Sunday, March 3, 2024

Clouds Seen From the National Gallery

 For half of my life, I've spent a lot of time enjoying the museums, gardens and public buildings along the National Mall.  Once in a while the view takes me by surprise, thanks to an angle I never noticed or an unexpected change in the weather. On a late winter day, looking out from the National Gallery's West Wing I watched the sun pierce the roiling clouds. There, beyond the trees, was the silhouette of the Smithsonian Castle. Sunshine came and went. Art was all around me. The sun and clouds continued their dance.

Sunday, February 25, 2024

Cracked Crosswalk

 Patterns are everywhere all around us. So often they are merely the backgrounds to whatever we are focusing upon. More than once, I have stopped in the middle of a particular  crosswalk on a heavily traveled street near the local school. Weather, traffic and temperature changes have transformed the surface into a quixotically irregular set of lines and textures. A grid remains, but my eyes and brain must work to really see it.

Sunday, February 18, 2024

Rainbow Stairs

 No one was around when I came upon the rainbow-painted stairs. Although it was a chilly day, the bright blue sky and white walls made me wonder if I had been transported to some magical version of Greece, that country of brilliant skies and whitewashed villages. Iris was the goddess of the rainbow. She would travel on it to fulfill her duty of carrying messages to the gods. Now I imagine a present-day Iris, traveling up and down those rainbow stairs.

Sunday, February 11, 2024

Rothko: Untitled, 1946

 If you have even a passing interest in 20th century art, the name Mark Rothko brings to mind images of large canvases with fuzzy-edged floating rectangles of color. An exhibit at the National Gallery of Art focuses on his works on paper, starting with a few early landscapes that already show signs of becoming more abstract. This painting, mostly washes of watercolor and lines of ink, owes a debt to Picasso's figures and also to the Greek art with mythological themes that Rothko studied at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Walking through the galleries, seeing Rothko's work develop and change, helped me to understand and appreciate those luscious abstracts of his final Classic period.

Sunday, February 4, 2024

Cinematography On Ice

 At the end of the Skating Spectacular that capped off the US Figure Skating Championships, those who performed took a bow. All week, the audience in the arena had watched Jason Cowan, the cameraman on skates dressed like an arctic paratrooper. Unseen by the TV audience, this former ice dancer recorded impressive "you are RIGHT THERE on the ice" views of the competitors. Jason, who had done a remarkable job of staying close to, but not in the way of the performers, had a close call when Amber Glenn, the 2024 Women’s Champion, flew across the ice so fast that he could barely stay out of her way. Recording right on the ice is not for the fainthearted!

Sunday, January 28, 2024

Figure Skating Photo Op

 Years of practices and regional competitions come before a skater achieves television-worthy status. During the earlier part of Nationals, Novice and Junior skaters perform in front of crowds that are smaller but no less devoted to cheering on each competitor. When it came time for the Junior Pairs to receive medals, flowers and handshakes from officials, they spread out a rug for the photographers, who VERY carefully walk across the ice clutching their expensive lenses. The only photographer wearing ice cleats walked back and forth to adjust a medal or the way a bouquet was clutched so that every skater would look their best at this moment that they will always remember 

Sunday, January 21, 2024

Winter Picnic Tables

 After almost two years, we've finally had a real snow, enough to cancel school buses and trips to the office.  I crunched along the street, tuning into that faint, sparkly-showery sound made by a multitude of flakes sailing down all at once. The trees in the park had transformed themselves into a magical forest. No one came to disturb the fluffy snow-quilt laid upon each picnic table. Everything stopped for a while, including the distractions of colors other than those that were almost black or almost white. Welcome back, Winter.