Happy Watermelon Day!

Rather than give you a French inspired recipe using summer’s most refreshing fruit, pastèque, I give you one of the most colourful house in Washington, DC and one of my favourite piece of street art in the city: the Watermelon house!!

DC's Watermelon House

The row house is located at 1112 Q Street near Logan Circle. Its exposed side has been painted in pink and green to resemble a has a watermelon slice, complete with seeds. Story has it all started with a bad paint job and since everything I know about Logan Circle’s famed Watermelon House I know from this Washington Post article, you can read all about it there too.

Oh, and if you really want some recipes, I do have two super refreshing ones for you right here.

Bonne journée de la pastèque!! Are you celebrating?

So You Wanna Visit the Broad Museum?

Today, I dedicated 3 hours of my life to visiting Los Angeles’ latest contemporary art space, The Broad (note: it’s pronounced brode not brawd… ) Opened in September 2015, the brand new museum has already become one of the city’s most instagrammed venue, thanks to some amazing (and very photogenic) art from the private collection of philanthropists Eli and Edythe Broad, as well as a stunning building designed by world-renowned architectural firm Diller Scofido + Renfro. When I said I dedicated 3 hours to the museum, I should specify that only one of those was spent inside. The other two I spent lining up outside in the standby line. I learned a few things visiting The Broad, so here are a few tips for you:

BOOK ADVANCE TICKETS IF YOU CAN

Entry into The Broad is free BUT you need advance tickets. The website doesn’t really tell you when those will be available, so your best bet if you’re looking to go on a specific date is to sign up for their newsletter to be notified when spots will be released. Right now, you can also purchase tickets to the special exhibit Cindy Sherman: Imitation of Life. They’ll set you back $12 but also include general admission to the museum.  

Cindy Sherman exhibit at The Broad in Los Angeles

If that’s not an option, you can do as I did and wait in the standby line. The museum opens at 11AM on weekdays, and 10AM on weekends. You can follow The Broad Standby Line on twitter to get updates on what the wait time will be like. On a weekday in June, I got in line 2 hours ahead of opening time and was the third person there. Within 20 minutes, the line wrapped around the building, so get there early, especially on Saturdays and Sundays when it’s more crowded. By 11:15AM, just 15 minutes after the museum opened I got to go in. Woohoo! Here’s my tip if you’re going to go the early morning route like I did: grab coffee and food before you get in the line. G & B Coffee at Grand Central Market is just a few steps away (153 steps along the Angel Flights tracks to be exact) and their delightful almond-macadamia milk latte is bound to make waiting a little less painful. 

 

BOOK THE INFINITY MIRROR ROOM IMMEDIATELY UPON GETTING IN

One of the highlights of The Broad, and one of its most instagrammed spot, is Yayoi Kusama‘s “Infinity Mirrored Room – The Souls of Millions of Light Years Away.” The small, shimmering, mirror-lined, experimental space will dazzle you with its seemingly infinite number of LED lights. It’s quite trippy, so it’s probably a good thing you’re only allowed 45 seconds in there – just the right amount of time to snap that perfect #infinityroom selfie!

Infinity Mirrored Room by Yayoi Kusama at the Broad in Los Angeles

To book your spot for this experience, rush to the left of the escalator in the lobby as soon as you get into the museum and enter your name and cell phone number into an iPad that’s provided for that purpose.

How to get into the Infinity Mirrored Room at The Broad

Once that’s done, get back to the lobby, soak up its cavernous look and head up the escalator to the third floor gallery, which houses most of the museum’s collections. You’ll receive a text message in approximately 45 minutes to an hour letting you know when your time in the room is up. Head back downstairs (don’t miss taking a glimpse at the museum’s central vault on the way!) and wait in line (again) until it’s your turn to spend 45 seconds in the infinity mirrored room.

How to get into The Broad's Infinity Mirrored RoomHow to get into The Broad's Infinity Mirrored Room

You can go in on your own, or with a friend/significant other if you prefer but they won’t let more than 2 or 3 people in at the time.

BRING A GOOD CAMERA

Photography is allowed and encouraged at The Broad so bring your good camera and go all out. While not as striking as its Frank Gehry designed neighbour, the museum is still a work of art in its own right. Diller Scofidio + Renfro, best known for the High Line in Manhattan, designed the 120,000-square-foot museum with the Walt Disney Concert Hall in mind and contrasted its smooth silver curves with a solid white block. Its honeycomb facade, known as the veil, softens the structure and makes for stunning pictures if you’re lucky enough to be there on a sunny day (I wasn’t… darn California June fog!)

The Broad Museum in downtown Los Angeles

Inside, there are numerous fun photo opps, like the previously mentioned Infinity Mirrored Room but also a couple of pieces by Jeff Koons (always picture-worthy!), El Anatsui’s 2010 Red Block which makes for a cool backdrop to any selfie or Robert Therrien’s “Under the Table.” Here’s a couple of shots I took in the gallery. 

Keith Haring's Red Room at The BroadTulips by Jeff Koons at The BroadDouble America 2 by Glenn Ligon

One last tip about the art: the museum staff, known as visitor services associates, is numerous (seriously, there’s a small army of them here to help you) and SUPER knowledgeable.  WhileThe Broad has a pretty neat app that you can download ahead of your visit, I found chatting with the VSAs a lot more interesting!

 

SPEND AN HOUR IN THE MUSEUM THEN EXPLORE DOWNTOWN

The Broad is a perfect starting point to visiting downtown Los Angeles, especially if you’ve paid good money to park in a garage. It’s right next to Frank Gehry’s Walt Disney Concert Hall (tip: check out the peekaboo view from the Lichtenstein room on the third floor) and a quick walk to Grand Park (I love that park and its pink chairs!) or Grand Central Market. If you do The Broad in the morning, that’s the perfect spot to grab lunch afterwards!

Peekaboo windows into the Walt Disney Concert Hall from The Broad

Lichtenstein Room at The Broad

Have you visited The Broad yet? If yes, do you have any additional tips you’d like to share? 

Helping Raise/Raze Come to Life at Dupont Underground

Volunteering to build Raise/Raze at Dupont Underground

 

I had a ball – lame pun intended – volunteering at the Dupont Underground with some of my friends this morning. This was actually my first time in the abandoned trolley station which plans to open its doors to the public on April 30 with its first art exhibit, “Raise/Raze.” 

“Raise/Raze” was the winning  project of Re-Ball!, an open design competition for a site-specific installation in the underground space using the more than 650,000 translucent plastic balls from the National Building Museum‘s “Beach” installation. So today we helped built the installation by glue-ing a bunch of these balls together. 

Dupont Undergound

Volunteering at the dupont undergroundDupont Undergound

 

 

The making of Raise/Raze

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We basically spent three hours in a small portion of the tunnel (it’s over a mile long in total) hot-glueing the balls in sets of three. Another station then turned these into bigger squares while a final station added velcro to it. Eventually, groups of up to 50 people will travel through different spaces within the tunnel and interact with the exhibit by moving the velcro-affixed 3x3x3 cubes around to create various shapes. And while I had a ton of fun with the hot glue gun there’s still a ton of work to be done… so if you have three hours to spare between now and April 24 you can help out too (sign up to volunteer here!)

Hot glue-ing the balls at Raise/Raze

Raise/Raze

Eventually the space is supposed to look like this:

Rendering courtesy of Dupont Underground and Hou de Sousa

Rendering courtesy of Dupont Underground and Hou de Sousa

Right now, that seems pretty abstract and kinda hard to visualize…. but I’m sure it’ll get there eventually and I can’t wait to see the final result! I really do hope that Raise/Raze will get the ball rolling on turning Dupont Underground into a hot cultural destination in Washington, DC. Just had to close on a lame ball pun too 😉 

For more background on the Dupont Underground revitalization project, check out this USA Today article. 

Postcard from Philladelphia: Mural Mile

I didn’t venture too far for my first trip of 2016. Philadelphia is just an hour and half away from New York by train and less than two hours from Washington, so my NYC bestie Caitlin and I met up halfway for a quick early January birthdays day-trip in the City of Brotherly Love. Neither one of us had visited the new Barnes Foundation so we had agreed to make the new-ish museum our first stop (purchasing tickets for timed entry in advance is highly recommended). Afterwards, however, we took a break from the Renoirs to explore the open air “museum” that is Philadelphia’s Mural Mile. 

With more than 3,000 murals, Philadelphia is one of the top cities in the US for street art (according to this Huffington Post ranking, it’s # 2 in the country!). Most of the edgier and more interesting work is located in neighborhoods that tourists rarely venture to, like the Market Street corridor in West Philly, Point Breeze or the up-and-coming Fishtown. But not all and there’s a concentration of 17 of them over a 2.5 miles route downtown that’s known as Mural Mile. The recommended route to see them all starts at 7th and Chestnut, steps away from the independence visitor center so you can easily combine it with a visit to the city’s most famous monuments like the Liberty Bell.

Philadelphia's Mural Mile Map

While organized tours are available,  you can easily walk Mural Mile on your own using the map above from the City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program’s website or this curated Google Map. Caitlin and I leisurely meandered through the streets, admiring the architecture of the city as well as the murals. Good thing it was unseasonably warm that day 😉 

 

Philadelphia's Mural Mile: A Taste of Summer by Ann Northrup

This lush mural about food as art by Ann Northrup is on the side of Vetri Ristorante, a landmark northern Italian restaurant at 1312 Spruce Street

Philadelphia's Mural Mile: Winter-Crystal Snowscape by David Guinn

Winter: Crystal Snowscape by David Guinn, one of four murals in the “Four Seasons” series painted by the Philadelphia based artist around town

Philadelphia's Mural Mile: Meg Saligman's 'Philadelphia Muses'

Meg Saligman’s ‘Philadelphia Muses’ is located near Avenue of the Arts, Philadelphia’s cultural center

Philadelphia's Mural Mile: 'Women of Progress' by Cesar Viveros and Larissa Preston

‘Women of Progress’ by Cesar Viveros and Larissa Preston shows the progression of women in various roles and professions over time. It’s painted on the side of the New Century Trust, an organization that highlights the contributions of women to society.

Philadelphia's Mural Mile: Gimme Shelter by David Guinn

Philadelphia native David Guinn painted “Gimme Shelter” near the Morris Animal Shelter on Lombard Street

They may not be the edgiest – or even the most colourful – but all of the 17 murals of Mural Mile give an insight into Philadelphia’s history, its communities and their creativity. They also sure look better than plain brick walls … and I can’t think of a better way to discover a new city!

Experience the sparkle of the season at Georgetown GLOW

Two years ago my friend Sylvain Cornevaux, then Cultural Director for l’Alliance Française, partnered with the Georgetown Business Improvement District and other groups to bring a week-long public art and light display festival to DC’s oldest neighbour. Inspired by Lyon’s renowned Fête des Lumières, the festival, now in its third year, has now evolved into Georgetown Glow, independently organized by the BID in parallel to their annual holiday window display competition. 

The 10-night light art exhibition puts a modern, artistic twist on traditional holiday displays and takes place nightly along the C&O Canal between December 11 and 20th (from 6-10PM). The event still has a bit of a French flair, and three of the five artists represented in Georgetown Glow 2015 – Isabelle Duverger, Arthur Gallice and Hervé Orgeas, are Frenchies. Overall, the event makes for a fun stroll through Georgetown, especially since the temperatures have been so warm. Here is some of the work presented at Georgetown Glow:

"iGlow" by the DC-based trans-disciplinary design collective HiJAC

“iGlow” by the DC-based trans-disciplinary design collective HiJAC,  is a corridor of light in the courtyard outside of Grace Church in Georgetown

‪DC‬ artist Kelly Towles, known around town for his colourful murals, created the A Happy Place light and video installation for Georgetown Glow 2015.

DC‬ artist Kelly Towles, known around town for his large scale murals, created the “A Happy Place” light and video installation in the Jefferson Court office courtyard on K Street

 

 Laia Cabrera & Co.'s "Shifting Gaze," a video mapping/sound/animation mashup along the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historical Park

Laia Cabrera & Co.’s “Shifting Gaze,” a video mapping/sound/animation mashup along the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historical Park

 

Frenchies Herve Orgeas and Arthur Gallice tell the story of 2 "lovers" in 'WIRED People Project: The Lovers" under the historic Wisconsin Avenue Bridge.

Frenchies Herve Orgeas and Arthur Gallice tell the story of 2 “lovers” in ‘WIRED People Project: The Lovers” under the historic Wisconsin Avenue Bridge

 

There’s nothing truly holiday-y in Georgetown Glow, if anything it reminded me a bit of the Nuit Blanche…  Curator Deirdre Ehlen MacWilliams has been involved with the Downtown BID’s Art All Night event, which I did not attend this year, but have found rather disappointing in the past, perhaps only because the caliber of the work presented falls well below what I have experienced at the original Nuit Blanche in Paris. There were definitely moments, however, at Georgetown Glow where I felt like I could have been at Art All Night, particularly watching Kelly Towles’ “A Happy Place.” I really wish they would bring more work like this and like “Wired” to Art All Night… hopefully next year right? 

Until then, Georgetown Glow 2015 is taking place from Friday, December 11  to Sunday, December 20. All of the work, except Kelly’s, are lit between 6 and 10 PM nightly. Kelly gets a shorter window: 7-9PM. Georgetown Glow is organized by the Georgetown Business
Improvement District (BID) with support from the JBG Companies (read this great article about the real estate giant’s sponsorship of street art around town), Jamestown/Georgetown Park, The Washington Harbour Ice Rink, HOK Architects, Hickok Cole Architects, AIR (American Institutes for Research), RB Properties, Inc., Sea Catch Restaurant, Jaguar/Land Rover, The Georgetown Current Newspapers, Grace Episcopal Church, Georgetown Suites, and Think Out Loud Productions. Maps are provided though 3 of the five pieces can be found alongside the C&O Canal. 

 

 

Save the Date: Screening of Full Moon in Paris at the National Gallery of Arts

I’ve got an idea for you: travel to Paris without leaving DC. Actually, without leaving the National Gallery of Art

On September 20th, the National Gallery of Art is hosting a 4PM screening of Les Nuits de la Pleine Lune/Full Moon in Parisa masterful comedy of manners by new wave film maker Eric Rohmer that was recently restored. You can read a summary of the film here

Full Moon In Paris
Also on view at the National Gallery of Art right now (and through October 4th) are 50 of the most important and beloved paintings of Paris and its environs by impressionist Gustave Caillebotte. Never heard of Caillebotte? You’re not alone 😉 “Known” as the “unknown Impressionist” in light of Cézanne, Degas, Monet or Auguste-Renoir’s success, Caillebotte played a vital role in the early history of Impressionism by being a patron of the impressionists, whose work he supported and purchased (he came from a wealthy family and didn’t need to sell his work to get by.) His most famous work, “Paris Street, Rainy Day” is one of the highlights of the exhibit, which will move on to the Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth, Texas once it wraps up here. 

Gustave Caillebotte Jour de pluie à Paris
For a perfect “French in DC” afternoon, I would start with a casual brunch at Paul’s flagship store at the Navy Memorial then walk over to the National Gallery of Art on Sixth and Constitution Avenue to soak in Haussmannian area Paris at the Caillebotte exhibit before wrapping the day with the screening of the very French comedy of manner. If you *really* didn’t want to leave the National Gallery of Art you could also start with brunch at the museum’s Garden Cafe too 😉

Off the Beaten Path: ToKi’s SYNTH SERIES 002 Yarn Installation

My (Southern Republican) husband always jokes around that he is very vanilla, and that I bring a little bit of spice, the rum raisin flavour if you will, to his life. I don’t know about that, but I definitely bring him out of his comfort zone on a regular basis 😉 Like, the other day, for example, when I “dragged” him semi-willingly to an abandoned warehouse near the Rhode Island Avenue metro stop to check out an art installation by ToKi. Dragged him to this building:

Toki Art Installation

ToKi is a collaborative effort by two recent Howard University architecture graduates, Khai Grubbs and Toluwalase Rufai. Their latest work is a colourful art installation called SYNTH SERIES 002. Their main material: yarn, though I’m not sure I would actually classify this particular work as graffiti knitting (check out this awesome gallery in Time Magazine or this Buzzfeed article to see what happens when crochet meet street art!) Rather than reclaim, transform or personalize a public space, their collaborative work here seeks to study the intersection of music, space & architecture. Their words, not mine 😉 Part of the experience is definitely the thrill of finding the (no-longer-so) secret location and getting into it to find the colourful basking in the light of the top floor of the building, with nothing but silence as soundtrack. It definitely made for an amazing experience and some stunning pictures and instagram shots!

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IMG_2645This is the duo’s second installation.The first one, SYNTH Series 001, took place at Fort Totem Park near the Fort Totem, in a much more open environment.  They have plans to create more such work in the “synth” series throughout the city.

I wonder where they’ll pop up next!!

UPDATE: According to reports, like this instagram post or this one,  the installation was torn down by the owner of the building where it was housed. Le sigh. Though it is the nature of this kind of urban art I guess…

Postcard from Philadelphia: 13th & Locust’s Rainbow Crosswalk

It was the day after the Supreme Court’s landmark ruling legalizing gay marriage nationwide in the U.S. My parents and I were in Philadelphia to catch the Hermione tall ship while she was making her way up the East Coast. We were wandering around the city’s Mural Mile, a 2.5 mile loop through downtown, to catch some of Philadelphia’s most iconic street art. Suddenly, a pop of colour on the ground caught our attention for a change. At the intersection of 13th street and Locust, rainbow stripes had been painted on the pedestrian crosswalks, forming a bright and bold square.

Rainbow Crosswalk in Philadelphia

 

Turns out, this didn’t just pop overnight following the Supreme Court decision. It had been planned long before 😉 Starting with West Hollywood back in 2012, a handful of North American cities brightened up their crosswalks in historically gay or gay-friendly neighbourhoods like Vancouver’s Davie Street VillageSan Francisco’s CastroSeattle’s Capitol Hill or Toronto’s Church Street. Even Key West’s got a Rainbow Crosswalk and now Philadelphia. Isn’t it time DC got one as well!? As the Washington Post highlighted in this article last year, why can’t crosswalks be more fun, like this series of artist-designed crosswalks up in Baltimore’s new Bromo Tower Arts & Entertainment District or San Jose’s crosswalks at Paseo de San Antonio? We got a decent start with the awesome star-spangled crosswalk that livens up the intersection of 14th and S streets NW, but it could use a little sprucing up right now, it’s looking quite faded. And we could use more!! Wouldn’t you love a rainbow crosswalk in DC? If yes, where do you think it should be? 

When You Wish Upon a Star Tree

Have you made your wish yet? Yoko Ono’s Wish Tree for Washington, DC art installation is back on the mall this summer. Making a wish is simple: head to the Smithsonian Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden before Labour Day and find a dogwood tree across from Giacometti’s “Monumental Head.” Make a wish. Write it down on a piece of paper (pencil and white paper tags are provided). Fold it and tie it around a branch of the Wish Tree.

Yoko Ono's Wish Tree in Washington, DC

I made my wish earlier this summer, though I’m still waiting for it to come true. Like the love locks in Paris, which are frequently removed by the city, museum staff will clear up the tree several times a week throughout the summer so that there is room for additional visitors to add their own wishes. Except instead of throwing them in the trash, which is what I assume happens to the Parisian love locks – sorry lovers! Stop damaging historical bridges! – the wishes from the tree are bundled and sent to Yoko Ono herself. The Japanese artist, who was inspired to create this series by her own childhood, does not read the wishes she receives. Instead, she buries them at the base of the Imagine Peace Tower on Viðey Island in Kollafjörður Bay near Reykjavik in Iceland. To date, over 1 million wishes from around the world have been buried beneath the tower.

Yoko Ono's Wish Tree in DCYoko Ono's Wish Tree in DC

I wish I was Olivia Popw

Don’t we all? Clearly this was the best wish I spotted on the tree!

DC’s Wish Tree installation is one of many around the world. I put my first wish around a tree in the courtyard of the MoMa museum in New York. The art series begun in Finland, with one tree and since installations have popped up on different kinds of trees and in cities as diverse as Tokyo, Dublin, Venice, St Louis and of course DC and New York. You can read what some of your fellow Washingtonians or visitors to the capital have wished in this recap in The Washington Post.

For more information about Ono, visit: hirshhorn.si.edu/collection/yoko-ono/

N Street Murals Project: 3 Buildings, 3 Artists

March 14 was a miserable day for a run. On top of that, the winter had dragged on so my husband’s hadn’t trained outdoors as much as he had wanted to. But rain or shine, in this case rain and lots of it, the D.C. Rock’n Roll marathon and half marathon was happening, and my husband was running it. And that could mean only one thing for me… I’d be out there cheering. My favourite spot on the route is right across the street from NPR, since that’s an easy marker and it’s close enough to home. After I spotted my favourite runner, I decided to make a detour and swing by the new(ish) Unleashed by Petco store in NoMa on my way home. And that’s when I spotted a bright mural taking up an entire wall above a parking lot at 51 N Street NE. And a whole building wrapped in geometrical shapes right across the street from it. I discovered the N Street Murals Project….   

MOMO: 51 N STREET NE
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RUBIN: 33 NEW YORK AVENUE NE (VISIBLE FROM ACROSS 51 N STREET)
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KYLE HUGHES-ODGERS: 1300 1ST STREET NEIMG_5485 IMG_5520

As I found out when I got home that the interesting part about the N Street Murals project is that the urban intervention from these three street artists happened as a result of a collaboration between Art Whino Gallery and The JBG Companies, a real estate investment firm which develops office, residential and retail properties, including many in that part of town. Since NoMa is still strugling to develop its identity as a neighbourhood and attract bars, restaurants and businesses that will make it a weekend destination for those who live nearby I love that this project adds a drab of colour to an otherwise dull block and gives me a reason to want to go visit.

ps: check out pics of Momo’s work in the French cities of Besancon & Niort!