Friday, April 5, 2013

Keep It Local: "Angels, Demons, and Savages: Pollock, Ossorio, Dubuffet" at The Phillips Collection

We interrupt the next installment in our Chicago spring break series to report on a super cool visit mom and I made to The Phillips Collection yesterday, which included some artwork that is on exhibit for a limited time (so we wanted to make sure you knew about it before it left!). Our planned goal was to see the Pollock, Ossorio, Dubuffet exhibit (at the museum until May 12) and the recently-installed new permanent work the "Laib Wax Room, Where have you gone-where are you going?" Both delivered big. AND, to boot, we ended up discovering a super awesome exhibit of local charter and D.C. public school students that is a must see for kids (and part of it is departing on April 28). Oh, and the "Jeanne Silverthorne: Vanitas!" exhibit of rubber sculptures was an additional pleasant surprise.

First up was the Angels, Demons, and Savages exhibit, which highlights friendships among the various artists exhibited. In addition to Pollock's well known drip paintings, the exhibit includes some of his watercolors, collages and ink paintings. We snapped a few pictures before being told of the "no photo" policy in the exhibit. Drat. You'll just have to go see for yourself, because the artwork is pretty amazing. We weren't familiar with Ossorio or Dubuffet and some of their works in this exhibit are a little more outright dark in mood, but were also splashed with bright colors and recognizable objects that mom and I spent time picking out. Although I did frequently comment that some of the faces in their paintings were "not nice."

Moving on ... my Grammie B is a periodic urban bee keeper (part of the reason we also call her Grammie B) and mom and I talked at length before our visit about the beeswax room. And I was anxious to get there. Located just down the hall from the Pollock exhibit, you can smell it far before you see it. The small room (only two people allowed in at a time) is lined with fragrant beeswax and illuminated by a single light bulb. We went in and snuggled. And both agreed we'd love to take a nap in there. "It's gold," I kept whispering. And it does indeed seem to glow warm gold. Fortunately this one is a permanent work and I know we'll include a stop in there on all future visits.

We hadn't planned on visiting the Vanitas! exhibit, but it was basically adjacent to the beeswax room and the large rubber floral sculpture drew us right in. Vanitas!, we learned, are still life paintings symbolizing the brevity of life with images of decaying fruit and flowers, skulls, or household objects. This particular exhibit displays Silverthorne's sculptures alongside still life paintings from The Phillips Collection. I found some of it a little creepy, but the oversize, three-dimensional sculptures are a perfect fit for kiddos.

As we headed down to get a drink in the Tryst cafe, the sign for a Young Artists Exhibition caught mom's eye (there is usually student work on display there, but we haven't checked it out before). A few flights below we discovered two super cool student exhibits -- work by preschool through fourth grade students of the Inspired Teaching School (a nearby public charter) and by preschool through middle school students of the Takoma Education Campus and Tyler Elementary schools. Holy cow. These kids have talent. The artwork, even from the youngest of students, was amazing. And I thought it was awesome to see artwork done by kids my own age and highlighting so many sights from my 'hood. The work from the Inspired Teaching School students is at the Collection only through April 28 and we highly recommend taking a trip to check it out. We have TONS of new ideas -- thanks kiddos!

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