I had a super wonderful day today. It was the kind of day where anything could happen and only good things did. AND I got to share it with a really good friend.
I wanted to go to the Renwick in DC to see an exhibit of baskets since I am back into the weaving mode in my artwork. Due to the gov’t shutdown, this was an impossibility for a couple of weeks, but fortunately, the exhibit is open again and will be until Dec. I invited my friend to go with me and we planned to spend the day in DC.
The morning started with having to do a little windshield wiping. Before I did it though, I took a picture of the lovely artwork my cat made on the condensation on my windshield.
I picked my friend up and drove to the Metro which we took into DC. We got off at Farragut North and walked down to the Renwick. It was a beautiful fall day, on the border between warm and chilly with a light breeze and a bluuuuuuuue sky. We got to the Renwick and spent two fascinating hours perusing the plethora of amazing baskets. The exhibit had 63 baskets, all by contemporary basket makers. Every basket was in a traditional mode but took the tradition to new and amazingly precise heights. We also got a bonus when we walked in to the museum because there was an exhibit of raku by Wayne Higby which was absolutely breathtaking. It was also a really nicely put together exhibit, showing the development of his pieces throughout his lifetime.
Needless to say, I also spent some time in the bookstore and came away with a book on baskets that I had never seen. It is not easy to find books on baskets, I’m not sure why, but I suspect it has to do with the fact that it is an art form that originated with a part of the population that was not always literate.
Leaving the Renwick, with a brain full of images and ideas, we walked to the other side of the White House and decided to go up to the top of the W Hotel where there is a lovely outdoor bar and lounge area. (In full disclosure, I was following my friend’s lead. I am woefully ignorant about certain parts of our nation’s capital and hope some day to be able to navigate it without looking at a map.) The lounge, called POV, had the best view of the White House in one direction and the Washington Monument in the other. I have to admit that I actually like the Monument better with the scaffolding. It seems much more interesting and much less like a phallic symbol.
After a delicious (but not inexpensive) sandwich, we walked over to the Old Post Office Building. I knew more than nothing about this building but I came away absolutely in love with it. Despite the security gate you have to go through (complete with X-ray machine for bags) this building is very accessible. The interior is awesomely funky and beautiful and the tour of the tower is free. From here you can see a 365 degree view of DC and there is an incredibly helpful and friendly park ranger to tell you what you are seeing. We asked lots of questions and saw buildings from a different view. In fact, I had never really realized what a European influence there was to some of the buildings until I saw them from above and saw the red roof tiles that are so common all over Europe.
The other new thing we learned is that the Congressional Bells that were given to the US by England in 1976 are situated in the PO tower. They are rung when Congress starts and finishes a session and at select other times. You can view them if you walk down from the tower instead of taking the elevator.
Once we left the PO Bldg (yes, we HAD to stop for a Ben and Jerry’s ice cream), we walked across the street and under the arch in the Clinton Bldg. There is a lovely courtyard there with a food court underneath.
You can also enter the Reagan Bldg (again, you have to go through a security checkpoint) and see what is there. We stopped at the “Concierge” desk. I asked what a concierge does in a building like that and she replied “everything”. Basically concierge is a glorified name for information desk. I was amazed at how open everything is and how friendly and full of information she was. You can get tours of the building on Mon, Wed and Fri.
And finally, before we left the building, the concierge pointed out that there was a piece of the Berlin Wall right in the entryway. Very cool.
We then walked up to the Metro station and headed home. One of the best things about the day was that, except for the cost of the metro and the food, everything was absolutely free. We just wandered around into buildings we had never been in before and found wonderful treasures that are slightly off the “best of” list. I thoroughly enjoyed this low key day and will treasure everything I saw and learned for a long time.