Eye Level

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

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.

Renwick Gallery: Four WONDER Installations Closing Sunday

Like all good things, WONDER, the most talked-about, Instagrammed, and wondrous exhibition is nearing the end of its record-breaking run. Sunday, May 8, is your last chance to see four installations on the second floor—Maya Lin's Folding the Chesapeake, Jennifer Angus' In the Midnight Garden, John Grade's Middle Fork, and Chakaia Booker's Anonymous Donor.

Luce Artist Talk: Five (plus one) Questions with Brian Davis

Multimedia artist and sculptor Brian Davis rounds out this spring's Luce Artist Talks series on Saturday, May 7 at 1:30 p.m. 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. Davis will speak about his most recent project, Try and Try Again, which combines projected images, ping pong balls, and visitor participation. This series is presented in collaboration with CulturalDC's Flashpoint Gallery.

Curator's Travel Journal: In Rufino Tamayo's Footsteps (4)

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 fourth 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.

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.