I’m finally getting to our last day in Washington, D.C. in May. We spent 6 full days in our nation’s capital and had a great time! We experienced all sorts of weather on this trip and our last day felt very much like autumn. The high was in the low 60s! And it was lightly raining off and on. But we still had another full and fun day.
Our plan was to take the bus down 14th Street, then catch the Circulator to the Hirshhorn to see the Laurie Anderson exhibit. This ended up being our worst public transit day unfortunately. But, it all worked out in the end. After waiting about 10 minutes for the bus, we decided to walk to the next bus stop, and then the next and so on. That bus never came! We did the same wait for the Circulator. You guessed it, that bus never came either. Harumpf!! I had hoped to not do too much walking on this last day of our trip. Alas, that was not to be and we ended up walking the nearly two miles to the museum. It was also lightly raining but I was equipped with my umbrella. We probably should have gotten a cab in retrospect, but it all worked out.
All that said, we both really enjoyed Laurie Anderson’s The Weather exhibit at the Hirshhorn Museum. She’s probably not everyone’s cup of tea but she is one very talented individual! And apparently is a Grammy winner, which I learned after visiting this exhibit. I had hoped to post this in time for others to see the exhibit, alas, it’s ending today August 7, 2022. Instead, I hope you will enjoy the photos that I took. Here is an intro from the museum about Laurie:
As a Grammy Award-winning musician, performer, writer, and artist, Anderson has an international reputation as an artist who combines the traditions of the avant-garde with popular culture. Anderson’s theatrical works combine a variety of media, including performance, music, poetry, sculpture, opera, anthropological investigations, and linguistic games, to elicit emotional reactions. As a visual artist, Anderson has been shown at the Guggenheim Museum, SoHo, and extensively in Europe, including the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris. She has also released seven albums for Warner Brothers, including Big Science, featuring the song “O Superman,” which rose to No. 2 on the British pop charts. She is currently Charles Eliot Norton Professor of Poetry at Harvard University.
From the brochure:
This exhibition, her largest to date in the United States, traces the vast range of Anderson’s career through her groundbreaking early performances, her achievements in the worlds of music and video, and several new installations responding to the changing landscapes of our time. Throughout the galleries, Anderson paints and tells stories on the walls, disrupting the conventional museum voice and guiding visitors on an intimate journey through her work in her own words. As digital technology and performance occupy an increasingly prominent place in contemporary art, Anderson has led the way with inventive work that has indelibly influenced art, music, and popular culture for more than forty years.
Hubby introduced me to Laurie early on and we saw her live at UCLA about 1989. It was definitely one of the most unusual performances I’ve ever seen and it was rather enjoyable.
The exhibit took up the entire second floor of the museum and was filled with her stories. One of the first things we saw were two rows of red flags attached to some mechanism that made them swish back and forth. I wasn’t sure of the purpose of that room. It was entitled “Salute”. Another room, Gallery 4, contained four sculptures, had black background on the floors and walls and these were covered with her thoughts and drawings that she painted herself in white. You’ll get a glimpse of some of these in the gallery below.
In Gallery 5 were photos of her asleep in different places. She wanted to sleep in various public places to see if it would influence her dreams. There are photos of her asleep near the water on Coney Island in January, another in a night court room and yet another in a women’s bathroom at Columbia University. So interesting! Such an imagination!
Gallery 6 consisted of very large pieces that she painted. Gallery 7 was entitled Habeas Corpus. Inside this gallery was a film narrated by Muhammed el Gharani who was captured at age 14 and imprisoned and tortured at Guantanamo for 7 years. He was released without explanation or apology. A sad commentary to be sure.
To find more detailed information about the exhibit’s rooms, please go to this link.
Editing to add the 60 Minutes interview with Anderson Cooper from July 24, 2022. The entire interview is interesting and towards the end they discuss parts of the exhibit at the Hirshhorn:
I had hoped to walk through the sculpture garden that is just outside the Hirshhorn but it was lightly raining and a bit cold and windy. As such, we decided to hail a cab to take us to our lunch spot. That worked great because we had just enough time to eat and for hubby to enjoy a cigar before heading to our last event of the trip, and one I had really been looking forward to, the Phillips Collection. We did walk through part of the sculpture garden on our way to a busy street to get our cab. Here’s a handful of photos that I took.
About a week before our trip I learned about a cigar bar that was right on the way to our afternoon visit to the Phillips Collection. Hubby likes a cigar every now and again so we had to check it out. Shelly’s Back Room is also a restaurant and the food is pretty good. As you walk into the main room you see many comfortable looking chairs along the wall and a wall with humidors. Customers rent a humidor so when they come in they can just get a cigar out of their humidor. Hubby had a huge menu of cigars to choose from. He really enjoyed his cigar and I like the smell of cigar smoke as it reminds me of my Uncle Nate. Win, win 😊
The metro station was only a couple of blocks away so we braved the weather to take the train to Dupont Circle. The Phillips Collection is not very far from that stop. When we emerged from the metro the weather had changed. It wasn’t raining and there was no wind so it was a pleasant 5 minute jaunt to the museum. It happened to be the 100th anniversary of the opening of this great museum.
There was a special Picasso exhibit that I wanted to see but I also wanted to see the museum. I have a memory of when I lived in the D.C. area in the late 80s of attempting to visit this museum. Apparently I chose a day that the museum was closed so this visit was a long time coming!
The Picasso exhibit consisted of paintings from his blue period, though at the end of the exhibit there were some paintings from his Rose Period. Many pieces were lent to the Phillips Collection for this exhibit. Many of these paintings left me with mournful feelings as so many of the figures Picasso depicted were of down-trodden people. You really got the sense of the poor and the imprisoned people that he painted during this period.
And now that it’s been a couple of months since we saw this exhibit I’m struggling to remember my impressions and my journal from that day isn’t much help. While we had a great time in D.C., I think this being our last day I was out of energy to write much about the day. But, as a huge Picasso fan, this exhibit far exceeded my expectations! For one, I was impressed with how many paintings were included. There were also many placards for all of the paintings which isn’t terribly common in my experience. Usually there is the name of the piece and the artist and maybe a small blurb about the painting. I took many photos of these placards in order to remember more about the paintings. Many of them are included in the next gallery:
We did end up in the original museum somehow and that was pretty cool too. The original museum was the Phillips family house which was eventually donated to become this fabulous museum. The house was built in 1897 and has been expanded to accommodate additional galleries, an auditorium, a library, a conservation studio, additional staff offices, a café, and a courtyard. For more history of the museum, check out this link. And here is a photo that I took of the history of the house and museum:
By the time we finished the Picasso exhibit neither of us had much more energy to check out other paintings there. But I did manage to view The Luncheon of the Boating Party by Renoir. It was larger than I expected and so beautiful! The first thing we saw upon entering the museum was another placard in honor of Ukraine. The museum showcased four paintings by Ukrainians in a stairwell. What a lovely way to support Ukraine. Here are the handful of “other-than-Picasso” paintings: