HomeTown Tourist: WONDER

 

Washington DC will never be a mecca for what’s on point in fashion, sports or art. But, the Smithsonian is working overtime to at least put us in the conversation.  (Thank you, Smithsonian!) Exhibit A: 2014’s American Cool at The National Portrait Gallery.

After two years of renovations, The Renwick Gallery reopened at the end of  2015 and is the latest proof point that we are not a city full of stodgy politicians and presidents who don’t live up to the hype.

The current exhibit, entitled WONDER, is delightfully just that. (Yes, I used the word delightful.)  The gallery lends its space to nine contemporary artists who created “site-specific” installations. In English, each exhibit is customized to the room, hallway or ceiling that serves as host to the finished masterpiece.

What results is unique series of massive works of art that are simply beautiful. You can wander through each room, walking around or, in the case of Patrick Dougherty’s exhibit (below), through enormous pods of willows and saplings.

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To truly enjoy WONDER, don’t rush from room-to-room. Slow down. Stand on your tip toes to peak down the center of the reconstructed hemlock. Circle through rubber tires a few times. Stand in the corner to marvel at the “wallpaper” Jennifer Angus created. And, lay down in the grand salon to really marvel at the waves Janet Echelman installed. (Trust me fellow, germaphobes, put your jacket up over your head and lay down.)

PROTIP: Thanks to press like this, WONDER is P-A-C-K-E-D on the weekends. To miss the worst of the crowds, take a lunch break or leave work early. Make sure your camera or iPhone is charged. Photos are encouraged and you are going to want to photograph the heck out of WONDER.

The Renwick is open daily from  10:00 – 5:30 pm. The first floor installations will be on exhibit through May 8, 2016. The second floor installations will be on display through July 10, 2016.

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Hometown Tourist, Ch. 5: Eastern Market

This July 4th, we stayed in Washington DC. That’s not really breaking news, we were just in New England and we generally don’t travel for short holidays.

Initially, i didn’t make plans because this was going to be the first weekend we had our new air conditioning unit. It’s been eight weeks since the compressor blew. At first it was hot and uncomfortable but not awful. Especially for me. I melt in heat and humidity but was traveling for six weeks so i got reprieve. But about 10 days ago that gawd-awful DC humidity kicked in and since then it has been M-I-S-E-R-A-B-L-E.

As luck would have it, a very good friend was heading out-of-town and offered us (dogs included) her apartment for the weekend. This elevated her Sainthood in my book. The real bonus is that we had AC for five straight days. But the bonus i am telling you about is that she lives in a different neighborhood and i had the excuse i needed to get to Eastern Market.

Eastern Market is DC’s oldest public market and a testament to how neighborhoods can rally together to keep a treasured gem open. They say the food is “fresh” and that’s true for the meat, cheese, flowers and vegetables but they do sell some packaged food items. That’s not fresh by my definition. The market is located in Capitol Hill, not really close to my current abode. While its metro accessible, again from my neighborhood, it’s haul.

What’s significant about Eastern Market is that in 2007, it burned following a three alarm fire. The South Hall, where i believe many artisan vendors sold/sell goods, was gutted so badly the Washington Post reported “birds could fly through it.” The previous Mayor vowed to reopen and despite how you feel about him, the market did reopen after two years of renovations.

The market is much more lively (read: packaged to the gills) on a weekend. What i loved about going the day after July 4th was the lack of crowds. You could walk straight down the North Hall and not bump into anyone. We went hog-wild at the butcher’s kiosks: head cheese for Mr. O, chorizo, fresh turkey and even sopressata. They slice it perfectly, paper thin, and then arranged it beautifully in the package. We even spoiled our dogs by getting beef marrow bones.

If you visit Washington DC, i recommend a trip here especially if you have access to a refrigerator. You can experience a cultural gem, stock up on some items for a DIY meal or snacks and shop a few of the cute boutiques that line 7th Street. Note, food tours are also available. I personally have not done one so this isn’t an endorsement just an acknowledgement. (And perhaps a reason for a second visit).