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!

Gaia Mural & Art Intervention at the W Hotel

We had a blast Friday night celebrating the unveiling of a new indoor mural by street artist Gaia at Pinea, the new(ish) restaurant that replaced J&G Steakhouse at the luxury hotel W Washington D.C. To go along Chef Barry Koslow’s southern Mediterranean menu, the mural was inspired by a sculpture of Cesar Augustus and also features birds, a leitmotiv in Gaia’s work.

parts of the gaia muralPinea DC

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Street Artist Gaia discusses his art intervention and mural for Pinea at the W hotel in DC

Street Artist Gaia discusses his art intervention and mural for Pinea at the W hotel in DC

 

I personally love the mural and thinks it not only livens up Pinea’s dining room but also really works with what I expect a restaurant at a W Hotel to look like. Wondering where you may have seen Gaia’s works before? The 27 years old Baltimore-based street artist has a couple of murals throughout the city. He was one of 3 street artists featured in Forbes Magazine recently as one of 30 under 30 in the Arts and Style category (the other two were Tatyana Fazlalizadeh and Portugal-based Vhils.)

Rooster Mural at Smith Commons on H Street, Washington DC, 2012. Picture courtesy of Gaia.

Rooster Mural at Smith Commons on H St, Washington DC, 2012. Picture courtesy of Gaia.

Three Stages of 1817 Benning Rd, Washington DC, 2013. Image courtesy of Gaia.

Three Stages of 1817 Benning Rd, Washington DC, 2013. Image courtesy of Gaia.

Fishing, 8th St SE, Washington DC, 2013. Image courtesy of Gaia.

Overfishing, 8th St SE, Washington DC, 2013. Image courtesy of Gaia.

If you haven’t had a chance to try Pinea, the new restaurant at the W Hotel, you now have a great excuse to! Or you can just swing by the dining on your way to Root Cellar, the hotel’s new whiskey bar which is directly underneath the dining room.

Francophonie Festival, 2015 Edition

The largest celebration of French culture and language in the world—the Francophonie Cultural Festival—is returning to the US capital March 5 to April 1, 2015. Organized by the D.C. Francophonie Committee in association with l’Alliance Française and Smithsonian Associates, the festival engages over 40 embassies for a month of cultural events ranging from lectures to concerts and movie screenings, culminating as usual with la Grande Fête de la Francophonie, a huge foodie bash at la Maison Française at the French Embassy.

What I’ve loved about the partnership with Smithsonian Associates this year is how active Smithsonian at 8 (the 21+  after-hours event planning art of the Smithsonian) has been about shinning a light on all the different countries that belong to the francophone world. Check out their facebook page, for example. Over the past few years, they’ve posted a recipe for Belgian waffles and the essentials of Senegalese cuisine, highlighted 10 of the most confusing words in the French language, gave us a crash course of playing the African drums and got me dreaming of jetting off to Guinea!

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Of course, Smithsonian at 8 has also been promoting the Grande Fête which will cap off the festival on March 27, 2015, and doing a Caption That contest to help you win free tickets. I’ve been to the Grande Fête many times, and here are a few tips to enjoy the party at the French Embassy:

  • la grande fete de la francophonieBuy your tickets early. The event will sell out, it always does.
  • Get to the party early. Even though the Grande Fête takes place on the expansive grounds of La Maison Francaise at the French Embassy, it gets very crowded, very fast. If you’re attending with a large group of people, agree on a meeting point because you’ll probably loose each other.
  • Don’t bring a big bag! They’ll be checking IDs and bags at the entrance so you’ll go through faster if you don’t have too much on you.
  • Uber to and back from the Embassy. There’s no parking available at the Embassy and not many spots in the streets nearby. The D6 bus does stop and pick up really close if you want to take public transportation.
  • Be prepared for long lines as you sample food and drink from more than 30 embassies as diverse as Ukraine, Cape Verde, Haiti, Tunisia and Belgium.
  • Stay for the concert! DJ Princess Slaya will spin music from Africa, the Caribbean, Europe, and plenty of destinations in between. The concert is when you stop spending all your time in a line and when the party really gets moving!
  • Bring cash. You’ll get food/drink samples from 7-9PM but it’s cash bar afterwards.

This year’s schedule seems a little more limited than in previous years, but besides the Grande Fête, there are a few interesting events like the Swiss Art Night at Hillyer Art Space, March 26 (6:30-9:00PM – free), Laissez les Bons Temps Rouler, a celebration of Louisiana at l’Alliance Française, March 20 (7PM – $20-$30) or Annecy in DC: a Selection of French Animated Shorts at the French Embassy, March 11 (7PM – free but reservations required.)

Make sure to visit FrancophonieDC.org for more info, including ticket costs, the description of the events and films, and times and locations.

Postcard from France: Cour Bérard in Paris

Cour Bérard is a small street in the 4eme arrondissement in Paris. It’s the home of the Moretti & Moretti, an art galerie which focuses on street art, digital art and installations.

Cour Bérard, Paris

I headed to the galerie to check out its Konny Stedin exhibit. If you’ve been to Paris recently, I’m sure you spotted some of the German street artist’s work. Her signature black and white portraits, with the red paint tears, can be seen throughout Paris, like this one below which I snapped a few years ago outside of BeaubourgStreet art by Konny outside of Beaubourg

But the best street art wasn’t inside the gallery. It was actually outside, in the street, which was lined with graffiti black cats.IMG_1300

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Cour Bérard is a small street, but it’s definitely a street art lover’s dream street.  And a black cat lover’s dream street too!

Postcard from France: Visiting the Louvre-Lens

Lens, a small town in northern France, boasts a football stadium with a capacity larger than its population, but doesn’t have a movie theater.  A former mining strong hold, its main touristic and cultural attractions used to be world war I cemeteries and Europe’s tallest slag heaps (known by their formal French name of base et terrils jumeaux du 11/19.) That all changed in 2012. That year, one of the world’s most famous museums, the Louvre, opened an outpost in Lens, attracting some 900,000 visitors its first year of operation. While that’s barely anything compared to the 8 million visitors that go through the Parisian museum each year, that’s still very impressive.

Lens is easily accessible from Belgium, the Netherlands and England. It’s also just an hour away from Paris by train, so during my last visit home, we hopped on the TGV to check it out. We rented a car to do a little more sight-seeing beyond the museum but you can also easily do without. Free shuttles bring visitors directly from the art deco train station to the Louvre-Lens and back. Starting in January, the shuttle will also stop boulevard Basly, the main commercial street in the city lined with a few art-deco reconstructed houses, on its way back from the museum.

Gare de Lens

Gare de Lens

Downtown Lens

Downtown Lens

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

But let’s get back to the main attraction: Louvre-Lens. The sleek, minimalist building, designed by Japanese architect firm Sanaa (they also designed the New Museum in New York City,) is a steel and glass structure on a 20 hectare wasteland that was originally used as a coal mine before the ’60s. On a clear day, visitors can spot the giant through the museum’s  floor to ceiling glass windows.

Can you spot the twin giant slag heaps at Loos-en-Gohelle?

Can you spot the twin giant slag heaps at Loos-en-Gohelle through the windows?

The Louvre-Lens creators have said they want the museum to be a Louvre in its own right, and not just an annex of the Parisian Museum. That being said, the Louvre-Lens doesn’t have its own collection and relies instead on long-term loans from the mother-ship. Since the Louvre has some 460,000 works of art in its collection but only has space to display 35,000 of them, this is actually a mutually beneficial relationship. The first 250 pieces that were loaned to Louvre-Lens have been curated in a rather novel way to give visitors a brand new perspective on some pretty classic art pieces and artifacts. While other museums, the Louvre-Paris included, typically separate artworks by style or era (Egyptian pieces together, renaissance painting separately,) the art at Louvre-Lens is displayed in chronological order in one long, light-filled gallery called the Galerie du Temps (time gallery.)

The "permanent" collection at Louvre-Lens is housed in the Galerie du temps

The “permanent” collection at Louvre-Lens is housed in the Galerie du Temps

We spent two hours going through the collection like we would have reading through an art book, starting with Egyptian antiquities (statues, sarcophagus, etc.,) a statue of Alexander the great, roman mosaics, greek vases and a celestial globe from Iran going all the way to a portrait of Louis XIV, a statue of Napoleon, a virgin and child by Botticelli and yes, a Goya and a Rembrandt too… While we were there, the museum was busy preparing for the opening of a new temporary exhibit, “Des animaux et des pharaons,” focusing on Egypt’s fascination with animals. Every year, the museum will offer 2 different temporary exhibits while changing up some of the pieces in the “permanent” collection, giving residents of the Nord-Pas-de-Calais region plenty of reasons to keep going back to their new local attraction.

Chez Cathy, across from the Louvre-Lens

Chez Cathy, across from the Louvre-Lens

Le Centre Historique Minier Lewarde

Le Centre Historique Minier Lewarde

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Whether the museum will provide a long-term economic boost to the depressed town remains to be seen but it certainly cannot hurt. I was glad to visit. While we were in the area, we had some traditional northern-France food at nearby Chez Cathy (the museum also offers its own more elegant restaurant, l’Atelier de Marc Meurin,) visited the excellent Centre Historique Minier Lewarde before grabbing dinner at Aux Vieux de la Vieille, a traditional estraminet in Lille.There’s plenty more we could have done if we had opted to do an overnight trip instead of the day one, like visiting the historical town center in Arras or even going as far as Roubaix to visit Le Musee de La Piscine de Roubaix, a former art-deco swimming pool turned, you may have guessed it, museum. And I might have an opportunity to in the next few years, actually. In 2016, Lens will be one of the host cities for the Euro Cup, which will be held in France between June 10 and July 19, 2016 and which I am totally planning on attending! Its Stade Bollaert-Delelis, which previously hosted some world cup matches back in 1998, will see 3 group-stages matches and one round of 16 match (so if you’re planning on seeing a match there, maybe double down and see the museum too!). Before that, though, the Louvre will further spread its collection, going outside of France this time with the opening of the Louvre-Abu Dhabi scheduled for December 2015.

Out of Many One Facescape on the National Mall

Selfie at the National MonumentOn October 9, 1888, the Washington Monument officially opened to the general public. It’s the tallest building in Washington, D.C. and the tallest stone structure in the world, though it lost the tallest building in the world title a long time ago (initially to a certain wrought-iron Parisian tower…and many more buildings since.)

My husband and I have lived in DC for more than 10 years and yet we had never been up to the top of the Washington Monument. So when we heard that the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery and the National Park Service had commissioned a six-acre portrait between the World War Two Memorial and the Lincoln Memorial that’s best seen from 555 feet above ground and only until October 31, we jumped at the excuse to finally cross it off from our DC-to-do list. The portrait in question was created by renowned street artist Jorge Rodriguez-Gerada, whom I’d heard of through a previous large scale mural in Vitry, outside of Paris. Titled “Out of Many One” (the English translation of the Latin phrase E pluribus unum, the motto that appears on the Great Seal of the United States and coins) it’s Jorge’s first project in the United States. In 2009, he completed a similar portrait, but of President Obama, in Barcelona where he resides. Unlike Obama’s portrait, Out of Many One is a composite portrait, made of different photos the artist took of young men from many racial backgrounds.

Out of Many One, from the ground

Selfie on the grounds of Out of Many One

Out of Many One, National Mall, October 2014

On the ground, there are two small openings that allow passers-by to experience the piece differently than from the top of the Washington Monument. You’re only allowed to walk on the sand part of the portrait though. At the end of October, the environmentally friendly piece, made of sand and soil, will blend back into the landscape as part of the National Park Service’s turf restoration before the grounds are turned into soccer fields (yeah!).

Out of Many One on the National Mall

If you want to check out the portrait before its gone, you’ll need a little of planning and organization. Most advance tickets for the Washington Monument are booked already but you can pick up free, day-off tickets at the Washington Monument Lodge, located along 15th Street (in front  of the monument.) These are distributed on a first come first serve basis, so you’ll want to get there as close to 8:30AM as you can. I didn’t get to the ticket office until 9AM and the earliest slot available then was at 1:30PM. That gave me plenty of time to walk around the mall, including through “Out of Many One,” and meet my husband at Central for brunch before heading back to the Washington Monument. It was a gorgeous day so we had a perfect view of all four sides of the city, including the West side which allows visitors to view Jorge’s portrait.

The view from all 4 sides of the Washington Monument

From the other angles, you can see the U.S. Capitol and the Smithsonian Institutions on the East side, the White House (and my house!) on the North side, the Jefferson Memorial, Tidal Basin and Pentagon from the South and the Arlington cityscape, the reflecting pool, World War Two memorial and, for a short time, Out of Many One.

Hope you get chance to see it! Otherwise, there’s always the Washington Monument earthcam

Art All Night Returns September 27, Expands Across the District

I’ve given up on D.C.’s Art For All ever being a cultural event of the scale and caliber of Paris’ Nuit Blanche, but that doesn’t mean that I’m not looking forward to it. The main event, Art All Night/Nuit Blanche DC, now in its fourth edition, will take place Saturday, September  27  and go beyond the Shaw neighbourhood to all four quadrants of the city.

Art all night, art all night 2014, art event dc, nuit blanche dc

Art All Night uses art to cast a new light on the city and one of the things I love the most about the DC version is that it allows me to explore both established art spaces and discover more underutilized venues. This year is no exception. Here are some of the highlights:

Activated! Art4All Launch Party ~ If you haven’t walked through the new City Center complex downtown (and seen its fun digital art feature the Gateway), now is your chance! D.C.’s newest development will host the official launch party for the 3 week festival on Friday, September 26 (6-8PM.) The $15 tickets include 2 tickets and appetizers, provided by recently opened DBGB DC and Del Frisco’s. That alone should sell you on it.

North Capitol Main Streets ~ That part of town is definitely not one that I would want to explore at 1AM on any other night, but during Art All Night 50 artists will turn 3 lots between 1514 and 1638 North Capitol into THE place to be on September 27. Curated by Art Soiree and the team that put the Wonderbread Factory on the cultural map, North Capitol Main Street will feature a silent disco, a commissioned graffiti mural, food trucks, projected video art and more between 7PM and 3AM.

north capitol

 

Dupont Circle ~ Here, Art All Night is mainly taking place in small, established galleries like Hillyer Art Space, Foundry Gallery or the Washington Studio School. Don’t miss an interactive movie making experience at the Heurich House Museum and Alex Braden‘s Outside and Play (Reprise), a 12-minute site, sound, and time-specific performance beginning promptly at 12:05am (it’s BYO headphones!) at Hillyer Art Space.

H Street NE ~ There will be a little bit of everything on H Street: golf at 3rd and H, dessert making at 646 H Street, DJs, film projections, an open house and preview of the new Ben’s Chili Bowl, live bike frame painting and custom bike making and a performance by an eclectic chamber collective at the Atlas Theater (between 8-10PM only.) Basically, a pretty typical scene for a Saturday night on H Street 😉

Congress Heights ~ Curated by Tendani Mpulubusi El., the area around the MLK corridor will host a sidewalk arts fest between 2700 – 2900 Martin Luther King Avenue SE, exciting lighting schemes and graphic projections as well as store front displays, readings, sip and paint and, of course, music.

IMG_4784Shaw ~ Shaw was the main host for all of the Art All Night events in 2013 and will be the main hub again this year. The area has changed SO much in the past 12 months though! If you want to see everything Art All Night has to offer in that part of town, start the evening at the Carnegie Library (live music) and zig zag your way up to the Popeye Building through 7th and 9th street. There’s too much stuff going on for me to list them all but I’m looking forward to the unveiling of a new outdoor mural by Kelly Towles at 1509 7th St. NW, abstract painting and sculpture (also much needed caffeine!!) at just-opened Compass Coffee, the return of Anienkan Udofia’s Marvin Gaye mural (which was recently lost to construction) at 1748 7th st. NW, and DJ + photo booth at the Watha T. Daniel/Shaw Library.

After the 27th, Art For All continues with two “PorchFests” on Rhode Island Avenue NE (October 4th) and Adams Morgan (October 18th). Inspired by similar PorchFest events across the country aimed at creating a family-friendly, neighborhood-based alternative to the nightclub music scene, these two events will celebrate local talent by turning the front porches of neighborhood homes into performance spaces.

So yes, D.C.’s version of Art All Night is more of a take on the Parisian concept, an (almost) all-night exploration and celebration of art that’s amplified through a 3-weeks long art festival. I think it mainly succeeds in showcasing local artists and bringing art within everyone’s reach in a fun, party-like atmosphere. But, in Paris, some of the major museums like the Louvre, Pompidou, the Grand and Petit Palais or the Palais de Tokyo open up to the public (free of charge and ALL night) for Nuit Blanche. Wouldn’t it be awesome if some of the Smithsonians or the Newseum could open their door for D.C.’s Art All Night? In Paris, Art Happenings take place in both unusual and underused locations as well as major buildings that are not typically open to the public. For example, this year, Motoi Yamamoto  will create an art piece using salt on the floor of the salle des Tapisseries in City Hall. Wouldn’t it be fun if we could get some of the government buildings to partake? Like all night readings of the Constitution to different music at the Archives, or something like this? Just my suggestions…

 

 

Angelika Pop-UP at Union Market

Angelika Pop Up at union Market

The Angelika Film Center in New York City’s SoHo neighborhood is a cultural institution for arthouse cinema. Its affiliate at the Mosaic District in Fairfax is FABULOUS! It’s an elegant, state of the art, 8 screens theater where you can nibble on tadoori popcorn and reserve your seat in advance. If it weren’t so far in Fairfax, I’d go there all the time! Luckily, soon enough, there will be an Angelika movie theater near Union Market, right here in downtown, DC. Until then (then being 2015), Union Market is giving us a little preview of what it will be like with an Angelika pop-up.

The pop-up opens this weekend with screening of Queen Margot, a French period drama featuring Daniel Auteuil and Isabelle Adjani about the tension between the Catholics and the Protestant Huguenots fighting to control France in the late 16th Century.  You can watch the trailer here, but it’s basically full of love and murders… and blood. (Screenings 6/13 – 6/19 at 12:30pm, 3:45pm, 7pm as well as a 10:15p Friday and Saturday. Tickets here). It’s also showing Supermensh (more details here) and has a slew of great independent art-house films coming up for the rest of the summer.

Seeing Art Through Google Glasses

art through google glasses, laetitia brock, laetitia-laure Brock, google glasses, laetitia brock google glassesJudging by the crowds who showed up at the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery this Presidents’ Day weekend, Washingtonians were very exited at the idea of mixing art and wearable technology. I know I was. I must confess, when I first read about David Datuna’s “Portrait of America” piece I didn’t entirely grasp the concept. I just thought, ooh, cool, google glasses and art! Let’s check it out. My husband and I I showed up at 11:15 on Sunday without even knowing that the Portrait Gallery only opened at 11:30.  We entered on the G street Street side, slowly made our way to the line via a leisurely walk through the “Retratos: 2000 Years of Latin American Portraits” exhibit only to find out that, at 11:40 (so barely 10 minutes after the museum opened) we would be in for a good hour and a half wait for our 3-minutes experience at Portrait of America. We opted to map out the quickest way to get to the piece and decided, since we live close by anyway, that we would just be a little more strategic about it the next day.

And more strategic we were… when we showed up at 11:10 on Monday, the line was already 30 people long but we managed to get a better spot in line while inside, minimizing our way to 30 minutes. Was it worth it? Well… I’m not sure 3 minutes in front of one art piece is ever worth that long a wait, whether google glasses are involved or not. But it was my first time putting on Google Glasses, and it was my first time experiencing art that way… so I think it was, though I wish I had had more time to experience the videos.

From a distance, “Portrait of America” looked like a beautiful, shiny American Flag

Let’s talk about the piece itself. Portrait of America is a 12-foot art installation that chronicles the journey of a diverse nation through its collective experience. At first sight, it’s a big patriotic American flag. Upon closer look, you notice that the flag is actually made of 2,000 eyeglass lenses. Behind those lenses, are small pictures of events and people that helped define American culture. Add GPS locators beneath the canvas and Google Glasses and you get an interactive work of art. Depending on where you look at the piece, you may experience a video of “I Love Lucy,” a Kennedy campaign ad or a Madonna video clip. And that’s just based on my 3-minutes personal experience…. everyone gets different 20 seconds clips meant to provoke a reaction from the audience—one that is then recorded and shared in a live stream on the artist’s personal website.

From up close, you could notice that the flag was made up of eye glasses lense

Detail of Portrait of America

Detail of Portrait of America

Unfortunately, due to the popularity of Portrait of America (up to three hours wait in the afternoon) visitors were limited to three minutes at the piece with the Google Glasses. This didn’t really give me enough time to think about the questions I was being asked (like, “what’s the first thing you would do if you were elected president), learn to navigate the new technology of the Google Glasses, watch the videos and reflect on the experience. Over the next several years, David Datuna plans to create similar pieces of art for 10 countries around the world, including France. Eventually, he plans to have them connect in a “Viewpoint of Billions” series that will reflect the many people and objects that have shaped and will continue to shape the world.

I love that idea… and I’d line up for more than 3 hours to see the final result!

Virginia is for (art & French films) lovers

Virginia is for lovers and this month, the Commonwealth wants DC area residents to Like! to LOVE Virginia. Throughout April, people who “like” the Virginia is for Lovers Facebook page will have access to daily travel deals and super savings through the VADeals4DC tab. To spread the love, they’ve also installed a giant LOVE art installation at the DuPont Circle Memorial Fountain. The letters will be displayed through April 8 and everyone is encouraged to take a picture of them or with them and upload them to the facebook page. As part of the promotion, Virginia will also be giving out some Like! to LOVE Virginia t-shirts on April 1st (the location will be announced on Facebook at 3PM Friday).
I got a head start on loving Virginia by visiting its capital, Richmond, last weekend. Located less than a two hour drive away from Washington, D.C., Richmond is a great destination for a one or two days getaway. Richmond has a long and interesting history that includes a stint as the capital of the Confederate States of America. But that’s not what brought me to Richmond this time around. It was art and more specially, Pablo Picasso’s art. My parents and I have always engaged in a lot of cultural traveling. When the largest-ever exhibition of works by Dutch master Vermeer opened in The Hague in 1996 we made a special trip to Holland. The following year we headed to Portugal to be among the first visitors at the new Guggenheim Museum Bilbao. And last year, we managed to put together a quick visit to the new Pompidou Metz Museum a few months after its opening. It’s kinda what I’ve always done so the minute I heard about the Picasso: Masterpieces from Le Musee National Picasso exhibit in Richmond I thought, well, I just have to go. OK, to be fair my first thought was: “why Richmond?” But my second thought was how do I get tickets.

 

Picasso is taking over the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts from Feb. 19-May 15, 2011

 

As it turns out, Richmond also happens to be the host of one of the largest French film festival in the US every year meaning that I was able to turn a simple trip to Richmond into a nice cultural getaway! My friends Yasmine, Cecile and I escaped DC as the national marathon runners were just getting started and arrived early enough to grab a quick lunch at Coppola’s Delicatessen, explore the Carytown neighbourhood and catch the noon showing of a very forgetable Sophie Marceau film at the decrepit historical Byrd Theater. We then headed to the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts for our 3PM entrance time to the exhibit. Having grown up a few blocks away from the Musée National Picasso in the lovely but old Hotel Salé in the Marais this wasn’t my first time seeing any of the works presented. The avantage of this “small,” selective exhibit was that, unlike at the Paris Museum which is quite extensive, I didn’t feel overwhelmed by the number of paintings to see. With 176 works selected from the Paris museum to travel overseas, I was able to discover or rediscover paintings or even photographs and sculptures that I may have overseen before.

After the exhibit, we took a quick stroll through the museum, which is actually quite impressive for a musée de province, featuring Andy Warhol’s Elvis poster, a Goya, antiques from Egypt and Greece, the largest public Fabergé collection outside of Russia and a waterfall cascading into a pool with a Maillol sculpture. Not bad…

Amuse offers upscale American fare & craft cocktails in an art-lined space

We then headed to Amuse, on the top floor of the Museum for a well deserved treat. We sat in oversized neon green chairs and enjoyed some “Cubist Cocktails” inspired by the modern master. Among the clever creations were a “Guernica” with house made orgeat and Pedro Ximenez Sherry over black cherry and almond milk cubes topped off with sparkling Cava or (pictured below) a “Bleu Period Martini” made with Grey Goose Vodka dirtied with cornichon brine (a nice twist!), shaken and served with blue cheese stuffed olives.

“Drink to me, drink to my health. You know I can’t drink anymore.” ~ Pablo Picasso
Richmond is the exhibit’s second US stop after Seattle, Washington, and its only stop on the East Coast. Its third and final stop will be the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco from June 11 through September 18, 2011. After that, Picasso’s masterpieces will return home to Paris to a newly renovated National Museum. Which of course I will travel to see shortly after it reopens. That’s just what I do 😉