24 Dec

Two Twelves in DC

Brenda pretty much said it all on the Twelve by Twelve blog. She was visiting DC, I live relatively close, and so we met for a day of art and catching up. It was grand!

Coincidentally, there was a quilt show that opened the same weekend at the National Gallery for Women in the Arts, so of course we took the opportunity to see it. But we met first at the National Portrait Gallery since it opened earlier. Neither of us had ever been there, so we joined the highlights tour for a taste of the history, architecture, and the art itself.

There were the classic Presidential portraits  of Washington and Jefferson, and two life masks of Lincoln showing the physical effects of the stress of the office over a five year period — the latter mask being much more gaunt than the first. What I enjoyed most though were the galleries of more recent presidents as the artwork reflected the styles of each period so well. As Brenda noted, the expressionist brushstrokes of Elaine deKooning’s Kennedy captured the sixties so well, and Chick Close’s Clinton portrait is iconic. There’s also a Norman Rockwell portrait of Nixon that is surprisingly warm and intimate.

After our intro to the Portrait Gallery (definitely worth a return visit), we stopped for a bite at Capitol City Brewing Company, and then off to find the National Museum of Women in the Arts.  The Work’t by Hand collection is predominantly quilts from the late 1800s, but covers a wide variety of styles from crazy quilts to Amish, to broderie perse and Stars of Bethlehem. No photos though. As the title suggests, the hand work on these quilts is just exquisite. We spent quite some time marveling at the variety of stitches on the crazy quilts and the beautiful embroidery. As I see an appliqué project on my horizon, I am inspired to make my stitches as small and invisible as possible in emulation of the fine workmanship. I am also inspired to add tiny bits of sparkly sequined ice skating costume fabric as in the one quilt by noted scrap quilter Anna Williams.

We took the opportunity to check out the museum’s permanent collection while we were there. Of course Brenda and I were drawn to the pieces that most referenced fabric. The only two I took photos of were a very quilty piece thick with paint, by Valerie Jaudon, titled Bay St. Louis.

Bay St Louis

And several pieces by Andrea Higgins which looked like extreme enlargements of fabrics, but were dimensional paint. I particularly liked this one, titled  Jackie (India) which is part of a series inspired by clothing worn by First Ladies.

Jackie (India)

We had a lovely day talking art and life, and it was fantastic to add visits to two more museums I had not seen before. I am lucky to live so close to a city with so much to offer, and which is a destination for so many friends as well!


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