Eye Level

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

Final Touches: Our Building in Review

We open in just nine days and everything is falling into place. Look behind the scenes at final artwork installations and finishing touches.
Cassandra on June 22, 2006

Architectural Cake Walk

Yesterday, when Smithsonian Secretary Larry Small pronounced Patty Collette’s winning entry a “spectacular creation,” he wasn’t referring to a contest in a medium commonly associated with the visual arts. This was a battle among cakes. Three prominent pastry chefs were invited to the Donald W. Reynolds Center for American Art and Portraiture to create cakes inspired by the design of the historic building, in celebration of our grand opening July 1st.
Cassandra on June 21, 2006

Luis Jimenez, 1940-2006

Born in El Paso and an alumnus of the University of Texas at Austin, Jiménez made sculpture that coupled a Pop medium (fiberglass) with traditional Southwestern themes. His work drew from the cultural poles of Mexico City and New York City, both places where he worked and studied, and he was greatly influenced by public artists such as Mexican muralist José Clemente Orozco. The artist sought to bring Native American, Mexican, and Chicano figures to the fore in works that pay heed to classical sculptural values.
Kriston on June 20, 2006

A Model Gallery

Down the hall from my office is a room full of highly detailed scale models of every SAAM gallery in the museum. The models began taking shape two summers ago.
Michael on June 19, 2006

In Memoriam: Luis Jimenez (1940-2006)

Luis was a close friend to many people here at SAAM and his Vaquero, long installed at our north entrance, is a symbol of the museum.
Michael on June 15, 2006

Grand-Pop Parrish

In your hurry to cut out of work early before Memorial Day, fill up the cooler, and head toward sunnier climes, you might have missed the news about the rather extraordinary sale of Maxfield Parrish’s Daybreak at Christie’s Important American Paintings, Drawings, and Sculpture auction.
Kriston on June 7, 2006

Baseball at Night

What can paint on canvas do better than a photograph?
Michael on May 26, 2006

A Sound Take on Craft

A few weeks ago, I wrote about a special project here at SAAM in which Advanced Placement Art History students from the Holton-Arms and Landon Schools here in Washington, D.C. visited our Renwick Gallery of American Craft. Their assignment was to research one of our artworks and produce a podcast about the piece they chose.
Cassandra on May 23, 2006

Machine Love: Sir Norman Foster's Courtyard Canopy

One fine, crisp morning last week, as you were comfy at home reading Time Magazine’s feature on architect Sir Norman Foster, I was outside the museum in my hard hat and steel-toed boots shivering through a stakeout of our own Foster project.
Michael on May 17, 2006

Hiroshi Sugimoto (Part II)

“Pushing out my old large-format camera’s focal length to twice-infinity,” Hiroshi Sugimoto writes, ". . . I discovered that superlative architecture survives the onslaught of blurred photography.”
Kriston on May 11, 2006

The Chair: An Update

Last month I picked up on an item from the American Art collection highlighted by MAN-scribe Tyler Green: a curious painting of an electric chair by Pop confection artist Wayne Thiebaud. As it happens, I’ve been thinking about Thiebaud since I attended the Nova Art Fair in Chicago, where a number of artworks referenced him directly, and more did so inadvertently. He seems to be on a lot of artists’ radar.
Kriston on May 10, 2006

Meet Me at Midnight

Today we are launching Meet Me at Midnight, an interactive art mystery Web site for kids. It's perfect for eight- to ten-year-olds and is meant to be a fun intro to visiting the museum and seeing some cool artwork. Of course, we hope to teach a little something along the way.
Jeff on May 4, 2006

Before and After

Last week Kriston posted his impressions of the newly renovated Old Patent Office building which will house SAAM and the National Portrait Gallery come July 1.
Jeff on May 1, 2006