Eye Level

Eye Level is the blog of the Smithsonian American Art Museum and Renwick Gallery. Publishing behind-the-scenes museum stories since 2005.

What We Talk About When We Talk About Self-Taught Art

In honor of the renovation and reinstallation of SAAM’s galleries for folk and self-taught art on the first floor, four specialists in the field came together to address the perceptions and practice of folk and self-taught artists, each from a unique vantage point. The speakers joined Leslie Umberger, SAAM's curator of folk and self-taught art and emcee for the evening, in a discussion on the unique position of these out-of-the-ordinary makers of art.

November's Handi-Hour at the Renwick

Loving this crisp fall weather or wishing for the warmth of summer? Either way, this Handi-hour has you covered. Using dried autumn leaves or pressed wild flowers, come and make your own decorative candle or a bookmark. Come to the Renwick Gallery for Novermber's Handi-Hour.

Docents Look Back on 40+ Years at SAAM

Every day, SAAM's nearly 130 volunteer docents share their knowledge and love of American art with the public through highlights tours, school field trips, outreach, videoconferencing, and more. Eye Level sat down with two of our longest-serving docents, Phoebe Kline and Susanne Joyner, to hear their reflections on the ways the Museum has changed, highlights of its history, and what keeps them engaged.

Deborah Butterfield: Horsepower

Deborah Butterfield was speaking to a full house at SAAM's McEvoy Auditorium as the second speaker in this year's Clarice Smith Distinguished Lecture Series. During the course of the evening, she led us through four decades of her work.

Luce Unplugged: Five Questions + Two with Hand Grenade Job

On November 4, Hand Grenade Job (HGJ) performs at our Fall Luce Unplugged Community Showcase in the Luce Foundation Center. We teamed up with Washington City Paper to present this experimental post-Americana duo from the D.C. DIY punk scene. With Beck Levy playing guitar and Erin McCarley on percussion, both women are vocalists and multi-instrumentalists.

Reenvisioned Galleries of Folk and Self-Taught Art

The Smithsonian American Art Museum's ground floor galleries of Folk and Self-Taught Art reopen today with a compelling, new installation that features more than 120 objects, including 59 new acquisitions. These include works by artists such as Emery Blagdon, Ralph Fasanella, Clementine Hunter, Eddy Mumma, and Achilles Rizzoli. These join visitor favorites by Thornton Dial, Lonnie Holley, Martín Ramírez and Jon Serl.

Knock Wood: The Future of Furniture is in their Hands

Furniture "affects every single aspect of who we are and what we do though we don't always acknowledge that," said Nora Atkinson, the Lloyd Herman Curator of Craft at the Renwick Gallery, in her introductory remarks at the recent Maloof Symposium, Furniture and the Future. A stellar group of experts, designers, artists, and makers looked closely at the changing role of studio furniture, in light of the brave new world of digital technologies and marketplaces.

Picture This: October Breezes

t's fall in Washington, D.C. The days are cooler, the nights cold, and the wind picks up and deposits leaves to the ground. This painting by Albert P. Lucas reminds me of the weeks that lie ahead for me.
Jeff on October 13, 2016

A Pocket-Sized WONDER in Virtual Reality

We've launched "Renwick Gallery WONDER 360" as our first major experiment with producing immersive VR experiences. I hope you'll download it, and please let us know what you think by rating it in the app store!
Sara on October 4, 2016

Luce Unplugged: 5 Questions with Danke Shane

Danke Shane's debut D.C. show premieres this Thursday, October 6, in the Luce Foundation Center as a part of Luce Unplugged, our free, monthly concert series. In partnership with D.C. Music Download, we highlight musical acts within the District that create unique and innovative sound. With a new album releasing this winter, we sat down with Andrew Burke from Danke Shane to learn more about the launch of his musical career.

Teaching the African American Experience through Art

On October 13, the Smithsonian American Art Museum will host "Art and the African American Experience," an evening for teachers presented in celebration of the opening of the National Museum of African American History and Culture. Led by educators at SAAM, Teaching for Change, and the Anacostia Community Museum, participants will explore ways of thoughtfully addressing race and the African American experience through art in their teaching. The event is free with registration, and includes teaching resources and a standing reception.
Phoebe on September 29, 2016

A Humorous Streak to The Art of Romaine Brooks

Joe Lucchesi, the consulting curator for SAAM's exhibition, The Art of Romaine Brooks, is Associate Professor of Art History and the Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Program Coordinator at St. Mary's College of Maryland. Joe gives us a look at the humor and wit of Romaine Brooks. He will be leading a tour of the show on Thursday, September 29 at 6 p.m. The Art of Romaine Brooks is on view until October 2, 2016.
Jeff on September 28, 2016

Glass Gardens: Agnes Northrop Designs for Louis C. Tiffany

To kick off the 2016 season of the Clarice Smith Distinguished Lectures in American Art, scholar Alice Cooney Frelinghuysen, Curator of American Decorative Arts at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, brought us into the close circle of Louis Comfort Tiffany's art glass studio.
Howard on September 27, 2016

Framing The Art of Romaine Brooks

Romaine Brooks was something of an interior decorator as well as an artist. She took a lively interest in the frame designs and finishes for her artworks. Several of the paintings in the exhibition The Art of Romaine Brooks are in frames that she personally designed or that were prepared under her direction.
Jeff on September 22, 2016

Luce Artist Talk with Nicole Salimbene

Each month, the Luce Foundation Center partners with neighboring Flashpoint Gallery to bring local artists to speak about their own work and the inspiration they take from SAAM's collection. We'll kick off our fall Luce Artist Talk Series on Sunday, September 25, with Nicole Salimbene, a multimedia artist whose work explores themes of mindfulness and conflict between one's internal self and the physical world. She will discuss how she uses form to encourage contemplation and provoke dialogue.