Eye Level

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

Pokémon Go: Games, Art, and Open Spaces at the Museum

Shortly after its release, colleagues began playing Pokémon Go —an augmented reality game that has captured the imagination of the entire internet. Museum visitors were doing the same. At the Smithsonian American Art Museum, new games are often received with more enthusiasm than might be expected of an art museum. Perhaps you've heard, SAAM has a long history with games. Creating, collecting, exhibiting, and, of course, playing them. They're fun, they're often beautiful, and best of all, they connect people.
Amy on July 13, 2016

Luce Artist Talk: Five Questions with Kathryn Thibault

Each month, we partner with our neighbors up the street at Flashpoint Gallery to present our local artist talk series. This month, Kathryn Lynch Thibault joins us to talk about her most recent exhibition and works that inspire her in our Luce Foundation Center. Thibault works across media forms, creating pieces that are not only personal to her, but also challenge how the viewer thinks about common, everyday objects and gestures. Luce Artist Talks are presented in collaboration with CulturalDC.

Light Fantastic: Gabriel Dawe in Conversation

The final program in the WONDER series of artist talks featured Gabriel Dawe in conversation with Nora Atkinson, the Lloyd Herman Curator of Craft at the Renwick Gallery. Dawe's Plexus A1, one of the nine room-filling installations commissioned for the exhibition, spins a new riff on the theme of alchemy: it turns thread into light.

Making Connections at the Renwick: Everything Clicks

The Renwick's reinstallation of more than eighty objects from its permanent collection—Connections: Contemporary Craft at the Renwick Gallery—brings together artists working in media as diverse as vinyl, denim, quartz, and glass.

Romaine Brooks: Body of Work

In honor of the current exhibition "The Art of Romaine Brooks," eminent scholars Cassandra Langer, Sylvia Kahan, and Helen Langa, joined SAAM's chief curator Virginia Mecklenburg, for a discussion that shed new light onto the artist's life and times.

Conserving Duane Hanson's Woman Eating

For a decade, Duane Hanson's life-like sculpture Woman Eating has fascinated SAAM visitors. With funding provided by the Smithsonian's Women's Committee, conservators were able to research, examine, document, and treat this work for future generations to continue to enjoy.

Luce Artist Talk: Five Questions with Anne Bouie

Join us this Saturday, June 25 at 1:30 p.m. for the latest installment of our Luce Artist Talks series. This month's talk features mixed-media artist Anne Bouie, who strives to "express the universal themes of order, harmony, growth, beauty, and transcendence" in her work.

Romaine Brooks: Gray Matters

The paintings of Romaine Brooks have always made me want to learn more about the artist. The exhibition, "The Art of Romaine Brooks" has some answers.

Throwback Thursday: Seats of Power (and an Occasional Settee)

It's Throwback Thursday! And we at Eye Level have decided it's a great opportunity to bring back some of our interesting posts from the past. With the presidential election in full swing, we thought you might be interested in seeing some of the decorative arts our next President might encounter in the White House.

Curator's Travel Journal: In Rufino Tamayo's Footsteps (6)

E. Carmen Ramos, curator of Latino Art at SAAM, was recently in Mexico to research her upcoming exhibition on the acclaimed 20th-century Mexican artist Rufino Tamayo’s lengthy residence and production in New York City. This is the sixth and final post Carmen scribed from the road. The exhibition Tamayo: The New York Years will open at SAAM November 3, 2017. Read all of Carmen's notes from her research trip.

Patrick Dougherty: Branching Out

"Everything you can do with a pencil you can do with a stick," artist Patrick Dougherty remarked the other evening at a talk in the Renwick's Grand Salon, as he likened his craft to the art of drawing.

Seeing Things (16): Time and the Photographic Image

Photography has a way with time. Two works of art, both photographic series currently on view, speak to each other in a poignant dialogue without words. In the Lincoln Gallery, on SAAM's third floor, Nicholas Nixon's The Brown Sisters can be seen on the wall adjacent to Camilo José Vergara's series 10828 S. Avalon Blvd., LA, a work whose compression is echoed in the title's insistence on abbreviations.

May's Handi-Hour at the Renwick

For May's Handi-hour at the Renwick Gallery you'll start by making your own loom using scrap cardboard from all those Amazon boxes you have lying around.

SAAM Acquires Six Major Works by Bill Traylor

The Smithsonian American Art Museum just acquired six major works by Bill Traylor, an artist who was born into slavery around 1853-54, and first began his creative life as an elderly man, after living and working primarily as a sharecropper.

Luce Unplugged: 5 Questions (Plus One) with Beauty Pill

It's time for another Luce Unplugged Community Showcase, and we couldn't be more excited to team up with Washington City Paper to present Beauty Pill, next Friday, May 20th from 6 to 8 p.m. If you aren't familiar with this beloved D.C. band, check out their 2015 album Beauty Pill Describes Things as They Are.
Amelia on May 12, 2016

Curator's Travel Journal: In Rufino Tamayo's Footsteps (5)

E. Carmen Ramos, curator of Latino Art at SAAM was recently in Mexico to research her upcoming exhibition on the acclaimed 20th-century Mexican artist Rufino Tamayo's lengthy residence and production in New York City, Tamayo: The New York Years. This is the fifth in a series of posts Carmen scribed from the road. Stay tuned for more updates. Read all of Carmen's notes from her research trip.