She knew where to go, what to see, I gladly followed imbibing as much as I could . There was the newly opened Newseum, (there is a half written blog piece somewhere) , the Afghan Treasures exhibition. the Dega’s little dancer, the Washington Cathedral, the American Indian museum etc– the question was to select–what shall we see, what are the must see exhibits come rain or sunshine, when and how do I catch the light for a photograph, admire an archetectural feature etc, etc. Of all the images and the photos taken, here’s a few that stand out…
In 2007, She introduced me to Dale Chihuly and his hand blown glass — left on a boat in the open air at the entrance to the National botanical garden !!! Later I learned that he had been doing these since 1995, inspired by Finnish children who would gather the blown glass he had thrown into the Nuutajoki river.
Last year, I was introduced to the world of Martin Puryear — a Washington-born artist who works with wood that he apparently coaxes into various forms and shapes. Many weeks after my return to Colombo, Delores sent me a catalogue from another exhibition of Puryear’s work and I saw that he uses unconventional materail such as tar, wire, mesh, rawhide and rattan for his sculpture.
This is his Ad Astra that I saw — The body of the wagon is made from various woods, a sort of a fusion of ash, sitka spruce, hickory and pine, says the catalogue and a large handle spike reaches out to the sky. A sort of wagon that might have suited Jack for going up the beanstalk. And as always I marvelled at the positioning of objects of art at American museums and how they optimize and create the display space — one can view this piece from two floors at different angles. Viewed from down it looks as if it reaches out to the sky.
Then there was Leonardo’s portrait of Ginevra de’ Benci– one of the “must sees” as it is the only one of his work in America.
Interestingly the back of the portrait frame is also on display. The back panel has a wreath of laurel and palm branches encircling a juniper sprig . Entwined around the palm branches is a scroll with a Latin inscription meaning “Beauty adorns virtue.”
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Text & Photographs@ Chulie de Silva