Wednesday, May 20, 2009

A Quick Trip to DC

A couple of weeks ago, we went to Washington D.C. A quick trip, only four days, more's the pity. Each year that we go, I have my list of museums to visit. I like to go alone, take my time, make notes to myself and to think.

The Corcoran has a small bistro on one side of the main lobby that offered wonderful lunches. I usually plan to arrive sometime during the lunchtime window. And ditto for the mezzanine service at the Museum for Women in the Arts.

I always go to the Renwick. There's always a good show there, to say nothing of their per
manent collection upstairs. (Which, this year, the upstairs display was very limited. The Catlins are all off the walls and the Grand Salon is undergoing a major renovation. Wonder what they have done with those two massive vases that always anchored
two sides of the massive room?)

The Corcoran Gallery usually has the student's show plus some large, multi-room display. I'll never forget the Topkapi one a few years ago.

I always make it to the Museum of Women in the Arts. Their shows are always good. This year, it was gowns and jewelry from the designer, Mary McFadden. I was a little unsure of--

1. Whether a clothes designer could pull off an art display equal to some I had already seen at the museum. and 2. If I would really care.

I was wowed. McFadden bases her designs on classic and ethnic references and her sense of color is unparalleled. The collection included some of her personal jewelry and pieces she has collected from all over the world as reference pieces. Her clothing is the height of textile skill. The clothes were cut and put together beautifully. I wished I could have seen how they were constructed on the inside. The decoration, usually in beading, was superb.

Unfortunately, the annual Art of the Book is no longer available on the library level of the museum. They have closed the great art reference library permanently. I'm sorry they had to do that. The exhibit was also one of the highlights of the museum.

Everywhere I visited, cutbacks in expenses were very evident. The lunches were pared down to minimalist offerings. The service staff was nearly gone. At the Corcoran, only one sole woman was receiving people, taking orders, cashiering the pre-pay and putting the food on a 6-foot table for pick-up. No more elegant lunches there. The Museum for Women in the Arts was the same thing--two servers and edited menus.

When I was at the Renwick, a great show about the architect brothers Green and Green of California was set up. Examples of joinery, hardware, floor plans, lamps, pieces of furniture, stained glass, etc. were displayed. A wonderful film of homes designed for their owners was being presented in one room. When it was over, I went to the museum shop to see if I could get a CD of it. It wasn't available. I asked if there was a catalog of the show. No, the volunteer said. Was there at least a poster? Nope.

All the shops in the museums were sparse. The Corcoran has divided the gift shop space in half and is selling off stock at discounted prices. The selection available is mostly print matter--books and postcards. The Renwick still has individual artist's pieces on display, but they have cut their stock radically. The same goes for W. in the A. They is discounting nearly everything.

It's sad to see the arts take such a hit.

No comments: