Photos and Words of Patrick Calder

I live in Washington, DC with 1 cat named Pixel, 6 cameras, 3 computers, 158 movies, 286 books, and 1 bowling pin. I own the Design Foundry and pretend to be a graphic designer by day.

Please keep in mind that this post is more than 3 years old. Opinions change. Tastes change. Everything changes. I may still agree with or like this, or I may not. But everything is kept up here for archival purposes.

Exhibits / March 20, 2006

I am … sooooo lazy.
Okay, not really. Last week I was bogged down with more work than I could handle. So when I wasn’t at the computer, I was doing something to actively relax. But you get the idea.
I just say I’m lazy because ever since I found out someone was organizing a group trip to various museums this weekend, I was going to write up all the exhibits I’d been to recently. I wasn’t invited to the trip, but I could at least subject people to my opinion. (What else is the internet for?)
I have since completely forgotten what show’s I’ve been to. I know there was a trip to the National Gallery of Art. It was opening weekend of the Cézanne in Provence exhibit. Not opening day, though, thank gawd. They had velvet ropes lined up halfway across the museum, waiting to enter the show. By the time I got there, it was just a five minute wait. I couldn’t have identified Cézanne’s works before the show. Sure I knew the name, but he somehow never came up in any of my art history courses. But I was actually really impressed with the work. From the earliest point in his career, Cézanne was apparently capable of producing beautiful, realistic works. But he spent his whole life experimenting. His style shifts through three or four major genres of painting, none of which had even been ‘invented’ yet. Some of the in-between times, they have the looks of someone still refining their stuff. But then I’d turn the corner, and there’d be this incredible piece hanging there, and you could suddenly see he “got it”.
I think I passed through the Audubon show while I was there, too. Lots of pencil drawing of birds, like something out of a naturalists book. But it really just bored the snot out of me. No variation. No style. Just academic representations of birds.
I’ve found the new best way to get into East Building, as well. Going through the front door only leaves you at the mercy of security guards with serious control issues. I’ve never gotten past them without wanting to shove their batons somewhere uncomfortable. But the main building guards, apparently more secure in their manhood, won’t ruin the visit for you. And from there, there’s an unguarded tunnel running between the buildings. It’s almost worth going down there to see the underside of the fountain.
I went to the Dada exhibit as well. But it didn’t impress me as much. Dada is less art than movement. More about what you say than how you say it. It’s everything Andy Warhol did, without the refinement. (Of course, Warhol had the Dadaists to build on). I can appreciate the radical change in culture they were responding to. And it’s a perfectly logical response. But there’s not so much things to go there and see, as a time period to immerse yourself in.
Went to the Museum of American History the following week. Most interesting were the exhibits on America at war, (even if it was a bit overly patriotic), and the American Presidency exhibit. Some of their regular exhibits are great, as well. But the museum, of all the Smithsonian complexes, seems the least coherent. With a mandate to cover over 200 years of one of the most diverse geographies and peoples, they don’t have a strong enough central vision. Old exhibits tend to age poorly, with their presentation quickly dating and their materials never updated, until their finally pushed into a corner and shut down for renovation. And with the lack of any distinct navigation, the whole place tends to leave me feeling disconcerted and depressed. So I only go for exhibits that really interest me.
Couple shows coming up that I want to see. Was going to go to the Corcoran today, but I got started way to late, and didn’t want to be rushed. (And I didn’t find out until this evening that they don’t open on Monday or Tuesdays.) all three of their current exhibitions look good. There’s also the Grant Wood exhibit at the Renwick through July 16.
As usual, I have more to say. Something Sarah said in a recent email. But I’m starting to yawn more and more. Maybe tomorrow.

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