Friday, August 7, 2009

Brushes with Fame and History

I went to the National Gallery of Art yesterday. It wasn't a planned visit-- Josh and I wanted to try the hamburgers at Top Chef contestant Spike Mendelsohn's place, Good Stuff, on Capitol Hill, because we'd seen him on TV the night before. After a pretty good lunch, (during which we watched the Senate vote to confirm Sonia Sotomayor as the next Supreme Court Justice on one of the several flat screens in the upstairs dining area, AND I spotted my neighbor, who works for the Senate, standing right next to Al Franken) we headed to the National Mall, agreeing that we would go to the museum closest to any parking space we found. As luck would have it, we found a space right away outside the East Building, so in we went.

We liked all the Calders, especially the wire sculpture of the head, and there was lively discussion about Presidency I–V Photographs by Thomas Demand as well as Barnett Newman's Stations of the Cross. It was after we took the moving sidewalk through Leo Villareal's light sculpture and past the fountain cascade that we found our way to the exhibition called The Art of Power: Royal Armor and Portraits from Imperial Spain.

Honestly? It was awesome, in that European museum way. (I only wish I'd gotten the audiotour, but maybe next time.) There was all sorts of armor, and historical information about the Spanish dudes who owned it, and old paintings of them wearing it. Seeing the actual armor in front of me that was also in that 350-year-old painting on the wall was really cool-- it made such a concrete connection to the past for me. The guy was dead, but his armor was right there. Wild. (I also appreciated the Spanish history refresher... I hadn't thought of Phillipe Guapo and Juana la Loca in the over twenty years since we visited their tomb in Granada.)

Later, we went for ice cream in Delrey. We were on our way out of the store when Josh noticed that one of the chairs was stenciled on the seat: President Barak Obama sat here on June 20, 2009. Of course he sat right down.

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