20 Years of Bob Schieffer’s ‘Face the Nation’

October 6, 2011

Bob Schieffer’s 20 years as anchor of CBS News’s “Face the Nation” — which premiered November 1954 — was applauded Sept. 21 at the St. Regis with politicians, journalists and other Washington types enjoying the warmth (or humidity), food and bipartisanship. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D.-Calif.) was in the room along with former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. Old and new media moved freely — from familiar Posties, ThomsonReuters editors to Media Bistro. [gallery ids="100321,108092,108095" nav="thumbs"]

The United States Navy Memorial’s Lone Sailor Award

The United States Navy Memorial’s Lone Sailor Award is given to Sea Service veterans who have excelled with distinction in their respective civilian careers while exemplifying the Navy core values of Honor, Courage and Commitment.The 2011 award recipients will join an impressive list of men and women who have distinguished themselves by drawing upon their military experience to become successful in their subsequent careers and lives, while exemplifying the core values of Honor, Courage and Commitment.

This year’s recipients of the Lone Sailor Award
Beau Bridges—Actor, Director, Producer, United States Coast Guard Veteran
Jeff Bridges—Actor, Producer, United States Coast Guard Veteran
Lloyd Bridges (in-memoriam)—Actor, Producer, United States Coast Guard Veteran
Brian Lamb—Founder and Chief Executive Officer, C-SPAN, United States Navy Veteran
Jerry Coleman—Famed Major League Baseball Second Baseman and Broadcast Announcer, United States Marine Corps WWII and Korean War Combat Veteran
Bob Feller (in-memoriam)—Famed Major League Baseball Pitcher, United States Navy WWII Combat Veteran
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Lunch with Actress Charlotte Ross

Christine Warnke invited media pals to the City Tavern Club to meet actress Charlotte Ross, best known for roles in NYPD Blue and currently Glee. The actress was in Washington to join The Humane Society of the United States in Congressional briefings. The intent is to seek an end to invasive research on chimpanzees and promote passage of the Great Ape Protection and Costs Savings Act of 2011, which has strong bipartisan support in today’s cost-cutting climate. The United States is the only developed country continuing to confine chimpanzees in laboratories where they are frequently not used in active research but spend long solitary lives. The goal is to save taxpayers approximately $30 million annually by releasing our closest relatives in the animal kingdom to humane sanctuaries. [gallery ids="100319,108085" nav="thumbs"]

“Oklahoma” Takes a Final Bow this Weekend

October 3, 2011

As the final days for the production of “Oklahoma” at Arena Stage run down, people are still talking about the show, in some ways as if it were a brand new phenomenon that wound its way through town like a tornado.

The production, directed and selected by Arena Artistic Director Molly Smith, played to packed houses in the Fichandler after it opened Arena’s 2010-2011 season in its new $100 million plus Mead Center for American Theater. Some critics were skeptical of the choice which seemed a little safe, but the show was in keeping with Smith’s exploration of American theater and musicals, proving to be a monster hit with audiences and critics alike. The resurrection hauled in all sorts of honors, at one point being considered for a Broadway production.

The show was so popular that Smith and Arena decided to bring it back for an end-of-summer, start-of-fall run that ends Oct. 2, starting something of a theater recycling trend in Washington.

The other night while attending “The Habit of Art” at Studio Theater, I chatted with a couple sitting next to me, and, after talking about dogs and theater in general, the couple said they had just seen “Oklahoma” for the first time.

“We’d seen the movie,” she said. “You know, Gordon MacRae and Shirley Jones and all that stuff. But we were so surprised and it was so fresh. Having the salesman be a Middle Easterner was a surprise, it sure wasn’t Eddie Albert. And that Ado Annie, she was something. She was delightful.”

That would be June Schreiner, the 16-year-old (when the show opened) Madeira School senior who was bowled over with critical praise for her portrayal as the girl with two suitors who sings “I Can’t Say No,” an enduring highlight tune among many classics in “Oklahoma.” Not to mention she executes some nifty roping moves with Cody Williams, who plays one of her beaus, a cowpoke named Will Parker.

One of the unique things about the production was that even in the process of performance, the company seemed tightly knit, a community of sorts. I got a real sense of that several weeks ago when I sat down with Schreiner and Teresa Burrell, who had just taken over the part of Aunt Eller, the almost totemic matriarchal figure in the Oklahoma community. The part had formerly been played by F. Faye Butler, who moved on to star in Arena’s “Trouble in Mind.”

Schreiner, a thin, pretty blonde teenager, showed up pumped after taking additional roping lessons. Burrell, a veteran actress familiar with the Arena Stage scene, had just made her first appearance as Aunt Eller the previous night.

“You know, you’re replacing a key member of the company, and not just any company, but this one, which is like a family, you could tell that right away,” Burrell said. Burrell looks rangy and vivacious and hardly resembles a matriarch. She is still remembered for her dazzling starring role in Duke Ellington’s “Queenie Pie” at the Kennedy Center a number of years ago, and is also currently working on a show about Ethel Waters, the legendary African American singer and performer.

Schreiner said Burrell “fits right in.” She should. She’s something of an Arena veteran, having starred in their ground-floor musical version of “The Women of Brewster Place” among other productions, and has been seen at Signature in the iconic role of Julie in another American classic, “Showboat.”

It’s interesting to watch and listen to Schreiner and Burrell talking. One moment, Schreiner is exactly the senior in high school that she is, daughter of show biz parents, a young American girl, still excitable, the next she sounds like a theater veteran (which she is) who got a tidal wave of media attention after “Oklahoma” opened. When the talk is about the show, she and Burrell dive in, dissecting, describing, figuring things out. “It never gets old,” said Schreiber, who’s now played the part too often to count. “Every night, there’s something different. It’s like you’re in the group of people the characters, you’re part of something that’s happening to them in the country a new world.”

“I’m so happy to be in this, to take this part,” Burrell said. “It’s such a fresh production. It’s a little darker, and then again not. It’s complicated, more grown-up in a way. Aunt Eller is the rock of the community, she has to have size, but she’s also very human, warm and funny.”

Burrell, next to Schreiber, is so energized she might as well be a teenager too. They talk about Ado Annie as a character. “With Schreiner playing her, and playing her with that kind of absolutely fresh way she has, she’s something different than say an older woman who’s been around a little,” Burrell says. “It’s a little more innocent—she wants things and likes both the young men who like her, but there’s something endearing about that and she gets them going that’s for sure.”

“Ado Annie is a young person in that time, she’s like me, age wise,” Schreiber said. “That makes it a lot more fun, for one thing.”

Schreiber wasn’t nominated for a Helen Hayes Award for her role. It was a major omission to many observers, but not to her. “The whole thing was just so amazing to me, the process, the time spent in a show like this, the people, all those talented people and Molly,” she said. “That didn’t bother me. I’ve gotten so much out of this.”

Georgetown Business Association Monthly Reception

September 22, 2011

On a perfect summer evening, a near record crowd attended the GBA’s monthly reception held at the House of Sweden on Aug. 17. House of Sweden General Manager Cecilia Browning welcomed guests. GBA Events Chair Sue Hamilton acknowledged the evening’s special guests Wendy, Bernie and Chris Furin, who lamentably shuttered their eponymous treasured M Street eatery last month. The Furins were presented with an engraved plaque commemorating their 27 wonderful years in business, a compilation of their many press clippings, topped off with a complimentary stay plus pampering at the Four Seasons. DC Councilman at-Large Vincent Orange wondered what their many fans would do without Furin’s pancakes. Guests enjoyed hors d’oeuvres by Ridgwells Caterers, beverages supplied by the Georgetown Business Improvement District and concluded the evening with signature cupcakes by Chris Furin, who will continue his stellar career as a cake designer. [gallery ids="100271,107039,107065,107061,107044,107057,107049,107053" nav="thumbs"]

Gallery Wrap

September 21, 2011

Hemphill Fine Arts
Models of Freedom

Contemporary Russian art is not usually an uplifting experience. Decades of social and political turmoil are quick to surface in the works of the artists, who have often battled severe creative persecution and censorship throughout their lives. At the New Museum in New York, for instance, the current exhibition “Ostalgia” (through Sept. 25, 2011) fills the five floors of the museum with harrowing visions, somber memorials, and vivid outcries of a country torn from deep within. While undeniably powerful and of lasting social importance, it can all leave you feeling weak, even incapacitated.

And so the work of Russian artists Ilya and Emilia Kabakov is a welcome contrast. In the exhibition’s strongest works, Hemphill showcases the artists’ monumental public work proposals, offering a vision of a fruitful, dynamic future.

Beginning his career as a government-sanctioned children’s book illustrator in 1950s Moscow, Ilya Kabakov secretly pursued private works on his own time, exploring societal transitions between construction and decline. Since 1988, Ilya has worked collaboratively with partner Emilia, and the resulting work is rooted in a social conviviality, focused on education and shared public spaces. In a model of the Kabokov’s renowned large-scale traveling sculpture, “The Ship of Tolerance,” first built in Siwa, Egypt and to be presented in Miami this December, an ancient Egyptian vessel is adorned with sails stitched together from paintings of hundreds of local school children from different ethnic and social backgrounds, teaching children the value of different cultures and ideas. In “The Large House of Humanity,” they offer a stunning model and proposal for an empty park area across the Potomac from Washington, to be equipped with green space, a large performance stage, small museums and educational centers. As made clear from the work, these artists are devoted to the growth of social knowledge, ideas and liberty. It is work that deserves to be seen.

“KABAKOV: Ilya & Emilia Kabakov,” will be on display at Hemphill Fine Arts through Oct. 29. 1515 14th Street, NW # 300. HempHillFineArts.com.

Heiner Contemporary
Waiting for a Hollywood Ending

The Heiner Contemporary gave artist David Kramer more than just an exhibition. They gave him control of the entire gallery.

Deeply affected by the cultural clichés, Hollywood ideals, and advertisements he grew up with in the 1970s, Kramer’s work explores the disillusionment of adulthood, while still filled with humor, sincerity and wisdom.

Walking into the gallery, you enter a stylish, nuclear-colored 1950s living room, complete with faux stonewall facing and pod-shaped furniture. Kramer’s paintings, almost littering the walls, offer nostalgic freeze-frames from the era, long lost but never quite forgotten. Men and women lie in each other’s arms with stiff drinks and swirling cigarettes. A stylish gathering of erudite young couples basks in the parlor with all the comfort money can buy. There are also cowboys, nude women behind flowers, family portraits, picnics beside Cadillac convertibles, and so on in that fashion. The entire color palette recalls a bag of Skittles.

Though Kramer is clearly a master draftsman, the paintings are executed with an intentional crudeness and injected with ironic, pithy quips and personal aphorisms of the artist. In one painting, a couple lounges together lovingly with wine, cigarettes and coffee, and across the paper is written, “Why is it that the things I love most…Are the very things that are going to end up killing me.”

The furniture likewise seems a bit off—if functional—until you realize that the artist built everything, from the lamps, to the tables, to the wall, by hand. The gallery will host a performance by the artist and party on Saturday, Sept. 24 from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m.

“Prequel to the Sequel: Waiting for the Hollywood Ending,” will be on display at Heiner Contemporary through Oct. 22. 1675 Wisconsin Avenue NW. HeinerContemporary.com

Addison/Ripley Fine Art
The Literature of Landscape

It is clear in the work of painter Mary Page Evans that the landscape genre is very much alive. The conviction and fluidity of her brush strokes, her intuitive sense of the textures of land, sky and sea, and her pure, unfiltered observation are nothing other than the culmination of years devoted to mastering this artistic tradition.

Addison/Ripley Fine Art is exhibiting a large body of new works by this prolific regional artist. In her recent paintings, Evans has taken the ocean swells, rolling hillsides, and lush forests of the East Coast, and broken down the planes and surfaces into a cohesive, undulating rhythm of color and texture.

There is an expansiveness and allusion in her bold, loose brushstrokes that is almost literary, referencing a history of predecessors, from her mentor Gene Davis—of the Washington Color School of painters—to Monet, de Kooning, and renowned landscape painter Richard Mayhew (whose work is currently on view at the Parish Gallery in Canal Square). The only equivalent to experiencing the graceful, fluid work of this artist would be to walk through the Shenandoah Mountains or explore the windy coastline of the Virginia shore. But this sure is a lot closer to home.

“Skies, Trees and Sea,” the artwork of Mary Page Evans, will be on display at Addison/Ripley Fine Art through Oct. 15. 1670 Wisconsin Avenue NW. AddisonRipleyFineArt.com

Washington Women and Wine on the Road

September 7, 2011

On Aug. 15, members of WW&W hopped aboard a motor coach in Ballston. The first stop was Doukénie Winery in Hillsboro, VA. In June of this year the Land Trust of Virginia honored winery owners George and Nicola Bazaco for their commitment to preserving “one of Northern Loudon Country’s most spectacular properties.” Maria Canora poured a variety of wines and family member Hope Bazaco brought homemade baklava and freshly picked figs. It was then on to Breaux Vineyards in Purcellville, one of the largest wineries East of the Mississippi, where the sampling continued. Several local residents joined up for luncheon at the Yellow Brick Bank in Shepherdstown, WV. Terry Swift spoke of his involvement with the arts and asked the group to his historic home. Jim Surkamp led an insider’s walking tour and WW&W co-founder Karen McMullen directed the bus driver around town before everyone contently headed home. [gallery ids="99226,103560,103556,103539,103552,103544,103548" nav="thumbs"]

Washington Area Concierge Association Gala

August 25, 2011

The Washington Area Concierge Association themed its annual gala “Uncover Your Code” as guests converged at Barcode on Aug. 14. WACA has donated over $400,000 to charitable organizations. This year’s recipients are The John B. Campbell Hospitality Scholarship, Les Clefs d’Or and Les Clefs d’Or Foundation as well as the Katzen Center Research Center at GW University Hospital. The festive evening featured a fundraising raffle and silent auction. WACA President Luis Colmenares said “I can’t wait to celebrate the monumental achievements of our tourism industry….regardless of the political or economic climate around us.” [gallery ids="100273,107064,107095,107091,107069,107087,107083,107074,107079" nav="thumbs"]

Second Annual Green Fair at The Fairmont

August 24, 2011

On Aug. 12, The Fairmont Washington held its Second Annual Green Fair in the sunlit Colonnade room. The hotel’s green partners, including the neighboring World Wildlife Fund, Capital Bikeshare, FRESHFARM Markets, Nusta Spa and Carbon – A Sustainable Chic Boutique, manned exhibits. Guests could meet the hotel’s resident beekeeper and sample Executive Chef Jason Dalling’s organic hors d’oeuvres. [gallery ids="100272,107054,107066,107059,107063" nav="thumbs"]

PAL at Pete’s

People Animals Love invited supporters to join PAL volunteers at a Yappy Hour on Aug. 16 at Pete’s New Haven Style Apizza. Pete’s regular patrons are so accustomed to seeing family pets that they did not initially grasp that this was a fundraiser. Founded in l982, PAL is today the premier pet visit organization in the DC area with 300 certified volunteer teams. These two- and four-legged volunteers make thousands of visits annually, lifting spirits in nursing homes, mental health facilities, hospices, military hospitals and undeserved schools. [gallery ids="102540,120046,120028,120020,120033,120039" nav="thumbs"]