Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Stay-cation Museum Day

The other week I took a day off from work for a little stay-cation, and I decided to visit some local museums in D.C. I shouldn't have to wait 'til I have out-of-town visitors to do that!

Image found here. The entire exhibit was based around this painting, "Luncheon of the Boating Party."

The Phillips Collection has a Renoir exhibit going on right now, so I definitely wanted to check that out. The exhibit was based upon his "Luncheon of the Boating Party" painting (see above). We got to learn about the models that were used for the painting, including his wife Aline Charigot (the one kisses the dog); I rarely ever think about the faces in paintings as belonging to real people whom the artist knew! We also learned about fashions of that time period, Renoir's history as an artist, and how his friends supported his dream of painting. We even saw pictures of the painting under infrared light and x-rays, where you could see changes the artist had made (for example, some characters were shifted slightly, and the awning overhead was a last-minute addition).

Want to learn more about the painting? Mental Floss lists "15 things you didn't know" about the piece:

The Phillips Collection also had several paintings by Pierre Bonnard, another artist from the Impressionist era. I'm not sure why I had never heard of him before, since Impressionist art is my favorite and his works definitely have a Monet-feel about them. And I love his use of color! And I myself am inspired by nature, so I like how many plants/trees are in a lot of his pieces. Here are some of his paintings that I saw:

Here were a couple more of my favorites from The Phillips Collection:

"House at Auvers" by Vincent van Gogh

"Summer" by John Henry Twachtman, another piece that reminded me a bit of Monet.

The deer are so cute in this one! This is "Deer in the Forest I" by Franz Marc.

Another nature one that I really liked. Who knew Georgia O'Keeffe painted leaves as well as flowers?

Then we headed to the National Portrait Gallery to see a new exhibit on Marlene Dietrich. I didn't know much about her except that she was a famous actress from a while ago. The photographs of her were amazing, and part of that was the fact that she knew a lot about lighting and her own angles. She was really ahead of her time: she had an open marriage, frequently wore pants (even in Paris where it was illegal at the time for women to do so), and she was unashamed of her bisexuality (although the exhibit focused nearly exclusively on her male lovers). Both men and women loved her for her beauty, talent, and attitude!

Here Dietrich is wearing a suit like a man, a men's overcoat, and round glasses, a "code" or "sign" for lesbians at the time. Image found here
 Click here to see more about the Marlene Dietrich exhibit.

Image found here

The Portrait Gallery also had a room dedicated to Sylvia Plath. I have never read anything of hers, but I really should! I think her most famous work is The Bell Jar, which I need to add to my reading list. The exhibit featured poems she had written, photographs of the writer, and letters from her or others who knew her; there were also pieces of studio/fine art, like paintings and collages. She dealt with depression throughout her life, and soon after she was divorced she killed herself, leaving her two young children without a mother. So sad!

Click here to read more about the Sylvia Plath exhibit.

Photograph by Louie Palu. Image found here
There was also an exhibit called "The Faces of Battle: Americans at War, 9/11 to Now." The works of six artists were featured, and the exhibit showed how war has become a part of our daily lives since the attacks on September 11th (For example, we always have a "Salute to the Troops" at major sporting events), and yet we still feel removed from war because it's happening overseas. Most of the artwork featured were photographs, but I found Emily Prince's drawings to be the most interesting. She would read obituaries of soldiers, and then draw their likeness and take notes about each one on a different colored card (relative to the person's skin: brown for African-American, peach for white, etc.). Although only some of her cards were on display, she has made more than 5,000 of them and has several boxes of notebooks filled with these faces.

Some of Emily Prince's cards, as well as how they are displayed at the museum. Image found here
Read more about this exhibit here.

Lots of good artwork in DC that is worth checking out!

Monday, November 20, 2017

Concert Review: Drew Baldridge and Joe Nichols

Image found here
This past weekend my dad and I went to see Joe Nichols perform at the Harrington Raceway and Casino. I had seen Nichols perform previously, and he was so good that I wanted to see him again.

His opener was Drew Baldridge. I had never heard of him before, but he was rocking the place! After the show, I'd say half the audience went to his merch table to get a picture with him. I think he's going places! Here are a few of his songs:

Rebound (My personal favorite. I totally agree with him: you should never be someone's second choice or someone's rebound.)

Dance with Ya

Burnt Toast

Guns & Roses (his biggest hit, I think)

Notice the weird wires coming out of his head.
Then it was Joe Nichols' turn. I knew something was wrong as soon as he came on stage. He was wearing earbuds that had enormous wires on them, rather than the high-tech wireless kind. I'm not sure if he lost his regular ones, or they got broken, or what, but it was obvious that these were 1. not what he regularly wore and 2. not working well. He was pushing on his ears the entire show, taking the earbuds out, putting them back in, and all the while not singing strongly because he couldn't hear himself. Between each song he would tell the crowd how much he appreciated us for coming out, like he knew how poorly the night was going and wanted to show us how badly he felt about it. It was just kind of sad...I'm glad I had seen him perform well before, because after this I'm not sure I would pay to see him again.

Even so, he still sang his biggest hits. Here are some of my favorites:

Sunny and 75


Tequila Makes Her Clothes Fall Off


Joe, I wish you better luck next time!

Monday, November 13, 2017

Volez, Voguez, Voyagez – Louis Vuitton Exhibition in New York City

I was in New York City last week for a quick trip to visit my grandmother and some friends. We mostly just grabbed meals together and relaxed, but one day I went out on my own to see the new Louis Vuitton exhibit that's in lower Manhattan. Coincidentally I had just read about it in the latest issue of Harper's Bazaar magazine*, so I figured I'd check it out.

The exhibition focuses on how changes related to travel impacted the House of Louis Vuitton. He started out as a box maker, and then started making trunks that were sturdy but light-weight, perfect for travelling. As more people started using cars and flying more often, and continued to travel by boat and train, Louis Vuitton created trunks to suit their needs. "Necessity is the mother of invention" it is said, and so these trunks and bags, and therefore their place in fashion, transformed as travel did.

I took TONS of photos:

The name means "Fly, Vogue, Travel" (well, according to Google Translate).

The man himself, Louis Vuitton

The classic trunk that has become so iconic to the House's name

Each drawer was meant to hold a shoe.

This trunk was designed with drawers, one specifically for ladies gloves.

Here you can see a mix of his newer trunks and bags along with the older ones.

When people would travel to faraway lands, they would need to pack ALL of their things. That means a lot of trunks.

Traveling by boat was no longer just a way to get from Point A to Point B, but now "resort wear" was coming into fashion for vacations taken by boat.

This trunk was designed specifically for tea-time.

A picnic trunk kept in cars

The trunks not only came in the classic brown with gold; this one is black with the blue design.

One room of the exhibit was designed to make you feel like you were in a train car.

These are coats from more recent collections.

Louis Vuitton created many library trunks, even one for Ernest Hemingway.

In these drawings you can see the first rough sketches of what would become the iconic logo design for the House.

The walls in one of the rooms were covered in the LV design.

This library trunk could even transform into a desk!

This is a newer design by Marc Jacobs, who was the creative director for Louis Vuitton for 16 years. Not my fave.

The line between art and fashion has always been quite blurry. You can see that these trunks and bags were not only designed to be functional, but to be beautiful as well.

The chandelier and draped ceilings in this room made it feel very glamorous!

A trunk design for Greta Garbo and her shoes

A newer custom piece: a make-up case for Sharon Stone

Several cases were designed for hair brushes, shaving kits, perfumery, and other small items.

This was a trunk owned by Katharine Hepburn. Notice how it has drawers and hangers.

This collection was a collaboration with artist Yayoi Kusama, who had an exhibit in DC earlier this year.

The latest collaboration with Jeff Koons called "Masters" takes famous paintings and transforms them into handbags.+

Trunk were also designed to hold musical instruments, including drum sticks!

You can see how popular the bags were even in the beginning!

Dresses of celebrities were on display as well.

The front one was worn by Alicia Vikander at the 2016 Oscars.

Taylor Swift wore the front one to the 2016 Met Gala.
The exhibit will be in New York City until early in the New Year, so I highly recommend it! It's free to attend, but registration is recommended.

*Here's the article from the magazine:

+Read more about the collaboration between Jeff Koons and the House of Louis Vuitton: