A photograph of Howard Kaplan on a plane.

Howard Kaplan

Writer

Blog Posts

  • Gouache on paper of a carnival.
    Drawn to the City: Tamayo in New York 
    New York City sparked Mexican artist Rufino Tamayo's imagination during his early visits in the 1920s and 1930s. At the time, Manhattan was a burgeoning new hub for the art world that welcomed artists from all over and supported cross-cultural exchanges. 
  • Photo of a table with paper drawings, a hammer, and other tools.
    Rick Araluce: Tunnel Vision
    You step out onto the edge of the platform and you wait. You look towards the end of the tunnel and see lights flicker in the distance and the rumblings of what sound like a train approaching. But how far away is it?
  • A photograph of a nutshell study of unexplained death showing a woman's death inside a parlor.
    Murder Is Her Hobby Opens at the Renwick
    Murder Is Her Hobby: Frances Glessner Lee and the Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death takes a look at the godmother of forensics who combined art, craft, and criminology.
  • A sepia toned photograph of Thomas Wilfred sitting at a machine called a Clavilux, which he toured the country with creating art.
    Lumia: The Art of Light
    Beginning in the 1920s and into the next few decades, Thomas Wilfred was something of an art-world star, having fused modern art and pre-digital technology to create his luminous works.
  • Splash Image - Parallax Gap: Building a Drawing
    Parallax Gap: Building a Drawing
    Helen B. Bechtel, independent curator and coordinator of the installation, Parallax Gap, fills us in on the relationship between architecture and American craft. Parallax Gap remains on display at the Renwick Gallery through February 11, 2018.
  • Splash Image - Peter Voulkos: Breaking with Tradition
    Peter Voulkos: Breaking with Tradition
    On view in our current exhibition at the Renwick Gallery, Peter Voulkos: The Breakthrough Years, are three of the artist's large-scale paintings: Blue Remington, Red Through Black #3, and Falling Red. Some people may be surprised to find paintings in Voulkos' oeuvre, but that's what makes their discovery (at least for me) all the more exciting.
  • Splash Image - Mind the Gap: Parallax Gap Now Open at the Renwick Gallery
    Mind the Gap: Parallax Gap Now Open at the Renwick Gallery
    Parallax Gap, an architecturally-inspired work now on view at SAAM's Renwick Gallery is suspended from the ceiling of the Grand Salon and runs the length of the room.
  • Splash Image - A Photographer and a Writer Walk into a Museum
    A Photographer and a Writer Walk into a Museum
    The other day, in my quest to look at works of art with fresh eyes, I asked a colleague to join me (that's one way to get new eyes) in a walk through the museum, and let me know what spoke to him.
  • Splash Image - The Threads That Connect the Stars: Poet Martín Espada on His Father's Life and Work
    The Threads That Connect the Stars: Poet Martín Espada on His Father’s Life and Work
    Martín Espada's incantatory poetry reading at SAAM in honor of Down These Mean Streets: Community and Place in Urban Photography paid lasting tribute to his father, the documentary photographer Frank Espada (1930-2014), whose work is featured in the exhibition.
  • Splash Image - Donald Sultan's Disaster Paintings
    Donald Sultan’s Disaster Paintings
    Donald Sultan's industrial landscape series depict an array of catastrophes, including forest fires, railway accidents, arsons, and industrial plants exuding toxic plumes. Twelve of these large-scale paintings are now on display at SAAM in the exhibition Donald Sultan: The Disaster Paintings.
  • Splash Image - Framing the City: Mean Streets and Urban Photography
    Framing the City: Mean Streets and Urban Photography
    The exhibition, Down These Mean Streets: Community and Place in Urban Photography, takes as its starting point, the response by Latino artists to the "urban crisis," a term that emerged in the 1960s to refer to the changes that were going on in many cities throughout the United States. The exhibition title is inspired by author Piri Thomas, who grew up in El Barrio (aka Spanish Harlem), and captured the decline of the urban environment in his memoir Down These Mean Streets, published in 1967.
  • Splash Image - Reading Into the Throne: On James Hampton's Notebook
    Reading Into the Throne: On James Hampton’s Notebook
    An expanded presentation of the now iconic Throne of the Third Heaven of the Nations' Millennium General Assembly (aka The Throne) by James Hampton is currently on view in the newly installed and reimagined galleries for folk and self-taught art at SAAM.
  • Splash Image - JFK: American Visionary
    JFK: American Visionary
    Lawrence Schiller, a former Life magazine photojournalist (who ironically was assigned to Nixon's failed presidential campaign) organized the exhibition and reviewed 34,000 photographs, before choosing seventy-seven "images that told the story."
  • Splash Image - Creative Disruption: June Schwarcz and Peter Voulkos at the Renwick
    Creative Disruption: June Schwarcz and Peter Voulkos at the Renwick
    At first glance, the objects on display at SAAM's Renwick Gallery by June Schwarcz and Peter Voulkos couldn't be more different. Schwarcz's enamel work is precise and almost ethereal, while Voulkos's pots and sculptures are weighty and improvisational. But both artists had a powerful impact in the art world, defying convention and breaking all the rules of their traditional media.
  • Splash Image - Remembering James Rosenquist
    Remembering James Rosenquist
    Pop artist James Rosenquist, who died last week at the age of 83, created large canvases that were influenced by his early years as a sign painter in Minnesota and New York City. (A contemporaneous article referred to him as "the billboard Michelangelo who spills paint on tourists below").
  • Splash Image - Ryders on the Storm: Celebrating the Art of Albert Pinkham Ryder
    Ryders on the Storm: Celebrating the Art of Albert Pinkham Ryder
    Before Betsy Broun retired from the helm of the Smithsonian American Art Museum last fall, she gave a talk where she revealed her top ten works (ok, seventeen works) of art in the collection, beginning with Albert Pinkham Ryder's Jonah. Ryder, who died one hundred years ago today, was an artist close to Broun's heart and the subject of a book she published in 1989.
  • Splash Image - Missed Connections for Valentine's Day
    Missed Connections for Valentine’s Day
    At SAAM, we're always connecting people with our artworks. On Valentine's Day, we thought we'd explore one of the more interesting sections of many print and online publications these days: the often poetic, always interesting urban haiku of missed connections. Please check out our Instagram feed for more artful missed connections.
  • Media - 1983.63.155 - SAAM-1983.63.155_2 - 122857
    Harlem Heroes and Black History Month
    The cultural efflorescence that was the Harlem Renaissance is captured in a series of portraits currently on view in the exhibition Harlem Heroes: Photographs by Carl Van Vechten.
  • Splash Image - Seeing Things (17): Art and Healing
    Seeing Things (17): Art and Healing
    This is the seventeenth in a series of personal observations about how people experience and explore museums. Take a look at Howard's other blog posts about seeing things in a museum.
  • Splash Image - Gene Davis: The Cool Guy of Hot Beat
    Gene Davis: The Cool Guy of Hot Beat
    Gene Davis, a journalist before he was a painter, knew the power of words. He spoke his wise and sometimes ornery mind, aware of the momentary impact and the eventual documentation of his life and career.