Monday, July 23, 2018

Censored! Trump cartoon show at the Corcoran

At the Spiked opening reception at the Corcoran School of the Arts and Design/Photo by Patricia Leslie

Everybody who keeps up with politics knows about the firing of editorial cartoonist Rob Rogers after his 25-year tenure at the Pittsburg Post-Gazette. Speaking on behalf of newspaper management, they just couldn't take them any more.
 Image ©2018 Rob Rogers. Image courtesy of Rob Rogers, Andrews McMeel Syndication.

Management spiked or killed several of Mr. Rogers's cartoons and ideas about Trump. His drawings went too far, capturing in perfect pencil and words, Trump today.

Too much!  Cried the bosses and finally, Mr. Rogers was shown the door.
Image ©2018 Rob Rogers. Image courtesy of Rob Rogers, Andrews McMeel Syndication.
Image ©2018 Rob Rogers. Image courtesy of Rob Rogers, Andrews McMeel Syndication.Immigrant Children, 6-1-18

Had they tried, they would have been unable to quash the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists from celebrating the opening last Wednesday of an exhibition of Mr. Rogers's cut works in a display at the Corcoran School of the Arts and Design (formerly the Corcoran Gallery of Art).  

Eighteen cartoons or ideas the newspaper "spiked" hang on the walls.
 Image ©2018 Rob Rogers. Image courtesy of Rob Rogers, Andrews McMeel Syndication.
Image ©2018 Rob Rogers. Image courtesy of Rob Rogers, Andrews McMeel Syndication.
At the Spiked opening reception at the Corcoran School of the Arts and Design/Photo by Patricia Leslie

How wonderful it all was to be back at the Corcoran with Rogers's powerful renderings, to admire the marble of the halls, the columns, the size of the place, the soaring ceiling

It's been a too-long absence for the public while the Corcoran's collections and building were batted around by D.C. deciders who laid claims on this and that. (Thankfully, the National Gallery of Art got the pick of the $2 billion collection and has placed many of the works on public display with credit always to the Corcoran. You may search its collection of the thousands of Corcoran pieces by entering "Corcoran" on the "Search the Collection" tab.)  

At the Spiked opening reception at the Corcoran School of the Arts and Design/Photo by Patricia Leslie
At the Spiked opening reception at the Corcoran School of the Arts and Design/Photo by Patricia Leslie

Two critical elements in an open society, bulwarks in the artistic world, celebrate their debuts and dedication to their respective causes in a place where the people hope the exhibitions keep on coming.

This fall with the AAEC and George Washington University's School for Media and Public Affairs, the Corcoran School (owned by GWU) will host a series about censorship, freedom of the press, journalistic integrity, and the consequences of nationalism to a democracy.

Organizers of Spiked are the University Art Gallery and the University of Pittsburgh in association with the AAEC. This fall the show moves to the University of Pittsburgh for a bigger installation

Do you think the newspaper will list the exhibition when it comes to town?

What: Spiked:  The Unpublished Political Cartoons of Rob Rogers

When: Now through October 14, 2018; Tuesday through Friday, 10 a.m. - 6 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday, 1 - 6 p.m.

Where: Corcoran School of the Arts and Design at George Washington University, Atrium Galleries at Flagg Building, 500 17th St. N.W. Washington, D.C. 20006

How much: Admission is free.

For more information: 202-994-1700

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Inmates' art on display at Torpedo Factory

 Morgan Freeman by C.M., graphite, Fairfax County Adult Detention Center.  Artists choose whether to use their initials or their names for display.

So many came for the opening of a new art exhibition at the Torpedo Factory Friday night that guests spilled out into an entrance hallway and packed the gallery where  they had to strain to hear remarks by the curator.  
Morgan Freeman by B.G., graphite, Alexandria Detention Center. Ceiling lights and more are reflected in the protective glass in this photo of the art at the exhibition at the Torpedo Factory Art Center.

They came to see Off the Grid: Creating Change Through Art Instruction & Inspiration named after an art technique of Kelli Schollard-Sincock who volunteers as an instructor for inmates at the Alexandria Detention Center and the Fairfax County Adult Detention Center.

It was the inmates' art on display, and their enthusiasm for Ms. Schollard-Sincock's classes has led to waiting lists.
By K. S, graphite, Fairfax County Adult Detention Center

At the Friday event, her passion for her students and their learning was itself exhibited several times as tears fell from her eyes while she related her own personal experiences and rewards, teaching and communicating with the inmates. 
Kelli Schollard-Sincock at the Torpedo Factory, July 20, 2018/Photo by Patricia Leslie

As far as she knows, this is a first for inmates. Ms. Schollard-Sincock donates about 20 hours weekly to the effort.

Although the graphite renderings presented are mostly of attractive young women (suggesting male artists), Ms. Schollard-Sincock's students include men and women, she said. 
I went, hoping to buy a piece of art, but she said none are for sale:  "The logistics would be too hard," she said.  Does the art belong to the sheriff's department?  The inmates?  How would that be sorted?  She has no more hours to devote to the cause.

Ms. Schollard-Sincock is a certified forensic sketch artist who has a B.A. in Interdisciplinary Art from the University of Washington and a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Printmaking from George Mason University.  

She began working on Inspiration Matterz last year as a trial at the Alexandria Detention Center. The Del Ray Artisans have been so impressed by her contributions and skills, they have embraced her program and are a major sponsor of the exhibition, said a spokesman.

Donated art supplies are welcome: 
Pads of Bristol Board drawing paper (various sizes)
Pads of Drawing Paper (no spiral bound)
Pads of tracing paper
Packages of carbon paper
Packages of standard printing paper (white and colored)
Cardboard backed canvases (variety of sizes)
Smudge sticks (packages are best)
Erasers: gum, kneaded, and white 

Drawing pencils: (specifically 8B, 4B, 2B, HB, 5H, and 6/7H) Paint brushes in a variety of sizes
Acrylic paint sets (especially black, white, red, yellow, blue)
Legal-size manilla folders

(Writer's note:  Until this exhibition I did not understand the difference between an "inmate" and a "prisoner." Click here for definitions.) 

What: Off the Grid: Creating Change Through Art Instruction & Inspiration

Where: The Torpedo Factory Art Center, 105 N. Union St., Alexandria, VA 22314

When: Now through August 31, 2018, 10 a.m. - 6 p.m. daily and until 9 p.m. Thursdays. (Call 703-746-4570 to make sure the Torpedo Factory is not closing early for a private event.)

How much:  No charge

For more information: or 703-746-4570

For how to support: Contact the Target Gallery director,  Leslie Mounaime,, 703-746-4590

Saturday, July 21, 2018

'HMS Pinafore' is great family fun at the Olney

Now at the Olney Theatre Center

 When H.M.S. Pinafore ended last Saturday night at the Olney Theatre Center, a nine-year-old exclaimed: "It's the best play I've ever seen!" and being from a theater family, he has lots of play experience.
The cast interacts with the audience in the promenade during H.M.S. Pinafore /Photo, Teresa Castracane

A boatload of frolic and frivolity lies ahead, mates, for anyone looking for summer treats, to be found in Olney where two productions, Gilbert and Sullivan's The Pirates of Penzance and Pinafore have landed and play in tandem on different nights.

The shows come from Chicago and the Hypocrites to mingle successfully anew with the Olney.
The cast of The Hypocrites and The House Theatre of Chicago's H.M.S. Pinafore at Olney Theatre Center/Photo, Teresa Castracane

 In Pinafore the audience anchors a starring role, invited to play center stage, at stage sides, in top bunks and on the deck of the ship, too, throwing small stuffed animals and pillows at each other, at nonparticipating audience members, and at the moving cast who sometime scoot new actors off their ringside benches, if they get in the way.  

(Had the script allowed, a warning could have been sounded to those on deck: "Broomsticks, ahead, mates!" before stick handlers pushed the crew into the "water.")
Library of Congress, Public Domain, Wikimedia

Actors (included the newly recruited) "swim" and "float" in the "pool" of multi-colored pillows where they engage in a nonstop pillow fight, having a right jolly good time, skidding down the sliding board and dancing and singing.

Those in the audience who are not cast members sit in a clever L-shaped configuration with a live bar on one side and "the promenade," everywhere.

It's all about love, natch, with the serious question vexing most everyone now and then on the paths through life's seas:  Do you follow the money or do you follow your heart?

Beleaguered Joseph (Mario Aivazian) wails: "No one told me when I grew up that I would have to make my own decisions."

He is a real mama's boy whose mama (Tina Munoz Pandya) is on watch duty, the captain of the ship, searching the seascape for the best in dollars, security, and stability a mate can bring!

Her choice is Dame JoAnne (Lauren Vogel) whose delivery and appearance suggest the Evil Witch of the Icebergs, obviously the wrong one for Joseph. 

Roles are switched from the original 1878 (!) show, male to female and back again and are sometimes a bit overboard, like right at the launch when Matt Kahler, a "manly man," says he is  "Buttercup."  

Buttercup? Did I hear that right?  Mr. Kahler, I've seen many buttercups, and you, sir, are no "buttercup"!

Another of Joseph's paramours is Ralphina (formerly Ralph and here acted by Dana Saleh Omar), the one Joseph (and we) want for a match.

Costumes (by Alison Siple) fit what you might envision for a pajama party. The men wear furry slippers, shorts, mixed pajamas (ditto, the females), just what you'd find at the Goodwill in today's styles when millennials dress to impress no one and everyone.  ("Look, ma!  I've got holes and clothes that don't match!")

And just like at a giant coed slumber party, everyone screams, talks, and sings at the same time, and the audience can sing along, too, accompanied by  banjos, guitars, violins, a toy piano, an accordion, cymbals, ukuleles, and an oboe (or was that a flute?).

For all on board the Pinafore or watching, when the ship docks and reaches its end, the forecast is one of bright and happy.

According to Wikipedia, H.M.S. Pinafore premiered in 1878 in London and played 571 performances, becoming "an international success" with "great influence on the development of musical theatre in Britain and America."

Seth Graney, the director, adapted this Pinafore version with help from Mr. Kahler and Andra Velis Simon, also the music director.

More cast members
are Eduardo Xavier Curley-Carrillo, Steven Romero Schaeffer, Leslie Ann Sheppard, Shawn Pfautsch, and Aja Wiltshire.

Other creative team members are Tom Burch, scenics; Heather Gilbert, lighting; Kevin O'Donnell, sound; Miranda Anderson, stage manager; and Dennis A. Blackledge, director of production.

What: The H.M.S. Pinafore and The Pirates of Penzance by Gilbert and Sullivan
Where: Olney Theatre Center, 2001 Olney-Sandy Spring Road, Olney, MD 20832.

When: Now through August 19, 2018, Wednesday through Saturday at 7:45 p.m., Sunday, 5:30 p.m., one Tuesday evening performance, August 14, at 7:45 p.m. Matinees, Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday at 1:45 p.m.

Post show discussions:  After matinees, July 21 and August 18

Tickets: Begin at $34 with discounts for groups, seniors, military, and students

Ages: Recommended for all. Rated "G"
("No swear words")

Duration: 70 minutes with one quick (one minute) intermission

Refreshments: Available and may be taken to seats

Parking: Free and plentiful on-site

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

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Update! The new Tysons-Pimmit Regional Library has leaks...and plastic

The east side of the Tysons-Pimmit Regional Library with wild, plastic sprouts growing from the roof/Photo by Patricia Leslie

(Update: Two months later, and the Tysons Library is still leaking!)

Looks like something's blowing in the wind, and it's not trees at the newly renovated Tysons-Pimmit Regional Library.  Those are big pieces of plastic waving like flags from the roof, placed and plastered all around to stop leaks at the library which has not been open a year since its grand re-opening last October.  

The library was closed for almost two years for a $5.6 million renovation.  

Project architect, Leo Salom, led the team from
Ritter-Norton of Alexandria on the overhaul. The general contractor was Branch and Associates.

From the locations of the plastic, it looks like leaks have sprung all over.  The staff was reluctant to talk about the raindrops which keep falling on their heads, however, they did say more than one leak has been discovered.  These pictures were taken last Saturday during a dry spell and two days before Monday's rainfall.

I certainly hope the roof is under warranty and that Fairfax County taxpayers are not burdened with the cost of roof repair and/or replacement at the leaky library.
The west side of the Tysons-Pimmit Regional Library with more plastic sprouts growing from the roof/Photo by Patricia Leslie

Friday, July 13, 2018

Another update: Never use certified mail

Google images/

(Latest update:  On September 16, 2018, the U.S.P.S. emailed that it was still searching for my passport which it had delivered to the visa office June 25, 2018.)

(Update: On July 18, 2018, the U.S. P. S. emailed that it was still searching for my passport which it had delivered to the visa office on June 25, 2018.)

The U.S. Postal Service kept my passport for 26 days.

I mailed it to the visa office on May 30, 2018.  It was delivered to its destination on June 25, 2018.  The expected delivery date, according to the receipt, was June 1, 2018.

That was for a distance of 3.4 miles on the same street.

The U.S. Postal Service charged me $7.83 to mail my passport via certified mail which included $2.75 for a return receipt which I never received.

Strapped to the shell of a tortoise and ambling up the street, it likely would have reached its destination sooner.

More than one person has suggested that perhaps someone along the way attempted (succeeded?) to steal my identity.

Trying to locate my passport on the long journey up Connecticut Avenue, I made numerous telephone calls and trips to three different post offices, enlisted an aide in my congressman’s office, tweeted twice to the Post Office (no reply), and called the State Department to get a new passport (for an additional $200+). 

At every post office branch I visited, the clerks and managers had the same answer They had no more information than what I was able to read online. 

At the Oakton, Virginia post office, a clerk rolled her eyes and said to me:  "You mailed your passport by certified mail in D.C. and you're surprised it's lost?"

It was.  Lost in post office limbo, "in transit" and nothing more beyond June 7, 2018.

Try, just try, getting the phone number of anyone at the U.S. Post Office to help you. 

Here are a couple for you to save: Friendship Heights Distribution Office: 202-842-3332 (May take several phone calls before anyone answers and several minutes on hold if anyone answers) and the
Brentwood Warehouse: 202-636-1259 (May take several phone calls before anyone answers and several minutes on hold if anyone answers). 

“It may be in the cage,” said a postal official at the Washington Square branch where I originally mailed my passport, where I returned, seeking mercy. “Ask them to check the cage.” 
But "the cage" was empty (save the ones at the border with actual people) and lacked mercy, too.
It only took a maximum 30 minutes of holding, if anyone answered the phone at Friendship Heights or Brentwood, at which time I had to hang up, given my job requirements and other necessary parts of life which demand attention.

Holding at Friendship Heights allows the person who may answer the phone to try and find a supervisor or a clerk for Zone 20008 to "check the cage," and that person, likely as not, does not return to the phone, unless you can hold for double-digit minutes.

At Brentwood, the phone rings about five times before it goes to voice mail where the message is: “You may not leave messages here.”

At various times, Friendship Heights and Brentwood each blamed the other for my lost passport.  

When I called the State Department in desperado mood, a woman there seemed incredulous that the Post Office had lost my passport.  "M'am," I said, "I've got the proof right here, if you want to see that it's on hold somewhere in post office la-la land." 

She scheduled an emergency meeting for me to obtain another passport so I could make my trip.  I gathered up the necessary documents for another passport:  a certified birth certificate, more paperwork, and a bottle of Russian vodka.

Earlier I put a tracer on my envelope which is only good for seven days.

Suddenly, the passport turned up.

When I visited Russia in 2013 I went to the Russian consulate’s office and got my own visa. It took me two or three visits but I got it in a timely manner and did not worry about it. I knew exactly where it was.  (Besides, I liked practicing my new Russian at the consulate's:
"Здравствуйте," I said, and she looked at me like I was from another country. I have learned that Russians don't smile much; they think it's a sign of imbecility, and besides, my Russian instructor says:  "They've had a hard life." Oh, yeah?  What's their mail service like?) 

For this trip, the visa fee was built in the tour price, and the tour company, Travel All Russia, told me to use
"a reliable mailing service" (either UPS or Fed Ex, it stipulated) to mail my visa application.  Since UPS and FedEx both leave packages and envelopes at doors and do not collect signatures at my dilapidated complex where
mail is frequently stolen, I thought the USPS would be a better option.  

To finally retrieve my passport and visa, I took the Metro on Tuesday out to the visa service in northwest D.C. not far from Ohio (IMO) where I had left multiple explicit instructions not to mail my passport since my trip is this year and not next century.  I probably won't live that long anyway.  

Take my words for it: If you live in and around D.C. and plan to visit Russia,  skip hours of worry, phone calls, visits, additional costs, frenzy, and visit the consulate's office yourself (where speaking Russian is not required).
As my wise son says: “This is what you get with government and no competition.”

I may start my own visa application service, and I shall not be using the U.S. Postal "Service" for my deliveries.  I'll be using my own wheels.  Write for info.  Dos vedanya.