October’s Best at SAAM & NMAI

Derek A. Bencomo, Hana Valley, First View from the Peaks and Valleys Series, 1997, milowood, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Fleur and Charles Bresler in honor of Kenneth R. Trapp, curator-in-charge of the Renwick Gallery (1995--2003); photo courtesy Smithsonian American Art Museum

Some great stuff’s going on this month at the Smithsonian’s American Art Museum (SAAM) and the National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI). While there’s a ton of events and exhibits happening at both locations, I’ve highlighted some of the more interesting things you may want to check out. Got a free afternoon or in need of some weekend inspiration this month? Well, there’s something here for everyone.

John Gossage, Untitled, from The Pond, 1985, Gelatin silver print, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of anonymous donors, 2007.40.2; courtesy Smithsonian American Art Museum

The following activities and events are the Smithsonian American Art Museum, located at 8th and F Streets NW in Penn Quarter. (All activities are free.)

In the Gallery with the Collector (Oct 6, Noon)
Collector Fleur Bresler leads a gallery talk about ”A Revolution in Wood,” sharing the stories and anecdotes she collected along with the artworks in the exhibition. This program takes place at the Renwick Gallery, located on Pennsylvania Avenue at 17th Street, NW.

Art à la Cart – Rockwell Activity Cart (Oct 10, Noon – 3pm)
Ever wanted to recreate your favorite Rockwell painting? Play the role of director and create a Rockwell-inspired scene using props and tools from the museum’s Rockwell activity cart, then upload photos to flickr.com/groups/normanrockwell. (Follow @beingrockwell on twitter for activity cart updates throughout the month.)

Steinway Series – National Chamber Ensemble (Oct 10, 3pm)
In celebration of the bicentennial of Robert Schumann’s birth, the National Chamber Ensemble performs his passionate “Sonata in A Minor” for violin and piano, virtuoso music for violin and guitar by Paganini and Piazzola, and Franck’s “Sonata in A Major.”

Conversation with John Gossage (Oct 14, 7pm)
Photographer John Gossage finds moments of grace and elegance in even the most mundane places. Join the artist and curator of photography Toby Jurovics for a conversation about “The Pond” and its role in the history of American landscape photography.

Art and Photography Critic Mark Feeney (Oct 27, 7pm)
Mark Feeney, Boston Globe arts and photography critic and winner of the 2008 Pulitzer Prize for criticism, presents “Four Photographers on Three Wheels: William Eggleston’s ‘Tricycle’ and Before.” Reception follows. The lecture will also be webcast live at americanart.si.edu. Free tickets required and available beginning at 6:30 p.m. in the museum’s G Street Lobby.

Ghosts of a Chance and Return of the Spirits (Oct 31, 2:30 – 6pm)
Decipher codes, follow treasure maps, send text messages, and uncover hidden objects to save the museum from a haunting! Halloween costumes are encouraged. Located on the 3rd floor of the Luce Foundation Center; please register before 4pm.

Alma Boliviana, traditional dances of the Andes; photo courtesy NMAI

The following activities and events are at the National Museum of the American Indian, located at the eastern tip of the National Mall at 4th and Independence Avenue SW. (All activities are free.)

Several films are playing in the museum’s Rasmuson Theater from Oct 16 through Oct 31, including Cultures of Resistance: Battle for the Xingu; Iauaretê: Waterfall of the Jaguars; and Jim Thorpe, the World’s Greatest Athlete. (See NMAI’s website for descriptions and times.)

Native Dance: Folk Traditions of Bolivia (Oct 16, Noon – 4pm)
Watch popular folk dances from Bolivia that are often danced for Carnival, including caporales and the diablada.  Fraternidad Folklórica Cultural Caporales Universitarios San Simón, from Cochabamba, Bolivia will be joined by local dancers and by singer Ñeca Rodriguez. There will be a small exhibition of Bolivian art during the day, featuring the work of Eusebio Chocque Quispe, Mamani Mamani, and Taller de Artesanias Ñawpa Wassi.

Days of the Dead/Dias de los Muertos (Oct 30 & 31; 10:30am – 4:30pm)
The museum’s annual Dia de los Muertos program celebrates life through food demonstrations by the museum’s Mitsitam Cafe’s Executive Chef Richard Hetzler and various presentations, including “La Danza de los Tecuanes,” papel picado with Tlisza Jaurique (Mexica/Yaqui/Basque/Xicana), and kite demonstrations by Evelyn Orantes (Guatemalan Maya). Hands-on activities include painting your own calavera and making papel picado. 

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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