Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Phillips Collection in DC & Virginia Stops

testing the microphones
for President Obama

cameo shot with "The Man"
Before A. Paul and I left Washington D.C. today, President Obama invited us to the White House to offer a bit of Ptown advice for this evening's State of the Union speech.  We, of course, were happy to oblige.  (Forgive us, we couldn't resist a bit of  D.C. tourist indulgence.)

What we actually did do today was to visit the Phillips Collection prior to our departure to Virginia, making stops in Richmond, Williamsburg, and finally in Norfolk for the evening stay. 

The Phillips Collection is located in the Dupont Circle area of D.C. It is America's first modern arts gallery established by the Phillips family in 1918 in memorandum for two deceased family members. It opened to the public in 1923.

Exterior of the original
Phillips residence & gallery

Central to the collection, purchased in 1923, is Renoir's "Luncheon of the Boating Party" as seen here.  With regards to this piece of work, a docent informed me of a conversation that took place between Barnes (Barnes Foundation in Philly) and Phillips, where Barnes boasted he possessed the largest collection of Renoir's works, whereby Phillips responded, "But I have the most important piece of Renoir's work."  Having seen both collections and standing in front of this particular imposing piece, there is clearly merit to Phillips' claim.

Throughout the original residence/gallery and  the Goh Annex extension (1989), one can find extensive collections of artists personally known to Phillips, such as Pierre Bonnard, who it is said was consistently compelled to want to alter his works hanging in the Phillips home when dining with them. In addition, one will find Rothkos, Gauguins, Degas, Picassos, Doves, Klees, and O'Keeffes, with Rothko, Dove, and Bonnard having individual salons dedicated to their works.

Beyond the collection, the Phillips is an architecture gem.  Unlike the 19th century architecture of the original space, the Goh Annex' architecture is an artful contemporary masterpiece of  line, form, and space. My eyes constantly roamed the interiors of the space almost as much as viewing the collection.

hanging silks along the stairwell

If you are unable to see the Phillips collection in person, it is possible to see this extraordinary group of work online  http://www.phillipscollection.org/
After a quick cup of coffee in the Phillips Cafe, we left D.C. and headed to our next stop, Richmond, Virginia.

looking down the spiral case, Phillips

crossing from D.C. to Virginia
After being submerged and surrounded by art for days, it was impossible to not see art in everything around us, whether of the natural world or manmade.  As we left D.C.  the day was cloaked in gray and yet there was something so serene and harmonic in contrast to the hard, manmade  structures of the bridge crossing into Virginia that it begged to be memorialized photographically.
Once we arrived to Richmond it  was first to take a scenic drive down Monumental Avenue, the only road in America on the Historic Registry dotted with Confederate figures.  
Monumental Avenue
Richmond Virginia

After our scenic excursion, we dropped into the Crossroads Art Center, where we met up with Rachel, the center's Director.   On the outside approach, the Center did not appear to be too hopeful as it was located in a strip mall on the outskirts of the town.  However, once inside, it was clear that the center was what it claimed to be, an active arts center representing over 225 local and regional artists' works. 

Stonewall Jackson Monument
Crossroads Director, Rachel (L)
Kerry Filiberto (R)
Rachel provided us a tour of the center and discussed the works of some of the more  major artists of the center.  The center is laid out in individual "studios" for exhibiting artists' works, some choosing to share a studio space.  There are two working classrooms in the center, both occupied while we were visiting.  Artists must go through a juried process by an independent judging committee in order to acquire space at the facility.  Though we were hoping to meet artists in working studios, it was clear to see that there are many talented artists in the Richmond area.  You can visit the centers website at http://www.crossroadsartcenter.com/    We learned at the center that the second arts center scheduled to visit had recently closed so we thanked Rachel and headed out to our final destination for the day. 

Williamsburg to Norfolk

Williamsburg, VA
Outside Williamsburg
The day was coming to a close but we absolutely could not pass up Williamsburg without at least driving to see the main block of historic Williamsburg.  As quaint as the town was, it was the trip in and out of Williamsburg that held A. Paul's and my attention.  The changing reflection of the sky on water was too alluring to not stop and photograph and once we began we simply could not stop capturing the changing environment as we passed from sea level  at Williamsburg to below sea level under the Chesapeake Bay while on the Hampton Bridge to Norfolk.  We leave you with these images to end your day.  Tomorrow we take in the Chrysler Museum then off to scout out Beaufort, Morehead, and Wilmington NC.
Trees outside Williamsburg

Entering the tunnel under Chesapeake Bay


1 comment:

Irene said...

This trip and the blog are great! I'm glad Tony dressed up for his photo op with the President! Love the commentary and the photos. We love Richmond and Williamsburg. Travel safe and I'll be reading when I can!