WONDER at the Renwick Gallery

Last week I got to take a quick overnight up in DC, and went to see a few art exhibits. The first, and my reason for going was “Irving Penn: Beyond Beauty” at the Smithsonian American Arts Musuem. It was amazing, and totally worth the trip. The exhibit consisted of some of his well known work with Vogue, as well as portraits, still lifes, and travel photography. There were two things that really struck me about his work. The first is the amazing texture visible in many of his photos. The second was how his portraits really seemed to show the essence of a person. My favorite was a series of Miles Davis, which showed his hands playing a series of notes. It made me think about how with a relatively limited number of notes, Davis was able to create such couple music. Another favorite was actually a lighting test shot, that made me remember how time consuming photography was before digital. Hopefully that thought will stay with me the next time I’m too lazy to download and edit my photos.

The next exhibit, WONDER, was a collection of site specific installations at the Renwick Gallery. I have to admit in the past I’ve considered the Renwick somewhat boring, but while I was researching the Penn exhibit I came across this one and thought it was worth checking out. It was amazing! The best part is that it was very interactive, and photography is encouraged. By giving each of the nine arts their own space, it allowed for complete immersion in the work. It was not too crowded, but definitely more people than I’ve ever seen in an art museum on a weekday afternoon, and a younger crowd as well. My favorite was Patrick Dougherty; I’ve seen an installation of his before, but didn’t have the chance to get close up like here, where visitors were encouraged to walk though his stick work structures. I don’t think I saw anyone walk though it without a giant smile on their face.

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Top Row: Patrick Dougherty

Middle Row: Janet Echelman, Jennifer Angus

Bottom Row: John Grade, Tara Donavan

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