Category Archives: Art

A Community Weekend Full of Family Fun at the National Gallery of Art


In celebration of the exhibit The Life of Animals in Japanese Art, the National Gallery of Art invites you to a free weekend filled with family fun for all ages!

On Saturday and Sunday, June 22-23, drop in the museum’s East Building for an array of artistic and cultural activities, including Taiko drumming, origami lessons, hands-on art making, Japanese folktales, DJ performances, and more!

To help you plan, here are few highlights for families:

FILMS FOR CHILDREN
Howl’s Moving Castle
Saturday, June 22 at 10:15am in the Auditorium
Run time is 2 hours, recommended for ages 11+

My Neighbor Totoro
Sunday, June 23 at 11:15am in the Auditorium
Run time is 1 hour 40 minutes, recommended for ages 4+

FOLKTALES FROM JAPAN WITH MATOKO
Saturday & Sunday, June 22-23 at 1pm & 3pm at the Concourse Galleries
Run time is 45 minutes each session

DROP-IN ART MAKING
Calligraphy with Satomi China
Saturday & Sunday, June 22-23 at 12-4pm in the Education Studio

TAIKO DRUMMING BY CHIN DAIKO
Saturday, 5pm & 6pm and Sunday, 11am & 1pm
On the 4th Street Plaza

More information and the full schedule, including Saturday evening activities, can be found on the Community Weekend page.


Community Weekend
What: Celebrating The Life of Animals in Japanese Art
Where: National Gallery of Art | National Mall, DC
When: Saturday & Sunday, June 22-23
Admission: FREE


This post is sponsored by the National Gallery of Art, however, I only promote events, programs, and places that I genuinely believe in and think will appeal to KFDC readers.


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Filed under 2019, All ages, Art, DC, Educational, Exhibit, Free, Live Entertainment, Movies, Museums, Music, Special Event, Summer, Weekend

Join a Community Celebration at the National Gallery of Art this Sunday!


A visit to the National Gallery of Art makes for a great family outing any time, but this coming weekend will be an especially fantastic time to go. On Sunday, April 14, join the museum for a Community Celebration of the opening of Oliver Lee Jackson: Recent Paintings where there will be performances and activities for all ages that weave the rich sounds, rhythms, and colors of jazz with visual art.

Among some of the fun and festive ways to enjoy the day, you can:

  • Create Oliver Lee Jackson-inspired collages
  • Make your mark by contributing to a giant community puzzle
  • Engage with works of art and Gallery educators with hands-on activities
  • Soak in live jazz from DC native and saxophonist Herb Scott
  • Experience poetry by spoken word artist Charity Blackwell & create your own
  • Celebrate the diversity of Washington, DC, with Faces of DC, a photo mural starring faces of the people we encounter every day. (Located at 7th Street & Madison Drive NW)
  • The Community Celebration will take place in the East Building, 11am – 5pm. More information, including the schedule of activities and details for getting 20% at the cafe museum cafés, is available on the National Gallery of Art website.


    John Wilmerding Community Celebration: Oliver Lee Jackson
    Where: National Gallery of Art | National Mall, DC
    When: Sunday, April 14, 11am – 5pm
    Admission: Free


    This post is sponsored by the National Gallery of Art, however, I only promote events, programs, and places that I genuinely believe in and think will appeal to KFDC readers.


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    Filed under 2019, All ages, Art, DC, Educational, Exhibit, Free, Museums, Special Event, Spring, Weekend

    “In Peak Bloom” at ARTECHOUSE is a Fantastic Celebration of Spring



    The newest digital art exhibit at ARTECHOUSE, the gallery in Southwest DC known for its fusion of art and technology, may just be my favorite yet. Perfectly timed to open on the first day of spring, In Peak Bloom is a fantastic celebration of the season and its beauty, and visitors are encouraged to join in through interactive works that are delightful and enchanting, unique and profound.

    Of course, cherry blossoms are featured in some of the installations. Digital projections of the flowers float along the walls of the main room along with other vibrantly colored blooms. Like many of the works at ARTECHOUSE, you can engage with the imagery, directing it back and forth and in swirls as you move your arms. Owen looked like a conductor as he stood in front of the floral scenes waving his hands around. And the floor painted a glossy black looks like water with images from the walls above reflected on it. It’s quite a stunning scene to take in from the balcony above or even standing (or lounging) within.

    In a smaller room, you can make an image of a cherry tree bloom through connection with others. Powered by biometric sensors in four circular pads on the floor, you stand on one while other people stand on the rest, and touch hands (or lock arms or hug), and the tree goes from a pre-bloom white to a flourishing pink. Created by Korean-American artist Lisa Park, the work is inspired by Park’s experiences living abroad in the US and feeling detached from family and friends back home in Korea. It shows how connection and physical contact between people helps them thrive.

    There is a nod to Japanese culture with an area of shoji screens, panels of translucent paper and wooden frames used as doors, windows, and room dividers in traditional Japanese design. In this exhibit, some of them have shadowy plant scenes on them, indicating their use as windows, while others are backlit so you can make shadows appear on the other side. (Great for photo ops, and kids will undoubtedly have fun in that area — Owen and I did!)

    The maze of shoji screens leads to a wonderful, wild installation of “musical” plants, three planters of live hanging ivy that respond to contact. Each plant makes a different sound from nature — tweeting birds, croaking frogs, and either chirping insects or chattering monkeys (I couldn’t quite tell). You walk below and gently touch a leaf or stem to hear them sing. And multiple people touching them is like a little symphony of nature.

    Finally, there’s the Enchanted Garden, a room full of whimsical designs created from a mix of natural and recycled artistic mediums. An augmented reality (AR) app accompanies the installation to tell the story of The Rabbit in the Moon, a legend from Japanese folklore. Right now, it’s only available on android phones, and there are a couple available there to access it. The AR will be available on iPhones soon. But even without the AR, it’s neat to wander around and explore details of the art.



    Put In Peak Bloom on your family’s must-do spring activity list — it’s one you’ll all enjoy! Kids are welcome during all-ages daytime hours, but evenings are for adults only. The bar is open during these hours, and ARETCHOUSE always serves unique and tasty exhibit-inspired cocktails.

    In Peak Bloom
    Where: ARTECHOUSE | 1238 Maryland Avenue SW, WDC
    When: Daily, March 20 – May 27, 2019
    All Ages Hours: Sun-Thurs 10am – 7pm, Fri-Sat 10am – 5pm
    After Hours (Age 21+): Sun-Thurs 7-10pm, Fri-Sat 5:30-11:30pm
    Admission: $16-20/adult, $8-10/child




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    Filed under 2019, All ages, Annual, Art, DC, Exhibit, Seasonal, Spring, Weekdays, Weekend

    The Hirshhorn’s Newest Exhibit Will Capture Your Heart



    A new exhibit at the Hirshhorn will capture your heart — literally, you might say. Pulse, created by artist Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, combines science and art in the museum’s largest interactive technology exhibition ever. It’s beautiful, unique, thought provoking, and so interesting. And it offers an experience that all ages can appreciate in some way.

    Requiring visitor engagement, Pulse is comprised of three large-scale installations that use heart rate sensors to produce audiovisual experiences from visitors’ own biometric data. That’s right, your heartbeat — along with those of other museum-goers — helps generate many of the scenes and sounds throughout the exhibition. Visitors’ fingerprints play a big part in it, too.

    The works were inspired by the heartbeats of Lozano-Hemmer’s own fraternal twins when they were still in the womb. He asked for two ultrasounds to listen to both at once and was moved by their distinct pulses that “began phasing in and out, creating new complex sounds.” He wanted to make the differences visible with his art and turn them into immersive experiences that don’t just illustrate the metrics of the heart, but also, as Lozano-Hemmer put it during the media preview, “remind us of the fundamental metrics of humanity.”

    Taking up the entire second floor of the Hirshhorn, the exhibition begins with Pulse Index, which records participants’ fingerprints (along with their heart rates) and projects them along one wall. There are 10,000 of them, beginning with one giant image of the last print recorded, then more smaller images of previous prints that reduce in size as they move along the wall. Every time a new print is recorded, one is deleted from the other end, a metaphor for the human life cycle. It’s arresting to see all of the individual identities in one sweeping projection. Lozano-Hemmer also noted that creating this landscape of fingerprints — which are usually used to track and identify — and making them into art, symbolically breaks up the control of our current identification systems.

    In the next room, Pulse Tank presents several illuminated water tanks throughout the room with heart rate sensors connected to them. Visitors interact with the sensors by inserting a finger or placing palms on a surface. Computers then detect their pulse and tap ripples into the water, and the patterns are reflected onto the wall. Essentially, you can see your heartbeat as shadows and light and watch it move along the wall, sometimes intersecting with those of other visitors, but each of them unique.

    The final installation, Pulse Room, kind of has a disco feel to it with 200 flickering incandescent light bulbs hanging from the ceiling in the dark gallery with a reddish-orange hue. There’s a low rumbling that almost sounds like the build-up of something larger that never comes to fruition. You (or at least I did, anyway) realize later that each light bulb represents a heartbeat, and that rumbling sound is 200 of them playing at once. A sensor on the far side of the room lets you add your heartbeat to the mix. It starts with the first bulb, which blinks with your heart rate. Like the fingerprints, as a new heartbeat is added, the rest move to the next bulb, the last one dropping off — again, signifying the cycle of life. It’s at once moving and enchanting, uplifting but also a little bit grim as we’re reminded that we’re all in this together, though — in the broad spectrum of the universe — our time here is fleeting.

    Pulse is likely going to be a popular exhibition, and there may be lines to interact with it and use the sensors. But unlike previous exhibits with waiting times, in this one you can still immerse in and enjoy the art created by Rafael Lozano-Hemmer — and everyone interacting with his work — while you wait, since the results are all around you. That seems fitting for an exhibit that, in many ways, illustrates our collective experience as human beings.

    Kids are very welcome to Pulse — Lozano-Hemmer has three himself and says that children often change the environment of the room, making it more lively and playful than the somber feel of just adults. And while young children may not understand the underlying meaning of the works, they will enjoy interacting them and, hopefully, experience a sense of wonder.

    Pulse will be at the Hirshhorn through April 28, 2019. Museum hours are 10am – 5:30pm. Admission is free.


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    Filed under 2018, 2019, All ages, Art, DC, Exhibit, Fall, Free, Museums, Spring, Weekdays, Weekend, Winter