Burning Man at the Renwick Gallery

This is our entry in Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge: Things Made From Wood.

No Spectators: The Art of Burning Man was an exhibition at the Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian American Art Museum (SAAM) in Washington, D.C. from March 30, 2018 to January 21, 2019.  This traveling exhibit brings to life (as much as is possible inside a museum space) the annual Burning Man nine-day event that occurs in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert with 70,000 participant-spectators.  We found the exhibit by accident while wandering around D.C. and just decided to walk in.

The Burning Man sculpture is always made of wood and burned at the end of the event. The first Burning Man was constructed in San Francisco in 1987 and was eight feet tall (or nine feet, depending on the source). Each year the sculpture has been taller, rising to 75 feet in 2018.  The Burning Man in the photo is about eight feet tall, including the outstretched arms.

Of the “Ten Principles of  Burning Man,” “Participation” appears to be the principle behind the naming of the Renwick exhibit: No Spectators.

Burning Man 2019 will occur from August 25 to September 2 this year.

This photo was taken on October 1, 2018. It is a selective color image with only orange, black, and white. Specs are:

Canon 200D, ISO 400, f/3.5, 1/30 sec, 18 mm.

Old, New, Borrowed, Blue

This is our entry in Lens-Artists Challenge #58 – Something Old, Something New…...

In June, we visited the  America’s Presidents exhibit in the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C.  Here we found the extraordinary portrait of William Jefferson Clinton,  the 42nd U.S. President (1993 – 2001), created by the artist Chuck Close in 2006.  From a distance, this portrait looks like any other traditional portrait, but up close it is quite different.

 

 

According to the plaque beside the portrait,

“Chuck Close begins all of his paintings by taking a photograph of his subject, in this case an image made during a photo session in August 2005 for a New York magazine cover. He then creates grids on both the canvas and the photograph to replicate the information contained in the photograph with a series of abstract modules.”

In describing Chuck Close’s unique painting technique, Jessica Backus says in The Art Genome Project,

“Over the years, Close’s grid got looser, the squares larger and filled with more intuitive shapes. Close has compared them to Byzantine mosaics, ‘where an image is built out of discrete incremental marks – chunks of stone or glass – that fit together. I want people to see what made the image. I like dropping crumbs along the trail like Hansel and Gretel.'”

We believe that this portrait fits the theme “something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue” perfectly:

  • Something old: Portraits have been painted since ancient times.
  • Something new: The technique used in this painting has evolved to its current form during this century.
  • Something borrowed: The portrait is on loan to the Gallery by Ian and Annette Cumming.
  • Something blue:  Close’s most frequently-used colors are red, yellow and blue.  The color blue is especially apparent in the portrait in Clinton’s eyes and hair.

This photo was taken on June 14, 2019. Specs are:

Olympus TG-5, ISO 500, f/2.3, 1/30 sec, 5.5mm.

 

Multiverse by Leo Villareal — Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge: Lighting

This is our entry in Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge: Lighting.

Recently we visited the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.   After viewing traditional art in the West Wing, we used the moving walkway through the Concourse to the East Wing, where modern and contemporary art is displayed.  The Concourse is enveloped by the 200-foot long light sculpture Multiverse by the American artist Leo Villareal (b. 1967).  According to a National Gallery of Art webpage,

“[T]he work features approximately 41,000 computer-programmed LED nodes that run through channels along the entire 200-foot-long space… Once the appropriate hardware was installed in the existing architecture, the artist programmed sequences through his custom-designed software to create abstract configurations of light. His programming both instructs the lights and allows for an element of chance. While it is possible that a pattern will repeat during a viewer’s experience, it is highly unlikely. Still, the eye will seek patterns in the motion, a perceptual effect of the hypnotic trailing lights.”

While this sculpture was only intended to be on display for one year, until November 2009, it is still in place and mesmerizing visitors every day.

 

This photo was taken on July 3, 2019. Specs are:

Olympus TG-5, ISO 800, f/4.9, 1/30 sec, 18 mm.

 

The Shrumen Lumen of Burning Man 2016

This is our entry in Second Wind Leisure Perspectives’ Sunday Stills: #Triangular Manifestation.

In a visit last year to the Smithsonian American Art Museum Renwick Gallery in Washington, D.C., we were fortunate enough to view and interact with the FoldHaus Art Collective’s Shrumen Lumen.  Lit with embedded LEDs, the cluster of mushrooms (“shrooms”) towered over visitors.  When a visitor stepped on a pad at the foot of a mushroom, that mushroom would open and spread upward while changing colors.  The photo below was taken from directly beneath one mushroom after stepping on the interactive pad.  The blue triangles are part of the mushroom stem, while the red is the interior of the cap.

The Shrumen Lumen were created by FoldHaus for Burning Man 2016.

This photo was taken on October 1, 2018.  Specs are:

Canon 200D, ISO 1250, f/3.5, 1/40 sec, 18 mm.

 

Alexander Calder’s Rat

This is our entry in Dutch goes the Photo!’s Tuesday Photo Challenge – Sculpture.

Anyone who has visited the East Building of the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. has seen and admired Alexander Calder’s huge mobile (85-foot wingspan, 920 pounds) hanging in the Central Court.  However, one of our favorite rooms in Tower 2 contains several smaller sculptures by Calder:  of these, arguably the cutest is the standing mobile Rat (even more so than Cow).   Rat was created in 1948 of sheet metal, lead, wire, and paint, and its dimensions are 8 5/8 x 15 x 8 in. (21.9 x 38.1 x 20.3 cm.).  It was last sold on November 16, 2016 by Christie’s of New York for $943,500.

 

This photo was taken on July 3, 2019. Specs are:

Olympus TG-5, ISO 200, f/2.6, 1/50 sec, 6.42 mm.

Magnolia at American Art Museum — Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Close up of Flowers

This is our entry in Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Close up of Flowers.

We visited the Smithsonian American Art Museum (SAAM) in Washington, D.C. last month. Near one of the entrances was a magnolia tree in bloom. We remarked that the blossoms looked like a painting. This is a photo of one of those blossoms.

After wandering around in the museum for about 75 minutes, we came across the painting Magnolia by Charles Walter Stetson.  Stetson (1858 – 1911) painted Magnolia in 1895, using oil on canvas mounted on fiberglass.

Here is a closeup of the blossom in the painting.

These photos were all taken on June 14, 2019, with an Olympus TG-5.

ONE through ZERO (The Numbers) — Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Letters or Numbers

This is our entry in Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Letters or Numbers.

We have been taking a drawing class to help us think more clearly about photography. Today was field trip day and we visited the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. The East Wing starts with Picasso before cubism and ends with Mark Rothko. The idea seems to be to take the viewer from something recognizable to something totally abstract with a sensible path between.

Since “the sensible path between” is up lots and lots of steps, we generally take an elevator to the top and find ourselves totally confused until we walk down a couple flights towards realism. There is an outdoor passage between two towers at the top of the museum where they often display something we can recognize after gazing at the Rothkos. Currently, the display features large metal numbers against the Washington skyline. They may only be numbers and we are not sure what they mean — if modern art is intended to have meaning — but we used them to steady our nerves so that we could continue our stroll through modern art.

This art installation, titled ONE through ZERO (The Numbers) by the American artist Robert Indiana (1928-2018), was constructed from 1978 to 2003 using Cor-Ten steel.