Dorothy and Karlee met in fourth grade and had only that one year together at the same school. Half way through that year, though, I took the two girls downtown and we went ice skating at the National Gallery of Art Ice Rink and then went to the gallery itself. I took the picture to the right, which is Four Dancers, by Edgar Degas, and modified it a little, replacing two of Degas’ dancers with two of my favorites. That was December 27, 2005. It seems like yesterday.
The girls have grown up in the ten years since then and despite being at different schools starting the next year and being in different states a few years later, we have managed to keep in touch and (I’m happy to say) Dorothy and Karlee remain very good friends. This is in part through two annual trips that have become quite a tradition. Starting that next summer, Karlee came with us to the beach. She’s been with us at the beach every year we’ve gone (we didn’t go in 2007 or 2009) until this year, when she couldn’t make it. Dorothy didn’t come this year, either, so it might have been a bit awkward. We were only there two nights, in any case, coming home early.
The other trip was our annual trip downtown. We didn’t make it every year and Karlee wasn’t with us every year we did go (and once we went to Baltimore, instead of D.C.). Actually, after that first trip in 2005, Karlee didn’t go downtown with us again until 2012. However, she has gone with us every year since then and I was so happy when we asked her if she was up for it this year and she seemed excited to go. In general we drive down and park in what seems an outrageously expensive parking garage. Then we walk. Sometimes we walk a lot.
In 2012 we went to the Natural History Museum, the American History Museum, and finally Union Station. You can see some pictures from that in the post titled Union Station, Friday, December 28, 2012.
In 2013 we walked to the Freer Gallery and were particularly impressed with the Peacock Room. Also, they had the Washington Gospels on exhibit. Also known as Codex Washingtonianus, it is the third-oldest Greek parchment manuscript of the Gospels in the world (late 4th–early 5th century). From there we went to the Pension Building (a.k.a. the National Building Museum) and the American Art Museum and the National Portrait Gallery (which share a building just south of the Verizon Center). There are two picture from that trip in the post titled Freer Gallery and Pension Building, Monday, December 30, 2013.
Finally, last year, we went to the National Archives and saw the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights, as well as a 1297 copy of Magna Carta, which was about to begin celebrating its 800th anniversary. We also went to the National Gallery of Art and then walked around the U.S. Capitol building to the Library of Congress where, in addition to the magnificent Main Reading Room, we saw another copy of Magna Carta, this time one of the four originals from 1215. Two pictures from that trip are in two separate posts, titled Dorothy and Karlee At The Capitol, Wednesday, December 31, 2014 and Main Reading Room, Library of Congress, Wednesday, December 31, 2014.
This year, we went downtown without any real plan as to what we would see. As I took a wrong turn and went under the mall, ending up near the Maine Street Fish Market, we toyed with the idea of driving to Richmond instead, but we were already in D.C. so we stayed. We parked in a garage in the Evening Sun building ($21) and walked to the White House, where the first of this year’s pictures was taken. Actually, we started on the south front and then walked around the Pennsylvania Avenue, where this pictures was taken.
We backtracked a little on Pennsylvania Avenue to the Renwick Gallery (at 17th and Pennsylvania) where we saw a number of interesting exhibits, some of which are shown in my pictures here. First was Shindig by Patrick Dougherty, who weaves “enormous pods that offer discovery and sanctuary to visitors“ with “willow osiers and saplings.” It was a difficult exhibit to photograph for a number of reasons, including the low light levels, the crowds of people, and of course the shear size of the exhibit. The two pictures here give you some idea. In the second one, you can see that I had to time my photograph between people walking past (and almost made it!).
Following that, in the next room, was a piece called Plexus A1 by Gabriel Dawe. It was a rainbow of color made with thread and light and was quite beautiful. Perhaps not as stunning as a real rainbow but less fleeting and still quite lovely.
After that there was an exhibit made of index cards stacked into giant pillars like the rock formations found in Bryce National Park (only without the color). I didn’t include a photo of that, but I found it quite compelling (if a little odd). I particularly liked the monochrome aspect of it combined with splashes of color from the people walking in an around the piers. After that we went upstairs to a large room housing 1.8 by Janet Echelman. It was a large net suspended from the ceiling and colored by lights that cycled slowly through a variety of colors. I particularly enjoyed watching people watching the colors change, especially those lying on the floor with their camera phones aimed up at the netting.
From there was Middle Fork (Cascades) by John Grade, a large “tree” lying on its side and suspended from the ceiling by wires. It was hollow and interesting and kind of odd but I liked it well enough. Getting into that room took a little bit of waiting but it was worth it for the room that came after. Well, there was a map of the eastern seaboard with the water represented by pale blue-green marbles, fastened to the floor and walls. That was alright, I guess, but it didn’t really excite me.
There was also a sort of maze-like thing made from black leather strips. Eh.
But I really enjoyed In the Midnight Garden by Jennifer Angus. It was a room with bright pink walls covered with designs made from a wide variety of insects. I really liked that room. The color, the patterns on the wall, the fact that they were bugs and sometime huge bugs, was really nice. Worth the price of admission by itself (of course the exhibit was free!).
From the Renwick we walked to the American Art Museum and the National Portrait Gallery and then to the National Gallery of Art. The final picture for today was taken in the Portrait Gallery and is of a very stern Alexander Graham Bell with Dorothy and Karlee trying to imitate his “dad face.”
All in all, we had a great time. We were tired but satisfied with our outing and look forward to doing it again next year (God willing).