Eye Level

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

WONDER Artist Interview: Jennifer Angus

Artist Jennifer Angus uses brilliantly colored insects in her thought-provoking installation, In the Midnight Garden, on view through May 8 in the exhibition WONDER. Eye Level had a chance to catch up with Jennifer and ask her about her work, the importance of insects to the natural world, and even to take a peek into her closet.

Betsy Broun, SAAM's Director, Announces Her Retirement

Elizabeth "Betsy" Broun, who has led SAAM and the Renwick since 1989, is retiring at the end of the year. Her tenure has been marked by groundbreaking exhibitions, digital innovation, new educational opportunities, and a push to broaden our collections of contemporary, folk, self-taught, African American, Latino, and new media arts.

Curator's Travel Journal: In Rufino Tamayo's Footsteps (3)

E. Carmen Ramos, curator of Latino Art at SAAM is currently 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 Carmen's third post from Mexico. Stay tuned for more updates from the road.
E. Carmen Ramos on April 14, 2016

Luce Artist Talk with Soomin Ham

The Luce Artist Talks series brings in local artists to discuss their current projects in relation to the objects on view in our Luce Foundation Center. Photographer and multi-media artist Soomin Ham will speak about her on-going project, "Sound of Butterfly" on April 17 at 1:30 p.m. This series is presented in collaboration with CulturalDC's Flashpoint Gallery.

Curator's Travel Journal: In Rufino Tamayo's Footsteps (2)

E. Carmen Ramos, curator of Latino Art at SAAM is currently 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 Carmen's second post from Mexico. Stay tuned for more updates from the road. Read all of Carmen's notes from her research trip.

When Pablo met SAAM: Picasso and Company on view in Crosscurrents through Sunday

One of the most frequently asked questions at SAAM's Luce Foundation Center is, "Where are the Picassos?" Usually, our answer is, "We don't have Picassos at American Art. He wasn't an American artist, nor did he ever make art in America." However, for the past few months, we've been singing a slightly different tune, as the exhibition, Crosscurrents: Modern Art from the Sam Rose and Julie Walters Collection, contains eighteen paintings and ceramics by the Spanish-born master, considered one of the most important artists of the twentieth century. But you need to hurry: Crosscurrents closes on Sunday, April 10.

Meet Dan Finn, SAAM's Media Conservator

As SAAM continues to add time-based media to its collection, conservation of these artforms is becoming an important aspect in our museum. In August 2015 Dan Finn was hired to retrofit an office space and acquire equipment for SAAM's Media Conservation Lab. Dan has a Master's Degree from the New York University's Moving Image and Archiving Program. And we got a chance to talk with him about his work here.

Maya Lin: WONDERS of the Natural World

Maya Lin, whose Folding the Chesapeake, is one of nine room-filling installations in the exhibition WONDER, spoke the other evening in the Renwick's Grand Salon about the three streams of her creative life: art, architecture, and memorials.

March's Handi-Hour: Spring Has Sprung!

Spring is in the air at our March Handi-hour, and we're inspired by Jennifer Angus' In the Midnight Garden as well as the bugs and blooms that are coming to life as the weather warms up. Check out our videos to learn how to make a brightly colored felted wool brooch to accessorize your new spring outfit. And you'll learn how to make bug magnets from recycled bottle caps.

Gone in a Flash: Irving Penn Closes March 20

"Irving Penn: Beyond Beauty," the first retrospective of Penn's work in more than twenty years, shows a master photographer progressing through the decades and includes some early works that are being shown for the first time. Exhibition closes March 20.

Nicholas Nixon's The Brown Sisters

The museum recently acquired The Brown Sisters, an intimate series of forty photographs that spans four decades and captures the poignancy of family relationships and bonds between siblings.

John Grade: Second Nature

Last Sunday afternoon, Seattle-based artist John Grade spoke to an enthusiastic crowd in the Renwick's Grand Salon about his artworks/earthworks .

SAAM's African American Art on Google

SAAM got the opportunity to showcase some of its best art from African American artists when the Google Art Project asked us to participate in its online project.
Jeff on March 3, 2016

Luce Unplugged: Five Questions for Color Palette

Welcome spring with the warm electronic rock sound of Color Palette at the next installation of SAAM's monthly concert series Luce Unplugged. The performance takes place Thursday, March 3rd at 6 p.m.
Amelia on February 24, 2016

Irving Penn: Choreographer

When I started to write "photographer" after Irving Penn's name the other day, I actually began to spell the word "choreographer" instead. Hmmm, I thought, that's interesting, maybe I should take a closer look at that. In fact there is something of the choreographer in Penn, in subject matter as well as in composition.

Love, Dating, and Art in the Luce Foundation Center

Whether we're single or in a relationship, Valentine's Day is always a reminder of our dating status. If you'd like a distraction and want to hear about others' instead, then join us for the Luce Foundation Center's February Artist Talk on Saturday, February 20 at 1:30 p.m. with artists Dafna Steinberg, Jennifer Towner, and Jenny Walton.
Adrienne on February 16, 2016