Friday, April 20, 2018

Burning Man Art Now in DC @Renwick

During the summer solstice of 1986, a small group of friends met up on San Francisco’s Baker Beach and burned an eight-foot-tall effigy of a man. The ritual was dubbed Burning Man two years later, and moved to a dried-up lake bed in the Black Rock Desert in 1990. 
Eight thousand people attended in 1996, and within four years, that number had swelled to 25,000. In recent years, 75,000 people—though more would likely come if ticket sales weren’t capped—have set up a temporary city within a seven-mile square plot of land known as Black Rock City, which lasts the entire week before Labor Day. 
Recent popular conceptions of Burning Man have focused on all-night parties set to electronic music and fueled by all manner of substances. But, at its core, Burning Man is much more an art festival and experiment in temporary community than it is a marathon rave. 
The event’s true cultural essence forms the focus of “No Spectators: The Art of Burning Man,” an exhibition currently on view in Washington, D.C., held both within the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s Renwick Gallery and its surrounding neighborhood, with some works installed outdoors just around the corner from the White House. (An initial set of these installations will close on September 16th, while others remain on view until January 21, 2019.) 
Artsy asked artists presenting in the show to describe their works on view, and reflect on what it means for Burning Man’s alternative culture to be presented at an art museum in the nation’s capital. Their responses have been condensed and edited for clarity.
To keep reading this article, click here.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

You Can Now Walk In the Weird White Room from 2001: A Space Odyssey @AirandSpaceMuseum

On April 2, 1968, Stanley Kubrick and Arthur C. Clarke's 2001: A Space Odyssey made its world premiere at Washington D.C.’s Uptown Theater
Fifty years later, the stark neoclassical suite from the film’s penultimate scene has been artfully reimagined at the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum, just four miles from the Uptown. Starting on April 8, film fans will be able to walk in David Bowman's shoes.
The 26 x 33-foot suite, called "The Barmecide Feast," isn’t the original set from the film. Kubrick was notorious for destroying his sets and blueprints, leaving few original artifacts behind and an exact replica nearly impossible to find. 
But the ornate gold upholstered furniture, illuminated white floors, and renaissance statues in this re-creation are all a close interpretation of what was used in the 1968 movie.
To keep reading this article, click here.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Iron Man Cal Ripken @AmericanHistoryMuseum

Baltimore Orioles Hall of Famer and major league baseball record holder for consecutive games played (2,632) Cal Ripken Jr. was presented with a Great Americans medal last night at the Smithsonian American History Museum.

Ripken voluntarily ended his streak, which broke the long-standing total of New York Yankees great Lou Gehrig (2,130) in 1998. Although he began and ended his career at 3rd base, Ripken is still best remembered for redefining the way shortstop is played.

His record-breaking 2,131 game was voted by fans as professional baseball's single most memorable moment and Ripken was named as the shortstop on the MLB All-Century Team.

As one of only eight players in the history of the game to achieve 400 home runs and 3,000 hits, Ripken's other onfield accolades include American League Rookie of the Year (1982), two selections as Al Most Valuable Player (1983 and 1991), two times as Golden Glove champion, two times as Most Valuable Player of the All-Star Game, and 19 selections to the All-Star game.

Continuing his baseball contributions after hie retirement, Ripken started Cal Ripken Baseball, the largest division of the Babe Ruth League which is played by more than 700,000 youth nationwide. He also built a baseball complex just off Interstate Route 95 in his hometown of Aberdeen, Maryland. That complex includes Ripken Stadium, the current home of the Aberdeen Firebirds, the Class A affiliate of the Orioles, the only team Ripken played for during his outstanding career.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

On the Night Martin Luther King Was Killed, DC Burned

In an excerpt from his book Most of 14th Street is Gone: The Washington, DC Riots of 1968, J. Samuel Walker reconstructs the night and day following the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., when parts of Washington, D.C., erupted.

At 7:05 p.m., Eastern Standard Time, on Thursday, April 4, 1968, Martin Luther King Jr. was shot in the neck as he stood on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee. United Press International sent out the first public report at 7:12 p.m., and President Johnson learned the news by reading it on a ticker tape in his office that provided up-to-the-minute information. At 7:25 p.m., he received official word but few details from Attorney General Ramsey Clark. King died at 8:05 p.m.

One hour later, Johnson appeared on national television and gave a three-minute address in which he mourned the death “of this outstanding leader” and appealed for calm. “I ask every citizen to reject the blind violence that has struck Dr. King, who lived by non-violence,” he said. But violent protests soon broke out in cities across the country.

A crowd began to gather at the corner of 14th and U Streets in Northwest Washington when the news that King had been shot became public. The areas around the east-west corridor of U Street and the north-south corridor of 14th Street had deteriorated since the 1920s and 1930s, but this was still the premier commercial center of black Washington. For about 20 blocks north of U Street, the 14th Street corridor and its offshoots hosted some 300 businesses, plus bars, theaters, and nightclubs.

The 14th and U neighborhood was also the center of black activism in the city; the local offices of black leadership groups were clustered there. In addition to the local SNCC headquarters, the Washington offices of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) were located in the immediate area. People gravitated toward the intersection when they learned that King had been shot. At the same time, police and civil defense intelligence units moved in to observe the scene. They found that, at first, the “mood of the group was … one of shock and dismay rather than of anger.”

The mood of the crowd became increasingly bitter after the announcement that King had died. Some individuals gathered around a transistor radio to listen to President Johnson’s speech. His appeal for calm was not greeted favorably; one person shouted that King’s death would “mean one thousand Detroits.”

To keep reading this article,which first appeared in City Lab, click here.

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Outliers and Vanguard Art @The National Gallery

Self-taught artists—variously termed folk, primitive, visionary, na├»ve, and outsider—have played a significant role in the history of modernism, yet their contributions have been largely disregarded or forgotten.
 Again and again in the United States during the past century, vanguard artists found affinities and inspiration in the work of their untutored, marginalized peers and became staunch advocates, embracing them as fellow artists. 
Though this encouraged museums to bring their work to broad public view, institutions that complied usually did so without contesting the divide between those at the center (including the vanguard) and those on its periphery (including the autodidact).
Outliers and American Vanguard Art focuses on three periods over the last century when the intersection of self-taught artists with the mainstream has been at its most fertile. It is the first major exhibition to explore how those key moments, which coincided with periods of American social, political, and cultural upheaval, challenged or erased traditional hierarchies and probed prevailing assumptions about creativity, artistic practice, and the role of the artist in contemporary culture. 
Bringing together some 250 works in a range of media, the exhibition includes more than 80 schooled and unschooled artists and argues for a more diverse and inclusive representation in cultural institutions and cultural history.
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A Sample of 60s Folk Art You Can See at the Exhibit