Richard Selden • April 6, 2016
The annual meeting of the American Alliance of Museums, the world’s largest gathering of museum professionals, will be held in D.C. May 26 to 29. Featured speakers include Dr. Mae Jemison, the first woman of color to go into space; Dr. David Skorton, secretary of the Smithsonian Institution; and the five-time presidential candidate who founded the American Museum of Tort Law in his hometown of Winsted, Connecticut. Advance registration closes April 29.
Levine Music will begin offering classes this fall at the Silver Spring Library, which opened last year in a new $70 million downtown building. In addition to its main campus in Van Ness, Levine has locations at THEARC in Southeast, Strathmore in North Bethesda and Westover Baptist Church in Arlington. The school was founded in 1976 in memory of D.C. attorney Selma Levine.
Chase Maggiano, executive director of the Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington, D.C., has been named executive director of The Washington Chorus, succeeding Dianne Peterson, chief administrator of the chorus since 1986. Maggiano, a violinist, McLean native and George Washington University alum, will start in July. Founded in 1961, the Grammy Award-winning Washington Chorus frequently performs with the National Symphony Orchestra.
Richard Selden • March 16, 2016
An opening date was announced for the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American Art and Culture, which has reached its full five-story height on the National Mall: Saturday, Sept. 24. A multiday indoor-outdoor celebration will follow the ribbon-cutting by President Obama. The museum is currently making use of space on the second floor of the National Museum of American History.
Named not for a character from Dickens, but for the National Portrait Gallery volunteer who endowed the program, the Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition will open March 12. Works by about 50 finalists, along with the portrait that was awarded the $25,000 grand prize, will be on view through Jan. 8. Virginia Outwin Boochever, who died in 2005, was among the first commissioned officers in the World War II women’s branch of the U.S. Naval Reserve.
There is one red entrance to Dupont Underground, the former trolley station capped by Dupont Circle. To unseal more of the access staircases by the April 30 opening of the new contemporary art space’s inaugural installation (of several hundred thousand plastic balls), a crowdfunding campaign called “Open These Doors!” has been launched. The winner of the “Re-Ball!” design competition will be announced March 21.
Ballerina Julie Kent, 46, a principal dancer with New York’s American Ballet Theatre from 1993 to 2015, was named artistic director of The Washington Ballet, effective July 1. Kent, who went to Churchill High School in Potomac, Maryland, is married to ABT associate artistic director Victor Barbee, 61, who will become her colleague in Washington as associate artistic director. Completing his 17th and final season as artistic director, Septime Webre will speak at Georgetown Media Group’s April 7 Cultural Leadership Breakfast.
Spring Shows in Philadelphia
It happened in Philadelphia: 56 men in breeches created a nation.
Then, 51 years later, it happened again. This time, it was 53 men in trousers. And what they created was … a flower show.
Actually, what they created in 1827 was the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society. The first public show, featuring the poinsettia’s American debut, came two years later. (In 1835, the society admitted women as voting members — long before the nation did.)
The descendant of that historic event, the Philadelphia Flower Show, the largest and longest-running indoor show in the world, now attracts more than 200,000 visitors over nine days. The 2016 show, at the Pennsylvania Convention Center, ends this Sunday.
A Garden of Eden for plant-lovers — with award-winning specimens, lectures and vendors from around the world — the show is also a floral theme park that seems to grow Disney-er every year. Since this year’s theme is “Explore America: 100 Years of the National Park Service,” expect recreations of Yosemite, simulated Old Faithful eruptions and a Denali sled dog team. You can even “create your own Mount Rushmore floral headpiece.”
For details, and to reserve a garden tea or an early-morning private tour (weekdays only), visit theflowershow.com. Families with children should note that on closing day, Sunday, March 13, there will be a Flower Show Jamboree and a Teddy Bear Tea.
Prior to launching their kisses-and-hugs “With Love, Philadelphia” campaign, Visit Philadelphia’s slogan was “Philly’s More Fun When You Sleep Over.” With the Flower Show meriting a full day and three new museum exhibitions, it makes sense to get a room.
After a controversial legal and financial intervention, the Barnes Foundation galleries relocated from the suburban residence of Albert C. Barnes (1872–1951) to a new museum on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway in 2012. The move’s approval hinged in part on the exact reproduction of the unchanging salon-style display found in leafy Merion by the relatively few visitors who made it out there.
Architects Tod Williams and Billie Tsien created a large and spacious modern building for the Barnes in which the tiny recreated rooms are encased. In accordance with Barnes’s eccentric theories of art appreciation, African, Native American, Pennsylvania German and other sculpture and artifacts, including miscellaneous wrought-iron objects, share the walls with frame-to-frame masterpieces by Renoir, Cezanne, Matisse and Modigliani (to name a few of Dr. Barnes’s favorites).
It is one of the most astounding museums in the world, now with the additional reason to visit of special exhibitions. Through May 9, the Barnes (which has 22 paintings by Pablo Picasso in its permanent collection) is hosting “Picasso: The Great War, Experimentation and Change.” The show’s focus is the period surrounding and including World War I, during which Picasso — the “High Priest of Cubism” in the words of curator Simonetta Fraquelli — abruptly returned to a naturalistic style, continuing to alternate between Cubism and Neoclassicism.
A video illustrates how during the war Cubism was portrayed as anti-French (though the style’s co-creator, Georges Braque, was as French as could be and served at the front) and associated with the despised Germans.
Several blocks up the parkway from the Barnes, “International Pop” is on view at the Philadelphia Museum of Art through May 15. All the American stars are represented, of course: Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, Claes Oldenburg, Tom Wesselman, Ed Ruscha. But what makes the show an eye-opener are the works by what the text calls the “British forbears of Pop,” notably Edinburgh-born Eduardo Paolozzi and London-born Richard Hamilton, whose collages date to the 1950s (earlier, in Paolozzi’s case), and by artists from throughout Europe and from Argentina, Brazil and Japan.
Finally, across the Schuylkill River, the University of Pennsylvania’s Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology is the exclusive U.S. venue for “The Golden Age of King Midas,” on view through Nov. 27. Of the 100-plus objects on loan from Turkish museums, many were excavated by Penn archaeologists from an eighth-century B.C. royal tomb, believed to be the resting place of Midas’s father Gordios.
Whether you hear the clatter of gold or of your muffler when you think of Midas, this exhibition is another example of the remarkable things to be seen this spring in the City of Brotherly Love.
The Auction Block August 6, 2014
Richard Selden • August 6, 2014
The fall auctions of Asian art are lined up in New York like the panels of a painted screen, beginning Monday, Sept. 15, with Asian Works of Art at Doyle New York and Chinese Art at Bonhams.
On Tuesday, Sept. 16, Bonhams has a Fine Japanese Works of Art auction and Christie’s has two auctions: Indian and Southeast Asian Art and Fine Chinese Paintings. Sotheby’s also has two that day: Chinese Art through the Eye of Sakamoto Goro: Song Ceramics, and Fine Chinese Ceramics & Works of Art.
The sole auction on Wednesday, Sept. 17, is at Sotheby’s: Images of Enlightenment: Devotional Works of Art and Paintings. On Thursday, Sept. 18, Christie’s has an auction of Fine Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art and Sotheby’s has two auctions of Chinese paintings: Fine Classical Chinese Paintings & Calligraphy and Chinese Paintings and Calligraphy, formerly in the collection of General and Mrs. Zhu.
The Chinese-owned Gianguan Auctions, at Madison Avenue and E 41st Street, has an auction of Fine Chinese Paintings, Ceramics, Bronzes and Works of Art on Sunday, Sept. 14.
On Friday, Sept. 19, concluding the week of intense contemplation – and competition – the Fine Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art auction wraps up at Christie’s.
Just prior to the New York auctions, on Saturday, Sept. 13, Freeman’s in Philadelphia holds its fall auction of Asian art. Skinner in Boston has an Asian art auction on Wednesday, Sept. 17, with a preview in New York at The Culture Center on Friday, Sept. 12.
Asia Week New York, the even bigger spring series of sales and exhibitions, will take place March 13 to 21, 2015. Total sales at last spring’s event were $200 million, $25 million more than in 2013, due both to the rising interest in Asian art among museums and to the increasing number and wealth of Chinese buyers.