Category Archives: Events

Burning Man at the Renwick (2)

My earlier post about Burning Man at the Renwick took a look at the first floor of the museum and focused on artifacts. That part of the exhibition has now closed. The second floor, which will be open until 21 January 2019, is about environments.

These, uh, “things” are identified as “steel polyhedral sculptures” that “generate tension between hard geometric surfaces and soft interior illumination, promoting a sense of contemplation and awe of the inherent beauty of universal forms.”

(I made a note of the name and the description, because that’s the kind of stuff that comes up a lot in casual conversations.)

What fascinated me was the use of light and the everchanging colours. One of the “steel polyhedral sculptures” was large enough to hold several people inside.


The Grand Salon

The largest room in the Renwick is called the Grand Salon, and until the building’s most recent renovation, that was a perfectly descriptive name—it was heavy on the damask, and the walls were full of (mainly) 19th- and early 20th-century paintings by American artists.

That’s all gone now. For the Burning Man exhibition, the space was given over to David Best, the designer of many of the Burning Man “temples”.

The structure in the above picture hangs from the room’s ceiling. The photograph below, from the Renwick’s website, is a look at the full room.

At Burning Man in Nevada, these temples are among the things burned at the end of the festival.  That won’t happen to this one. The Renwick says it will be “on view indefinitely.”

David Best Temple, 2018, Rernwick Gallery, photo by Ron Blunt

David Best Temple, 2018, Renwick Gallery, photo by Ron Blunt


The Mushroom Room

Oh, this was fun!

The giant “mushrooms” changed colour and seemed to breathe and grow when someone activated them by standing of the red-circled control panel on the floor.


The “Before I Die” Room


Last stop before the exit.

The Renwick set up a room, painted black and stocked with of coloured chalk, at the end of the Burning Man exhibition. Visitors were invited to write or draw a message about what they hope to see or do before they die.

Love, travel, drugs, self-fulfillment, and the future of Donald Trump were frequently mentioned.


The Burning Man exhibition has been wildly popular. Great show!

Advertisements

Burning Man at the Renwick (1)

The Renwick Gallery, the branch of the Smithsonian Institution dedicated to American crafts and decorative arts, is currently presenting a knockout of an exhibition called “No Spectators: The Art Of Burning Man”.

Finally made my first visit a few weeks ago.

Entrance

“Abandon All Inhibitions, Ye Who Enter Here.”

Admission to the Renwick is free. Tickets for this year’s Burning Man Festival in Black Rock Desert, Nevada, ranged from $190 to $1,200.


Burning Man Haute Couture


Last year, a group called Catharsis on the Mall asked for approval to install a 45-foot-tall sculpture of a nude woman on the National Mall, near the Washington Monument. For some reason, the National Park Service rejected the application.

What we did get was this artifact at the Renwick. She’s not 45-feet-tall, but she gradually changes colour.


The Dragonmobile


The Inevitability of VR


No contemporary art installation is complete without a sampling of Virtual Reality. The monitor at the top of the picture shows a flat-screen version of what the user is experiencing in VR.

We’ve been hearing that the big VR breakthrough is just around the corner since—Let’s see now, Neal Stephenson published Snow Crash in 1992, and 2018 minus 1992 equals 26—more than a quarter-century ago. Gotta say, Oculus Rift is looking really tempting these days.

Another Tiffany Masterpiece

Damn, that’s beautiful. It captures autumn, doesn’t it?

It’s a Tiffany Studios drop head Dragonfly lamp, c. 1910, with a verdigris patinated leaded glass shade.

It was sold in the Andrew Jones Auctions gallery in Los Angeles last week, for $200,000 (€170,100). I hold Tiffany in the v highest regard, but the real thing is so far outside my budget—which barely covers my semi-annual haircut and the occasional purchase of a fresh turnip—that I make do with modern imitations.

I wish I lived in a Tiffany world.


Here’s the full auction catalog

Museum Day Is Saturday


Smithsonian Magazine’s annual Museum Day is Saturday, 22 September 2018. More than 1,600 museums, galleries, and historic sites across the country will celebrate it by offering free admission with a downloaded voucher, which you can get here. The website includes an easy-to-use search engine that lets you to quickly discover the participating museums in your area.

Dorothy Parker 125th Birthday Celebration

Wish I were in New York for this year’s birthday party! Here’s what’s happening at the Celebration.


“In youth, it was a way I had
To do my best to please,
And change, with every passing lad,
To suit his theories.

“But now I know the things I know,
And do the things I do,
And if you do not like me so,
To hell, my love, with you!”

—“Indian Summer” by Mrs Parker

“Five Years, That’s All We’ve Got”

Well, that was fast…

I started posting these notes five years ago today, and 1,645 postings later, I’m still at it. Today I took a look at some of the items I ran during my first few weeks online.

Some Things Haven’t Changed


Music Videos

Here’s the first video I ever posted: “70 Million”, by the Paris-based, Franco-American band Hold Your Horses.

It was complemented by another video about the inspirations for the images in the “70 Million” video. Try playing them simultaneously.

Still posting music, and still love this one.


Saying Goodbye to Breaking Bad

Was it really five years ago? For me, Breaking Bad was the Greatest Series Ever, and I still post about it at the drop of a pork pie hat.

No change; still obsessed.


Anglophilia

Rule Britania.

Dorothy Parker said she hated to talk to people from the UK, because they made her feel like she should be carrying a papoose on her back. I, on the other hand, am a pushover for anything said in one of the 684 recognized British accents.

And I love British comedy. Here’s Chris Turner, performing at The Glee Club, Cardiff:

Still a passionate Anglophile, still posting a disproportionate number of entries about the UK, even though Britain’s future looks grim, because of the self-inflicted damage resulting from Brexit. But then, it’s probably inappropriate for an American to criticize Brexit, since that was only the second most idiotic electoral result of 2016.


Restaurant Week

Summer Restaurant Week 2013 was what gave me the incentive to start blogging, and gave me the material I needed to get through the first few weeks.

Still at it. Posting Summer Restaurant Week 2018 pictures over the next two weeks.

 Some Things Have Changed, Thank God


On the left, the first Home Cooking picture I ever posted, long before my self-improvement Cookery Project started in 2016. On the right, the most recent Home Cooking picture

2013’s Poached Halibut and Asparagus with Basil-Tarragon Sauce vs 2018’s Cajun Chicken and Rice

I remember being so proud of the halibut, because I’d never poached fish before that.

I think my skill set and style have improved since then.


Much more to come in the next five years!

McQueen — Trailer

Alexander McQueen, four-time winner of the British Designer of the Year award, didn’t look like one of the most important and influential designers of the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries.

But, like Bowie, like Warhol, he seemed to be living not in the present, but in some vastly more exciting, colourful, and, yes, dangerous future. Like them, his life and vision helped bring that future into being.

A new documentary, titled simply McQueen, went into limited release last week.


McQueen’s October 2009 “Plato’s Atlantis” presentation, featuring his Spring/Summer 2010 collection, showed him at his peak.

Just breathtaking. Other than that, I’ve got no words.

The song at the end of the show, btw, was the surprise début of “Bad Romance”, by McQueen’s friend, Lady Gaga.


Back in 2015, I visited the V&A’s “Savage Beauty” exhibition in London. Here are some of the clothes from that show:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.