March 2011: SAAM and NMAI

courtesy Smithsonian American Art Museum

As spring unfolds in DC and the cherry blossoms begin to bloom, the crowds will come to the Tidal Basin area. So if you’re looking for something else to do in town to avoid the tourista hordes, check out some of the great programs at the Smithsonian’s American Art Museum and the National Museum of the American Indian.

This month at SAAM:

Women Building History: Public Art at the 1893 Columbian Exposition
March 3, 7 p.m.
Wanda Corn describes the neoclassical Woman’s Building at the 1893 Exposition in Chicago—which celebrated modern woman’s progress in education, the arts, and science at the end of the nineteenth century—and how the building’s content was used to promote the expansion of opportunities for women. A book signing follows.

Alexander Calder, Nenuphar; photo courtesy Smithsonian American Art Museum

Americans in Paris: American Artists Abroad
March 5, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Painters as varied as Gérôme, Bouguereau, and Monet influenced a generation of American painters, from Whistler to Cassatt to Sargent, to think and paint outside the usual frames of reference. Bonita Billman leads a virtual tour of Paris when it was the center of the art world and training ground for American artists. Register at or (202) 633-3030; General Admission $120.

To Make a World Exhibition Talk with Alexander Nemerov
March 11, 7 p.m.
Alexander Nemerov, exhibition curator of “To Make a World: George Ault and 1940s America” and Yale University’s Vincent Scully Professor of the History of Art, discusses what makes George Ault’s paintings special, both as revelations of their own moment and insights into our time. A book signing follows.

Steinway Series, Robert Jordan
March 13, 3 p.m.
Robert Jordan, renowned pianist and teacher saluted by The New York Times for his “pristine clarity and logic” as well as his “graceful songlike spontaneity,” performs works by Bach, Scarlatti, Chopin, Debussy, and Liszt.

Rockman Film Series: “Silent Running”
March 31, 6:30 p.m.
The second of three classic but rarely screened sci-fi films shown in conjunction with “Alexis Rockman: A Fable for Tomorrow,” “Silent Running” tells the story of a scientist trapped on Saturn with two robots as his only companions after a mission to protect the last Earthly botanical specimens goes awry.

Wôpanâak linguist Jessie "Little Doe" Baird (left) with student; photo courtesy NMAI

And at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian:

Quilting Demonstration with Suzanne Traditional Woman
March 19, 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. & 2 p.m. – 4 p.m.
Join master quilter Suzanne Traditional Woman (Diné), as she embellishes her latest quilt, based on Plains-style ledger art. A quilter since the age of nine, Traditional Woman specializes in Star Quilts and custom-art pieces.

Special Screening and Q&A for the D.C. Environmental Film Festival: As Nutayunean/We Still Live Here
March 25, 8:30 p.m. [The showing will be at the Carnegie Institute of Washington.]
A century after the last fluent Wopanaak speaker died, the communities of Mashpee, Aquinnah, and Assonet in southern Massachusetts started the “Wampanoag Language Reclamation Project” under the guidance of Jessie “Little Doe” Baird. Baird’s efforts produced the first Native Wopanaak speakers in more than 150 years and earned her a “Genius Grant” from the MacArthur Foundation. The screening, held at the Carnegie Institute of Washington (1530 P Street, NW) will be followed by a Q&A with director Anne Makepeace and documentary subject, Wôpanâak linguist Jess Little Doe Baird (Wampanoag). Cuisine from Mitsitam Cafe will be available for purchase from 5–6:30 p.m. This event is free, with no reservations required but will be seating on a first-come, first-served basis.

Special Screening and Q&A for the D.C. Environmental Film Festival: Inuit Knowledge and Climate Change
March 27, 2 p.m.
Nunavut-based director Zacharias Kunuk (Atanarjuat The Fast Runner) and researcher and filmmaker Dr. Ian Mauro (Seeds of Change) have teamed up with Inuit communities to document their knowledge and experience regarding climate change. This new documentary, the world’s first Inuktitut language film on the topic, takes the viewer “on the land” with elders and hunters to explore the social and ecological impacts of a warming Arctic. This unforgettable film helps us to appreciate Inuit culture and expertise regarding environmental change and indigenous ways of adapting to it. The screening will be followed by a Q&A with Ian Mauro and Zach Kunuk (Inuit), moderated by a member of the Smithsonian’s Arctic Studies team.

The Smithsonian American Art Museum is located at 8th and F Street, NW in Penn Quarter, near the Gallery Place/Chinatown Metro stop on the Red, Yellow, and Green lines. The National Museum of the American Indian is located at Fourth Street and Independence Avenue, SW roughly three blocks from L’Enfant Plaza Metro stop on the Blue, Yellow, Green, and Orange lines.

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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