Renwick Rocks!

No Spectators: The Art of Burning Man

Exhibition at Smithsonian’s Renwick Gallery is ongoing through January 21, 2019. For more info: exhibitions/burning-man

Ren Truth is Beauty Marco Cochrabe

“Truth is Beauty”  by Marco Conchrane

Pushing the outer limits of their own space, the Renwick Gallery brings the boundless creativity of Burning Man from Black Rock, Nevada, to the conservative confines of Washington, DC.

Since the first sybaritic spectacle in 1986, the dry lakebed outside Reno has been home to phantasmagoric sculptures, whimsical mechanical devices, and radical art. Minus the sex, drugs, and rock and roll, the Renwick indulges our curiosity in this countercultural contemporary art scene both in the museum and out into the neighborhood. Pick up a map at the museum to find six street art installations nearby, including the giant Grizzly Bear (photo below) made of pennies. Read more ›

Val Lewton From Hollywood to Breezewood at AU Katzen Center

VL Paint CansLast few days to see Val Lewton From Hollywood to Breezewood, a retrospective of one of the most talented Washington (by way of Hollywood) artists. Former exhibit designer for Smithsonian’s American Art Museum, Val Lewton had a supreme and unique command of color and composition. (Full disclosure I’m friends with his widow, Claudia Manizozzi (also a painter), and knew Val from my former Smithsonian days. I also own two of his paintings as well as one of Claudia’s. And I wish I had wall space for more.)

VL Truck Cab

I have long been fascinated with building cranes that pierce the sky at construction sites, marveling how something so industrial can be so elegant against the sky. Val Lewton elevates these same scenes and more with his paintbrush to create penetrating and cinematic close-ups of mundane cityscapes: trucks, construction sites, cranes, shovels, gas stations, cars, highways, taxis, traffic jams, smoke stacks, police call boxes. From wrecked and razed construction sites to massive in your face truck cabs you can feel the power of the movement on the road.

VL Whitehurst Freeway

Val makes the ordinary extraordinary in such diverse images as his colorful, overflowing paint cans and his Dale City depictions of suburban sprawl. All on view just till August 13th. If you miss it, check out the accompanying full color catalog with essay by former Washington Post critic, Ben Forgey.

VLTaxisVLDale City VL Bee Bee VL Bee Bee air handler



Washington, DC: Paris on the Potomac—Almost


Blogathon June 11

If you’re planning a summer visit to Washington, DC—the city
that Parisian born, American architect and civil engineer Pierre L’Enfant laid out—you’ll
find much to remind you of Paris: bridges and monuments, museums and more—even
a few French bistros (see below).

But if you love French artists, paintings, and photography
in particular, find time to linger at the National Gallery of Art and
The Phillips Collection:

National Gallery of Art (

On view now:

In Light of the Past: Twenty-Five Years of Photography at
the National Gallery of Art
—until July 26,
2015—includes 175 nineteenth-century images and turn-of-the-century pictorial
photographs, including early gems from French photographers such as Gustave Le
Gray. His albumen print above, The Pont du
Carrousel, Paris: View to the West from the Pont des Arts
(1856-1858) is timeless.

While there, don’t miss: Drawing
in Silver and Gold: Leonardo to Jasper Johns
in an adjacent gallery, a
show that also closes July 26. The exhibit features works from the Middle Ages to
the present and is lesson in metal point drawings by artists
who created prints with a metal-tipped stylus dipped in silver or gold. It’s a
visual delight.

In addition, nearly 500 French artists are in the museum’s
general collection with many notable works from famous to lesser-known and
unknown painters and sculptors. Almost an artistic A-Z: Adolphe Appian to
Antoine Watteau, Degas and Delacroix, Poussin to Picasso, Manet to Morisot,
Jacques Villon and Nicolas Poussin, as well as Rousseau, Leger, and Georges de
la Tours, to name drop just a few.

For a list of French artists currently on view:


Open daily, except Christmas and New Year

Monday–Saturday: 10:00 AM–5:00 PM
Sunday: 11:00 AM–6:00 PM

Free admission

The Phillips Collection (

The Phillips Collection is a treasure of Modern and Contemporary Art
near Dupont Circle. Industrialist Duncan Phillips’s mansion is the original
venue for his art collection, and the museum’s contemporary expansion into adjacent
town house space is a seamless addition.

If you love French impressionism, you’ll find the
jewel of their crown, Renoir’s “Luncheon
of the Boating Party
,” on view along with other French
masterworks (Matisse, Cezanne, Bonnard) as well as European and American
modernism to contemporary art.


Closed Monday

Tuesday –Saturday: 10 AM-5 PM

Thursday, Extended hours till 8:30 PM

Sunday, Noon- 7 PM

General admission: $12, $10 for
students and seniors

Neighborhood French Restaurants in DC:

du Coin

A causal and fun French bistro and wine
bar at Dupont Circle.

Chat Noir

An Intimate, friendly neighborhood restaurant in NW Washington at Tenleytown (15-20 minutes on Red Line, Metro).

Classic French with a Thai twist on MacArthur Blvd. You need a car or taxi from the Mall or Dupont Circle.

La Chaumiere
Upscale French country cuisine in Georgetown, 5-10 minutes  by car from Dupont Circle.

Bistro D’oc

Informal French dining near the National Gallery with cuisine inspired by the Languedoc region.

Splash Dance

Synetic’s production of The Tempest tempts the fates in a swimmingly brilliant piece of theater and choreography. The stage set sits in a four-inch pool of water where multimedia effects illuminate Shakespeare’s magical island tale. The athleticism of the actors as they splash through Prospero’s stormy, shipwrecked world confounds and entertains.  If you’re in DC, don’t miss this theatrical adventure in Synetic’s Silent Shakespeare series. It’s liquid gold.