August at Smithsonian American Art Museum

American Craft Masterpieces – Kim Schmahmann, Bureau of Bureaucracy, 1993-1999, courtesy Smithsonian American Art Museum

August promises to be chock full of events at many museums around town as the summer heat continues to build. Check out what’s going on down at the Smithsonian American Art Museum (SAAM) during the dog days of August; all programs are free and open to the public unless otherwise noted. The SAAM is located over in Penn Quarter at 8th and F Streets, NW.

Conservation Clinic (Aug 4; by appointment only)
Questions about the condition of a painting, frame, drawing, print, or sculpture? American Art conservators are available by appointment for consultation about the preservation of privately-owned art. To request an appointment or to learn more, email and specify CLINIC in the subject line.

Book Talk & Signing: “Norman Rockwell: Behind the Camera” (Aug 5, 6:30pm)
Many of Rockwell’s most memorable characters were friends and neighbors who served as amateur models. Author Ron Schick discusses how Rockwell acted as director — carefully orchestrating models, selecting props, and choosing locations for the photographs that served as the basis of his iconic images. Book signing follows. (This is a part of the SAAM’s comprehensive Rockwell & the Movies exhibition.)

Salomé – Silent Orchestra, photo © Bruce Guthrie; courtesy Smithsonian American Art Museum

Book Talk: “Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet” (Aug 7, 2pm)
New York Times bestselling author Jamie Ford discusses his debut novel and 2010 Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature winner, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, the story of a young man’s coming of age during World War II. Book signing follows. (This program takes place at the museum’s Renwick Gallery, located on Pennsylvania Avenue at 17th Street, NW.)

Salomé with Silent Orchestra (Aug 7, 3 pm)
The Smithsonian American Art Museum and National Portrait Gallery present the classic film Salomé (1923, 100 min) with a score performed live by Silent Orchestra. Regarded as one of America’s first art films, Salomé is adapted from an Oscar Wilde play that retells the saga of King Herod and his execution of John the Baptist to please his stepdaughter Salomé.

Steinway Series (Aug 8, 3pm)
Susan Goldenberg, violinist with the Kansas City Symphony, and William Goldenberg, distinguished professor of piano at Northern Illinois University, present an eclectic program including works by Frank Bridge, Samuel Barber, Claude Debussy, and Ludwig van Beethoven.

Film: “State of the Union” (Aug 12, 6:30pm)
The harsh realities of politics affect the marriage of Grant Matthews (Spencer Tracy) and his wife Mary (Katherine Hepburn) when the idealistic Grant is nominated to run for president. No tickets necessary; doors open at 6 p.m.

Players visit with guests at Nationals Baseball Family Day, courtesy Smithsonian American Art Museum

Nationals Baseball Family Day (Aug 14, 11:30 am – 2pm)
The Washington Nationals are coming to American Art and National Portrait Gallery for the fourth annual Baseball Family Day featuring storytelling, crafts, and games. Come dressed in your favorite Nats’ gear for photo-ops with the players.

Art à la Cart (Aug 15, 1-4 pm)
Travel throughout the galleries to find interactive carts where kids can handle brushes, palettes, bison hide, bottle caps, and quilt squares. Ages 7-12. Pick up your Art à la Cart map and passport at information desks located in the F Street and G Street lobbies.

American Craft Masterpieces – Bureau of Bureaucracy (Aug 18, Noon)
A new series of gallery talks highlights works from the permanent collection. Curator Nicholas Bell and exhibits specialist James Baxter discuss Kim Schmahmann’s Bureau of Bureaucracy. (This program takes place at the Renwick Gallery.)

Take Five! – Robert Indiana, The Figure Five, 1963, courtesy Smithsonian American Art Museum

Take 5! with The Brad Linde Ensemble (Aug 19, 5pm)
Brad Linde and the nine-piece group Sax of a Kind close out the centennial year of the great tenor saxophonist Lester Young (1909-1959) with a tribute to Young’s contribution to the sound of jazz. No tickets required; seating available in Kogod Courtyard on a first-come, first-served basis.

Film: “Cats of Mirikitani” (Aug 29, 2pm)
Following the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in New York City, filmmaker Linda Hattendorf befriended Jimmy Mirikitani, who survived internment at the Tule Lake camp during World War II. In this documentary, the two unexpected friends embark on a journey to confront Jimmy’s painful past. A question-and-answer session with Hattendorf and co-producer Masa Yoshikawa follows this screening. (This program takes place at the Renwick Gallery.)

Having lived in the DC area for ten years, Ben still loves to wander the city with his wife, shooting lots of photos and exploring all the latest exhibits and galleries. A certified hockey fanatic, he spends some time debating the Washington Capitals club with friends – but everyone knows of his three decade love affair with the Pittsburgh Penguins.

A professional writer, gamer, photographer, and Lego enthusiast, Ben remains captivated by DC and doesn’t plan on leaving any time soon.

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