Monday, November 1, 2010


Spent the early part of the day on Sunday on The Buddha Diaries, trying to capture some useful thoughts about the rally for those who were not there. I had almost finished by breakfast time, joining our hosts and other house guests for a grand spread of oatmeal, scrambled eggs, lox and bagels, various toast and home made jam--a feast that almost rivaled the famous groaning board that greeted the house guest at the eighteenth century English country mansion! Our hosts, Marjorie and Damian, are the parents of the incredibly talented young people who are the creative minds behind the OK Go band's videos which you may have seen on You Tube. If not, here's a link to their latest amazingly choreographed performance that features no less than twelve dogs. After breakfast we were treated to a viewing of the outtakes from the hundred or so attempts to get it right.

(Trying on caps... I lost my own, fool that I am:

... those didn't work either.)

We set out with Marjorie and Damian later in the morning to visit some of Washington's many cultural sites, starting with two excellent small museums a stone's throw from the White House...

The Renwick Gallery, in association with the Smithsonian has two current exhibitions. The first, A Revolution in Wood: The Bresler Collection is a glorious introduction to the extraordinary creativity of contemporary artists working with woof as their medium. The quality and variety of work was astonishing to the uninitiated, like myself. Here are but a few examples of the pictures I took, inexpertly, with apologies to the artists whose names I neglected to copy down.

Fortunately, the link to the exhibition will lead you to an immense resource of information.

The second show, The Art of Gaman: American Arts and Crafts from the Japanese American Internment Camps, 1942-1946 was even more stunning, and even more of an eye-opener. I have known about those notorious camps, of course, for many years. What I did not know was how the dreative spirit was kept alive and thriving in even those most difficult of circumstances. Working with the crudest and simplest of materials, scrounged mostly from the local barren landscapes, these artists managed to create objects of stunning beauty...

Again, the link will provide with far more information than my own snapshots, but here are a a few of them anyway.

We went for lunch at the Bistro D'Oc, a pleasantly atmospheric restaurant where we were surprised to find ourselves looking through the window and across the street at the infamous Ford's Theater...

... and, as we discovered after lunch, in the building adjacent to the one where Lincoln was taken after the assassination and where he died.

We agreed on the wish that there were more Republicans cut of that same cloth in Washington today!

A visit, in the afternoon, to the East Wing of the National Gallery...

... where we were fortunate to catch the wonderful exhibition, Arcimboldo, 1526-1593: Nature & Fantasy. This excellent exhibition brochure will tell you all you need to know about the remarkable artist and his work. I have to say that the big-screen video, narrated by Isabella Rosselini, was so rich in digitally recorded detail that the paintings themselves were a bit of a disappointment! Their surfaces seemed to yield more when explored by the camera's perceptive eye than by my own. I was, however, especially bowled over by the small prints and drawings by the likes of Albrecht Duerer, Hans Hoffmann, and Leonardo--tiny, tiny, but truly exquisite.

And finally, we summoned enough energy to take a look at the exhibition of print works by Edvard Munch. I wasn't sure that I had it in me to face another art show, but Munch soon won me over with a vision of the world so much informed by the great losses in his own life, his dreadful familiarity with sickness and death. Some think that so intimate an evocation of death and suffering in art is in itself depressing, On the contrary, I find it to be inspiring. It's the difference between pathos and tragedy: pathos us drags us down with it into the depths; tragedy uses the example of heroism and fortitude to lift us up. Munch's work spooks us, true, but with the aesthetic skill that allows it to inspire.

We stopped by at the Washington Cathedral on the way home...

... and admired the window that incorporates a moon rock...

... set in the little green circle, center-top.

The Munch proved a good show to prepare us for an evening of ghosts and goblins and other monstrous creatures out in the streets of suburban Washington to celebrate Halloween! An excellent convivial dinner with our friends at the Belgian restaurant, Et, Voila! And home to bed.

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