art-for-arts-sake

Stephen Colbert Portrait Set to Leave National Portrait Gallery

A nation turns its lonely eyes to you, Colbert. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Nation! It's come to this. Stephen Colbert's portrait is coming down from its rightful spot in the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery, on the second floor between the bathrooms and above the water fountain. The painting of Colbert in full satiric regalia with tchotchkes was loaned to the Smithsonian by "The Colbert Report" in December as part of the hoopla surrounding the show's final season. The portrait's last day in its place of honor is April 19, well before Colbert starts playing it straight as he replaces the retiring David Letterman on CBS's "Late Show" on Sept. 8. In 2008, the museum installed a portrait of Colbert, then eventually sent it to the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History. The most recent portrait is heading back to Comedy Central, according to Marielba Alvarez, public affairs associate at the Portrait Gallery.  

No word on whether Santa Claus and Alex Trebek will usher the portrait away, as they did for Colbert himself on the final episode of "The Colbert Report." For now it appears the wax statue of Colbert at Madame Tussaud's is safe.  

Piero di Cosimo's Breakout Show

"The Discovery of Honey" by Piero di Cosimo. (Courtesy National Gallery of Art)

It took almost 500 years for one of the bad boys of Renaissance art to get a major retrospective. But if recent crowds at the National Gallery of Art are any indication, Piero di Cosimo may be starting to  emerge from the shadows cast by famous contemporaries such as Botticelli, Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo to take a long overdue star turn.  

“Piero di Cosimo: The Poetry of Painting in Renaissance Florence,” features 44 altarpieces, portraits and mythological and allegorical scenes painted by an enigmatic figure who was described in his day as uncivilized, eccentric and prone to “building castles in the air.” Piero (1462-1522) lived in squalor, largely limiting his diet to eggs, which he cooked dozens at a time with the glue he used in his work. He ranted at everyday sounds like ringing bells and crying infants, according to Giorgio Vasari’s “Lives of the Most Excellent Painters, Sculptors, and Architects,” a somewhat unreliable but essential chronicle of the Florentine masters.  

A Scientist Grows Art in NoMa at Gallery NK

Gallery NK on K Street Northeast. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Tucked away amid the rowhouses of NoMA is a once run-down warehouse transformed into a clean modern contemporary art gallery. The quaint studio, Gallery NK, is the creation of Turkish born artist Nihal Kececi.  

With true Turkish hospitality, Kececi and her daughter Julie welcomed this reporter into their gallery with coffee, tea and desserts. There, we chatted and I learned of her journey from Turkey to K Street, and more specifically, 321 K St. NE. As a child, Kececi demonstrated a knack for painting and was encouraged by family and friends to pursue art school. But Kececi had different plans in mind.  

When Interior Decorating Questions Get Weird

Young's office boasts a gavel made from a walrus penis. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Some members of Congress go their whole lives without being asked about their office decorations. Others have it foisted upon them.  

So it was when Roll Call and WAMU went to the Capitol to report on why members display particular pictures of parents, presidential memorabilia or patriotic nutcrackers. It just happened to be on the day The Washington Post published Ben Terris' story about Rep. Aaron Schock's "Downton Abbey"-inspired red Rayburn office digs . Would our reporting arouse suspicion? When we hatched the idea as part of our partnership this week for Kojo at the Capitol , we were unaware of the impending Terris trump tale of the Illinois Republican's use of the firm Euro Trash to transform his government spot into an homage to Edwardian excess. But when we showed up once the piece was published and making waves, would offices assume we were digging for a scoop or, worse, simply following up, even though we'd been working on our story for some time? Would we find office decor inspired by "Justified" among the Kentucky delegation or perhaps "Breaking Bad" from the Land of Enchantment's representatives in the Capitol?  

George, Ellen or Groucho? National Portrait Gallery Asks for Votes

(Screenshot)

The National Portrait Gallery is going to put one of three comedians — George Carlin, Ellen DeGeneres or Groucho Marx — up on its "Recognize" wall, and it wants the public to weigh in.  

Announcing, "this is no laughing matter for the Smithsonian museum," the curators of American culture want to display one of the three funny folk on its relatively new feature that highlights "one important person in our collection as chosen by readers of Smithsonian.com."  

Senegal Represents at Phillips Collection

(Clark Mindock/CQ Roll Call)

The paint filling in the sketched lines on an alley wall behind the Phillips Collection couldn’t have come at a more appropriate time.

The artists who stood on scaffolding and ladders, reaching to the highest portions of the mural with bright yellow, red and orange paint on Oct. 23 had come from across the Atlantic to decorate the wall. For them, artistic expression is necessarily political, and having their culture represented on a wall in the district is an important means of connecting the people of the United States with the people of Senegal, West Africa.

D.C. Jewish Film Festival Has Hill in Mind
Calendar: Monuments Men Get Their D.C. Shoutout

When you think about it, "The Monuments Men" is the perfect movie for Washington: Educated nerds defeat the Nazis, save crown jewels of Western civilization.  

George Clooney's old-school World War II flick about the military’s Monuments, Fine Arts, and Archives program was released in theaters on Friday, including at the District's great Uptown Theater. The city's other cultural institutions, meanwhile, have geared up exhibits to provide some context for the real-life heroes that made the monuments men so monumental.