Eye Level

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

Introducing Howard

It's the dawn of the new fiscal year (ok, so you're not interested in the ways of the federal government). But in this case it means I get to introduce you to a new addition to our Eye Level team, Howard Kaplan.

Jeff on October 5, 2007

Two New Podcasts

We have launched two new podcasts this week: an audio podcast, The Prints of Sean Scully, (whose exhibition is on display at the museum until October 8) and our first video podcast on our Lunder Conservation Center.
Jeff on September 28, 2007

Picture This: Trees!!

Timing is everything. On my way to photograph the installation of Andrea Zittel's work for our upcoming exhibition Celebrating the Lucelia Artist Award, 2001—2006, I stopped off to see what was happening in our courtyard.
Jeff on September 20, 2007

Lucelia Artist Award Winner, Jessica Stockholder

Jessica Stockholder is the 2007 Lucelia Artist Award winner. Stockholder works in expansive installations at a time in which the boundaries of sculpture and installation have been so greatly enlarged that even an installation the size of a room might seem modest by comparison to other artists working in the genre.
Kriston on September 17, 2007

Night Baseball

Last summer we blogged about how Morris Kantor played with perspective to fit a ballpark drama into his painting Baseball at Night, so I was fascinated to see Marjorie Phillips' painting Night Baseball on a recent trip to the Phillips Collection.
Michael on September 13, 2007

Veteran Photography

Photographic portraits of veterans are a proven entity in museums and, to my mind, photography memorializes soldiers and wars. But will these photographs always serve that function—and do they even now?
Kriston on September 7, 2007


When we talk about creating Web sites or interpretive materials for the museum I always think about promoting the idea that artists aren't a clan of exotic space aliens but are regular people who look at the world, think about it, and channel their reactions and decisions into making works of art.
Michael on August 21, 2007

Newsweek lists our Earl Cunningham show as a must see.

I didn't purchase the professional version of Smithsonian Radar when I signed on for this job ten years ago (that's reserved for our Public Affairs department who scours newspapers and magazines for all coverage of our museum). However, I frequently find myself using the open source version when I come upon our name in the media.
Jeff on August 15, 2007

Bison Bladders

If his brush stroke doesn't tip you off, his subject matter will. And if by the subject matter you can't tell that George Catlin's paintings were done in the field, then seeing his buffalo bladder paint skins will put all doubt from mind.
Kriston on August 10, 2007

Lucelia Artist Award Class of 2007

This year marks the seventh Lucelia Artist Award, an annual award in which the Smithsonian American Art Museum recognizes an artist under age 50 for his or her contribution to contemporary art.
Kriston on August 3, 2007

Tear Down That Wall!

It's a favorite pastime of curmudgeons everywhere: Setting faux-naive paintings alongside naive paintings and asking supposed art experts to pick the real from the fake. Radar magazine gets in on the act here, daring savvy readers to prove through an online quiz that they're not faking it when they say they know what art is.
Kriston on July 19, 2007

The Media Arts, conclusion

The most significant lesson in John Hanhardt's last lecture on new media art concerned historical revisionism. Hanhardt professes that contemporary video artists—the subject of his fourth and final installment—worked with unexpected sources in their work, not merely by drawing inspiration from and references to the Western art-historical canon in the way that artists in other media do.
Kriston on June 28, 2007

Sculpture as Anything

Ken Johnson raises several good questions in his New York Times piece, where he takes the pulse of current sculpture by discussing what's up in the galleries this month.
Kriston on June 21, 2007

Keeping Up With the Joneses

Looking over some Washington Post archives, I found this review by Michael O'Sullivan of a show that was up at American University's Katzen Arts Center earlier this spring.
Kriston on June 14, 2007

Awards for SAAM New Media Projects

SAAM New Media projects have just won two MUSE awards from the American Association of Museums. The MUSE awards recognize excellence in the use of media and technology in museums.
Michael on June 13, 2007