Education, Special Events, The Features

September 2013 at National Geographic Live (including a drawing!)

Courtesy National Geographic

Courtesy National Geographic

We’re now in our fourth year partnering with the National Geographic Museum and their Nat Geo Live series of programming. They’ve kicked it up a notch this year to help celebrate the organization’s 125 years. The wide-ranging lineup over the next few months includes theatrical performances, explorer talks, holiday concerts, film screenings, new “Inside the Geographic” tours and even a Scottish whisky tasting. As the Society continues its celebration, Nat Geo Live’s offerings reflect the Society’s history of connecting audiences to people and places that inspire us to care about the planet.

“We’re excited to have such a stellar and diverse roster of talent joining us in Washington this fall,” said Gregory McGruder, vice president for Public Programs at National Geographic. “National Geographic Live is proud to continue its tradition of transporting Washingtonians on virtual adventures across the globe, via the powerful words, images and performances presented at these influential events at our headquarters.”

The Museum has graciously continued our monthly drawings for a two readers to win a pair of tickets each to a program of their choice. To enter, just comment below with what two programs you’d most like to see; make sure you use your first name and a valid email address. On Wednesday, September 4 we’ll randomly draw two names from the comment list.

Here is what’s being offered this month.

Bell ($30+)
Sept 12 – 21 (Thurs/Fri 7:30 pm; Sat 2 and 7:30 pm)
This one-man play, written by Jim Lehrer, directed by Jeremy Skidmore and starring Rick Foucheux, reveals the extraordinary life of Alexander Graham Bell. Best known for his invention of the telephone, the play shows many other facets of this daring, disorganized genius. He was a deeply committed family man, teacher of the deaf, holder of 47 patents and National Geographic’s second president.

Bird Walk Adventure: Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens & National Arboretum ($150; Not Eligible for Drawing)
Sept 21, 9 am – 4 pm
Join National Geographic author, artist and resident bird expert Jonathan Alderfer on an urban birding adventure. After breakfast at the Society and a private viewing of the exhibition “A New Age of Exploration,” guests travel to Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens by coach to observe waterfowl and migratory birds. After a picnic lunch at the National Arboretum, they return to National Geographic for a signed copy of Alderfer’s most recent book, National Geographic Pocket Guide to the Birds of North America.

Discovering the Photo Archives Tour ($100; Not Eligible for Drawing)
Sept 26, 7 pm.
When someone needs an archival photograph at National Geographic, Bill Bonner is the man to call. He manages the Image Collection photo archive of more than 10 million images, including silver gelatin prints, original paintings and priceless private collections. Join Bonner for a tour of the National Geographic archives and a private viewing of the exhibition “A New Age of Exploration.”

The Best Job in the World ($12)
Sept 30, 7:30 pm
See the world premiere of the National Geographic Channel special National Geographic Photographers: The Best Job in the World and get an insider look at photography at National Geographic through the eyes of photographer Cory Richards as he travels to a remote mountain range in Antarctica to cover a climbing expedition for National Geographic magazine. The film features interviews with several of the Society’s most celebrated photographers. The screening will be followed by a discussion with photographer Mark Thiessen and executive producer Pamela Wells.

The Lens of Adventure ($24)
Oct 2, 7:30 pm
Award-winning National Geographic Channel filmmaker Bryan Smith shares gripping moments from his assignments documenting extreme sports in the world’s most challenging environments. He has repeatedly tested the limits while producing films like “The Man Who Could Fly,” about free climber and BASE jumper Dean Potter, and “Alaska Wing Men,” following Alaskan bush pilots on critical missions.

All events take place in Grosvenor Auditorium at National Geographic’s Washington headquarters. Tickets may be purchased online, via telephone at (202) 857-7700 or in person at the National Geographic ticket office between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Tickets must be purchased by Sept. 20 to ensure guaranteed Early Bird Pricing. Free parking is available in the National Geographic underground garage for programs that begin after 6 p.m.

The Features

King Me: An Interview with Laura Elkins

KING ME, Studies in the Uncivilized World, Installation View. Photo courtesy The Fridge.

Tucked back in an alley off of 8th Street in Eastern Market, The Fridge is an unimposing gallery space; and perhaps it’s that quiet intimacy that makes it such an interesting location for KING ME: Studies in the Uncivilized World – a show about authority and domination.

Showcasing works by DC artists, KING ME is at once political and quirky. It deals with power struggles over everything from gay marriage to consumerism and uses a variety of media, including thread, film, acrylic, and Tyvek.

Highlights include Seleshi Feseha’s obsessively-crafted thread collages, Stanley Squirewell’s striking use of mixed media, and numerous pieces by Laura Elkins, whose first lady self-portraits particularly stand out.

I sat down with Elkins to talk about some of her work on display at KING ME, and the inspiration behind it.

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The Features

We Fight We Die: How The Disenfranchised #Occupy

Jeff Kirkman III, Alexander Burton, Michael Rodriguez and Stanley Andrew Jackson III; Junesong Arts’ We Fight We Die. Photo by C. Stanley Photography.

Self-defined as representing the masses, it’s no surprise that a majority of Americans approve of the now-global “Occupy” movement—they understand it as the manifestation of desperation, a fight where compromise failed. Feeling powerless in the face of corporate greed and political corruption, hundreds of thousands are venting their anger in the most public, most drastic way possible: by taking to the streets.

But what about those who are neither among the wealthy one percent, nor among the “other ninety-nine”? That is, those truly at the bottom, for whom money-hungry CEOs and rotten Congressmen are perhaps the least of worries; for whom starvation, extreme cold, or gang violence are a much more real threat than losing healthcare or facing foreclosure. Where can they rally? How can they express themselves?

After watching Junesong Arts’ new stage production We Fight We Die, the answer may be that they, too, must occupy the streets…but with aerosol cans instead of pitchforks. Continue reading

The Features

DC Graff: The Case for Open Walls (Part II)

Continued from Part I…

Just a few blocks from the Capitol South metro stop, alongside children tackling the jungle gyms and dogs chasing after Frisbees, Hill staffers play pick-up games of football and soccer on the greens of Garfield Park. Until a few years ago you might have caught a pick-up basketball game, too, at the cement-paved court nestled under the Southeast Freeway. But not so true anymore, ever since a group of young skateboarders discovered the court and claimed it as a skate park, installing improvised rails and ramps, decorating their domain with sneaker chandeliers and aerosol tags. “We had never had graffiti before” says Bill Phillips, President of Friends of Garfield Park, a community group that maintains the historic Capitol Hill locale. “We’d call the city and they’d paint it over and that did nothing but create a canvas for brand new graffiti.”

A canvas perfect for the work of Albus Cavus

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Adams Morgan, The Features, We Love Arts

A True Adams Morgan Original

All photos by the author.

From a lofty brick throne, a voluptuous redhead rules over Adams Morgan, watching and goading all manner of revelry like a contemporary Doctor T.J. Eckleburg. Her territory spans the 18th Street strip; her image an iconic symbol of throbbing crowds, vodka cranberries, and Jumbo Slice pizza.

But just two blocks away from her Madam’s Organ palace stands evidence of a rich heritage that long precedes her reign. Near the corner of 18th and Adams Mill (and now overlooking a Zipcar parking lot), a community has danced, sung, painted and played in the faces of danger and greed for over thirty years, their history preserved in a three-story mural titled “A People without Murals is a Demuralized People.”

Originally painted in 1977 by Chilean brothers and artists “Caco” (Carlos) and Renato Salazar (the first of whom studied at the Corcoran and founded the now-defunct Centro de Arte organization), the work is touted as one of the oldest and largest of DC’s few remaining Latino murals, the last beacon of a wider Latino artistic movement in the city, according to Quique Aviles.

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Entertainment, Life in the Capital, The Features, We Love Arts

Do DC Millennials Care About Art?

Photo courtesy of
courtesy of ‘kimberlyfaye’

Last night a friend pulled up an article on her phone that she said I simply had to read. It was a piece on the Huffington Post by Michael Kaiser, president of the Kennedy Center, bemoaning the lack of exposure to the arts by Millennials. Among other things, he points out what he calls the “low culture IQ” of twentysomethings who may have achieved a great deal already in their chosen professional fields, but have little knowledge about or even interest in attending a theater performance or going to an art gallery. The bottom line for Kaiser is the fear of what happens when Millenials hit middle age and are in a financial position to help the arts – will they?

As a member of Generation X, I always find the anxiety of the Boomers over whether the Millennials will take care of them to be mildly humorous, considering those fears were also expressed about us, and every generation hits that fear eventually. We’re now finding ourselves being asked to join boards of directors of arts institutions and worthy non-profits. What happened to being called lazy slackers in our crazy clubkid days? After years of being asked to go in the servants’ entrance it’s always funny when they finally let you in the front door.

Joking aside, I definitely feel passionate about the future of the arts and of course I want to help in their support. When I’m out reviewing, to my untrained statistical eye it seems like DC audiences are relatively mixed in age. However, lately I’ve been hearing the same question over and over from different theater companies – how do we get young audiences in? By young, they mean Millennials, though at times they even stretch the age range up to the late thirties, which shows just how dire the lack of attendance might be.

So, I want to hear from you. Here in DC we seem to have an amazing array of opportunities to enjoy the arts. But is Kaiser right in his worry that Millennials have little to no exposure to the arts, and consequently won’t support them? How often do you attend theater performances, art exhibits, concerts – and what makes you choose the ones you do? Is it a question of interest, or of being able to afford it? Please sound off! I’d love to hear what you think of Kaiser’s views and whether, in DC at least, you see it as an accurate crisis.

Update: There’s a backlash growing in the arts community to Kaiser’s post. Read more reactions from 2AMt and Tipping Over Backwards.

Entertainment, Interviews, Media, People, Special Events, The Features, We Love Arts

DMVIFF: A Festival for Filmmakers

Tanecia Britt; photo courtesy DMVIFF

This weekend marks the start of the DMV International Film Festival, showcasing the talents of various artists in our area. (‘DMV’ stands for the District, Maryland, and Virginia, for those wondering.) By showcasing up and coming artists from around the world, the DMVIFF is a non-profit organization dedicated to expanding the area’s indie film market through the development and presentation of original stories for the screen. The DMVIFF hopes to educate about the business of film through workshops and panel discussions during the course of the festival. The festival – and organization – has been put together by Tanecia Britt, a DC native and a freelance director.

The festival, which runs Friday through Wednesday the 30th, was the brainchild of Britt after her return from London where she obtained her Masters in Film Video and New Screen Media. “After I got back and created my first feature, School Without Walls, I had trouble entering the film in various area film festivals,” she said. “School was selected in 3 international festivals, so I was confused as to why it wasn’t accepted here in the DC area. It was then I noticed a real lack of knowledge of film festivals, so I decided to do something about it.”

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Downtown, Special Events, The Features, We Love Arts

First Look: the Terra Cotta Warrior Invasion


Yesterday was the opening of “Terra Cotta Warriors: Guardians of China’s First Emperor” at the National Geographic Museum. A rare treat, the exhibit is on the final stop of a four-city US tour and closes on March 31, 2010.

Promotion for this visit has been going on since spring of this year. The hype is justifiable, however. This particular exhibit features the largest number of terra cotta figures to ever visit the US. Fifteen figures from the tomb of China’s First Emperor Qin Shihuangdi (221 B.C. – 210 B.C.) are in a magnificent display that spans two galleries ans 12,000 square feet.

I only had an hour this past Wednesday to visit – SmithGifford and NatGeo had a special invitation-only event for local bloggers and photographers. I was too busy shooting photographs to really absorb the whole experience, but I definitely will be heading back to soak it all in. It’s well worth the cost. And there’s a special offer for WeLoveDC readers as well – I’ll spill the beans after you browse some photos from that evening; you can decide for yourself if you want to go. Continue reading

Entertainment, Music, Special Events, The Features

Wynton Marsalis jazzes up the Kennedy Center

Photo courtesy of
‘Sketches of Gill Evans’
courtesy of ‘vitelone’

The affection was clearly mutual:  hundreds of arts advocates stood on their feet, applauding wildly for a full ten minutes. Jazz virtuoso Wynton Marsalis, flanked by a five-man band, stood staring back at them, tears streaming down his face. He has just spent an hour weaving the tale of music, art and American cultural identity, rendering all present effectively speechless. 

Last night at the Kennedy Center, Marsalis gave the Nancy Hanks Lecture, the evening component of the 22nd annual Arts Advocacy Day, organized by Americans for the Arts. The lecture was established to honor Nancy Hanks, former President of Americans for the Arts and chair of the National Endowment for the Arts, and has featured many of the bright lights of the arts, including Maya Angelou, Dr. Billy Taylor and Robert Redford

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Alexandria, Fun & Games, Special Events, We Love Arts

We Love Arts: The Art of Autumn

Photo courtesy of smleon
32_309 Fish.jpg, courtesy of smleon

Fall is right around the corner…and so is the sixth annual Alexandria Festival of the Arts.

The festival runs this year on Saturday, September 13 and Sunday, September 14. As usual, the festival will occupy the section of King Street between the Potomac and Washington Street, so casual drivers of the area should consider alternate routes through downtown. Continue reading