Sunday, January 30, 2011

R Street Rowhouses

The accepted image of Washington D.C. is that of a city consisting mainly of white marble buildings and monuments. The White House, the Washington, Lincoln and Jefferson Memorials all draw heavily on Greek and Palladian architecture. But neighborhood architecture is as varied as the people who live in our nation's capital. R Street is lined with rowhouses from about 1900. Block by block, they are being lovingly restored. Some houses now sport new coats of paint in cheerful colors that might have driven the original turn-of-the-century residents to collapse on a horsehair divan with a case of the vapors. In a way, bright yellow, peach or turquoise signifies a new vitality that is spreading, street by street.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Skating Rink

My mind is always on ice skating this time of year. Next week I'll be watching the U.S. Figure Skating Championships on TV. But already there are skaters to watch. I lingered one evening at the outdoor rink near my house. Round and round they went; Adults taking wobbly steps till their legs remember how to glide, children scooting tall plastic buckets in front of them---training wheels for beginning skaters. You can tell who has had lessons. They skate backwards, spin or launch themselves off the ice in a waltz jump. I set my camera on the railing and tried to capture the moment. A blur, a whirl, a cold breeze created by the skaters.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

After Arcimboldo

You've probably seen reproductions of paintings by Giuseppi Arcimboldo but did not know the name of the artist. His portraits seem fairly normal from a distance, but a closer look reveals a cucumber nose, pear cheeks or a mushroom ear. They are amusing, but also a bit creepy. The National Gallery's Arcimboldo show was equally popular with kids as adults. Near the entrance to the exhibit stood a sculpture by Philip Haas. He translated Arcimboldo's allegorical "Winter" into a three-dimensional artwork made from fiberglass. This little girl was the youngest viewer that morning. Amusing but creepy. No wonder Arcimboldo is often called the Father of Surrealism.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Best House On the Block

In our neighborhood, we have two homes with especially fine Christmas lights. This is one of them. Twelfth Night has come and gone. Christmas trees rest at the curb waiting to be chipped and recycled by the county. Before I completely let go of the holidays, I wanted to share this image and say thank you to all the enthusiastic folks who string lights and set up herds of reindeer on their lawns. They cheer us through the longest, darkest days. I'm already looking forward to next December.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Piggy Banks

Late on December 26th, we stopped in a store. Bargain hunters had swooped away most of the holiday items. All the desirable games and gizmos had been claimed by teenagers flush with gift cards. But there were lots of piggy banks. Scores, hundreds of them, passed by in spite of their half-off sign. So bright, so tacky---what a challenge it would be to choose just one. There was something weirdly compelling about this neat arrangement of pigs. The even spacing and uniform shapes highlighted the differences in their colors and patterns. I felt sorry for the pigs. Maybe some hip person would buy eight or ten to display in an ironically humorous tableau in the living room. Perhaps they could be rescued en masse, then show up as part of a display in the window of Barney's or Bloomingdale's. They could be the talk of Manhattan for a short while. That would really give those pigs something to smile about.