13 Apr

Smithsonian Craft Show

I went back to DC on Saturday, this time was to visit the Smithsonian Craft Show so I left the kids at home. Being the height of Cherry Blossom Festival, I decided to use a Park and Ride and take the metro into town. There was a HUGE line waiting to buy Metro tickets, but luckily I already had one and zipped right in. Perks of being (kinda) local. I kept seeing cute little kids everywhere, and the gregarious toddler on the Metro who wanted to fist bump was adorable. But, the winner of them all was the little guy and his red trombone rocking it out with the rest of the guys in this raucous brass band.

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Inside the Building Museum at the craft show, it was much more sedate, but no less interesting. I recognized a lot of artists/craftspeople I admired from the Baltimore Craft Council show, like wood sculptor Michael Bauermeister and ceramicist Justin Rothshank, but this wasn’t nearly as huge a venue. It was kind of a “best-of,” which was really quite enjoyable. I also saw two artists I recognized from my visit to Snyderman Works — paper masters Jiyoung Chung and Lucrezia Bieler. I looked for my favorite from┬áBaltimore, Gustav Reyes, since I had told myself I’d buy one of his bracelets if he was there. He wasn’t, but a bracelet was in the online auction, so maybe he’ll be at the Craft2Wear show in October…

There was plenty of other lovely jewelry, to include pieces made from zippers by Kate Cusack. I was close to buying a Bubbles necklace.

After my weaving and knitting work with plastic bags, I was inspired by coil baskets by Jackie Abrams, and pod shaped basketry by JoAnne Russo.

Faith Wilson was there with her moody floorcloths. I really want one, but could decide on a size or color since I have no idea what our next kitchen or entry will be like. Something to put on the someday list…

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I liked the whimsical jewelry made from musical instrument parts by Lisa Cylinder, but ultimately went home with irreverent mugs from Beer’s Pottery.

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I had a nice chat with Chris Roberts Antieau whose work I admired at the Visionary Arts Museum in Baltimore. Her more recent work is a lot more realistic and detailed than her usual comic-like panels, but it is wonderfully magical and still very narrative. I liked her masks of stitched memories on taxidermy. The javelina reminded me of our time living in Arizona.

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I also had a nice chat with Lisa Call. Having been to her booth in Baltimore the first year she was there, it was interesting to talk about the similarities and differences. It looks like the Smithsonian is a good match for her. No photo here since the light in my photo of her in her booth was fighting us. She’s got much better photos on her blog.

In the Art Quilt world there is always this Art versus Craft debate, and I have to say, if this is the kind of craft I could be associated with , I don’t mind at all. In fact, I aspire to the level of craft I see at these type of shows. I also aspire to have my work called Art, but really, I’d be happy with either moniker.

Since the Smithsonian show wasn’t huge, I wandered over to the National Portrait Gallery to see a little more than Brenda and I had on our overview several months ago. I still think the presidential portraits are the best part of the collection. The collection just wouldn’t be as at home any place outside a national gallery in a capitol city. I noticed that while there were a lot of paintings of American Indians, I didn’t notice any BY American Indians. Also, most everything pre-Modern was very white, although the more contemporary galleries had a lot of African Americans represented. With all the American landscapes, I was hoping that there would be at least one painting of Kilauea, or something Hawaiian, but nothing I could find. I guess I was hoping, in a National gallery, to see the diversity of our nation a little more thoroughly represented.

There was certainly beautiful and thought provoking art to be seen and enjoyed though. I was drawn to a portrait of Leonard Wood, a founder of the Rough riders with Teddy Roosevelt and an iron fisted leader in Cuba whom I care little about, but was drawn in to find that it was painted by my most favorite portraitist, John Singer Sargent. Walking down a hall I was grabbed by a large, contorted, Spanish dancer, and sure enough, she was painted by Sargent. Then, there was a portrait of a man with a cat in his lap that looked Sargent-esque. Giggling to myself, I though, “well he doesn’t look like an evil genius.” Much to my pleasure, I discovered that the painting was by Cecilia Beaux, and the label read “at a time when few woman could, she carved out a career for herself as a portraitist, and was thought to rival John Singer Sargent. It was the best of all worlds — Sargent-like in style and skill, by a woman, and including a cat! Be still my beating heart.

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Finally, I took myself out to dinner before heading home.

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