Thursday, December 24, 2009

Arts Agenda: Museum Weekend

No doubt you'll be shocked to hear it's a slow week in the art galleries this week. There are no openings and many shows are closing in the next week or two, so be sure to check the website or give the gallery a call if you plan to head down to one. Instead, this is a good weekend to see our museum offerings. Remember, December 25 is the one day of the year the Smithsonians are actually closed, and while summer tourist season is over, the holidays tend to bring out the crowds on the surrounding days. Don't let that stop you though, just be prepared and wear layers in case it gets toasty in there. So, what's worth seeing out there?

National Gallery of Art: We're big photography fans around here, so recommended is In the Darkroom: Photographic Processes before the Digital Age and see how images came about before USB cables and Photoshop. And of course, don't forget to plan some time for a little ice skating. (The NGA isn't a Smithsonian, but they're also closed Dec. 25.)

Smithsonian American Art Museum: The 2009 Renwick Craft Invitational exhibit and Graphic Masters II both come to a close in early January, so head over to see those soon. Same goes for 1934: A New Deal for Artists; this exhibit is a visual history of FDR's Public Works of Art Project and how it not only helped the economy but create a new sense of national pride as well.

National Portrait Gallery: In the same building, see a celebration of performing artists and athletes in BRAVO! and Champions. Twentieth Century Americans features the great political and scientific figures who molded the last century's major cultural movements. Be sure to spend some quiet time in the Kogod Courtyard while you're there.

National Museum of African Art: See the wildly media diverse works of Yinka Shonibare MBE. The Nigerian-born British artist creates paintings, mixed-media installations, sculpture and photographs, often expressing themes of race and European culture.

Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden: Anne Truitt's work in Perception and Reflection closes in early January and exhibits the work created since 1974 of this Washington, D.C. artist. Her artwork features large-scale sculptures melding ideas from minimalism, abstraction, and the Washington Color School.

Anacostia Community Museum: The African Presence in Mexico is on the D.C. leg of its international tour from the National Museum of Mexican Art, and was originally designed for students as a way to reach out to two cultures that historically have stayed quite separate from one other. See also the museum's permanent exhibition, Separate and Unequaled: Black Baseball in the District of Columbia.

Corcoran Gallery of Art: The Corcoran's major John Singer Sargent exhibitions are closing the first week in January. Get away from the inland winter cold with Sargent and the Sea featuring over 80 seascapes. Then see the Corcoran Collection's pieces to finish off your study of this Gilded Age artist. See their web site for holiday hours.

The Phillips Collection: Man Ray, African Art and the Modernist Lens examines "the role of photography in shaping international understanding of African objects as art in the 1920s and 1930s." See it before it closes on Jan 10.

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