Tuesday, February 19, 2008

you better recognize...

i awoke to a spring-like day. i should've been in flip flops. short sleeves. weather hit the high at about 9 in the a.m. what a day to go adventuring in the city!

for the first time, i disembarked at metro center. quite a different feel than the neighborhoods i normally frequent. a lot more urban. late morning sun glinting off the canyon of buildings around us. four blocks later, we find our destination. the national portrait gallery and the american museum of art. (yes, the very same museum where a portrait of stephen colbert hangs outside the second floor men's room.) as with all smithsonian museums, it was free. surprisingly, it wasn't as crowded as expected for a holiday weekend. i guess not as many people get/take presidents' day off as i thought.

the museum is awesome. the american presidents exhibit was really informative. the stories behind the portraits filled me in on the presidencies of men i barely recognize as presidents. my two favorites were jfk and nixon. jfk because it was pretty abstract, kind of warhol-esque, and really portrayed the era. nixon because his was done by norman rockwell. the caption was the best part of that.

that was great and all, but the exhibit we set out to see was called Recognize: Hip-Hop and Contemporary Portraiture. i found out about it through a weekly email i get from the washington post about cool, off-the-beaten path things to do. there's been some misses in its recommendations, but all in all, it succeeds on informing me about a lot of the things i go to in the district. there were elements of the so-called four parts of hip hop culture: MCing, DJing, break dancing, and graffiti. the graffiti on display was from local artists. the portraits were amazing paintings or photographs of underground, trailblazing, and big name artists alike. there was an amazing mixed media three-dimensional work from shinique smith with a spoken word performance by a prolific poet named nikki giovanni.

it was awesome to see the diversity of the exhibit goers, young and old in every color of the rainbow and walk of life. it was especially great to see what i would consider non-traditional museum goers checking it out, then wandering around the rest of the museum since they were there anyhow. just another day in the district...

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