Monet, the Dutch Masters, and Mussels. Ya gotta love D.C.

Here are just a few more shots of Washington, D.C. and the National Gallery of Art this past weekend.  As I’ve lamented already, most of my photos did not turn out, so I am stealing many from my more talented friend.  If any of the shots below appeal to you, rest assured that they are not mine.

I’ve come to understand that I simply do not enjoy Monet and Van Gogh as other people do.  Their appeal is lost on me entirely.

But I damn sure enjoy Vermeer and Rembrandt.  Even to an utterly unschooled like my own, the Dutch Masters’ method of rendering light was amazing.  I told my friend that it almost seemed that sections of these paintings had light coming in from behind them … as though there were a hidden bulb beneath the canvas.

And I might have loved the incredible, sweeping, ethereal, dreamlike-but-detailed vistas of the American paintings even more.

That last shot should be recognizable to Civil War buffs, or even just those who can appreciate great war films.  It’s Augustus Saint-Gaudens’ 1897 memorial to Robert Gould Shaw, who filmgoers might remember being portrayed by Matthew Broderick in “Glory” (1989).  It’s huge.  It actually is an immense sculpture that takes up an entire wall, and is much larger than you might understand from its inclusion during the closing credits of the film.

I am precisely the sort of weirdo who enjoys “people watching” too.  And it’s easy at the Gallery, as visitors are so often occupied entirely by their objects of interest.

That gangly looking guy embarrassing himself in the video you see is me at the Canadian Embassy.  (Do we really need embassies with Canada?  We’re so chill.)  The sly Canucks have actually incorporated an … echo chamber into the building’s superstructure.  I know that sounds nuts, but it’s true.  If you stand withing that domed structure, it sounds as though every word you speak is amplified down at you.  It’s actually really incredible.

I was lucky enough to be treated by a rather generous friend to dinner afterward at La Belga.  It is a fantastic Belgian restaurant in the gentrified Eastern Market area above the Capitol, and it’s modeled after traditional European sidewalk cafes.

Good lord!  The “Mussels Diabolique” there were just … too damn good to describe.  They were the best mussels I’d ever had.  And that says a lot from a Long Island kid who grew up on seafood, working or chowing down in seaside restaurants.  Really.

Go there.  You’ll thank me for the recommendation:

http://www.belgacafe.com/

 

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Union Station, Washington, D.C., circa 1905 (Photo)

This is the Grand Lobby, sometime between 1905 and 1910.

I love this photo — it’s one of the coolest I’ve laid hands on via Wikimedia Commons.

I seem to have forgotten how to insert photos into a WordPress post so that viewers can “click to enlarge.”  If any of you guys can advise me on that, I’d be grateful.

 

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Union Station, Washington, DC, December 23, 2015

Union Station has long been synonymous in my mind with sunny days and warm nights.  It was a frequent destination in my 20’s, when I visited various Mary Washington College alumni for reunions of one kind or another.

The last of those arches you see to the left of 2015’s Christmas tree was my “smoking spot” after disembarking from an Amtrak train.  The spaces out front would occasionally serve as a staging area for a party weekend, as Sanjeev Malhotra would pick me up, then ready himself for several days in which he would endeavor, with varying degrees of success, to keep me out of trouble.

I was always used to seeing the Capitol Dome shine upon my arrival like a vast, upright egg; it was an image in a poem or two I scribbled down to commemorate my adventures.

Things were different Wednesday.  2015’s strangely mild new winter wasn’t quite cold, but it was blustery, cool, a little wet and quite gray.  That is indeed the Capitol Dome that you see in the third photo, but I discovered it darkened and under renovation.  And that slate sky’s color differed little from the dark monument marble you see in the foreground.  I need to spend a day in DC after a kinder climate finds it, I think.

I like the shot I got of that woman feeding the pigeons.

 

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