February 5, 2009
I’ve always wondered what would have happened if pointillist master Georges Seurat received an Easy Bake Oven for Christmas instead of paintbrushes. Perhaps he would have turned his attention to baking, plying his revolutionary sense of color and light with a sensible palette of polychrome frostings. If we dare imagine, perhaps he would have turned out edible artworks like Zilly Rosen. Beginning on February 13, Rosen will begin an edible installation at the American Art Museum, constructing portraits of President Barack Obama and former President Abraham Lincoln using over 5,000 individually-iced cupcakes. The portraits will be on public display on February 14 from noon until 5, at which point the artworks will be “taken down.” (Translation: the portraits will be eaten by you, the adoring public who will willfully ignore the fact that those cupcakes have been on the floor for more than five seconds.) A time-lapse video of the portraits’ construction and de-construction will be available on the American Art Museum’s Blog, Eye Level, the week following the event.
Ah, but is it art? Well, it’s certainly a step up from the cupcake fare featured on the Cake Wrecks blog. And if Rosen takes on an edible rendition of A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte as her next project—and if she does it using an Easy Bake Oven—she’s totally hardcore.
January 29, 2009
Since Election Day, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC), to open in 2015 on the National Mall, has been busily snatching up Obama campaign memorabilia—including most of the objects in a Falls Church, Virginia campaign office—for a future Obama exhibition. We got the scoop from the museum’s chief curator Jacquelyn Serwer.
Why the Falls Church campaign office?
That office was very instrumental in delivering the state to Obama. They had such a diversity of volunteers. We saw grandmothers and grandfathers, and very young people. They had some teenagers who would be dropped off by their parents to come in and do phoning, especially some of the phoning that was done in a variety of languages. It was very impressive.
We wanted to have the contents of a real campaign office because we are thinking that we may want to recreate an office. What we did was to take as much of the contents of the office as we could—banners, homemade signs, scheduling boards, bulletin boards, the diversity materials. They had a room where people would come to make phone calls in ten languages. We took the furniture, but also the canvassing and phoning notebooks.
And it has been your goal to collect objects from campaign offices in other cities around the country, right?
We’ve got the Obama message wall that was up on the Mall between November 5 and 7; people were invited to make their comments. We have a really terrific couple of hand painted banners from Columbia, Missouri. We have a mural sign from Grand Junction, Colorado. It says “Hope for Theater and the Arts,” and it was painted by a local artist in conjunction with the campaign. We got a collection of campaign buttons from a campaign office in Philadelphia. We’ve gotten stuff from Missouri, . . . Colorado, . . .Alaska, and it’s still coming in. Part of the strategic underpinning of the campaign was that they would campaign everywhere, which is not always the case. So we really want to have materials from all over to give it that national character.
What’s the plan from here?
We think we are close to having the kind of material and as much material as we would need to recreate in some authentic way what those campaign offices were like. Whether we’ll have a preview of that in our exhibition space in the American History museum before we have our building or not is kind of up in the air. We get calls almost every day about something or other, and we’re being very careful to respond and hopefully acquire more material that will make our resources for an Obama exhibition that much more exciting.
January 22, 2009
Over the inaugural weekend, Smithsonian curators were among the crowds searching for significant artifacts that will later mark the historical moment. Larry Bird, a curator at American History, brought back the goods:
“I collected a homemade hat from a New Jersey woman who has promised to send it to me. [It] is a woman’s bowler-style fabric hat, black with a pink fabric brow. She had decorated it with Obama buttons of various types and sizes, along with red, white and blue rosettes made from crepe. . . I expect she will follow up soon. After the ceremony, I purchased a red, white and black Obama baseball hat and a credential-type Obama photo on a lariat from a vendor.”
Watch the video above for a behind-the-scenes tour of inauguration badges, buttons and banners that date back to the time of George Washington and in the comments below, tell us about your most treasured souvenir of the day.
January 16, 2009
Plan for this landmark weekend at goSmithsonian.com and Find a complete listing of the Smithsonian’s Inaugural Events.
Friday, January 16: Inaugural Activities: Yoko Ono’s Wish Tree
Celebrate the inauguration of Barack Obama as well as your hopes and dreams for the future of our country. Come by the Hirshhorn Sculpture Garden to write your wishes on a piece of paper and tie them to the Wish Tree, which is part of a continuing series of artworks by Yoko Ono that encourages people to become a part of the creative process. Free. Hirshhorn Museum, 10:00 AM-5:30 PM. Repeats January 17-20.
Saturday, January 17: Out of Many: A Multicultural Festival of Music, Dance and Story
Kick off your inauguration celebration with this three-day festival that celebrates the music, dance and storytelling traditions of cultures the world over. Check out the event’s website here for a complete schedule or you can pick up a hard copy on site at the Welcome Center. Free. National Museum of the American Indian. Continues January 18 and 19 and is related to the exhibition “A Century Ago… They Came As Sovereign Leaders.” Read about the event that inspired this show here.
Sunday, January 18: Inaugural Activities Around the Mall
The Smithsonian has a host of multicultural celebrations happening on the Mall to commemorate the inauguration of Barack Obama.
11:30 AM: In Process… songs of the Civil Rights movement
12:30 PM: Federal City Brass Band, Civil War-era band music
1-3 PM: Jim Bendat signs copies of his book Democracy’s Big Day: The Inauguration of our President, 1789-2009
2:00 PM: In Process… songs of the Civil Rights movement
3:00 PM: Spark!Lab: Benjamin Franklin’s electrical experiments
3:30 PM: Federal City Brass Band, Civil War-era band music
Free. Repeats Jan. 19
Enjoy a rare viewing of Gari Melcher’s Portrait of President Theodore Roosevelt (1908) and see an autographed letter from President Roosevelt to museum founder Charles Lang Freer.
11 AM: Leyland’s Butler: The Story of Whistler’s Peacock Room, performance tour by Jonathan Watkins
12 Noon: Sharing the Light: Asian Tales of Wisdom Storytelling, performance by Eth-Noh-Tec
2 PM: Seeds of Hope: Dance performance by theShizumi and Kodomo Dance Troupe
3 PM: Gift to the Nation: American Art and Charles Lang Freer’s Aesthetic Vision, tour by art historian Josephine Rodgers
4 PM (Sackler, sublevel 1): Joy of Siam: Dance performance by the Somapa Thai Dance Company
Free. Continues Jan. 19 & 20
10:00 AM: JFK (189 min., 1991) Oliver Stone’s investigation into the assassination of JFK where the Warren Report’s truthfulness is overshadowed by a colorful cast of conspiracy theories.
1:30 PM: The American President (114 min.) Widowed U.S. president Andrew Shephard falls in love with lobbyist Sydney Helen Wade—allowing his political opponents to publicly question his moral fiber and threaten his odds at being re-elected.
4:00 PM: Dr. Strangelove (93 min., 1964) Stanley Kubrick’s classic Cold War satire where Air Force General Jack D. Ripper, convinced the Communists will take over the Free World, launches a nuclear bomb raid on the Soviet Union. Will the President of the United States be able to stop the planes from dropping their deadly payload?
Free. Repeats Jan. 19
Treasure Hunt: Scavenge the museum to find an array of leadership arts from across the African continent. Pick up self-guided activity at the information desk.
12 Noon-2 PM: Screening of the film Hip Hop Colony, a documentary that takes an intimate look at hip hop while establishing its ties to Kenya.
2-4 PM: DJ Adrian Loving performs a mix of African percussion and hip hop.
4-5 PM: Dr. Mark Auslander (Brandeis University) discusses African kingship ceremonies in a lecture entitled “Leadership is People: African Celebrations of a New Leader.”
Free. Continues Jan. 19
Monday, January 19: Presidential Films
10 AM: Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (129 min., 1939) Naive and idealistic Jefferson Smith, leader of the Boy Rangers, discovers many of the shortcomings of the political process as his earnest goal of a National Boys’ Camp leads to a conflict with the state political boss.
1 PM: All the President’s Men (138 min., 1976) Even though we now know the identity of Deep Throat, this film, the patriotism of Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein—who uncover the scams and scandals of Nixon’s White House—is evergreen.
4 PM: My Fellow Americans (101 min., 1996l) Kramer and Douglas, two former presidents from opposite ends of the political spectrum, become reluctant allies when they become the target of a conspirator in President Haney’s administration.
Free. S. Dillon Ripley Center
Tuesday, January 20: Barack Obama portrait unveiling
Shepard Fairey’s populist portrait of Barack Obama became an icon of the 2008 presidential election and it the National Portrait Gallery’s pleasure to unveil a large-scale mixed-media version of this portrait. Also, ATM blogger Megan Gambino was able to sit down and chat with the artist about his work. Read “Richard Fairey: The Artist Behind the Obama Portrait” here on Smithsonian.com.
Free. National Portrait Gallery, 10:00 AM-5:30 PM.
Also, all the museums with the exception of the Renwick Gallery will be open to save you from the bitter cold, so stay warm and enjoy the historic weekend!
January 12, 2009
If you’re the socialite who will be hitting up the slew of black tie balls in DC, then you must have a bottomless wallet and a dance card that’s loaded to the hilt. Even with tickets selling for a couple hundred bucks a pop on the low end, these events are already sold out. Take a look at all the parties that will be going on at the Smithsonian museums.
Or are you a Cinderella or a Cinderfella who can’t go to the ball? Don’t bibbity bobbity boo-hoo about it—take matters into your own hands! How do you plan on celebrating Obama’s inauguration? Tell us in the comments area below!
Sunday, January 18
The California Bash Inaugural Celebration: Fly Me to the Moon –Smithsonian Air and Space Museum
Lincoln 2.0 Inaugural Ball — Smithsonian American Art Museum
Note: So, we all know that 2009 marks the bicentennial of our 16th President and full-fledged Lincoln-palooza will be running rampant throughout the nation’s Capital. On that note, how could anyone pass up a celebration held in the same place where Honest Abe had his second inaugural ball?
Monday, January 19
Georgia Inaugural Gala – National Museum of Natural History
New Mexico Society — National Museum of the American Indian
South Carolina State Society: 2009 South Carolina Presidential Inaugural Ball –National Air and Space Museum
Virginia’s Inaugural Black Tie and Blue Dominion Ball — Udvar-Hazy Air and Space Museum
Will feature honored guests Governor Timothy Kane and former Virginia Governor Douglas Wilder and performances by the Commodores.
Tuesday, January 20
Inauguration Night: A Celebration of Change for the World – Smithsonian Museum of African Art
Will feature performances by Yassou N’Dour and Akon as well as a video tribute with goodwill messages from dignitaries the world over from Nelson Mandela to Jamaican Prime Minister Bruce Golding.
Florida State Society Inaugural Celebration — National Museum of the American Indian
Blue Diamond Inaugural Ball – National Museum of Natural History
Will feature performances by Jackson Browne and Graham Nash.
Inaugural Peace Ball –National Postal Museum
Will be guest-hosted by Harry Belafonte and feature musical performances by Jackson Browne, Graham Nash (yeah, they’re double-dipping), Joan Baez and others.