Howard

Blog Posts

Carl Van Vechten: Harlem Heroes

When author and social commentator Carl Van Vechten focused his camera on the African American community of writers, artists, singers, athletes, and politicians in Harlem beginning in the 1930s, it was an eye-opening experience.

Bearing Witness: Martin Puryear's Monumental Public Art

SAAM's Curator of Sculpture, Karen Lemmey, recently joined forces with the GSA Art in Architecture Program's fine arts specialist Bill Caine to lead a "walk and talk" discussion about the importance of public art. Since 1972, the Art in Architecture program has reserved a small piece of the construction budget for new federal buildings around the country for public works of art. In nearly forty-five years, the program has commissioned five-hundred artworks, including Martin Puryear's Bearing Witness, the focus of this hour-plus program.

Some Strings Attached: the willful marionette at SAAM

SAAM's annual birthday celebration honoring the legacy of media pioneer Nam June Paik—an artist known for his interest in robotics and humanizing technology—featured artists Lilla LoCurto and Bill Outcault. Their work, the three-foot tall the willful marionette was built from 3-D scanned images of a human figure. It addresses what the artists refer to as "the frailty of the human body."

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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.