Written by Andrea
August 8, 2009
If your interest in the arts often has you feeling torn between evening engagements- that outdoor concert or film? Shakespeare Free for All or a local gallery art opening reception?- then you are in for a treat at this summer's Phillips After Five. Last year, the event earned my solid appreciation, but this summer's program is exceptional and will have any events connoisseur returning for more. Phillips After Five is normally on the first Thursday of every month, but this August we can enjoy every Thursday throughout the month (fortunate for those of us who have stayed home for what is, quite frankly, one of the best months of the year for cultural events in DC).
To complement the toasty-oasty weather, the Phillips has put together one hot summer deal: For the price of just one admission, event-goers get to view the museum's awesome permanent collection, which includes some of the city's best-known, yet most often overlooked treasures by the likes of Cezanne, van Gogh, Degas, Rothko, Matisse, and Gauguin. The number of times I've seen long-time DC residents' jaws drop to find these paintings "hidden" at the Phillips is astounding. I like to think Mr. Phillips tucked them off the Mall just for us locals.
The Permanent Collection is reason enough to hit this spot, if you haven't already, but After Five-goers also savor the richly expressive current exhibit of oil portraiture. "Paint Made Flesh" examines how American and European artists have used oil paint and the human figure to represent human vulnerabilities. This month's Thursday evening theater, film, and gallery talks also consider the evocation of different human emotions.
Finally, After Five guests enjoy live music and a social hour enlivened by delicious heavy hors d'oeuvres, food tastings, and cash bar. And all of this in one location and for the incredibly reasonable price of a $12 museum admission, $10 if you can rustle up a student or senior ID. Fortunately for those who enjoy dynamic and varied people-watching, you will find plenty of both groups, as well as the usual "young professionals" (read under 45) and even some someday professionals under five. It is truly a heterogeneous crowd of the type that only the best Washington cultural events attract. And we all know that there's no shortage of competition for that status. Think Screen on The Green and some of the other outdoor film and concert series this summer, but more unique, inspiring, and creative. This is a place where all can revel in the joys of DC culture. It should be noted that admission is free for Collection members. Including free admission to all exhibits, the Permanent Collection, and Phillips After Five engagements year-round, the cost of annual membership quickly pays for itself if you plan to attend more than a few.
On Thursday, August 7th, The Collection kicked off the month-long program of Phillips After Five with the gallery talk: "The Objects of My Desire: Sex and Death in Contemporary Figure Painting," an expert-led discussion of representations that comment on sexuality, desire, and violence as evoked by the feminine figure. In the cafe, players performed, entertained, and interacted with museum visitors in such a way that the public and actors were at times indistinguishable.
One of the highlights of the night, for those who managed to pack into the 2006-renovated Sant Building Auditorium, was a performance of the nationally acclaimed, "Mortified," described in the playbill as a collection of "teenage angst artifacts...as shared by their original authors before total strangers." In keeping with the theme of "Paint Made Flesh," this show, making its way across the country, featured authors reading their personal works from their teen years.
The show delivered exactly as introduced: "flirty, nerdy, downright devastatingly humiliating...equal parts comedic and cathartic." The featured diary entries, love letters, journals, and lyrics were all real, unadulterated content penned by these "screenreaders" during adolescence and conserved to our delight and their mortification. The works, too embarrassing to be shared, were so true that any one of us could have written them, and probably did, but just haven't had the courage- or compulsion- to humiliate ourselves anew publicly.
Finally, down in the Music Room, "Minor Thoughts" featuring Maureen Mullaney, performed vocal and instrumental jazz arrangements while visitors nibbled delicious and plentiful hors d'oeuvres spread by Geppetto Catering.
Greg's List DC readers can look forward to an August brimming with After Five programming worthy of at least one visit and, if at all possible, more. This Culture Editor's ardent recommendation is to get back early and often. The evening is pure delight. As varied as our DC summer options are on Thursday in particular, GLDC will find time to return to view another film, gallery talk, and to meet a few more of our readers over drinks in the Music Room. The line-up for August follows. Feel free to contact GLDC Culture Editor Andrea with comments or recommendations related to the event and to consult the Phillips website for details and museum-specific contacts.
August 13 Phillips After Five
Music: DJ Danny Harris of Fatback D.C. spins a blend of funk, soul, and boogaloo.
Film: "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly." This film won the Golden Globe for best picture in 2007 and was directed by Julian Schnabel, whose work is included in Paint Made Flesh.
Gallery Talk: "Blitzkrieg Shock: Postwar Trauma's Effect on Painting." Postwar anxiety emerges in the anatomical distortion and crude imagery of figure painting by artists such as Philip Guston and Leon Golub.
Refreshments by the DC Bartenders Guild and betterdrinking.com offer peach sangrias and local beer tastings with seasonal farm fresh foods including an artisanal cheese tasting table, yellow gazpacho shooters with red pepper swizzle sticks, and Chesapeake corn relish radicchio or endive boats provided by Geppetto Catering and Fresh Farm Market.
August 20 Phillips After Five
Music: John Kocur Quartet plays plays its own compositions plus a sprinkling of classics by Cole Porter, Jerome Kern, and Antonio Carlos Jobim.
Sensory Remix: A Video-Art Collage Washington video artists John Bowen of Videokiller, Robin Bell, and Dissident Display collaborate to create live projections, mixing and distorting original and found video with music.
Film: "The South Bank Show: Francis Bacon." Filmed in London, in locations that include the artist's studio and favorite watering holes, this landmark documentary reveals the lifestyle and inspirations behind Bacon's haunting paintings. 1985, dir. David Hinton
Gallery Talk: "Stranger Than Fiction: Francis Bacon's Metamorphoses." Bacon's hallucinatory figure paintings simultaneously document the artist's visual sources and his dark personal life.
Refreshments of wine and beer accompanied by artisanal gelato and sorbet tasting with Moorenko's boutique ice cream and a light appetizer buffet by Geppettos Catering.
August 27 Phillips After Five
Music: DJ Donald Syriani spins a blend of international house music.
Gallery Talk: "Disembodied: Fragmented Figures in Painting." In the paintings of Cecily Brown, Philip Guston, and Susan Rothenburg, dismembered body parts are used to express emotions.
Film: "Bride of Frankenstein." In the first of three sequels to the 1931 classic, Frankenstein, the misunderstood monster, looks for love.
Refreshments including beers and tastings of Virginia white wines with a buffet of light appetizers provided by Geppetto Catering 1935, dir. James Whale.