Saturday, October 10, 2009

The Last Day...


Due to leave Washington later afternoon, we were up in good time to pack our bags and enjoy a leisurely breakfast with our hosts, Damien and Marjorie...


There was more than enough to keep us busy for the remainder of our time. Fortunately, Marjorie was good enough to join us and act as chauffeur and guide--and also offered to drive out to the airport, saving us a great deal of time and stress. We started out at the Hirshhorn, where we had missed the opening of an important Ann Truitt exhibition the previous night. Having seen little of her work in the past, we enjoyed the opportunity to catch up with an artist I think of in much the same way as Agnes Martin and our friend Marcia Hafif--women whose dedication to an intense personal vision results in work that is at once idiosyncratic and of extraordinary beauty and serenity. Ann Truitt's monoliths in single shades of color or subtly shifting tones reminded me of the great power and grandeur of simplicity, and how hard that is to achieve. For all their restraint, her mostly human-scale columns manage to embody a richly emotional intensity. No pictures, I'm afraid. Check her out online. (I've noticed that most museums allow pictures these days, except for special exhibitions. See again below...) Anyway, here's the picture view from the third floor of the Hishhorn:


... and a shot of the interior installation of the museum's permanent collection;


the circular courtyard, about which the museum is built;


... and a Jeff Koons piece on the way down to the Hirshhorn's wonderful sculpture garden...


... where we found a fascinating structure in mirrored glass by the artist Dan Graham...


... whom I praise in my forthcoming book Persist as one of those artists who prides himself on being a passionate amateur rather than a haughty "professional." There are also a number of Rodin works in the sculpture garden, including this famous piece, "The Burghers of Calais."


From the Hirshhorn, we walked across the Mall to the National Gallery...


... seen here in full Indian summer splendor. (It was over 80 degrees in Washington at noon, this 8th day of October!) The National Gallery is a splendid museum, of course, and we regretted that we had so little time left to spend there.



We did manage a quick bite in the underground cafeteria, with its upward view of this waterfall...


... descending from the plaza above. And walked far too quickly through a magnificent exhibition of Renaissance Spanish royal armor--a change of pace from our contemporary tastes! No pictures--see above. But this is a detail of the huge photomural that adorned the entrance to the show:


From the West Wing, we made a final dash over to the now not-so-new I.M.Pei East Wing--a wonderful, airy building with ample space for the massive Alexander Calder mobile that hangs in the atrium. This is one very small detail of the whole...


On the ground floor of the East Wing, we also found a wonderful (permanent? I hope) installation by one of our favorite artists, Andy Goldsworthy, using natural materials--in this case, carefully stacked slate) to create en environment of quiet yet awesome beauty. If you haven't ever seen Goldsworthy's film Rivers and Tides, I'd suggest you run right out and rent it! Here's a poor shot of his installation. In case you can't read it well, some parts of the domes seem to penetrate through the thick sheet glass of the windows...


Here's another interior shot of the atrium, with rows of monochrome paintings by Ellsworth Kelly on the wall.


This was another museum that would warrant a full day's visit by itself, but alas, our time was up. We ran through a few of the galleries, then met up with Marjorie for the drive out to the airport.

One small incident--that might have been a big one. After checking our larger bags, I offered to put Ellie's side bag on the rolling case in which I lug my computer and other stuff around, and we failed to notice until we were half-way up one of those long airport escalators that it was missing. A few fellow passengers were gesticulating helpfully, but it was now too late to start running down the up escalator and go back for the bag; I was stuck, and had to wait until we reached the top before turning back and dashing down the stairs to where the bag had dropped. By this time, the offending piece of "unattended luggage" was surrounded by airport police, who had already called in an alarm--which Ellie was hearing broadcast loudly on the public address system. After an unsmiling interview with security, I was allowed to leave with the bag and the security alert was thankfully called off before the whole airport was shut down.

Once aboard the plane, we heard that something had gone awry in the cockpit, and we sat at the gate for a good hour before finally taxi-ing for take-off. I suppose, given the horror stories we have heard, we should consider ourselves lucky that it was no longer. An uneventful flight. We were upgraded to business, but business is not what it used to be. It's not even what economy used to be! But we did land safely, though late, and fairly easily found a taxi to bring us back home. As always, it felt good to be back on familiar territory!


3 comments:

Twilight said...

Thank you for that very interesting travelogue. I enjoyed it a lot.
We haven't been that far east yet ourselves, though we really should go take a look. :-)

Pete Hoge said...

I know you mentioned anxiety
about travelling and it seems
like you flowed through time and
space with gusto.

You can see a mock-up of the
new Barnes foundation building
by googling the appropriate
keywords.

Pete.

mandt said...

Did you make it to the Freer?---my old stomping grounds