Thursday, September 16, 2010



To the best of my knowledge, my the "blog feed" problems have been resolved, and my fellow bloggers are being alerted when new postings are published.  Thanks for your patience.

In the process of trying to solve my technical problems, I made some design changes in the blog, using one of Blogger's new templates.  Among other things, the new template is wider and provides more creative space, which gives a little breathing room to both the text and photos.  From my perspective, it makes the blog a little easier on the eye.  I hope you will agree.

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I spent yesterday in Washington, primarily at the East Wing of the National Gallery of Art.  Inspired by Bonnie's recent post on Old Montreal, I thought it might be fun to share some of the day's delights with you, beginning with the East Wing itself (above), which was designed by the renowned architect, I.M. Pei.

As I entered the East Wing and descended one level, my eyes were riveted to Wall Drawing No. 681C, by the American artist, Sol LeWitt.

Just a few steps away was a small gallery adorned by three works of the abstract expressionist painter, Mark Rothko.

This is a wonderful, small stabile created by Alexander Calder and titled Vertical Constellation with Bomb (1943).  I love the way that the shadows add to this composition.  As I looked at this work, I began to wonder if shadows, in the Jungian sense, also improve the compositions of our individual selves.

Turning left from Vertical Constellation with Bomb, I saw this collection of small Calder stabiles and mobiles.  Again, notice how the shadows provide a sense of depth and play.

As I proceeded back to the main level of the East Wing, I found myself drawn, as moth to flame, to the moving walkway that transports people from the main part of the East Wing to the lovely cafe and gift shop.  Except for the floor level and a portion of one wall, the area of the moving walkway is rounded, cavernous, and lined with lights that change in appearance with every passing second.  The lights, coupled with the movement of the walkway itself, allowed me to create the above photo and the ones just below.  The thing that caught my eye, and which I tried to capture in these photos, was the sense that we are each on a mysterious journey through time, drawn toward something that is both luminous and divine.

The ground level floor of the East Wing, like the exterior of the building itself, is a feast of geometrical design — walls and windows at sharp angles, intense colors against neutral tones of stone.

From this vantage point on the third floor, one can get a sense of the play of light, shadows, and angles in the building.  In the foreground, of course, is another Calder mobile (Untitled, 1976).

This is essentially the same view, zoomed in a bit.  The sculpture in the recessed area beneath the bridge is by David Smith.  Note also the small Giacometti sculpture, Walking Man II (1960), on the bridge.

This is a view from the ground level of the museum, looking toward the entrance.

This wonderful little gallery features some of the cut-outs, papiers coupes, that Matisse created during the last fifteen years of his life.

This gallery is devoted to modern American art.  My purpose here is to simply demonstrate how effective the East Wing curators are in their use of color, design, and lighting to display their collections.

Shortly after noon, I walked down the Capitol Mall and had lunch as "Metropolitan," a lovely restaurant owned and operated by the National Gallery.

After lunch, I went to the main building of the National Gallery to see a new photo exhibition: "Beat Memories: The Photography of Allen Ginsberg."  In an age of digital color, it was great to see these candid black and white photos of Ginsberg and his celebrated friends, Jack Kerouac, William S. Burroughs, Neal Cassady, and the poet, Gregory Corso.

After seeing the Ginsberg exhibit — and treating myself to a cappuccino and a wicked tart aux pommes — I left the main building of the National Gallery and headed for my car.  Just as I was leaving, however, I caught my reflection in one of the glass pyramids that can be seen in the header photo of the East Wing.  Normally, I do not take photos of myself.  I took the above photo, however, because the composition, which I just stumbled upon, seemed to be a metaphor for how we often see each other in fragmented and distorted light, half concealed and half revealed.  That leads me to why I value art so much.  I believe that art speaks a truth that words alone can never express.  "Art is a lie," said Picasso, "that makes us realize the truth."

Note of Photos:  Click on photos to enlarge for easier viewing.


  1. Still not updating, George! Great post, though. I remember the Rothko Room in London's Tate Modern - subdued lighting, subtle, shimmering, suggestive blocks of colour - real sense of a mystical journey within... Love the walkway pix.

  2. Thanks, Robert. Glad you liked the photos, and I certainly hope that you will be able to visit Washington and the National Gallery one of these days. Still working on the tech problem.

  3. Well ... I don't know where to start ... How splendidly you have featured The National Gallery of Art here, George. As the curator of your blog, your photographs are presented with such attention to color, composition, form, play of light, metaphor and meaning.

    I was carried away by the photos of the tunnel of light. Rothko adorned the wall of my office in a beautiful calendar in 2009, so was pleased to see him here/there. I also liked how you began and ended your gallery tour with photos of the glass pyramids outside the gallery. Of course, the meanings and metaphors that you share about the art were of special interest to me. Shadowlands, reflections, tunnels have much to offer on every level and need our attention.

    Thank you so much for allowing us to have a glimpse of art we might otherwise never see.

  4. To Bonnie,

    Thanks for both comments, Bonnie. As I awake this morning, it appears that all is well and that my blog is finally showing up once again out there in cyberspace. What a relief! Thanks so much for your assistance and patience. Have a great day. Oh, and by the way, thanks for pointing out the leitmotiv of shadows, reflections, and tunnels in the photo essay. That makes me pause and think a bit.

  5. There do seem to be some technical problems at the moment on Google, George - I keep having difficulty leaving comments and keep getting 'service unavailable' now and then.

    Loved your stuff on Washington art - was there myself last year - tremendous.

  6. To Pat,

    Thanks for the note, Pat. Bonnie, at the Original Art Studio, has been having similar problems with the "service unavailable" warning. I will check it out.

    So glad that you had a chance to visit the National Gallery of Art last year. It's fabulous place to spend some time.

  7. Hi, George. I just spent a happy half hour looking at your photos. They are beautiful. Clicking on them is breathtaking. I feel like I'm entering the exhibits.

    I didn't know about the Beat photo exhibit. I have got to go!

    Your new design is great. I liked the old design, too, but this really does add much dimension to your photos. The picture of you is also fantastic. I love the mystery of the scene--the clouds, the reflection, and the way it is all sliced by the panes. The fragmented self comes through quite well. It could also be a statement about the internet:)

    Thanks again for an awesome tour. Have a great weekend.

  8. To Julie,

    Thanks for the lovely and insightful comments, Julie, If you were hooked for half an hour, I must be doing something right.

    The Beat exhibit is great! Seeing these candid, spontaneously-taken photos transported me back to another period of my life. That's the wonderful thing about museums; they don't let us forget the meaningful past.

    Glad you like the new design. The major change is that it is wider, allowing me to use larger text and larger photos. I hope it will make the viewing and reading more pleasurable, without being too "in your face."

    I love your comments on the self-photo, especially about the fragmented view being similar to what we perceive on the internet. That is something worth pondering, isn't it?

    Thanks again. Glad you enjoyed the ride.

  9. Hi George, Do you know you have a double post of the Nat'l Gallery? At any rate, I've immensely enjoyed your tour. I like the shadow play, too, and I enjoy the negative spaces both in the Gallery and in the art. Shadow, fragmentation, and void is so interesting both in Life and in Art. I don't know why I sometimes struggle against it!

  10. PS I like your new design very much - a real compliment to your photography.

  11. What a treat to view the East Wing without my feet screaming at me at the end of the tour!

    Your photo of I. M. Pei's pyramids is wonderful. The organic shapes of the clouds reflected upon the glass is in great contrast against the smooth cubic stone building.

    I don't know if you carefully chose the art that all share a similar vibrant palette or if the museum's curators did. Either way, it has a very pleasing effect and shows beautifully against your new marine-blue jacket. Speaking of which, do you mind sharing which template you chose? I like seeing all this extra user-defined real estate.

    Your photos of the light tunnel are mesmerizing, I feel like I'm about to hear HAL's eerie voice of "2001: A Space Odyssey" echoing through the tunnel.

    The Matisses are my favorite - what a genius he is.

    Thanks for the tour - you were a great docent!

  12. To Barb,

    Thanks, Barb. I'm happy to have input on the new design. I think it gives me more creative space to work with and permits me do do more with the photography.

  13. To Barb,

    Yes, I know about the double post. That's the reason one was titled "redux." I was trying to correct a technical problem I was experiencing yesterday, but It's difficult to now delete one of them because I have comments posted to each.

    Glad you enjoyed the tour. I like your statement about shadow, fragmentation, and void being interesting in both life and art. It's true, and the key is to accept it, rather than resist it. As I well know, however, that can be a constant challenge.

  14. To Dutchbaby,

    Thanks for the generous comments, Dutchbaby. This was a lot of fun and the pleasure is doubled when someone else enjoys my posting about the experience.

    I'm especially happy that you enjoyed the photos of the light tunnel. To be honest, I was more captivated by the mystery of the tunnel than anything else I saw. In addition to being visually fascinating, it seemed to hold great metaphorical value for me — people on journeys, endlessly drawn by something luminous ahead of them.

    Thanks for the favorable reaction to the new blog design. The wider format of the new template gives me more creative space, which permits me to use larger photos and more readable text, both of which make the blog easier to enjoy — that, at least, is what I'm aiming for. The new template I used is the first one on the left when you go to Blogger's new template page. It is named "Simple." The key, however, is to go beyond the appearance presented in the template example and to create one's own look.

    Good luck. If you have any questions, send me an email and I will do my best to respond — and thanks again.

  15. Hi George
    I popped in yesterday and left a comment.It looks like it got lost. Today I'll have a longer browse. I have Lady with me and we'll spend some time wandering around. If we're still here at chucking-out time, just edge us towards the door and we'll get the message.
    See you in

  16. To Tramp,

    I received your first comments, Tramp, and posted a response. The confusion arises over the fact that there are two identical posts, the first under the title "A Day in the City," which you commented on yesterday, and the second under the title "A Day in the City — Redux," which you commented on today. Sorry for the confusion, but the second posting was made in the hopes of correcting some technical errors that I was having with the feeds to other blog sites. In any event, I appreciate your persistence, and, as always, your comments.

    It sounds like you and Lady are back on the road again, which means that your back is improving. Welcome back to the upright position. May you long remain there. Have a nice weekend.