Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Movie review: 'Anna Karenina' is looong and boring

Focus Features
The duration just seemed like five hours.  For a while I wondered if I were sitting through a Russian version of GWTW, but where was the intermission? 

Anna Karenina is a ballet in slow motion, with words and exquisite music and breathtaking cinematography (Seamus McGarvey) which moves, nonetheless, at the speed of snow falling.  Had the words been omitted entirely and the producers promoted the movie as an art film, it would cater to the appropriate audience. 

And had I only consulted Rotten Tomatoes first (a 60% favorability rating), but, at least, I still have my life which might have been lost had I dragged my son to see the movie over the Thanksgiving holiday.

Moviegoers: Anna Karenina is a definite "chick flick," however, Gentlemen:  If you're into costuming, jewelry, and millinery, you may dig it.

Yes, the music is fantastic, the presentation is unusual and unique, but that's not why moviegoers pay to see movies. 

Rather than spending money and time seeing this repetitive go-round, you are better off reading Leo Tolstoy's 1877 novel which William Faulkner called "the best ever written," and Fyodor Dostoevsky said was "flawless as a work of art," and/or go see Silver Linings Playbook.  Now, that's a movie with pizazz and sparkle and action (90% favorability rating).

With this said, I would like to propose the following American Academy nominations, please, for Anna Karenina:

Costume Design: Jacqueline Durran

Supporting Actor: Jude Law who, in outstanding delivery, plays the cuckold

Original Score:  Dario Marianelli  

Production Design: Sarah Greenwood
Set Decoration:  Katie Spencer

P.S. This is not even worth a rental unless you're into jewelry, millinery, etc.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Thanksgiving at Great Falls Park

Great Falls Park, McLean, VA, Thanksgiving Day 2012/Patricia Leslie

About half of Northern Virginia (or what seemed like) turned out to walk off pumpkin pie at Great Falls Park on Thanksgiving Day.  It was a beautiful day in the neighborhood with temperature soaring to 60 degrees, and the sun shining brightly.  How many more days like it do we have this season?
Plus, two kayakers were on the water to give onlookers a free show which earned the performers hearty applause and a standing ovation. 

At Great Falls Park on Thanksgiving Day, two kayakers turned out to give onlookers a thrill/Patricia Leslie
They cruised down the Potomac until reaching the falls where they stopped a minute to let the audience catch its breath/Patricia Leslie
They plotted strategy/Patricia Leslie
And plotted some more.../Patricia Leslie
Blue gets ready to make a flying leap while Green waits in the background/Patricia Leslie
Blue ponders the meaning of life/Patricia Leslie
Wait!  What's this? Sufferin' succotash!  Greenie snuck by us all, and there he is at the bottom!/Patricia Leslie
Back up at the top, Blue gets ready to go over.  Dear Blue:  It's too late to turn around/Patricia Leslie
There he goes/Patricia Leslie
"Ahoy, matey!  We made it!"/Patricia Leslie
Onlookers applaud the Potomac Olympians/Patricia Leslie
Meanwhile, back on the Patowmack Canal Trail, the passing lane is a mite overcrowded.  Even a dog has a hard time getting by/Patricia Leslie

But these four Mallards have plenty of room on their double date/Patricia Leslie
And so does the ? A Demoiselle Crane?/Patricia Leslie
Fun and dangerous games on the Potomac at Great Falls Park.  "Daddy, when is my turn?"/Patricia Leslie
/Patricia Leslie

Saturday, November 24, 2012

An elegant exhibition ends Sunday at the National Gallery of Art

Robert Caney, Stage Set With a Statue of St. George Slaying the Dragon, 1870/1890. National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., Joseph F. McCrindle Collection

When Joseph McCrindle (1923-2008) was five and growing up in a New York City mansion, his socialite mother dumped her husband and her son and ran off with a count to Europe leaving Joe in the care of her wealthy parents who treated their grandson probably like most treat their grandchildren: “Whenever and whatever you want.”

His grandmother, an "assiduous collector" of art, schooled her grandson from a young age in its purchase.
Thomas Rowlandson, A Soldier's Widow, possibly 1815/1820. National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., Joseph F. McCrindle Collection.  Does she remind you of the Wife of Bath?

Joe traveled on the family yacht on frequent trips to Europe where he learned other languages (he was later a translator) and his grandmother took him to art auctions and encouraged him to bid (at age eight).  

In his diary entry on June 3, 1931 while in Paris (and noted in the exhibition catalogue), Joe wrote that his grandmother became "furious" with him for a purchase along the Seine of a "Catholic prayer book in a terrible state."  "Mademoiselle" made him take it back to the dealer, and "I exchanged it for a guide of Dieppe written in 1905." 
John Singer Sargent, Spanish Church Interior, 1880. National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., Joseph F. McCrindle Collection

Joe spent his allowance on rare books and, during his life, bought more than 2,500 works of art.  To the National Gallery of Art, he left more than 300, and 71 which cover the 16th through 20 centuries are on display on the ground floor in the Gallery's West Building in an exhibition entitled The McCrindle Gift: A Distinguished Collection of Drawings and Watercolors. Guiseppe Passeri, Aurora's Tryst with Time Interrupted, c. 1700. National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., Joseph F. McCrindle Collection

According to National Gallery curators Margaret Morgan Grasselli and Arthur Wheelock, the show includes works which have never hung together and many which have not been studied.    

McCrindle was a "connoisseur and collector of beautiful things," said Mr. Wheelock. A label at the exhibition calls the art enthusiast a man "who admired works not because of the names of their makers, but for the verve and rhythm of the line and, often, the whimsical nature of the image."
Edward Lear, Santa Maria della Salute, Venice, at Sunset, 1865 or later. National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., Joseph F. McCrindle Collection

McCrindle traveled constantly, collecting art "like [on] a nonstop shopping spree.  He bought to please himself rather than to accumulate an investment portfolio," wrote William Grimes in the New York Times' McCrindle obituary July 18, 2008.
Pavel Tchelitchew, Tree into Double-Hand (Study for "Hide and Seek"), 1939. National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., Joseph F. McCrindle Collection.  This is an example of a "metamorphic composition" when two objects combine to form something else. You may know some people like this.

In 1991 to commemorate the Gallery's 50th anniversary of its founding, McCrindle bestowed his first gift to the National Gallery, a painting by Luca Giordano whose Diana and Endymion hangs in Gallery 30 on the main floor.  Other paintings the philanthropist donated to the National Gallery are found in galleries on both floors of the West Building. 

Much more detail on his life (he was the founder of the Transatlantic Review) and the exhibition are found in the distinguished color catalogue available in the National Gallery's gift shops

What:  The McCrindle Gift:  A Distinguished Collection of Drawings and Watercolors

When: Now through Nov. 25, 2012, from 10 a.m. - 5 p.m., Monday - Saturday; 11 a.m. - 6 p.m., Sunday, and closed on Christmas Day

Where: The National Gallery of Art, West Building, Ground Floor galleries. (The closest entrance is Seventh Street, NW.) The National Gallery of Art and Sculpture Garden is located at the National Mall along Constitution Avenue and between Third and Ninth Streets.

How much: Admission is always free

For more information: (202) 737-4215

Metro station:  Judiciary Square, Navy Memorial-Archives, or the Smithsonian

Ippolito Caffi, Interior of the Colosseum, c. 1843. National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., Joseph F. McCrindle Collection


Monday, November 19, 2012

Bike the Virginia Creeper Trail

The Virginia Creeper Trail/Patricia Leslie

It's called "the best rail-trail in the east" and "among the best in the U.S.," and I'll bike to that.

The Virginia Creeper is a lovely trail, down in southwest Virginia, about 360 miles or six fast hours (with few breaks) from Washington, D.C., close to the N.C. border.  It's headquartered in Damascus where you bike round and round, down and down from Whitetop Station.

The Virginia Creeper Trail starts here at Whitetop Station, home of baby Christmas trees/Patricia Leslie

It took us about 3.5 leisurely hours to bike 17 miles from Whitetop to Damascus (stopping by woods for lunch and for other picturesque scenes) which is half the trail, with the remainder stretching to Abingdon.

The Virginia Creeper Trail/Patricia Leslie

You don't find any of the racers like those serious types who like to sport their latest dress and zoom along the W and OD Trail. Virginia Creeper may have too much nature for them.

It was mid-fall when practically all the leaves are down, and those remaining are not real bright but mostly browns and dull oranges without those flashy yellows and reds you associate with this time of year, but we weren't beholden to leaves anyway since it was the ride down Whitetop that took us there, and it was gorgeous even without much color.

Even over icy bridges.  Yeekers, yikers.  (Wear a helmet! Provided at the Damascus shops if you don't have one and are renting a bike.)  I hung on the handle bars and sailed over that ice like I was a biker on ice which, strange, I guess I was.

Icy bridges on the Virginia Creeper Trail/Patricia Leslie

It's not only ice which forces both hands on the handle bars, but look out for large rocks, too, and keep your eyes on the path or you might wind up underneath one of the bridges like the recent rider who missed a bridge entrance, careened down the ravine into the creek, cracked her skull, and had to be airlifted out, but she's okay now, our shuttle bus driver on oxygen, who lifted all 14 bikes off the rack, told us.
It's important to ride eyes open wide and keep your head down at times on the Virginia Creeper Trail/Patricia Leslie

Look out and listen for falling timber on the Virginia Creeper Trail/Patricia Leslie

The view from above on the Virginia Creeper Trail which had quite a bit of snow left from Hurricane Sandy/Patricia Leslie

Along the way maps on plaques describe the history of the area including information about one area surveyor named Peter Jefferson, the father of the president.

In-season, ample snack shops along the way provide nourishment, and you won't starve off-season either, but you're better off taking your own treats. The trail has plenty of restrooms, too (excluding the outdoor ones).
The leader of our pack was a seven-year-old who made no complaints about anything the whole day and served as excellent guide when it came time to finding just the right picnic spot.

Lunch on the Virginia Creeper Trail.  That's our trail leader, Will Burris, on the right, with his grandmother, Anne Burris, and friend Nancy who almost missed lunch due to a falling limb/Patricia Leslie

This is a ride made for those who enjoy scenics and chatting along the way. It was a glorious afternoon made gloriouser by the sounds of rushing water from the adjoining creek which followed us most of the way down Virginia Creeper.
The Virginia Creeper Trail/Patricia Leslie
Time for respite on the Virginia Creeper Trail/Patricia Leslie
Along the Virginia Creeper Trail/Patricia Leslie

Bikes are available for rent throughout Damascus, a biker's vacation dream spot with lots of big vans and racks to cart riders and bikes up to Whitetop on a 30-minute shuttle ride before riders embark on the downhill slope. Damascus has plenty of free nearby parking.

We were unable to get reservations during leaf peak in October but given the crowds, we probably enjoyed the trail more in early November anyway.

What: The Virginia Creeper Trail

When: Bike all year, seven days a week

Where: Damascus, Virginia ("Trail Town USA")

How much: $26 for a bike rental (with water and helmet) and a shuttle ride from Damascus to Whitetop Station with weekday discounts.  Of course, you can arrange your own transportation and take your own bike and not pay anything, but without the shuttle, it would be a pain. (The $15 for the shuttle is well worth it.) Prices run about the same from one shop to another, but reservations are highly recommended, especially if you are coming from a distance.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Hacking on tap at the Goethe-Institut today

At a lunch talk today at the Goethe-Institut, a panel of artists and experts will discuss political and digital activism on the Web, the open source movement, Twitter, and hackers.

The enormous technological and communications changes embracing the planet and "hacker culture" are primary foci of the discussion which is co-sponsored by the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, the Swiss Arts Council Pro Helvetia and the Embassy of Switzerland.

Other topics include online petitioning, "Anonymous," Wikileaks, and opportunities and pitfalls of digital media.  Are digital contributors artists?  (This is only a two-hour session?)

Scheduled panel members are:  Hans Bernhard, artist and founding member of; Steven Kurtz, professor of visual studies at the State University of New York, Buffalo; Frank Rieger, author and representative from the Chaos Computer Club, Berlin; and Mark Tribe, artist and assistant professor of modern culture and media studies at Brown University.
RSVPs are required.  Call to save a seat.

What:  Activism (and Hacker Culture)

When:  12 – 2 p.m., Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Where:  Goethe-Institut, 812 Seventh Street, NW, Washington, D.C.

Cost:  No charge

For more information and to make a reservation202-289-1200

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

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

President Obama praises volunteers
In a telephone call tonight with 30,000 volunteers across the country, President Barack Obama thanked them for hosting debate parties,  registering voters, and making millions of phone calls and door knocks which helped propel him to victory and a second term in office.

The president credited "the best volunteers" repeatedly throughout his remarks, citing the "unbelievable work" they put out for the campaign "which meant a lot to me personally….We (Joe Biden, Michelle Obama) are all so profoundly grateful for what you did."

He called the output by the volunteers, many of whom worked for years on the 2012 race, "the greatest grassroots effort in the history of the country." 

"You've changed the nature of the electorate," he said, by getting people involved who normally might not have participated.

The campaign had "a lot of ups and downs," and despite skepticism, "you stood by me on good days and on bad days." He mentioned the first debate when "you just kept on going, sacrificing time with your family and friends."
In many cases "you exceeded 2008."

"America is never going to be the same because of what you've done," he said.

"I love you," he repeated several times.  And "I'm so proud of you."  The U.S. "is a better country because of what you did." 

He said one of his pledges for his second term was to get out of Washington more often ("it's good for my soul") and meet more volunteers.

"To all of you, I am so proud of what you guys accomplished. I'll always be inspired by what you did," but "this is not the end," but "a means to a goal." He mentioned the "fiscal cliff" and the upcoming debate to make sure taxes are fair for middle-income families. 

Before the president spoke, Mitch Stewart, director of Organizing for America, thanked listeners for their millions of phone calls and door knocks in the toss-up states which did make a difference.  The campaign rolls on.  The battle's not done.  Yes, we can.  Yes, we did.


Friday, November 9, 2012

Goodnight Republicans

In the dead red room

There was a telephone

And an empty chair

And a picture of

Old white men stoking hot air

And there were nine great states

More than they could tabulate

And big fat cats

Not Democrats

And a map and a bank in a house full of plush

And a jowly old man whispering "Rush"

Goodnight Republicans

Goodnight room

Goodnight Beck flying away on his broom

Goodnight Rove

Goodnight to those who toy in the Grove

Goodnight past and bad forecasts

Goodnight Big House and days of yore

We remember what you did to Al Gore

Goodnight Fox, your squawks, your hawks

Goodnight Mr. Nobody, and goodnight slush

Goodnight to the old men who cry "Rush!"

Goodnight stars goodnight air

We welcome voters everywhere

Goodnight to days of yesteryear

Come here and vote

It's free and clear

Goodnight hot air

Goodnight Republican nightmare

With apologies to Margaret Wise Brown and Goodnight Moon

Thursday, November 8, 2012

"Dracula": a spectacular ballet

Washington Ballet's Dracula

You missed it at the Kennedy Center:  the premiere by the Washington Ballet of Michael Pink's dance adaptation of Bram Stoker's Dracula, originally published in 1897 and set to the dance stage 100 years later in England. (This just in from Google:  Happy 165th birthday today, Mr. Stoker!)
Altogether, a captivating, thoroughly entertaining night with intrigue and more plot than found in most ballets, but not to overlook the dancing.
Immense leaps by "Dracula" (Hyun-Woong Kim) and his partners were exciting, devouring the entire stage, especially a lengthy but effective and muscular duet with "Jonathan Harker" (Jared Nelson who was the monster in half the performances).

Yes, when four or more were gathered en l'air a pirouette, the synchronization of their leaps was not the Mariinsky, but what not to enjoy? The corps de ballet matched expectations.
The sets changed as quickly as Dracula was able to sink his teeth in his next victim, melding magically from one into another, and we're not talking about minor sets. They consumed the whole stage, left, right, and ceiling.
Main characters disappeared in smoke and caskets.

The lighting by Paul Pyant was excellent and effective. In one of the most memorable scenes, grey and black gates about 20 feet tall and  lighted from above, stood on the darkened stage, creating a haunting entrance to greet Harker until, until the silhouette of a frightening castle on a high hill gradually came into focus. Shades of Psycho.

The heroines were practically always dressed in whiteness, natch, and many of the scenes were all black and white, save the Count when he flew through the air in a magnificent red cape, neck to floor with a wingspan of about 30 feet, reminiscent of a pteranodon (however, they had no teeth).

A pteranodon/Wikimedia Commons and Matt Martyniuk

Even in the ballroom the dancers wore muted tones, except for the red lanterns (red lanterns?) and the red coats of the military, mostly reserving the sharp contrast (red) for Count Evil. 
The only missing element: flying batterinas.

Before the show started, Washington Ballet's artistic director, Septime Webre, came out on stage to provide brief background for the audience, noting late 19th century English crowds flocked to macabre and mysterious shows. A romantic ballet, Dracula is not, but suggestive of some romances?  Alas. 
It was advised that Dracula may be too intense for young children, what with the gore and blood sucking and a ballerina's red-splattered neckline, but none of the young ballerinas spied in the audience seemed to show the least bit of fright. At least, it wasn't close to my bedtime.
At the program's end (three acts), the Count emerged like a stealth snake, slinking up and down from stage left to wild applause and standing balletomanes.
A good test about the quality of a production: Do you want to see it again? 

Yes! Tomorrow, please.
And when does the Count meet the Phantom? Please sign me up for that dark and stormy night.


The Nutcracker, November 24-25 and November 29 - December 23, 2012

Monday, November 5, 2012

Free concert Wednesday at St. John's, Lafayette Square

St. John's, Lafayette Square, Washington, D.C./Patricia Leslie
For "day after" doldrums, to calm that headache from too much election night celebration, or to simply enjoy elegant music, there's a downtown place to soothe tired souls (and soles) at Lafayette Square on Wednesday.
Michael Lodico, the associate choirmaster and organist at St. John's Episcopal Church, will play Works for Musical Clock by Haydn and Mozart as part of the church's "First Wednesday" series.

There is no charge to attend the concert which lasts just over a half hour and begins at 12:10 p.m.

Barbara Kraft (1764-1825), Austrian, a posthumous portrait of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791) in 1819/Wikimedia Commons

Ludwig Guttenbrunn (1740-1819), Austrian, Joseph Haydn (1732-1809) ca. 1770/Wikimedia Commons
Other First Wednesday concert dates:
Dec. 5: Madrigal Singers from St. Albans and National Cathedral School, directed by Benjamin Hutto, performing "Music of the Season"

Jan. 9, 2013 (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

St. John's, known to many Washington residents as the yellow church at Lafayette Square, is often called the “Church of the Presidents.” Beginning with James Madison, who served from 1809 to 1817, every president 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.

Michael Lodico, organist/St. John's Episcopal Church

What:  Works for Musical Clock by Haydn and Mozart

When: 12:10 p.m., November 7, 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 information: 202-347-8766

Friday, November 2, 2012

Sex and serials at the National Gallery of Art

Alfred Stieglitz, Georgia O'Keeffe, probably 1918, National Gallery of Art, Alfred Stieglitz Collection

Pictures tell a thousand words, but in some instances, far fewer words come to mind.

Come and see the picture serials show at the National Gallery of Art which is all about the use of the camera to interpret and record effects of relationships and life on one person by photographing the same individual over and over a period of time.

Alfred Stieglitz (1864-1946) whose works begin the show, said a single photograph of one person "is as futile as to demand that a motion picture will be condensed into a single still."  (Said Earl A. Powell III, the National Gallery's director, "it is fitting" to open the exhibition with Stieglitz since it was Stieglitz who essentially started the National Gallery's photography collection with the donation of his "key set.")

The exhibition is entitled "The Serial Portrait: Photography and Identity in the Last One Hundred Years." 

That the National Gallery owns more than 300 photographs made by Stieglitz of his wife and artist Georgia O'Keeffe (1887-1986) made it difficult to narrow and determine choices for the display which includes 153 works by 20 artists, said Sarah Kennel, the curator.
The "dynamic relationship" between Stieglitz and O'Keeffe began in New York in 1916 although he was married at the time and 23 years older.  He was captivated by O'Keeffe, an attraction made stronger with the knowledge another artist and competitor, Paul Strand (1890-1976), was romantically involved with her.

In the first gallery are sensual portraits Stieglitz made of O’Keeffe and of another artist, too, another woman, Rebecca Salsbury Strand, wife of Paul Strand.  The Strand photos were made when Stieglitz and "Beck" vacationed together at the Stieglitz summer home at Lake George, N.Y. Paul Strand and O'Keeffe were both conveniently away at the time.  (O'Keeffe, gone to New Mexico where she took annual summer sojourns to work alone and escape the Stieglitz family.) (Where is the book on this menage a quatre?  I would like to read it.) 

Hanging beside the Stieglitz pictures are three photographs of Beck, made by Paul Strand, which capture "sexual tensions," said Ms. Kennel. Two were made the same year that Stieglitz photographed Beck at the lake house. (Which or who came first?) 

Paul Strand, Rebecca, 1922, National Gallery of Art, Washington, Southwestern Bell Corp. Paul Strand Collection, copyright Aperture Foundation Inc., Paul Strand Archive

Another husband and wife combination in the same gallery are photographs from 1963 to 2002 of "Edith," wife of Emmet Gowin (b. 1941).  Many were taken in Danville, Virginia, where Emmet Gowin was born.  One interpretation says the Gowin works are not quite as invasive as Stieglitz's shots of O'Keeffe.  Gowin recently retired from Princeton University and lives with Edith in Pennsylvania. 

Emmet Gowin, Edith, Danville, Virginia, 1971, National Gallery of Art, Washington, Patrons' Permanent Fund, copyright Emmet and Edith Gowin, courtesy Pace/MacGill Gallery, New York

Gowin was influenced by Harry Callahan (1912-1999), another featured photographer whose works also hang in the first gallery. 

Last winter Callahan had his own show at the National Gallery of Art where pictures of his wife, Eleanor, and daughter, Barbara, were primary subjects, but Eleanor claims the stage today.  Before she died last February, she and Barbara gave many more of Callahan’s works to the National Gallery. 

In the next gallery a viewer finds serials made by Milton Rogovin (1909-2011), whose occupation was optometry, but whose passion was photographing the lower and working classes around the world, a passion he was able to pursue after his eye business declined when he refused to testify before the House Committee on Un-American Activities in 1957.

Although he was never convicted of any crime, Rogovin was designated a person with “dangerous and irresponsible” views (Wikipedia).  Today, he would be a hero.

Rogovin's son, Mark, and daughter-in-law were in Washington for the opening of the photography show, and Mark remarked that his father "would be so overtaken by all of this," happily surprised to know he had pictures hanging at the National Gallery of Art. 
Indeed, the hearings permitted Rogovin's photography skills to "blossom" since they opened up the pathway to fulfillment of a dream, said Michelle Melin-Rogovin.

Mark Rogovin with his father's Appalachia (Working People series) 1981 or what Michelle Melin-Rogovin called the "poodle lady portrait." Dr. J. Patrick and Patricia A. Kennedy gave it to the National Gallery of Art/Patricia Leslie

In his pictures, Rogovin reveals human change, some over three decades. The photographer was an Army veteran, deeply affected by the Great Depression and the poverty he witnessed. 

Across from Rogovin's works and facing viewers as they enter the second gallery are the famous Brown sister portraits, shots taken every year of four sisters, Heather, Mimi, Bebe, and Laurie, between 1975 and 2011 by Nicholas Nixon, husband of Bebe.  It is an injustice to pass these by quickly without study, for an appraisal brings recognition of the different postures, distances, expressions, appearances, and change between and of the foursome which produces a measure of comfort and identity with their emotions, likely experienced by each one of us at one time or another towards our own family members, and those we love (and may hate).

This response enables self-tolerance. See what you think.

Nicholas Nixon, The Brown Sisters, 1975, National Gallery of Art, Washington, Patrons' Permanent Fund, copyright Nicholas Nixon, courtesy Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco and Pace/MacGill Gallery, New York

Nicholas Nixon, The Brown Sisters, Truro, MA, 2010, National Gallery of Art, Washington, Robert and Elizabeth Fisher Fund, copyright Nicholas Nixon, courtesy Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco and Pace/MacGill Gallery, New York

And there's lots more.

Curator Sarah Kennel talks about Ilse Bing's Self-Portrait with Leica, 1931, a gift to the National Gallery of Art from Ilse Bing Wolff/Patricia Leslie

Other photographers who have works in the exhibition are Ilse Bing, Lee Friedlander, Francesca Woodman, Vito Acconci, Blythe Bohnen, Ann Hamilton, Nikki S. Lee, Gillian Wearing, André Kertész,  Arnulf Rainer, Nan Goldin, Tomoko Sawada, and Vibeke Tandberg.

Francesca Woodman, Self-deceit #1, Rome, 1978, National Gallery of Art, Washington, Gift of the Heather and Tony Podesta Collection
But back to O'Keeffe and Stieglitz for just a moment:  During "the most prolific part of his life," says Wikipedia, Stieglitz photographed O'Keeffe more than 350 times between 1918 and 1925.  Ms. Kennel noted their "intensely passionate relationship, especially in the early years," which drifted into something "attenuated" in the 1930s.  O'Keeffe spent a lot of time every year in New Mexico. 
Returning from her trip that summer when her lover, Stieglitz, and Beck Strand mingled, O'Keeffe was immediately suspicious but chose to ride out the storm which didn't last long anyway.  Two years later in 1924 she married Stieglitz, and five years later, enjoyed her own relationship with Beck Strand, says Wikipedia. 

Complementing the exhibition are talks, films, and a magnificent 35-page digital brochure available at the National Gallery's website or here , a great substitute if you can't get there.   

Filmmaker James Benning will be in Washington December 8 and 9 for presentation of three of his creations.

Films will be screened in the East Building Auditorium where seating is first come, first served.

The Fancy and The Woodmans
November 28, 29, and 30, 12:30 p.m.
The Fancy is a short work completed before the recent scholarly interest in Francesca Woodman’s work. (Elizabeth Subrin, 2000, 36 minutes) The Woodmans investigates the legacy of photographer Francesca Woodman through interviews with her parents and brother, all artists themselves. Francesca committed suicide in 1981 at age 22. (C. Scott Willis, 2010, 82 minutes)

Twenty Cigarettes
with James Benning in person
December 8, 2:30 p.m.
Using advanced digital technology, James Benning, centers this film around the life of a lit cigarette for each subject in a series of portraits. One pack, 20 people: framed and alone with the camera for as long as it takes to smoke one. (2011, HD, 99 minutes)

small roads
with James Benning in person
December 8, 4:30 p.m.
Presenting 47 shots of roads crisscrossing the United States from the Pacific coast to the Midwest, this film is best described, according to Benning, “by making a list of the roads in question and the cars that drive on them.” (2011, HD, 103 minutes)

Two Cabins
with James Benning in person
December 9, 4:30 p.m.
The two cabins built by Benning are replicas of Henry David Thoreau’s at Walden Pond and Ted Kaczynski’s (the Unabomber) in Montana, used as foundations for reflection of “utopian and dystopian versions of social isolation.”  A discussion follows the screening (60 minutes).

Gallery Talks

The Serial Portrait: Photography and Identity in the Last One Hundred Years
November 2–4, 28–30, noon
Adam Davies
West Building Rotunda
60 minutes

Bread and Roses: The Photographs of Milton Rogovin
November 7, 15, 17, 19, noon
Maryanna Ramirez
West Building Rotunda
20 minutes
The National Gallery's Ksenya Gurshtein assisted in production of the exhibition made possible by the Trellis Fund.

What:  The Serial Portrait: Photography and Identity in the Last One Hundred Years
When:  Every day from now through Dec. 31, 2012, from 10 a.m. - 5 p.m., Monday - Saturday; 11 a.m. - 6 p.m., Sunday, and closed on Christmas Day

Where: The National Gallery of Art, West Building, Ground Floor, photography galleries. (The closest entrance is on Seventh Avenue, NW.) The National Gallery of Art and Sculpture Garden is located at the National Mall along Constitution Avenue and between Third and Ninth Streets.

How much:  Admission is always free
For more information:  (202) 737-4215

Metro station: Judiciary Square, Navy Memorial-Archives, or the Smithsonian
1-800-PetMeds Private Label