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Mini trip to DC and NGA

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May 24th, 2011, 01:16 PM
  #1
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Mini trip to DC and NGA

Took another jaunt to DC on a recent Saturday morning.

Goal was to go to National Gallery of Art (NGA) east wing to see the Gauguin and Canaletto exhibits. Believe they are leaving in early June so time is running out. Hub and I normally visited DC on Sundays and tried to get there as early as possible.

This is my second Saturday visit and the city has a different "vibe" from other days. Sunday is the most quiet-especially if you get there early. NGA doesn't open until 11 on Saturday so I took my time getting there.

The street behind the Gallery (Pennsylvania Ave.) was blocked off for a couple of streets for a street fair, so my circling around for parking places was slightly more difficult. It was compounded by the avoidance of flocks of tourists. On 6th St. NW I found a parking garage for a flat $10 rate and took it because it was one block north of the front door of the NGA's west wing rotunda. Much of the street parking I saw was for 2 hours only.

I slowly strolled along the street fair (does anyone know the occasion?) and took a shot of a young man band. They looked to be 12 year olds but were probably older and they played rock pretty well. Further along there were many food vendors of international stuff. Passed a group of kung fu students moving to rock music. A very odd group of 3 belly dancers gyrated in slo mo to, again, rock and roll. Also got a photo of a gentleman in a booth which held him and one of those big dragons one sees in the Chinese New Year parade.

There were no lines at the interesting food stalls but long one at the hog dog and hamburger stand. Hmmm. It was at this point that I reached NGA's east wing. Took myself to the elevator (wheezing continues) and first to Gauguin. In some ways, his story reminds me of Van Gogh's. A man who gets a call to do art so he does-and to the detriment and neglect of everything and everyone else in his life. In Gauguin's case, that included a wife and 4 or 5 kids.

But I digress. His works were numerous and interesting. I much preferred his still lifes to his people. As a photographer, I'm afraid I have the heart of an illustrator and not an expressionist so I wasn't hugely impressed. It is said that his approach opened the door to modern art after the Impressionist movement.

On to Canaletto and his competitors. These were huge and detailed "View Pictures" of a Venice in the 16-1700's. The painters ("Vedutisti") most likely used a camera obscura to capture the amazing detail of these works. The exhibit included a large camera obscura and also 3 more small ones capturing scenes from the NGA. It was very interesting. If you've ever used an overhead projector to project an image on a wall for tracing, you get the idea. The details in these works are amazing. What they lack in originality is more than made up for by the artists' "sticktoitiveness". I bought a $10 soft back book about Canaletto and a $20 1000-piece picture puzzle of the Doge's Palace.

NGA has about 3 places for shopping FYI! East Wing has a sit down resto (take elevator to it), then the underground passage to the West Wing passes a cafeteria styled area with a separate section for coffee and sweets. West Wing has a nice (albeit expensive) cafe under the dome. Am not certain about another place to eat in West Wing.

I needed to go the Annapolis so crossed my fingers and went to New York Avenue to get out of town. There is 2-year road construction on a bridge at around 1st St. It was fine leaving town as it was early afternoon, but there was a huge backup coming into DC. Avoid it at rush hour if you can. BTW, if you need to get to MD. Rte. 50, go to L Street. NW and it will turn into New York Ave. Don't get on New York Ave. at 11 St. It will become Massachusetts. DC can be tricky that way. For the duration of the bridge work, look at a map for the South Dakota Avenue way to MD Rte. 50 if you are going toward Annapolis.

The entire area where NGA, Capitol, Smithsonians, etc. are located is pretty huge. Make sure you wear good walking shoes. Whether you park in a garage, take metro or park on the street, you're going to walk!

Happy to answer any questions.
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May 24th, 2011, 01:22 PM
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I took a Friday off in April and did a Capitol tour and went to the same two exhibits at the National Gallery of Art. I really liked them. I got a puzzle several years ago of a Canaletto painting but still haven't put it together.

I am glad you had a nice trip
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May 24th, 2011, 01:26 PM
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Thanks for your wonderful description of the exhibitions, TDudette!
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May 24th, 2011, 03:41 PM
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I love the National Gallery so anytime we're in DC I try to go. I'll have to remember that parking garage. Thanks for the info. I can usually find a spot on C St near the Dept of Labor but I can't remember if it's metered on Saturdays.
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May 25th, 2011, 10:09 AM
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Thanks to all for your comments.


I forgot to mention that there are small elevators (they are not easy to spot) by the Canaletto and the Gauguin's as these exhibits are on two levels. The one I took to go down landed me in a room of Calder mobiles and stabiles (whose lazy turns made very cool shadows). Then one passes a room of Matisse's and then some abstracts that make me so uneasy I don't read the artist's names. I stopped at the small auditorium and saw the film about Gauguin and it was interesting. There was a Canaletto film on the second floor of that exhibit.

On the way to the gift shop is an area of hands in different poses-nifty.
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