heritage Dictionary, Third Edition which sits atop my favorite piece of furniture I bought with last year's income tax refund at Monticello, the home of Thomas Jefferson.  That piece of furniture is my Thomas Jefferson Dictionary Stand.

The Thomas Jefferson Dictionary Stand, sold in the Monticello gift shop.  Monticello may call it a Library Stand, but it doesn't hold a "library."  It holds a dictionary/Monticello

Out of the corner of my eye I saw laying on the carpet beside the can of Johnson’s Pledge and a dust mitt (reminders to dust my Thomas Jefferson Dictionary Stand which has all these holes and glass requiring removal of the books on the shelves underneath and is quite a complicated (i.e. time consuming) operation) what appeared to be the toy snake I had given my grandson in April for his birthday, but as my mind and eyes adjusted to reality and expanded to the approximate size of the American Heritage Dictionary, Third Edition, and I... blinked several times, being without my glasses, and.....and.....! ! !.... realized... it.....was my grandson’s toy....snake...... since..... grandson....lives in Georgia ....... was.... in....Virginia.... which meant…

which meant…

YOWEE, a real snake! 

I screamed bloody murder.

And no rescue was forthcoming.

The snake was approximately three feet long.

It was like a terrible dream which was not a dream at all.

Shaking, I found my phone and tried to dial my neighbor, however it took several seconds before I could quell the trembling in my fingers and remember the second letter of her name to look up in “My Contacts.”  At last, I was able to reach Margo who, thankfully, was at home.

In a whimper, I described the scene.

“I don’t know how to get a snake out of your place,” Margo said without emotion.

“What am I going to do?” I finally got out the words.  The snake remained motionless on the floor and played dead.

Margo suggested putting a trash can over the snake, but remembering the snake which appeared in my neighbor’s place across the hall last year which hid for a week undercover after Joe-Joe, another neighbor and faux rescuer, frightened it, I feared MY SNAKE would escape and hide, too.  (It just seems like we live in a zoo.)

Margo brought over a large red snow shovel and a broom. 

“Come here and look at it,” I said, and she refused.  “I don’t want to see it.”

What was a poor girl to do?  “I need a man,” I said to Margo who replied “you don’t need a man.”  

The snake had not budged and lay close to the Pledge can and the bright lime-green dust mitt.

“Call the police?  I’ll call the police!” I exclaimed.
“They won’t come,” Margo said matter-of-factly.  “They won’t even come for a bear.”  Neither of us knew the non-emergency police number.

What about Joe-Joe?  He’s a man, isn’t he, who could get it out of my place? He had flubbed the deal last year, but this was a new deal!

“No, Joe-Joe has a migraine,”  Margo said. “I talked with him earlier.” 

After she coaxed and encouraged and coaxed and encouraged me, I found lost gumption and smashed the basket trash can upside down on top of that snake, and before it could pry loose, I piled my American Heritage Dictionary, Third Edition on top of the trash can in case in case the snake slithered out onto….onto….MY FEET.

“I need a man,” I said.  And some shoes to cover my bare feet.

“No, you don’t need a man.   Just scoot the trash can out the door,” Margo said.  “I just washed Lushy (her dog) and have to go dry him off.” 

“You are leaving?” I asked incredulously.  “You are leaving me alone with this snake?”

She left me alone with that snake under the basket trash can with the dictionary piled on top.  I could hear the snake rustling inside the plastic trash can liner.

Gradually, I began to scoot the upside down basket trash can with the snake inside across the carpet to the front door, all the while listening to it rustle the plastic.  Enroute I stopped about every three inches to find my wits which had earlier departed. 

The door frame at the entrance was going to cause problems because it was not level with the floor, meaning I would have to heave the trash can up a few inches to throw the snake out.  How was I going to do that?  How was I going to physically throw the snake inside the trash can with the dictionary on top out the door so that the snake did not make a rapid return into my peaceable kingdom?

It didn't take long for me to reach the door frame with the snake inside the trash can with the dictionary on top. 

For several minutes I stood in the outdoor hallway with the snake in the trash can, still imprisoned in my entrance way.  We waited for a man to appear. This was a man’s job.

None came.

After a little while, Margo stuck her head out her door and hollered down the hall:  “What’s going on?”

“We are waiting for a man.  This is a man’s job.”

“No, you don’t need a man!” she exclaimed.  “Now just push it, and get it out.” 

While I hemmed and hawed, she made her way back down the hall.

At the doorway I took position, holding the shovel in my left hand as a barrier in case the snake decided to make its way back inside my place, and with my right hand, the trash can and dictionary, wondering how I was supposed to heave them across the door frame with one hand. This was not going to be easy.

Margo stood several feet away in case the snake took out after her.  You know how fast they can be.

She kept encouraging me to get with it and do it.  I was afraid.

Gathering what was left of my being, I heaved the trash can with dictionary across the door frame, screamed louder than before and slammed the door before the snake could race back in. 

Out in the hallway Margo yelled: “It’s out!  It’s out!  It’s slithering!”  I cracked open the door and could see the snake's back side as it rolled over and over trying to upright itself before it crawled to a nearby wall crevice.

Margo urged me to take a picture. Mr. Snake did not take to flash well.

“There, you see,”  Margo gloated, “you did not need a man.”  We both tried to find calm.

Fifteen minutes later I peeked out my doorway and walked to the top of the stairs which Mr. Snake had descended, and there he was, at the landing below, wrapped 90 degrees around the corner.  He turned to look up and me, and I swear, smiled.  Life!

My sister, the animal lover from Florida, called later that night, and after I described the events, she said:  “Don’t kill it.  In the grand scheme of things and what’s going on in Afghanistan and the Middle East, this is nothing.”  She was right, of course, but for a few minutes in my condo, it was something.

*Answer:  The votes are in for:  a checkered garter snake,  a copperhead, a brown snake, a brown rat snake, an eastern hognose. Susan Watson, a terrestrial wildlife biologist with the Virginia Bureau of Wildlife Resources, says: eastern garter snake.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Renwick sparkles with 40 at 40



Joseph Foster Ellis (b.1984) China Tree 2012, courtesy of the artist/Patricia Leslie

You will not be bored.
And your companions will thank you.
It's a fantastic show for all ages in celebration of the Renwick Gallery's 40th birthday.
What?  The Renwick is only 40 years old?
Yes, it does seem like it's been around much longer, doesn't it? But never mind and see the show.  The mental refreshment is more than worth it.
Okay, enough with the plaudits already, what's it about?
40 under 40: Craft Futures are works by 40 artists, all under the age of 40, whose pieces were chosen from 2,000 nominees for inclusion in the Renwick's anniversary special, and it features only art created since September 11, 2001. 
Fashion, silver, textiles, sculpture, jewelry, glass, whimsy, you name it, and you can probably find it in the exhibition. The galleries rebound with energy, excitement and imagination stimulation. 

The artist, Olek (b. 1978) is interviewed at her work, Knitting is for Pus**** 2005-2011 with living model in the background/Patricia Leslie
Mia Perlman (b.1974) One 2012, courtesy of the artist/Patricia Leslie
Mia Perlman (b.1974) One 2012, courtesy of the artist/Patricia Leslie
Unlike much contemporary art or what you might expect of productions created by young artists, harsh and bleak are not what guests will find at the Renwick, although war is a subject chosen by some who have grown up in "a nation perpetually on edge."  Many of the artists portray exuberance and contradict the dark vision one finds so often in venues with modern content.  The future is not as dim as some want us to believe.
Jeff Garner (b. 1978) Black Ostrich Dress 2011, courtesy of the artist/Patricia Leslie
Jeff Garner (b. 1978), Men's Quilted Coat 2011, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Elmerina and Paul Parkman in honor of the 40th anniversary of the Renwick Gallery and the 30th anniversary of the James Renwick Alliance/Patricia Leslie
 According to a statement from the Renwick, the exhibition “reflects the changed world that exists today, which poses new challenges and considerations for artists."
The display embraces renderings which illustrate society's present romance with “sustainability” and  “handmade.”

Jenny Hart (b. 1972), La Llorona 2005, Smithsonian American Art Museum, gift of the artist in honor of Lyle C. and LeJean D. Hart/Patricia Leslie
 This is an excellent show to introduce children to art exhibitions for neither is it too large nor too overwhelming to grasp different materials and designs.  They will be intrigued (just like adults) by what all artists can do.  
And for as low as $10, donors can help the Renwick buy a piece by every artist featured in the show.  Click here for more information.

Joshua DeMonte (b. 1984), Aqueduct Collar 2008, courtesy of the artist, and Curtains and Balcony Bracelet 2008, Smithsonian American Art Museum, gift of Irene and Bob Sinclair/Patricia Leslie
This is the first time any of the artists have exhibited at the Smithsonian.  Joshua DeMonte told me he was absolutely floored when he was initially contacted by the Smithsonian about possible inclusion in the show.

The Renwick Gallery is the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s branch for contemporary craft and decorative arts.
40 under 40: Craft Futures is part of a biennial series which celebrates artists deserving broader recognition. Funding from the Ryna and Melvin Cohen Family Foundation Endowment, the James Renwick Alliance,  Fleur Bresler and the Windgate Charitable Foundation has made the exhibition possible.  Renwick curator Nicholas R. Bell organized the exhibition. 

Here's a Renwick calendar of upcoming related events:

September 19, 2012, noon, American Craft Masterpieces: Sergey Jivetin’s Poultry Accumulus
September 22, 2012, 8 p.m., A Dress to Change the World with Jeff Garner/Prophetik October 12, 2012, noon, Design Craft: DreamHome
October 17, 2012, noon, American Craft Masterpieces: Vivian Beer’s
November 8 and 9, Symposium, Nation Building
November 14, 2012, noon, American Craft Masterpieces: Andy Paiko’s Spinning Wheel
November 27, 2012, noon, 40 under 40: Craft Futures Gallery Talk
November 29, 2012, 5:30 – 8 p.m., Craft Futures Handi-hour
What: 40 Under 40:  Craft Futures
When: 10 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. every day (except Christmas Day)  through February 3, 2013
Where: 1661 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington, D.C. 20006 (at 17th St.)
Admission:  No charge
Metro stations: Farragut North or Farragut West
For more information:  (202) 633-1000

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

The National Symphony Orchestra sells what?

The National Symphony Orchestra led by Christoph Eschenbach/Carol Pratt

Responding to a query about a piece received in the mail over the weekend from the National Symphony Orchestra, the ticket office at the Kennedy Center knows nothing about "Tickets from $10 on sale now!"

“You are the second person to call about it this morning,” said the agent at the number listed on the card (202-467-4600, the KC’s ticket office). "I’ve already searched for her and came up with nothing. It doesn’t matter what the card says.” 

Oh, thanks.  Then what was the meaning of the mail piece?

"I can't tell you that.  What I can tell you is there are no $10 tickets on sale for the National Symphony Orchestra."

Then why go to the trouble and expense of printing and mailing a card?

“I don’t know,” she said. 

It made no sense to me, but maybe it does to you?

The color postcard says nothing about a subscription or a minimum number of tickets necessary to get the $10 seats, but it does list four upcoming concerts, artists, and dates and says:  "Start the NSO season with Eschenbach and world-class soloists!" 

Let's go!


Sunday, September 9, 2012

Stephen Strasburg's last game

Stephen Strasburg contemplates the meaning of life from the pitcher's mound Friday night/Patricia Leslie from up in the sky somewhere

It was his last game at home.  (Update:  His last game anywhere this year.)

And, no doubt you've heard that it was not pretty. Amen, sister.

I was there and saw that he had a lousy night.

We all have lousy nights sometimes, and that's okay, Stephen. You didn't lose the game (ahem).

At first, I couldn't believe it.  That it was happening on one of the few nights I am in the ballpark.  This was Strasburg?

Looks like the perfect "W" to me, as in "Wins," "Washington," "Wind-up." Stephen Strasburg v. Miami Friday night/Patricia Leslie 

These are the emails I sent from the game to my son stationed in the Middle East:

Subject:  Am at Nats game

7:18 p.m.  $5 was cost of tic.!  N grandstand.  Seat not bad.  Strasburg pitching.  2nd to last game b4 he's shut down.  He's not having a good start.  Beer is $9!

7:19 p.m.  Miami scored 2 n 1st inning!

7:29 p.m.  Zimmy hit a homer so now it's tied.  Yay!  Harper was a fly out.

7:38 p.m.  Miami got a home run!  Stras is off.  Prob. b/c I m here.

7:50 p.m.  3rd inn. + they have anot. HR!  Stras is really off, prob b/c I m here.

8:10 p.m.  Stras was taken out! They lead 5-2; top of the 4th

Stephen Strasburg v. Miami Friday night/Patricia Leslie

From home at 12:17 a.m. and a new subject line:  It was Stras's last home game before he is shut down for the season

You've heard about this, haven't you?  It is quite controversial.  Harper lost the game for the Nats.  It was tied, and he dived for an outfield ball, missed it, and they scored 2. 

New subject line at 12:43 a.m.: Even the Nats' website says it was Stras's worst game!

And I was there.  Oh well, the ticket was less than the beer!

Earlier in the evening, oh around 6:15 before the game started, I went up to the beverage counter and asked for the cheapest possible beer I could buy, which, the sign said, was $8.25.

"Oh," said the attendant, "I don't have cups for those." 

"You don't have cups for those?" I asked incredulously.  "The sign says '$8.25.' I would like one of those beers for $8.25."

She repeated:  "I don't have cups for those."

"Waitaminute," I said, "the game hasn't even started yet and you are telling me you are out of $8.25 cups?"

"I don't have cups for those," she repeated. 

Yep, I settled for a $9 beer.  What was I supposed to do? Not drink beer at the ballpark?  HAHAHAHAHAHA. They've got a captured market.  

(Questions:  Why do they have "$8.25" on the sign if they don't sell $8.25 beer? Why couldn't she have given me $8.25 worth of beer in the $9 plastic cup (which I sent to my son in the Middle East today)?  Why not just put "$5.00" on the sign?  Or, I suppose the leap from $5 to $9 for beer on tap would be too big a hurdle for beer drinkers (psychologically speaking) to overcome, and it is likely that economists somewhere have studied price points and can demonstrate that if you tease the customer with a slightly lower price, she will go ahead and buy the higher-priced beer.  Especially if the lower-priced beer is not available.  It sounds like a dissertation topic to me. Is there a Federal Trade Commission sub-committee of a committee devoted to false and misleading beer prices at stadiums?  Just asking.)

Whatever it was, that $9 beer on tap was so good with heaps of mustard on my dog, and a cup of fries (= one additional pound on Saturday; not so good), all for the small sum of $19.50!  Gulp.  I did.

It was a glorious night to be outdoors, and those $5 grandstand seats (!) ain't bad to sit and watch and drink and eat and besides, we are on top!  (In more ways than one.)  We are the Nats!

See you next year, Stephen!  Go, Nats!

This looks like a Ferris wheel ride to me.  Why don't they make it one and sell beer tickets at $50 each so fans will have tickets to ride?/Patricia Leslie

As usual, Teddy was all smiles with his arm wrapped around a female/Patricia Leslie
This was just before Teddy tripped President Lincoln in the Presidents' Race/Patricia Leslie