Saturday, August 13, 2016

July 22 -- Renwick


In the lobby of the hotel -- arch of balloons over the entrance to the escalator down to the bridge-playing areas.

Standing to the left of the arch, looking down at the door into one of the playing areas.  Sad that this sort of reminder is necessary, but since it is, it's good that they're reminding people what the expectation is.

Speaking of going down........  The escalator down to the Woodley Park/Zoo metro station is very deep.  It takes about 2.5 minutes to ride down there.  At least it's a lot cooler down there than it is at the surface!  (And thank goodness we don't have to climb down and up all of these steps!

On the 22nd I went to the Renwick Gallery.  Its website says:

"The Renwick Gallery is home to the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s collection of contemporary craft and decorative art, one of the finest and most extensive collections of its kind. The museum’s home is a National Historic Landmark, the first built expressly as an art museum in the United States, and is named in honor of its architect, James Renwick, Jr. It has been a branch of the Smithsonian since 1972."

I prefer to think of it as art, in different media.  The Renwick is where they show off the collection of art that is not painting or sculpture.

I have visited it many times over the decades, but hadn't been there in a long time.

This piece hangs over the staircase.  It's computer-controlled lighting.  It is excellent, in my humble....

This is "Volume (Renwick)" by Leo Villareal.  Made of white LEDs, mirror-finish stainless steel, custom software, and electrical hardware.

I saw one excellent thing after another, in the Renwick.

After getting seriously annoyed, elsewhere, at the amount and extent of "art" that is extremely questionably art in the first place, and EXTREMELY unlikely to stand the test of time (in my humble), what a delight to see one interesting thing after another.  Most of these things are gorgeous.  I predict coming generations will delight in this work, just as we do.  (And that our descendants will look at hideous, intrisically without-interest purchases made by other institutions in the 20th and 21st centuries and say "WHAT were they thinking???"  !!!)

This is called Renwick Gate.  It was made in 2011 by Mark Maiorana of iron, enamel, and laquer.  Isn't it spectacular?  I love this. 

This is the most quilt-looking thing I saw on the 22nd.  It's movie film, sewn together.  It's called Fibers and Civilization (1959).  It was made by Sabrina Gschwandtner in 2009.

Oh my goodness -- this is a glass and wood spinning wheel!  Complete for spinning flax, with a distaff (that tall vertical thing) and water cup.  (Flax fibers are so long that it's very helpful to have a separate piece of equipment to help manage the un-spun fiber.  That's a distaff.  Flax is easier to spin smoothly if the spinner's fingers are dampened, hence the water cup.)

Love the shadows...............

A spinning wheel is a complicated piece of machinery.  The foot-powered treadle (flat piece of wood in the center of the triangle, above) goes up and down, and that up-and-down force is translated into revolution of the wheel.  With this kind of wheel, the yarn is both spun *and* wound onto a bobbin by the machine.  A double drive band is one way to both spin and wind on (you can see two black strands coming off the wheel in the upper left corner of the next image).

The weight of the wheel, and the forces applied to turning it, must be managed.  Bearings allow the wheel to turn smoothly.

We can see here that the spokes of the wheel are not attached by melting glass to glass.  I'm guessing that wouldn't have been a strong enough join.  I bet there is metal going down into the spokes and up into the wheel.....

Here's the little cup for water, if you are spinning flax.  You don't need water for shorter fibers like animal fibers or cotton.  Flax fibers can be upwards of 18" long......

I'm betting this is one drive band, but that the long black loop has been twisted once, and goes around the wheel twice.  You can see that the drive band goes around two different circles at left, below -- once for putting twist in the fibers ("spinning"), and once for winding the spun yarn onto the bobbin ("winding on").

(All that white stuff on the bobbin is animal fiber, and I'm going to guess wool, just because wool is the most common animal fiber.  It's not flax.  It's just too hairy for that.)

All of the images so far have been of the front of the wheel, where the spinner would sit.

To get the next image, I walked around the left side of the wheel, and pointed the camera down.  You can see the flax water cup in the upper left corner.  Love the shadows.....

Closer crop of the bobbin -- you can see how hairy this yarn is.

The hooks are for filling the bobbin evenly.  The spinner pauses from time to time and moves the spun thread from one hook to the next.

I am very surprised to *not* see the ends of the hooks going down into the glass they are attached to.....  Given my guess that the spokes of the wheel have metal joining them with the wheel, I am surprised that the "roots" of the hooks are not sunk into this glass......

What a cool thing, this wheel, don't you think?  I was itching to try it.....................  It was made by Andy Paiko of glass, cocobolo, steel, brass, and leather in 2007.

Tearing myself away..................

Love this.  It's paper!  It was made in 2011 by Erik Demaine.  I didn't pay attention -- now I wonder how many pieces of paper this is.  One?  Or?  I wish I'd thought to follow, around all of those curves, and find out!

A spidery glass amphora, inside an even more tenuous cylinder.  A tour de force -- *and* it's beautiful.  "Matrix Series:  Amphora...Save"  borosilicate glass, made by Brent Kee Young in 2006.

"Yellowstone Rhododendron"  Made by Michael Sherrill in 2000 of porcelain, glaze, and steel.

I want to pet this.  I think it probably feels very nice to the fingertips........

Fibonacci 5, made in 1996 by Billie Ruth Sudduth.

The look of this next one doesn't appeal to me, but I'll give full credit for inventive use of materials!  This is made of burrs and twigs!  Building something out of burrs -- what a clever idea..........  Thinking about how one would do this....  Was it made around a balloon?  Or can one build a (big) circular shape out of burrs without support?  This must be well over 18" tall....   Hmm.  I may have to get some burrs and experiment...............  Wondering exactly how you collect these and keep them from clinging to each other in a messed up tangle?  You'd have to keep them separate until you *meant* to stick them together.  (When stressed, the small spherical groups of burrs fall apart into the individual burrs).

I believe this kind of burr was the inspiration for velcro.  Each of the spikes you see below carries a seed, and each has a hook on the end.  They grab -- in bunches -- onto the fur of a passing animal, and are hard enough to remove that they can be transported long distances.

Our husky/farm-shepherd dog, Spot, came home from the Arboretum one time with her hind legs glued together by this very kind of burr.  It took me an hour and a half to get her cleaned up so she could walk comfortably!  (She was so patient during all that uncomfortable hair-pulling time that I have to think she realized that only someone with thumbs was going to be able to fix her problem.....)  The other dog, a corgi, came home with nary a burr.  It pays to have shorter, stiff, straight hair, if you're going to run through the burrs!

1989, burdock burrs and apple wood, John MacQueen.

Oooooooh, right?  This was carved of one piece of maple.  Look at the shadows inside the bowl......  Wow.

Ron Layport made "The Running" in 2008 of bleached maple, paint, dye, stain, and resin.

Textiles!!!!!!!!!!!!!  Fabric and stitchery!

"Lay Inlet" made by Barbara Lee Smith of synthetic fabrics, acrylic paint, silk paint (and miles and miles of thread) in 2006.  Isn't this beautiful?  I would happily hang this on my wall............  It's large -- maybe 3'x6'?

Detail.  Look how she has put something sparkly in the bobbin, when she sewed over the blue water, and how the tension is set up to show those little glints of bobbin thread........

Believe it or not, everything in this post from the Renwick (except the computerized lights) is in two (2) rooms.  And I didn't take pics of everything, and not all my pics came out.  (My pics of the Feast Bracelet were a complete fail.....)

Really excited to see so much beautiful, interesting work in so many media!!!


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