Wednesday, January 19, 2005

3 Days in DC

A big thanks to the lovely and fabulous Sarah Goldy for a fantastic, whirlwind tour of Washington DC. In my less-than 72 hours in DC, we managed to visit three museums, stumble on a fabulous Indian restaurant, watch 2.5 horror movies on cable (couldn't finish one because it was so bad), visit with Tammy Marinucci (nee Rhodes) twice, plant a voodoo hex on the inaugural site (notice the bad weather rolling in?), lunch at Tea-ism (twice!!) AND see "Sideways"! Woo!!

Highlights of the Museum experiences:
Day one: The International Spy Museum
Not only we were assigned with aliases (I was, for a brief moment, Maria from South America, vacationing in Iowa), we learned how to pick a lock, infiltrate a spy ring, hide suicide pills in unmentionable orifices, and discover that spying is just in general a sexy, moody profession. This would be a great place to take kids (for instance, they're hosting a "Spy Gadgetry Workshop" for kids his weekend).

Day two: Calder/Miro at The Phillips Collection!!
The big event that drew me to DC! It was GORGEOUS. And it provided a good argument for renting a quality audio tour. If you're ever able to take an audio tour for any exhibition, DO IT. It's a priceless way to gain a better understanding of artwork, especially works like this, which are steeped in rich stories but are so abstract on the surface. Between the audio tour and the very well-written wall panels, it was such fun to learn about the dynamic relationship - both artistic and personal - between Alexander Calder and Joan Miro. The exhibition was so playful and energetic! Then to be able to visit the Phillips home, with room after room of both historic architecture and modern masterpieces - oh! I was thrilled! What a treasure, tucked away in Dupont Circle. I might have to return for the Modigliani show this summer.

Day three: A Smithsonian Combo-package
Thanks to Rick for the "ADD Tour of the Smithsonian." I never thought I could "cram in" a visit to the Smithsonian before a 6-hour flight!

First, a quick run through the Freer and Sackler galleries:
The Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery represent just a wee little speck in the vastness of the Smithsonian, but under normal circumstances these would represent worthy museum collections all on their own. Together they form the national museum of Asian art for the U.S.,, and their collections are remarkable, ranging from ancient Buddhist art (we saw a 3,000-year-old statue of Ganesha!) to Biblical manuscripts, and dozens more (religious and non) categories. There is also, unsually, a wonderful collection of American Art, influenced normally by Free's good friend James McNeill Whistlers, whose work was strongly influenced by Chinese ceramics. Not incidentally, there is the world's greatest collection of Whistler works, including some enchanting etchings. The Freer and Sackler web site has a fantastic amount of their collection - check it out!

Then it was off to the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden:
This is the Smithsonian's Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art and Sculpture, and as you can imagine its collection is stunning, focusing on work created since WWII. The exhibitions, housed in a circular building with stacked rotundas, is a must-see for modern art lovers; my personal favorites were the Henry Moore sculptures - you can truly get up close and personal with his sublime works, and it's such a treat. Another great web site to visit - be sure to check out the timeline under "The Hirsshorn Story" on the "Museum" page.

Then, it was off to the airport! Thanks again to Sarah for making it all happen.

Monday, January 17, 2005

California Priorities

Fellow Californians, consider visitng Senator Barbara Boxer's web site; she's conducing a survey to guage the thoughts and priorities of her constituents. She pretty much addresses the issue most important to me, but it's still a nice way to give a little input.

Sunday, January 09, 2005

U2 on SNL

Did anyone see U2 perform last night (1/08) on Saturday Night Live? It was a repeat from November so this might not be news, but it was incredible! It has been a looong time since we were die-hard fans of either U2 or SNL, but when we heard they were performing we decided to record it, and it was such an awesome performance - particularly the surprise 3rd song at the end of the show, when they played "I Will Follow." ACK! The audience and the cast went nuts, the band went off the stage, and I felt pure envy. Then they began to play a FOURTH song and the show ended! I wonder how long they performed. You gotta give it to those blokes, they know how to please a crowd. It must have been so fabulous for them to play to such a small audience. I think Amy Poehler had a heart attack.

Saturday, January 08, 2005

rain rain rain rain rain rain rain

That's the theme of the week, as rainclouds finally discover our little dry part of the world. It is dry no longer! We've had 1.5 inches of rain since yesterday, and more rain expected for the next three days - and we've had record rains since October. This is highly, highly unusual, since beneath the concrete of this sprawling community we call the LA basin, it's desert, and we're not accustomed to rain in these parts. It turns out that my home, office and car all have huge leaking problems, but who would have known until now? I'm glad I hung onto my old red raincoat from the Austin days.

Sunday, January 02, 2005

Kicking off '05

Eric and I ventured into LA today to visit LACMA (Los Angeles County Museum of Art) to check out Renoir to Matisse: The Eye of Duncan Phillips, LACMA's current blockbuster. Even though the galleries were jam packed, and we had to stand in unusually blustery, rainy weather just to get inside, it was a fabulous exhibition. This is one of those "must see" exhibitions for anyone interested in Modern art, with more than 50 paintings by the usual suspects behind many of the European Masterpieces of the 19th and 20th Centuries - Renoir, Degas, Matisse, Picasso, etc etc. It was particularly interesting to see the importance placed on the collector of the works, Duncan Phillips, a man of such wealth and love of art, he single-handedly (or, rather, with his wife Marjorie) amassed one of the 20th Century's most prized collections. Phillips' willingness to embrace unconventional art and ability to purchse and promote it was instrumental in introducing this country to these truly groundbreaking artists. This is particularly exciting as I travel to DC next week to visit Sarah and Duncan Phillips' own museum, the Phillips Collection! Yippee! Read more about this exhibition at

Another surprisingly fascinating LACMA show is The Arts and Crafts Movement in Europe and America, 1880–1920: Design for the Modern World, an incredibly detailed look at the birth and spread of the arts and crafts movement. This paragraph from LACMA's site best summarizes:

"The Arts and Crafts Movement was a response to a century of unprecedented social and economic upheaval. Its name was coined in 1887, when a group of designers met in London to found an organization—the Arts and Crafts Exhibition Society—for which applied art would be valued as equal to fine art. Many in the movement championed the moral and spiritual uplift that would come with the revival of making objects by hand. The improvement of working conditions, the integration of art into everyday life, the unity of all arts, and an aesthetic resulting from the use of indigenous materials and native traditions also were central to the movement’s philosophy."

Well said! Methinks we need another such movement these days.

Also I must mention the flick we saw last night: The House of Flying Daggers. It's simply one of the most visually stunning movies I've ever seen. If you're at all in need of a sweeping, love-infused epic with visuals that will literally take your breath away, go see it. Don't be afraid of the subtitles, you hardly notice they're there. Do yourself a favor and view the trailer here: