Friday, August 11, 2006

Washington DC - part I

A couple of days after the Dublin Irish Festival I was back on the road again (isn't that a country song title by Willie Nelson?). This time a woodturning trip to the Capital Area Woodturners. I'm doing two one-day hands-on classes and an all-day demo before returning on Sunday morning.

I came in early on Wednesday to give myself time to go see the Smithsonian art museums and I sure did take in a lot of sights between 10 am and 5 pm. I hopped on the Metro at Huntington station and got off at Farragut West for short walk to the Renwick Gallery.

Unfortunately, they're between exhibits on the first floor, but the selection upstairs rotates often enough that there were a lot of differet things for me to see compared to my last visit a couple of years ago. The main gallery is featuring the work of George Catlin who traveled throughout the US to paint Indians in their traditional garb prior to being caught up in the great European migration westward. This exhibit is an important snapshot off what we've lost on this continent.

This painting was interesting to me with the depiction of the face paint of this chief (of the Iowa tribe, I think).

I always enjoy seeing Wendell Castle's "Ghost Clock" sculpture. This is carved from walnut with the drape part of the carving having been bleached. You can see the grain lines in the drape, which is your first clue that the whole thing is carved from a block of wood.

Here's the backside of the sculpture. It's one of my favorite things to see in the Renwick.

This is an interesting cabinet called, "Ghost Boy" made by John Cederquist. I would like to see this all opened up to find out what's inside the doors and drawers.

Another of my favorites is "Portal Gates" by Albert Paley.

This is Binh Pho's "Journey to Destiny," which was donated by Jane and Arthur Mason. It depicts Bihn's escape from Vietnam in the 1970's.

This one is called "Monkey Settee" and was made by Judy Kensley-McKie.

Plate #753 by Robert Sperry. I draw a lot of inspiration from ceramics - especially the surface enhancements used for decorating the vessels.

This interesting cabinet is called "Bureau of Bureacracy" by Kim Schahmann. It's a personal narrative of growing up in South Africa and there are documents placed inside that track his biography. I know this because the guard for the gallery told me all about a letter he wrote to the artist inquiring about the piece. So, I had a personal tour for this one -- another piece I'd like to see inside of.

After visiting the Renwick I walked over to the Washington Monument and took photos of the White House (Pennsylvania Ave side here).

Constitution Avenue side here.

I didn't see any big protests going on today. The last few time's I've walked past here there's been some activity out front or back protesting war, the economy, conservatism, name what you want to protest against. . .

The lack of such displays makes me wonder if tightened security is impacting our society's propensity for free speech.

Here's the Department of Treasury.

The Washington Monument.

A view of the Lincoln Memorial and the reflecting pools.

Next I walked up to the Freer Gallery and toured through the Freer, Sackler and Museum of African Art - they're all connected underground.

The Freer Gallery is interesting because there's a nice collection of Whistler paintings as well as Asian Art and artifacts. This is Whistler's "Orange Note - Sweet Shop."

Here's a Syrian artifact - probably an incense burner - from the 15th century. I found this interesting because of the Celtic weave design.

Here's a detail - I think this type of design is common in cultures other than the Celtic ones, but I always think of it as a Celtic design.

This is a Korean ceramic urn from teh 8th century. I found this interesting because of the impressions that make up the surface design.

It reminds me of branding patterns we'd see in contemporary woodturning surface enhancements.

This Korean bowl was made sometime between 1150 and 1200 AD. The form is one of my favorite ones to do in woodturning.

Here's the courtyard garden at the Freer. It was a little warm on Wednesday or I would have sat here for a while and enjoyed the sound of the fountain.

I enjoyed the Sackler Gallery collection, too, as well as the African Art collection. I didn't get any photos from the latter - photography isn't allowed there.

This is a ceremonial wine bottle and bowl in bronze from ancient China.

A ceramic ritual wine container from 1300 BC China. I found the surface features to be very attractive.

I really liked this three legged bowl.

And this small pot, too. One can really find a lot of ideas for surface enhancement from these ancient vessels.

Here's a collection in one of the display cases.

This is a 14th century vessel from Iraq made from brass with silver inlay. The surface design includes an inscription in Arabic.

After visiting those three museums I walked across the mall to go to the National Gallery of Art. This is the Smithsonian Castle from the mall side.

A view of the US Capitol building at the end of the mallway.

The natural history museum, which I didn't have time to visit. I like this museum a lot, so I'm sorry I didn't have time to walk through it. I've been in the back rooms to use the herbarium a few times - the behind-the-scenes research areas is pretty interesting, but I understand they've moved the research collections offsite now.

The West Wing of the National Art Gallery. One of my alltime favorite places to visit in DC.

Walking into the rotunda to see the sculpture of Mercury is always a welcomed sight.

I'll post pics of some of my favorite paintings in the collection starting with "Young Girl Reading" by Fragonard.

Twatchman's "Winter Harmony."

Monet's "Japanese Footbridge."

"Four Dancers" by Degas.

"Oarsmen at Chatou" by Renoir.

One always finds a painter copying one of the masterpieces in the French Impressionist galleries. I always enjoy seeing this.

The water sculpture near the walkway to the East Wing.

The walkway to the East Wing connecting the two museums.

Number 1, 1950 by Jackson Pollock. I don't understand modern art, but I do like a few of the paintings I've seen. This one is visually interesting to me. Most of the paintings in modern art are ones that make me say, "huh? I don't get it."

This is the main atrium of the East Wing.

I have no idea who made this sculpture on Pennsylvania Avenue near the metro stop I found at the end of the day.

This is a view of the National Archives building on Pennsylvania Avenue.

I've been pretty busy since Wednesday, but will try to post more pictures later this week.

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