Thursday, September 28, 2017

Inside the Cosmos Club

 The Cosmos Club, 2121 Massachusetts Avenue, N.W. Washington, D.C. 20008/Photo by Patricia Leslie

The Cosmos Club in Washington, D.C. "founded in 1878, is a private social club for men and women distinguished in science, literature and the arts or public service. Members come from virtually every profession that has anything to do with scholarship, creative genius or intellectual distinction."

Members in the Cosmos Club have included three U.S. presidents, two U.S. vice-presidents, 12 U.S. Supreme Court justices, and more than a few Pulitzer Prize and Nobel Prize winners, in addition to recipients of the Presidential Medal of Freedom.  (Please see below.)

A few Saturdays ago I got to go on a public tour and saw:
This portrait of artist and inventor Samuel Morse (1791-1872) in the entrance hall.  (Terra Foundation's 2014 Gallery of the Louvre about Morse's painting is a fabulous book which may be in the Cosmos library.  It should be.)/Photo by Patricia Leslie
Also in the entrance hall on the right side is a bust of ...?/Photo by Patricia Leslie
On the second floor and centered at the end of the Long Gallery is a couple taking a dance lesson in the recently restored Warne Ballroom/Photo by Patricia Leslie
The recently restored (2012) Beaux-Arts Warne Ballroom where a dance lesson was underway. It was shocking to see...across the floor! Men in coats and ties on a Saturday. I declare!  Magnifico.  Maybe it is close to the apocalypse, after all/Photo by Patricia Leslie
Back to the Long Gallery above this mantle is a portrait of Henry Clay (1777-1852), statesman, member of the U.S. Senate, the U.S. House of Representatives, three time unsuccessful candidate for the U.S. presidency, and not a member of the Cosmos Club which was founded after Mr. Clay died/Photo by Patricia Leslie
A closer view of Henry Clay with a bad light reflection/Photo by Patricia Leslie
From the Long Gallery, peeking into what is perhaps a private dining room where luncheon is served?/Photo by Patricia Leslie
On the second floor is a bust of John Wesley Powell (1834-1902), the Cosmos founder and in whose home the Club was born/Photo by Patricia Leslie
One of the most spectacular rooms at the Club is the library which the website says contains 9,500 volumes.  It is a lovely, comfortable room where bookish luxuriate/Photo by Patricia Leslie
These visitors became like statues, unable to move, starstruck by the sight of a wealth of books in an elegant setting/Photo by Patricia Leslie
What? Cards?  Paper cards?  Used for checkouts?  Are the Digital Police aware?/Photo by Patricia Leslie
Books written by living Cosmos Club members are found on these shelves, and once the authors die, their places here terminate and their books are moved elsewhere in the Club, a docent told me/Photo by Patricia Leslie
Another view of the library.  Can you tell it's one of my fav digs at the Cosmos Club?/Photo by Patricia Leslie
And another view. Don't you like the circular arrangement of books on the table?/Photo by Patricia Leslie
Titles you may have read/Photo by Patricia Leslie
Another view of an unusual book arrangement.  I am the bookish sort who relishes them!/Photo by Patricia Leslie
Atlas, anyone?/Photo by Patricia Leslie
Through a curtain darkly, a window at the front of the mansion looks out on Mass Ave./Photo by Patricia Leslie
How about a blind date with a book? What a clever idea!
/Photo by Patricia Leslie
The Club's chess champions for all to see, in the Periodicals Room which features 140 journal titles and adjoins the library/Photo by Patricia Leslie
The Periodicals Room/Photo by Patricia Leslie
A hallway which separates the Periodicals Room from the Warne Ballroom over which Mathilde Townsend (on wall) presides in a digital presentation, donated by members and hung in 2015. The original, painted by John Singer Sargent in 1907, was given in 1952 by Ms. Townsend, the daughter of the mansion's previous owner, to the National Gallery of Art where it is currently not on view/Photo by Patricia Leslie
Mathilde Townsend by John Singer Sargent (1856-1925).  Please pardon the light's reflection/Photo by Patricia Leslie At this link is a better photograph. From just a cursory search, I was unable to find the birth and death years for Ms. Townsend.
One of the Cosmos' grandfather clocks, this one at the top of the stairwell on a second floor landing/Photo by Patricia Leslie
The view from the grandfather clock/Photo by Patricia Leslie
 Some of the 61 Pulitzer Prize winners and Cosmos' members, pictured on the ground floor beyond the entrance hallway/Photo by Patricia Leslie
Some of the 36 Nobel Prize winners and Cosmos' members, pictured on the ground floor beyond the entrance hallway/Photo by Patricia Leslie
Some of the 55 recipients of the Presidential Medal of Freedom Award and Cosmos' members, pictured on the ground floor beyond the entrance hallway/Photo by Patricia Leslie
Dolley Madison (1768-1849) presides over her room with a face rendered not as attractive as the one we have come to love and adore/Photo by Patricia Leslie
 A U.S. silver dollar commemorating Dolley Madison who lived in what is now known as Madison Place on Lafayette Square from 1837 until 1849 when she died. The Cosmos Club bought the house in 1886 and occupied it until 1952 when it moved to the present mansion/Photo by Patricia Leslie
Postage stamps in the U.S. and beyond honoring past Cosmos Club members/Photo by Patricia Leslie

Darling, how pleasant it was, so unusual to see gentlemen dressed in coats and ties on a Saturday.  A Saturday.  Men dressed up as men!  
Dearie, they were taking dancing lessons, no less, with gentlewomen dressed as if they were going to a White House eventQuelle surprise!  People dressed to impress! On a Saturday morning in this town where the fashion de jour is to look as bad and as wrinkled as you possibly can.

At the Cosmos Club, gentle people treat each other with respect and dignity and dress the part. Thank goodness, some are still left. Come and see for yourself!  And, perhaps, join the Club!  Membership is open to all presidents, vice presidents, other VIPs named above, and others with proper credentials and pedigree. Fees are not as costly as one might think.

What:  Public tours of the Cosmos Club

When:  Every other month at 10 a.m. on Saturdays.  The next tour is scheduled for November 11, 2017 (Veterans Day weekend).

Where: 2121 Massachusetts Avenue, N.W. Washington, D.C. 20008

How much:  No charge

For more information:  202-387-7783 or


Monday, September 18, 2017

Olney sells out two extensions of 'In the Heights'

 The ensemble of In the Heights, co-produced by Olney Theatre Center and Round House Theatre/Photo by Stan Barouh 

Two extended shows of In the Heights now on stage at the Olney Theatre Center are sold out through October 22.

They were announced almost before the show started, yet they are not enough to satisfy demand.

Not to fear.  

At the Olney's web page lies a hint that more seats may become available if any are released 48 hours before a show (full price), and tickets may become available 30 minutes before a show if released ($20).  You have to check back to find out. (Like, bring a tent and hope Maria doesn't stop by.)
Robin De Jesús as Usnavi and ensemble members dance the night away In the Heights, a co-production of Olney Theatre Center and Round House Theatre /Photo by Stan Barouh

No doubt the playwright's success with Hamilton, now a Broadway smash, is a factor in Heights' popularity, too. 
In the Heights was Lin-Manuel Miranda's first New York musical which he drafted when he was only a college sophomore at Wesleyan University.  In 2008 when Heights opened on Broadway, it earned 13 Tony nominations, winning four (Best Musical, Best Original Score, Best Choreography, and Best Orchestrations).

Heights tells the stories of residents of Mr. Miranda's beloved Hispanic-American neighborhood, Washington Heights, who work to make ends meet, cope, and have a fling or two while, all along, they struggle to advance their stations. It's life!  

They sing, they dance, and man do they dance! It's action, action, action all night long with barely a breath to take.  That one person (Marcos Santana) both directed and choreographed Heights is astonishing.

In the lead role is Robin de Jesús, Tony nominee, who also starred in the Broadway production.  It's rare when he's absent from the stage to lead the cast in its kicks, steps, songs, flashes, and exuberance. Music lovers will enjoy variations from salsa, reggae, hip hop, merengue (a Dominican dance), rap, to traditional sounds and accompanying dance. 

Lighting by Cory Pattak is outstanding, and the hidden orchestra under the direction of Christopher Youstra exceeds expectations per usual.

In the Heights is a co-production with Roundhouse Theatre and includes creative team members: Quiara Alegría Hudes, book; Frank Labovitz, costumes; Milagros Ponce de Leon, scenics; Elisabeth Ribar, assistant stage manager; Matt Rowe, sound; Karen Currie, production stage manager; Dennis A. Blackledge, production; and Rebecca Kritzer, assistant choreographer, dance captain, and cast member.

Others in the cast include Scean Aaron, Eunice Bae, Danny Bolero, Sharlane Conner, Mili Diaz, Natascia Diaz, Linedy Genao, Vilma Gil, Rayanne Gonzales, Andre Hinds, Jesse Jones, Ashleigh King, Michael J. Mainwaring, Juan Drigo Ricafort, Melissa Victor, Marquise White, and Tobias A. Young.

Hamilton comes to the Kennedy Center next year.

What: In the Heights
Where: Olney Theatre Center, 2001 Olney-Sandy Spring Road, Olney, MD 20832

When: Now through October 22, 2017.

Talkbacks after 2 p.m. Saturday matinees on September 30 and October 7 with cast and crew members.

How much: (Hmmm...)  Please go here for more information.

Ages: Appropriate for all.  If language is "adult," it's inaudible.

Duration: 2.5 hours with one 15-minute intermission

Refreshments: 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, September 17, 2017

JFK photographs leave the Smithsonian today

 John F. Kennedy, 1961, by Shirley Seltzer Cooper (1919-1999)

In celebration of what would have been President John F. Kennedy's 100th birthday on May 29, 2017, the Smithsonian American Art Museum opened a collection of 77 photographs and other remembrances of the man whose spirit, intelligence, appreciation for the arts, and energy captivated America which has never been able to regain its sense of confidence and bravery since his death. 

Today is the last day for the display which is based on the book, JFK:  A Vision for America edited by Stephen Kennedy Smith, President Kennedy's nephew, and Douglas Brinkley, history professor at Rice University.

Most of the images in the exhibition are familiar to those who grew up with the ghost of JFK.  Below are a few of the less well-known pictures.
Kennedy for Congress headquarters, Boston, September, 1946, by Yale Joel/Life Picture Collection, Getty Images
In the galleries of the JFK exhibition at the Smithsonian American Art Museum/Photo by Patricia Leslie
John Kennedy, center, with his father, Joseph, and brother, Joseph Patrick, Jr., Brookline, MA, 1919/John f. Kennedy Library Foundation
In the galleries at the Smithsonian American Art Museum where JFK's familiar quotations are painted on the walls. This caption from June 14, 1956 reads:  Our Nation's first great politicians were also among the Nation's first great writers and scholars...Books were their tools, not their enemies.
/Photo by Patricia Leslie
Campaigning in Amherstdale, WVA, April, 1960, one of 53 campaign stops candidate Kennedy made in the state in one month.  There he learned something about the lives of coal miners which helped form his anti-poverty legislation when he became president/Life Picture Collection, Getty Images
During an airport campaign stop in Amarillo, TX on Nov. 3, 1960, JFK tried to restrain his running mate, Lyndon Johnson, incensed by Republican pilots revving up their engines to silence Democratic Party speakers/without credit line
Waiting for results the day after the election at Bobby and Ethel Kennedy's home in Hyannis Port, MA on Nov. 9, 1960 are (behind JFK, seated) Bobby and Ethel (in a sweater dress.  Ethel, age 89, is still living.) /Jacques Lowe (the Jacques Lowe Estate)
First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy and Andre Malraux, the minister of cultural affairs for France, arranged the first tour of the Mona Lisa to the U.S. from the Louvre for a three-week run at the National Gallery of Art. This was taken on Jan. 8, 1963/Abbie Rowe,John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum
At the entrance to the JFK exhibition at the Smithsonian American Art Museum/Photo by Patricia Leslie
The U.S. State Department has sent the images to Australia, Brazil, China, Ethiopia, Germany, Honduras, Kosovo, Poland, Romania, South Korea, Thailand, and Venezuela where they will travel throughout each country through 2018.

What: American Visionary:  John F. Kennedy's Life and Times

When: Closes Sunday, September 17, 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 website.

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