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Posts from the ‘Washington DC’ Category

Exploring China and Kenya at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival

It’s not every day that you can walk from Kenya to China, but that’s what I did this Saturday.  Every summer for two weeks, the National Mall is DC is transformed into a center for global culture when it hosts the Smithsonian Folklife Festival.  Over 100 artisans, musicians, performers, and chefs take up residence and share their national traditions with Washington DC.  The rich cultures of Kenya and China were presented this year and I had a wonderful time exploring the festivities!

Folklife Chinese gate

The Flower Plaque gate made of bamboo, paper, and plastic welcomes visitors into the Chinese section of the Festival.

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Memory & Justice: Ai Weiwei’s “Straight”

Whether you follow contemporary art or international politics, you’ve probably heard of Chinese artist Ai Weiwei.  Renowned for his “Birds Nest” stadium at the Beijing Olympics, it was his social activism and criticism of the Chinese government that earned him 81 days of detention, house arrest and the loss of his passport.  An intelligent artist and social commentator, his exhibit, Ai Weiwei: According to What? is currently touring the US.  I had the opportunity to see it at the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington DC last year.  I’ve been blown away by the beauty of a painting before, but it wasn’t until Ai Weiwei’s piece “Straight” that I encountered a work of art so emotionally powerful that I am still thinking about it a year after seeing the show.

Ai Weiwei, "Straight", 2008–12. Collection of the artist. Installation view at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, DC, 2012. (Photo: Cathy Carver)

Ai Weiwei, “Straight”, 2008–12. Collection of the artist. Installation view at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, DC, 2012. (Photo: Cathy Carver, Hirshhorn Museum)

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Photo of the Week – A Capitol Autumn

I was down at the National Gallery of Art this weekend to see Heaven and Earth: Art of Byzantium from Greek Collections (more on that later…) and saw this incredible view of the Fall foliage and the juxtaposed with brilliant white Capitol building.

US capitol, autumn leaves

There were a few clouds that kept casting interesting shadows alternatively between the trees and the Capitol building.  I also love this view down Pennsylvania Ave; its so dramatic.

Dumbarton Oaks Gardens

I am spoiled in Washington D.C. with wonderful, free museums that I can visit on a regular basis. (Current government shut down not withstanding!)  So for Museum Day last Saturday, I visited the smaller Dumbarton Oaks Gardens.  Since we had some pleasant late summer weather, I thought I would show you around the grounds and take a look a the current contemporary art installation there.

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“Visiting” Hungary at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival

As if the 4th of July weren’t exciting enough in Washington D.C., the Smithsonian host the annual Folklife Festival that week on the National Mall.  Bringing together international musicians, storytellers and craftspeople, the Festival celebrates culture and the preservation of traditional arts throughout the world.  Every year, three themes are selected for the festival and usually include a country, region, or collective community experience.  This year the themes were 1) Hungary, 2) Endangered Languages and 3) African-American fashion.

The Hungarian Village section of the festival sought to celebrate traditional music, dance and crafts as well as the people who are revitalizing that culture today.  There were informative museum-like exhibits, artisan demonstrations and lots of concerts.  Ever the international traveler, I was so excited to explore the Hungarian portion of the festival!

Hungarian tower

The Peacock Tower designed by Transylvanian architect Gyule Szilegyi stood at the center of the 2013 Smithsonian Folklife Festival.

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