Skipping Valentine’s Day and Focusing on Friends

Who needs hearts and flowers when you have a group text?

We lay down our arms so we can reach out our arms to one another.
We seek harm to none and harmony for all.

— Amanda Gorman, “The Hill We Climb”


Valentine’s Day, that holiday that would have us focused on romantic love as the most important human connection in our lives, has us cynics thinking about our friends instead. How has friendship sustained us this year? How has the silly photo or the quick, heartfelt text jolted us out of a funk? How have we shared the burden of sorrow and anxiety with each other? How have we learned new skills and ideas, or devoured new series or books together from afar?

Grand gestures can be nice, but they are inherently exclusive (looking at you, Valentine’s Day). We’re here for the quiet, sly acknowledgement or dark inside joke that interrupts the daily grind and ties us together.

A kitten, because why not?

Media - 1975.83.89 - SAAM-1975.83.89_1 - 75755
Chuzo Tamotzu, Cats, ca. 1935-1937, lithograph on paper, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Transfer from the Evander Childs High School, Bronx, New York through the General Services Administration, 1975.83.89

A sculpture to tell your friend you are always ready with a helping hand.

Media - 2015.10 - SAAM-2015.10_4 - 117694
Dan Webb, Cut, Flamed, Spalted, 2013, maple, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Museum purchase through the Decorative Arts and Crafts Endowment, the Richard T. Evans Fund, and the Renwick Acquisitions Fund, 2015.10, © 2013, Dan Webb

3, 2, 1... go! Cue up that playlist and let off some steam, long distance but synchronized.

Media - 1980.36.2A-C - SAAM-1980.36.2_1 - 83164
Alma Thomas, Red Azaleas Singing and Dancing Rock and Roll Music, 1976, acrylic on canvas, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Bequest of the artist, 1980.36.2A-C

Flowers are cliché for a reason, and absolutely no one is allergic to a link to a painting.

Media - 1964.1.93 - SAAM-1964.1.93_1 - 73491
Kathryne Hail Travis, Spring Flowers, ca. 1934, oil on canvas, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Transfer from the U.S. Department of Labor, 1964.1.93

But if the while I think on thee, dear friend, all losses are restored and sorrows end

— William Shakespeare, “Sonnet 30”
Media - 1994.91.219 - SAAM-1994.91.219_1 - 82732
Unidentified, Three Friends in a Field, ca. 1900, gelatin silver print, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Museum purchase from the Charles Isaacs Collection made possible in part by the Luisita L. and Franz H. Denghausen Endowment, 1994.91.219