I promise, once you’re done reading this article, you’re going to want to dust off your Atari 2600, or NES, or PS1, or whatever was your first video game system, and play all the games you grew up with. That was my reaction, and I have the couple of hours I lost playing The Legend of Zelda last Saturday to prove it.
The Smithsonian American Art Museum opened their new exhibit, the Art of Video Games, with a big festival this past weekend. If you missed it, don’t worry; the real festival, the exhibit itself, is far from over, as it is going to be running until September 30th. Employing some impressive, and modern, multi-media tools, the museum has put together a truly engaging art exhibit of some very influencial, but generally overlooked, modern art. Namely, video games. Continue reading →
Looking for some great things to do over the summer while the tourists flood in? There are several great programs (free!) being hosted by the Smithsonian American Art Museum (SAAM) in Penn Quarter this month. Take some time to check them out!
Opening Night of the IV BrazilDocs Documentary Film Week: Santiago
June 9, 7 p.m.
The Smithsonian American Art Museum and National Portrait Gallery host the opening-night film, “Santiago,” of the IV BrazilDocs Documentary Film Week, sponsored by the Cultural Section of the Brazilian Embassy in Washington, DC. In 1992, João Moreira Salles, one of Brazil’s foremost documentary filmmakers, began shooting a film about Santiago, the butler in his childhood home, who had lived a rich and vivid life. Through the film’s personal narrative, Salles addresses the elements of memory and identity that are crucial to the documentary genre.
The House I Live In
June 11, 4 p.m.
A theatrical presentation by Catherine Ladnier chronicles life in America from New Year’s Eve in 1939 through the end of World War II. Music underscores dramatic readings of letters written by servicemen and their loved ones, which recount the lingering effects of the Great Depression, America’s involvement in World War II, life on the home front, the bravery of soldiers, and gratitude for peace. In conjunction with “To Make a World: George Ault and 1940s America.”
The Smithsonian American Art Museum invited the public to help select the video games that will be included in its upcoming exhibition “The Art of Video Games,” which opens in Washington, D.C., March 16, 2012. The exhibition is one of the first to explore the 40-year evolution of video games as an artistic medium, with a focus on striking visual effects and the creative use of new technologies.
In addition to these 80 games, the exhibition will feature five games for visitors to play for a few minutes, to gain some feel for the interactivity—Pac-Man, Super Mario Brothers, The Secret of Monkey Island, Myst, and World of Warcraft.
Tired of being cooped up in the house as winter rolls along? Now’s the best time to visit several of the area museums we’re fortunate to have here in DC. The Smithsonian American Art Museum has some great events lined up for winter visitors. All events are at the SAAM, located in Penn Quarter adjacent to the National Portrait Gallery.
Rockman Film Series: Silent Running
Feb. 3, 6 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. Starring Bruce Dern, directed by Douglas Trumbull.
Body and Soul with the Thad Wilson Orchestra
Feb. 5, 3 p.m.
Oscar Micheaux’s 1925 silent film, accompanied live by the Thad Wilson Orchestra. Body and Soul features the legendary Paul Robeson in his screen debut, playing an escaped prisoner pretending to be a minister in a small Georgia Town. Limited seating available; free tickets are required and available in the museum’s G Street Lobby beginning at 2:30 p.m. Presented in collaboration with the National Portrait Gallery.
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.)
Native Dance: “Native Pride Dancers” Nov. 5, 10:30 a.m. and noon (Discovery Theater); Nov. 6, 12:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. (Rasmuson Theater)
Authentic regalia.… rhythmic drumming… skilled footwork… experience the excitement of a Native American powwow! World Champion Fancy Dancer Larry Yazzie of the Meskwaki Nation, and the Native Pride Dancers perform music and movement celebrated by their American Indian cultures. Reservations are required for Friday’s performances. Call Discovery Theater to reserve seating for groups and individuals: 202-633-8700 or visit http://discoverytheater.org. Saturday’s performances are open to the public, first come, first seated.
Family Celebration Harvest Festival Nov. 6-7, 10:30 am – 4:30 pm
The whole family is invited to kick off the Smithsonian’s celebration of American Indian Heritage Month with a weekend-long festival exploring how Native communities throughout the Americas celebrate the harvest. It includes harvest-related dance and theater performances, cooking demonstrations, and hands-on activities.
So now that the tourists are (mostly) gone, time to get out and hit our various museums and their great programs and exhibitions! There’s a lot going on this month at the Smithsonian American Art Museum (SAAM) and we’re going to run down the list for you. Programs are free and open to the public unless otherwise indicated; the SAAM is located in Penn Quarter at 8th and G Streets, NW. Note that some programs are at the Renwick Gallery at 17th and Pennsylvania and are noted accordingly.
Intersections/Intersecciones (Sept. 10, 6:30 p.m.)
Artists Kathy Vargas, María Martínez-Cañas, and Martina López discuss the intersection of Latino culture and gender identity in their work. Moderated by Muriel Hasbun, associate professor of fine art photography at the Corcoran College of Art + Design. No tickets required; seating available in McEvoy Auditorium on a first-come, first-served basis.
Art à la Cart (Sept. 12, Noon – 3 p.m.)
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 – 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 DWRCLunder@si.edu 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.)
Want to get your stuff on display at the Smithsonian? Okay, without having to become all Andy-Warhol-famous? Compete for the Chance instead. This week’s challenge (one of six, I suspect) is called “The Con Artist’s Replica” and exhorts some creativity from the players:
Create a replica of something you desire but know you cannot have.
An ordinary con man might substitute such a replica for its model, but your replica will be more real than the original object of desire; we invite you to be a con artist.
Very slick. Get creative, win a cool spot in a curated exhibit!