Long Weekend

Fabulous four day weekend begun by playing hookie on a rainy Friday with a visit to National Gallery with mon amour. We started off at the Snapshot Exhibit curated by National Gallerist Sarah Greenough, and which chronicles, funnily enough, the American snapshot from it’s inception in the early 1900’s to the 60’s via the collection of one Robert E. Jackson, a man of good taste and distinction. Jackson assembled his collection over the past decade from flea markets, art fairs and sales on eBay. Apparently they thought the time was ripe to launch such an exhibit because digital photography has changed the way we take and display pictures.


Having been suitably inspired by the American snapshooter, we continue on to the piece de resistance: Edward Hopper, which due to our weekday arrival was not packed like sardines like on the weekends. Perhaps like me, many of you first became acquainted with the work of Hopper through knock-off paintings exhibited in those fine public galleries, the fast food restaurant dining area. I actually thought the original version of Nighthawks was the one with Marilyn Monroe, James Dean, and Bogie all gathered around some late night diner. Well, it was an errant youth, but I’ve since learned a thing or two, and one is Hopper did not paint celebrity. I adore his moody, lonely, hint of a narrative painting style and his lush jewel-toned, heading toward somber palette.

Edward Hopper at the National Gallery of Art

Nighthawks by Edward Hopper

There’s something in this retrospective for everyone, dreamy landscapes in Maine, the city, you know which one, changing, as it began to build skyscrapers which would crowd out the brownstones, flappers in cool clothes (the gallery is very astutely marketing cloche hats with the exhibit). And there’s Hopper himself, an iconoclast, the best sort. Someone with early promise, who didn’t sell his first painting till he was in his forties, taciturn and true. He painted in his manner before it became in vogue, then remained centered during his the years of his adulation, and continued to make his best work in his sixties and seventies whilst holding on to his reputation despite the rise of non-representational superstars like De Kooning, and more famously, Pollock.

He said, ” If you could say it in words, there’d be no reason to paint.” So his work sort of bears that man of few words nature too, tho still waters run deep and all that. Viva Hopper!

Sunday brought friend and fellow Review Santa Fe alum, Simon Roberts into town for a visit. Simon took me back to the National Gallery and introduced me to the work of British landscape painter J.M.W. Turner, who painted in the 1800’s and was having a huge survey of work occupying veritable football fields of gallery space. The work was great, monumental shipwrecks, and classical idylls, detailed pencil and watercolor paintings of classical architecture, as well as more impressionistic work done in his last years, work which greatly influenced Monet and the rest of the waterlily school.

Simon shares a studio with his doppelganger, Simon Norfolk, doppelganger only in the sense that it is with Norfolk that he is most often confused, by people such as myself, upon hearing his name when they first meet him. He tells me that Norfolk cites Turner as an influence on his work. I suspect this is a great technique with which to be taking seriously by Kathy Ryan as a fine artist. Building on tradition and taking it further and all that good stuff. My own work is sadly more influenced by after school television specials (Sara T. : Portrait of a Teenage Alcoholic – anyone?).

Simon is across the pond – dog and pony-ing it for his fantastic survey of Russia, Motherland – which was published by the savant Chris Boot, and is the inaugural show at the new Darren Ching/Deborah Klomp endeavor, KlompChing Gallery (not to be confused with kerching – the sound a cash register makes when tallying up all the prints flying off the walls – which is of course what we hope happens).

Well all has been sweetness and light, we were cheerily bundled into the car heading to the airport, when during a slight traffic jam on rock creek parkway Simon and I came to the stunning realization that I thought I was taking him to National Airport (20 minutes away) and the chappie had booked out of Dulles airport (40 minutes – 1 hr plus away). And this during rush hour. Well, this is when one shows the stuff they are made of and I’m happy to say that calm prevailed. Slight U-Turn on crowded parkway and a determined weaving in and out of traffic – Starsky and Hutch re-runs becoming useful here, and we had old Simon at the gate with six entire minutes to spare before the gate closed.

Good times!

Help out a Kippster.

KIPP’s Key Acadamy © Susana Raab 2007

My friend, Kristen Keehan, who works at KIPP charter schools in DC has need of a photographer for a pro-bono event this Friday from 11-1 pm at the Benning Road construction site. It may not sound sexy, but it’s a good cause. So if you’d like to volunteer, contact Kirsten here.

Feeling generally bummed out about fires on the west coast and drought everywhere and hope it rains soon in California. It’s raining in DC and that suits me just fine.

National Gallery 3 – Corcoran 0

© Edward Hopper

© Edward Hopper

WOW! I am bowled over by the National Galleries offerings this Fall. Not one but three fabulous shows have coalesced under one roof and I think the National Gallery is knocking the socks off the Corcoran in offerings that are both popular and palatable. I feel really lucky to be living in this fantastic city right now.

For the classicists amongst us, there is the J.M.W. Turner Exhibit:


Rising from a modest background, Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775–1851) became the leading British artist of his era. Over the course of six decades, he transformed the genre of landscape through works that proclaimed him heir to the old masters even while they heralded a new and visionary direction in 19th-century painting. Known for his technical brilliance and startling use of light and color, he incorporated learned references to literature, mythology, and historical events in his pictures. His commitment to the idea that watercolor equaled oil painting in complexity and expressive power raised the standard for others working in the medium. And his exquisitely rendered works, heralded for their virtuosity, inspired generations of artists.

National Gallery Senior Curator of Photographs Sarah Greenough outdoes herself by creating in one show what appears to be a fabulous amalgam of known and unknown photographers in a survey of the American snapshot which is on my hit list this week as soon as i can clear the proverbial rubble off the desk. You’ll see the usual suspects here: Warhol, Frank, Kertesz, Evans, Winogrand, Cartier-Bresson, Lange, but she combines this with vernacular photography. Review later this week.

And lastly, HOPPER. I love this guys’ narrative painting style and its melancholy. I’m really excited to familiarize myself with some lesser known paintings than Boulevard of Broken Dreams. I’m told by friends that his work kept improving with age and his best stuff is from his 60’s and 70’s. I can’t wait to see the trajectory of his career and though Hopper is a fairly well-known artist, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a piece of his in-person.

Returning from travels so have much catching up to do, but will be sharing when I have a chance to peruse the hallowed halls of the N.G. For those of you visiting Ansel and Annie, over at the Corcoran, I’ll buy you a cup of joe with the $16 bucks I saved by revisiting my Sierra Club day planner c. 1996.

Hello Dalai!

Rendinchinlumps Last Lama, Mongolia, 2001 © Susana Raab

Rendinchinlump’s Last Lama, Mongolia, 2001 © Susana Raab

On Wednesday, October 17, 2007, the Dalai Lama will be making a free
and public address on the west lawn of the Capitol. Speaker Nancy
Pelosi just helped pass a bill that gave ICT use of the west lawn and
west steps of the Capitol to allow for this free event!

We need help in publicizing it because its less than three weeks away
and so we are asking you to forward this e-mail to as many friends and
colleagues in the DC area as possible. If you know of good list
serves to post this, please do. We need help reaching out to dharma
centers, churches, colleges, workplaces and other networks in and
around DC.

The Dalai Lama will be receiving the Congressional Gold Medal from
Speaker Pelosi, Congressional leadership and the U.S. President in the
U.S. Capitol Rotunda at 1:00. This will be simulcast on a jumbotron
onto the West Lawn of the Capitol. At 2:20, Richard Gere will make a
few remarks, and at 2:30, Speaker Pelosi will escort the Dalai Lama
from Capitol to the West Lawn, where he will give an address.

This will be the first time in history that a sitting US President
will publicly appear with a Dalai Lama, and it will happen at the
halls of Congress, who have been so supportive of Tibet over the years.

Before this, from 11:00 – 1:00, Tibetan dance, opera and song troupes
from all over America, will be performing. If you can join for that
as well, feel free to bring a picnic lunch, blanket or folding chair.
There will be about 1,000 Tibetans in D.C. for this and it will be a
wonderful and colorful celebration. Many of the highest lamas and
Rimpoches from around the world will be attending.

While this is free to the public, it is costing ICT about $185,000.
If you can make a donation, we would be enormously grateful! You can
donate here or
send a check to ICT. (Congress is providing security and security
fencing but we have to pay for staging, the sound system, the
jumbotron, press tents, medical tents, etc.)

We also need volunteers. If you can volunteer all day on Wednesday,
Oct. 17, please e-mail
<mailto:tenzint@savetibet.org>tenzint@savetibet.org, and include your
phone number

Attached to this email is a PDF flyer with more information for this
event. For more on the Dalai Lama’s visit, go to
here .

Thank you for whatever you can do to make this historic day
successful. And I hope to see you there!


John Ackerly,
International Campaign for Tibet
1825 Jefferson Place, NW
Washington, DC 20036

Rank Strangers

The title of my as of yet unpublished book, taken from a Ralph Stanley song, natch.
Teens, Cumberland, Maryland, 2007

Teens, Cumberland, Maryland, 2007

Things to do tonight: DC


Take advantage of the Hirshhorn Museum‘s great, free theater and come out tonight to see “A Walk into the Sea: Danny Williams and hte Warhol Factory” a 2007 documentary.

Danny Williams, a Warhol paramour and Factory filmmaker, created stage effects for the Exploding Plastic Inevitable and the Velvet Underground. While visiting his parents in Massachusetts, he drove the family car to the beach and simply vanished. Esther Robinson’s first feature film tracks the story of her uncle, his life and times under the influence of Warhol, and how the mystery of his disappearance still haunts her family. Factory survivors and relatives shape this detective-style documentary.

at 8 pm tonight – seating available on a first come basis.

Which ride would you choose?

So much good stuff for Kentucky – unfort, all needs to be scanned! stay tuned!  this is from  Jonesie’s carriage ride service in historic Bardstown, Kentucky.  Jonesie had some great anecdotes I will relate in a later post.

Pimp My Ride, Bardstown, Kentucky 2007 © Susana Raab

Pimp My Ride, Bardstown, Kentucky 2007 © Susana Raab