1:36 PM, Sep 15, 2014 • By JIM SWIFT
Years after the National Mall was torn up and blocked off to re-grow grass as part of the stimulus package, the bulldozers are back to clear a ten by six acre parcel, located adjacent to the reflection pool, between the Lincoln Memorial and the World War Two Memorial. The parcel of land will be used as a “canvas” for Cuban-born American artist Jorge Rodriguez-Gerada, who is using sand and dirt to create a “facescape” or face landscape on the park land.
Rodriguez-Gerada took pictures of 18-25 year old men on the mall this summer, and plans to blend different attributes from the photos into a composite. The artist tells CBS that the inspiration for “Out of Many, One” — a melting-pot themed landscape — came from his time as an immigrant child in New Jersey.
“We were exiled from Cuba, moved to New Jersey, and grew up with all my Italian, Polish, and Irish friends. That mix, that amazing part of the melting pot, really formed me,” he says.
According to D.C. television station WJLA, the project is “expected to take 2,000 tons of sand and 800 tons of soil and be on view during October.”
Rodriguez-Gerada told the Washington Post: “It kind of has a Zen garden feeling as people walk through it and think, ‘Am I by the eye?’ ‘Is this the nostril?’ … It’s a different way of trying to find where you are.”
The two best options to view the exhibit come at a high cost or by chance. The best view of the mall, of course, is granted to certain passengers flying in and out of Washington’s Reagan National Airport. There is one working observation point that reopened recently — the Washington Monument, which was closed for years to accommodate repairs to damage caused by an earthquake. The trip to the top is popular among tourists and residents alike, and competition for tickets can be stiff.
The Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery, which is responsible for commissioning the temporary art installation, says on its webpage that the installation “will not only be an interactive walk-through experience for visitors but will also be viewable from the newly reopened Washington Monument and from space.”
When asked whether the plot was re-seeded with funds under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act — as other swaths of the National Mall were — a spokesperson for the Park Service’s press department responded “I do not know” and referred our call to the permitting department.
Caroline Cunningham, president of the Trust for the National Mall, a non-profit that frequently partners with the Park Service on preserving the mall, told Roll Call’s Hannah Hess that “This particular piece of land needs to be re-seeded.” Hess reported, “At the end of October, the materials will be tilled back into the soil to leave the grounds in better condition than when the project began.”
According to the National Portrait Gallery’s website: “The work will come together in large part due to a group of in-kind donors, including Clark Construction, Chaney Enterprises, The Bulldog Group, Alvin Hatcher Group and Topcon, with consulting assistance from Terry Stancill."
8:34 AM, Sep 8, 2014 • By JERYL BIER
The "busiest land port of entry in the Western Hemisphere" is getting an upgrade, and according to the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA), about a half a million dollars worth of new artwork will be part of the package.
The loneliness of the long-distance art loverSep 8, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 48 • By JOSHUA GELERNTER
I live in Connecticut, and I don’t travel much outside of the Northeast corridor. But through a few strokes of luck, and some happy happenstance, I’ve been in Florence five times in the last seven years.
Detroit’s restructuring proposal.Apr 21, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 30 • By DAVID SKEEL
From the moment Detroit filed for bankruptcy last summer, comparisons to the 2009 Chrysler and General Motors bailouts have abounded. Most highlight the differences, noting that the federal government is unlikely to pump billions of dollars into Detroit. But although the differences are real, the restructuring plan that Detroit has recently proposed suggests that the city’s bankruptcy may have more in common with the car bailouts than anyone imagined. Unfortunately, it’s the abuses of the latter that could be replicated—and even extended—if Detroit’s plan is upheld in its current form.
Apr 21, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 30 • By THE SCRAPBOOK
When it became known last year that George W. Bush had taken up painting, The Scrapbook took note of the fact, commenting on a couple of random examples that they were “better than you would expect, show imagination, and are certainly evidence of Bush’s well-developed sense of humor. . . . The paintings—in their awkward simplicity, bright colors, and irregular perspective—strike The Scrapbook as delightful. We would like to see more.”
12:42 PM, Feb 24, 2014 • By JERYL BIER
The Art in Embassies program of the U.S. State Department just turned 50 last year, but its growth in the last decade has been particularly dramatic if the insured value of the artwork is any indication. Although Art in Embassies purchases original works, such as the $1 million sculpture for the new U.S. Embassy in London, much of the artwork on display at various State Department installations throughout the world is in fact borrowed. In 2002, the State Department maintained a $20 million policy for artwork. By 2010, it had grown to $65 million. This year, the agency is looking to renew its current level of coverage, informing interested providers that "[i]nsurance must cover all items in any location in a Department of State facility abroad up to a value of $200,000,000." Last year, the $200 million policy cost the government $86,932.
The president takes an unwarranted shot at art history.
12:22 PM, Jan 31, 2014 • By ETHAN EPSTEIN
President Obama traveled to Wisconsin yesterday and engaged in a tasteless bit of anti-intellectualism.
Émile Zola and the literary representation of art. Jan 20, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 18 • By EDWIN M. YODER JR.
If this painting isn’t iconic, the term should be banished from the vocabulary of art. Forget, for a moment, Mona Lisa’s smile and the Sistine Creator transmitting the spark of life to Adam. Set aside what was to come, including Picasso’s Les Demoiselles d’Avignon (1907). They, obviously, have their claims.
10:52 AM, Dec 3, 2013 • By JERYL BIER
At the end of September, the federal government's fiscal year was drawing to a close, the threat of a shut down was increasing, and the State Department was shopping for art. Four contracts were awarded in the last two weeks of September, including $1,000,000 for a granite sculpture by Irish-born artist Sean Scully to be installed at the new U.S. Embassy in London. Notice of the awards was posted Sunday afternoon of Thanksgiving weekend on the Federal Business Opportunities website.
10:09 AM, Jul 22, 2013 • By JERYL BIER
Washington D.C. is big on tradition, and one of those traditions involves official portraits of top government officials. The Defense Department just awarded a $31,200 contract (frame included) to Portraits, Inc. for an official portrait of former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta:
The work-in-progress of an American master. Jul 22, 2013, Vol. 18, No. 42 • By DANIEL ROSS GOODMAN
In some locales, wrote Albert Camus in The Plague, beautiful days are only experienced in the winter. But this is easily belied by the magnificent Edward Hopper exhibition on display at the Whitney Museum this summer. Beyond a showcase of artistic beauty, it is a much-deserved homage to an American master who is occasionally overshadowed by New York museums’ infatuation with European painters. That Hopper was born and bred in New York merely compounds this ironic injustice.
The disdain is largely one-sided.
Jul 1, 2013, Vol. 18, No. 40 • By STEPHEN MILLER
John Kinsella, a highly regarded Australian poet who teaches at Cambridge, was quoted not long ago in the Times Literary Supplement as saying that he has “not sold his soul to market fetishization.” Kinsella means that he doesn’t want even to think about making a profit from his writing. But Kinsella is also doing what comes naturally for most poets and many literary essayists: He is expressing a disdain for the commercial world. To think about selling books is tantamount to worshipping Mammon.
4:02 PM, May 25, 2013 • By GEOFFREY NORMAN
Detroit is so close to insolvency that there is talk in the city of selling off some of the Detroit Institute of the Arts' treasures, including works by Henri Matisse and Vincent van Gogh.
The gimlet eye of Saul Steinberg.Mar 11, 2013, Vol. 18, No. 25 • By JOSEPH EPSTEIN
At a celebration at UCLA of the career of Eugen Weber, the Romanian-born historian of France, I made the mistake of describing Eugen as an exile. In his response to the tributes paid him, Eugen corrected me, remarking that he had never considered himself an exile. “From the moment I attained consciousness,” he said, “I wanted to leave Romania. The place is a dump.”