While in Washington D.C. this last week, I made the trek to visit the Renwick.
It's always first on my list. My timing isn't the greatest, though. Half the bottom floor is walled off in prep for the next exhibit which will be all wood craftsmanship. I'm sorry to miss that one.
The other half was a collection of works made by Japanese Americans who were sent to internment camps during the Second World War. The pieces were both beautiful and sad. Even in the desolation of their surroundings, the spirit of Art still whispered in their ears and things of beauty were made of the humblest of materials: Beautifully carved wood pins, tiny chests and implements, sewn garments and constructed utensils, inkstones and an amazing teapot chiseled out of common slate. A slide show of the exhibit can be found at http://americanart.si.edu/exhibitions and scroll down to The Art of Gaman: Arts and Crafts from the Japanese American Internment Camps, 1942-1946
I'm sure there are many families who own and treasure such items of that time and this was but a small representation. I came away feeling sad for them and shaking my head at the injustice.
The second floor of the Renwick had old friends on display plus a few new things from the permanent collection.
One of my favorites is Ghost Clock, an actual sized wood sculpture of a long case clock that appears to be covered by a white cloth, tied in the middle. On close inspection, the cloth, which is astoundingly real looking is not fabric at all, but wood. I wonder how many times the alarm goes off daily from people just having to touch it to be sure it is not a sheet. Wendell Castle is a master.