Thanks to the fine folks at the Museum of Modern Art of Latin America located on the 18th St. side of the Organization of American States, and a Yahoo translator, I finally figured out this sculpture is El Maiz by Edgar Negret of Columbia.
The towering yellow steel structure was donated by Negret in 1996 because maiz (corn) is a crucial symbol of the Latino culture.
OK, it’s a short detective story. One of those chapter books. At least we know what it is.
My first thought when entering the lobby of the Senate Hart Office Building – was it this big piece of junk?
A few minutes later when viewing it from the seventh of nine floors, my second thought – Oh, I get it now.
My final thought – Mountains and Clouds is a pretty cool sculpture. Too bad it’s hidden in a government office building that the public rarely sees and few will appreciate from ground level.
It was the final piece created by Alexander Calder, one of the leading 20th-century American sculptors known for creating suspending moving parts called “mobiles.” This piece has four clouds hanging from the roof and five triangular mountains underneath. It’s painted black to contrast with the surrounding white marble.
Ironically, Calder’s final day was spent meeting with the Architect of the Capitol over the sculpture. He even used a pair of pliers to adjust the model. Calder then returned to his New York City home where he died that night. Mountain and Clouds was later dedicated in 1987.
Ironically, I didn’t realize my photo was from the rear until cleaning it up in Photoshop. I was photographing from up high and the lighting hid the rear. But, if I can appreciate it from the back, it sure must be a nice piece.
General Thaddeus Kosciuszko was an American hero in so many ways.
The Polish-born general of the Revolutionary War is one of four foreign-born general in the park largely for winning the battle of Saratoga, N.Y.
The statue reflects Kosiuszko fighting for both his Polish homeland and adopted America. Wearing a Continental Army general’s uniform, he holds a map in his right hand of the fortifications of Saratoga. Underneath is simply his name and at the base is Saratoga.
Below Kosciuszko is an eagle whose spread wings protect a globe where the new nation lies underneath as well as a flag, shield and sword. On the right is a wounded Kosciuszko in a Polish uniform giving orders to a Polish peasant. On the left, he’s in an American uniform freeing a bound soldier, which symbolizes the American army. Kosciuszko has a flag in his left hand while a fallen musket and overturned drum are at the youth’s feet. In the rear is the dedication from the Polish people.
Kosciuszko later returned to Poland to fight the Russians. He donated his Ohio lands awarded by Congress to fund a school for African-American children in New Jersey.
We always know Columbus sailed the ocean blue in 14 hundred and 92. But, we rarely talk about the woman who funded the trip to the new world – Queen Isabella.
The Spanish monarch is in front of the Organization of American States on 17th St. The bronze life-sized statue has her holding a pomegrate with a dove emerging and wearing the crown of Castille. It was dedicated in 1966 as a gift from the Institute of Hispanic Culture of Madrid.
Isabella sold her jewels to pay for the expedition, which certainly was repaid many times over by discovering America. The Catholic ruler also created the Spanish Inquisition.
As regular readers know, I’m an average photographer. And sometimes it’s hard to get a good shot, especially when the gates are locked at an Embassy Row showstopper. Hence this photo.
But here’s one of two Balinese Demons who guard the front doors of the Indonesian Embassy, which was once the home of Evalyn Walsh McLean, a super rich heiress who owned the Hope Diamond Bali is part of Indonesia and known for its artisans. There are many statues like these in temples on Bali.
These demons are five feet tall and made from volcanic rock more than a century ago. They were purchased by the Indonesian ambassador, who spotted them in Rockerfeller Center.
Happy birthday to us once more. Nine years of blogging about the daily sights, sounds and scenes of Washington from a tour guide’s perspective.
I haven’t walked 1,000 tours yet, but it’s getting close. I can tell by my poor feet. They no longer want to do the Arlington National Cemetery-Mount Vernon daily double as much.
Monumental Thoughts drew 14,752 visitors in 2019, bringing the overall total to 174,559. Huffington Post once called us a “Top 5 Read” and I recently co-wrote a Washingtonian magazine piece on the city’s hidden gems. It’s nice to think the knowledge of my hometown is being passed along to another generation. Statues aren’t exactly sexy reading.
The most read story for the ninth straight year was why rocks are atop stones at Arlington National Cemetery. But, my list of my 100 favorite Smithsonian exhibits was No. 2. An update on the man with a dog on the Korean War Memorial wall was No. 3.
Readers came from 120 countries with the U.S. nearly 90 percent. The U.K., Canada and France fill out the top four. All 50 states and two territories contributed readers with D.C. the leader over Virginia and Maryland respectively.
So what’s next? An interesting thought. Change is ever present my life. In the past six months, I was layed off from a media job for the third time in six years, but it led me to a lifetime dream of writing for Sports Illustrated as part of the Redskins/Maven network. I’m also writing for Sport Business.com out of London and other groups. My tour business saw the loss of one steady client while adding others so in the end things are good.
In 2020, you’ll see me offering more tours at National Cathedral plus a new tour that I’ll keep undisclosed until starting in March. Keeps my competitors guessing, but you’re going to like it. I’ll still do the National Mall, too, just not as often. Turning 60 in 2020 has me rethinking some priorities and health goals.
So thanks for reading all these years. Hopefully, I’ll still be doing it in 2030.
Ever wanted to see the Northern lights or make trees sway? Artechouse offers both at its grand art space just steps from the Mandarin Oriental Hotel.
“Aurora: The Spirit of Northern Lights” is currently shown at Artechouse. The interactive show not only provides a look at the Northern Lights that can’t be seen in Washington, but also an interactive ability to move trees and create frosty views on walls.
I’m not an artsy person, but it’s a pretty cool experience. See more at Artechouse.
Everyone is a photographer nowadays with iPhones. And, the phones take great photos like the one above. This was with the new iPhone 11 that is a real game-changer with 12-pixel quality.
But, one advantage I learned as a young newspaper reporter/photographer in the 1970s was framing a shot. We used actual film then and editors frowned upon excessive photos. It was expensive and lost time in a dark room. You learned to frame your shot for that one great photo rather than a dozen that people now take on phones before picking one. And as a sports photographer, I learned to anticipate movement.
So I teach patience when showing photographers around different venues. Look for the photo in your mind, frame it in the lens rather than relying on Photoshop.
I took three photos of the one above at St. Ignatious Church in Chapel Point, Md. before choosing this one. Line up the subject and wait for the sun. It’s not easy because the sun sets quickly, but the wait is worth it.
Remember, it’s not about the camera. It’s about the photographer. Take a breath, feel the image and your photos will improve greatly.
You can’t take a bad photo in the National Cathedral. Oh, you can always take an average one, but the Cathedral is one of my favorite places in town and begs to be photographed.
Forget the outside unless you have a proper lens. An iPhone won’t handle its size. But the inside is just fascinating.
First, individuals can take the elevator to the seventh floor for its grand views. The best in town, really. I can see RFK Stadium completely across town on a clear day as well as many iconic venues. You’ll also get a close up to some of the steeples.
I love walking the stone hallways for photos like the one above. The twists and turns are fascinating, urging you to keep walking. You’re usually alone to make it feel even more personal.
The main level of the church has stained windows that come alive depending on the sun’s location. There are so many statues to focus upon. And don’t forget to go below to see other chapels and stone work.
One caveat – no photos during Sunday sermons or people in prayer. Seems like a no-brainer, but sometimes people don’t think.
The Bishop’s Garden is beautiful during the warm months and a perfect foreground to the Cathedral.
I’m also a certified Cathedral guide so if you’d like a personal tour and photo opportunities, see the contact link atop the page.
It took 83 years to build the National Cathedral. Now it will take three to five years to build a Legos version.
As part of the ongoing $34 million in renovations to the cathedral courtesy of a 2011 earthquake damage, the nation’s church is building a Lego version. The public can purchase each Lego for $2 and snap it into place. Overall, 500,000 Legos will be needed to build an 13-by-8 foot version while raising $1 million for renovations. Overall, $19 million is still needed to fix the church.
Personally, I think it would be really cool if the family of the late president George H.W. Bush placed the last piece given he delivered a speech on the cathedral’s 1990 completion. President Teddy Roosevelt attended the 1907 dedication so maybe one of his clan can come, too.