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Last month I wrote a post after I learned that The Washington Post was no longer running its annual Peeps diorama contest. The editor of the alternative weekly Washington City Paper hinted on Twitter that her paper may pick up the mantle while providing an email address for inquiries. From there it snowballed into a new Peeps diorama contest. Today is Easter Sunday so The Washington City Paper announced the winners of its first Peeps diorama contest on its website. I have to admit that everyone involved did very well on such a short notice.
One fringe benefit of the City Paper reviving that contest is that my 2013 rant on A Warning for Those Who Intend to Enter This Year’s Peeps Diorama Contest has once again risen to the top five most-read posts in my blog. It’s too soon to tell whether The Washington City Paper will run this contest again next year although I have a hunch that it’s highly likely that there will be one in 2018. Even though a different publication is now running the Peeps diorama contest, it still wouldn’t hurt to read my original rant because some points I raised in it still applies to that contest.
In any case, here are the winners of The Washington City Paper‘s Peeps Diorama Contest. If you want to view the winners in person, you can travel to the Peeps store located at National Harbor (which had been running a separate unrelated Peeps diorama contest as a tie-in with its #ThisIsHowYouHarbor social media campaign but also decided to team up with The Washington City Paper as a partner for the resurrected Peeps diorama contest).
This year is the fifth anniversary of this blog. For the first year I was unsure about how many photos I could actually upload because of the free WordPress.com blogging account has a space limit. So I kept photo uploads limited to just my arts and crafts along with any photographs that I actually exhibited in a show. Over time I learned such things as graphic optimization so I was able to upload more photos that way than I thought I could. So for the rest of the year I’m going to devote Throwback Thursday to photos from previous blog entries (along with links to the original posts) that I should’ve uploaded five years earlier but I didn’t.
Five years ago tomorrow my then-husband and I went to National Harbor to check out this special ice show featuring sculptures based on Dr. Seuss’ classic How the Grinch Stole Christmas book. At the time I wrote about that special Christmas Day trip, I embedded a YouTube video consisting of a slideshow that was shot at the same event by someone else. Here are a few of my photos that I actually shot at that show. The first photo shows the entrance to the show.
Outside the building housing the ice show there were hedges that were shaped like the Grinch complete with clothes.
There was a waiting area where we stood in line after we entered the building. While we waited in line we were treated to special sculptures based on various Dr. Seuss illustrations.
There were also monitors in the waiting area featuring a video showing how Chinese artisans were sent from their native country to the U.S. to sculptures these icy works of art for National Harbor.
Even though my husband and I wore our heavy winter coats to this event, we were given very heavy parkas to wear while we were visiting the event. (The inside temperature was kept at 9 degrees Fahrenheit.) My then-husband and I took pictures of each other wearing these heavy blue parkas.
The next few photos are just a few of the ones I shot on that day. The details on these sculptures were really amazing to see in person.
In addition to the sculptures featuring the Grinch and the local citizens of Whoville, there was also an icy sliding board for kids that cost extra to use. (Unfortunately I didn’t get a good shot of that one.) The exhibit ended with a Nativity scene completely carved from ice.
Outside the exit doors was this giant Christmas tree made entirely from marshmallow Peeps, which were only made apparent if one saw it close up.
That was my first and, so far, only visit to an ice sculpture show at National Harbor. The following year I was still recuperating from hip surgery while my husband was secretly planning his exit from our marriage. I remember that National Harbor was doing that year’s ice sculpture based on the DreamWorks’ animated feature film Shrek (or was it Madagascar? I don’t remember) so it was no big deal that we didn’t go. National Harbor has a new ice show every year but the last few years didn’t excite me enough to consider going on my own. (And this year was no different. It was based on the animated TV special Santa Claus is Coming to Town, which I remember wasn’t among my favorite annual Christmas holiday specials.) So that’s why I can say that the last time I saw such a show was when I was still married.
I’m posting this online on Christmas Eve, which also holds another hurtful anniversary from me, thanks to my so-called “loving” husband. In 2011, during the three-month period between my hip surgery and Christmas Day, he treated me very well. He took leave from his NASA job to take care of me and he arranged everything for me from the doctor’s appointments to getting various friends to drive me to physical therapy after he had to report back to work. He never indicated he was the slightest bit unhappy and he constantly told me that he loved me. He walked out on me just three days after Christmas on December 28, 2011. I knew that he could file for divorce once the one-year anniversary passed but I thought he would wait until after New Year’s Day, 2013 at the earliest. Imagine my surprise when he sent me a copy of a divorce petition in an e-mail that was dated December 24, 2012. Yep, he did this on Christmas Eve. Adding insult to injury, when I showed this to a lawyer, he told me that it wasn’t a real divorce petition because there was no case number assigned to it. If that’s not something that’s hateful and despicable, I don’t know what is. That incident is one of many reasons why I refuse to speak with him now.
This post marks the last of the ones from 2010 that I wanted to highlight on Throwback Thursdays as part of the fifth anniversary celebration of this blog. Starting in 2011 I started uploading more photos because I learned how to save server space on my blog account by optimizing graphics. Gradually over time I realized that I got more hits if I included at least one photo with my post than just writing straight text alone, which is why this blog tends to be graphics-heavy.
Well, anyway, since tomorrow is Christmas Day, I’ll just end this post by wishing all my readers a Merry Christmas. 🙂
The one thing I have to say about Katsucon is that it has grown bigger than I last remembered it (when it used to be held in downtown Washington, DC). It has grown so big that there were workshop panels scheduled during the wee hours of the night. One such panel I would’ve loved to attend was one titled "40 Years of Video Gaming." As someone who played many of the video games back in the day when there were actually video arcades in business, it would’ve been a fun blast from the past for me. The big downside is that it was scheduled for Sunday morning at 5 a.m. 5 a.m.?!? Unless I was suffering from insomnia, I knew that there was no way I would’ve ever made that panel.
Like the day before I woke up very stiff and sore with a stuffed-up head. If it hadn’t been for the fact that I had a piece in the Art Show and I needed to formally close out my participation in it, I would’ve blown off the third day entirely.
Like the day before I was so tired that it took me a while before I was able to get off my butt, get in the car, and go to National Harbor. I ended up eating lunch at home once again. At least I didn’t have to worry about carrying food with me. I packed a couple of sodas before I got in the car.
I got there around 1:30 p.m. The weather outside was sunny yet was very cold and windy. As I walked towards the Gaylord Hotel and Convention Center, I saw a couple of women wearing only Japanese school uniforms made of thin fabric outside shivering and complaining about the cold temperatures as they walked past me. I had to laugh about it. This is the reverse of what I’ve seen at Otakon in Baltimore where people arrive to that convention dressed in very heavy costumes (complete with several layers of fur) in the hot and humid summer weather. I’ll leave it to you to decide what’s funnier: People freezing in thin costumes ouitside during Katsucon or people broiling in heavy costumes outside during Otakon.
Even though I saw a notice on the Den of Angels forum about the possibility of another Asian ball-jointed doll meetup on the last day, I didn’t see anyone with dolls in the hotel lobby (where the other two meetups were held) on the final day. It was just as well because I left all of my dolls at home.
I attempted to go to the Video Gaming Room only to find that it was already closed. (That’s the one thing I wanted to check out but I missed it. Darn!) I then attempted to go to the Merchants’ Room and that one was closed as well. The only major thing left opened when I got there was the Artists’ Alley. It was fine by me since I had to go through there in order to access the Art Show.
The only major thing I did during my final day was to pick up my tote bag. Sadly no one bought it. Once I picked it up I basically browsed the vending tables in the Artists’ Alley and took a bunch of photos of both cosplayers and some of the vending tables until I grew tired and just headed home.
This guy came dressed as Captain Jack Sparrow from The Pirates of the Carribbean movies.
Here’s Jessica Rabbit from the Disney film Who Framed Roger Rabbit?
I’ll end this entry by writing about what I purchased at Katsucon. Compared to past anime conventions, I was relatively restrained. My finances are relatively tight these days (due in large part to my husband suing me for divorce) and I’m also in the process of decluttering my home so I really don’t need large amounts of new stuff. One of the tables in the Artists’ Alley sold these really tiny steampunk hats for $10 each. Even though they were made for human heads, I thought they would be perfect for dolls to wear to I bought two of them. The same table also sold this ring featuring a cameo of a skull wearing a wig and fancy dress. It matches this cameo necklace that I purchased at Faerie Con last November.
I actually bothered to photograph the other items I purchased. One is a graphic novel that’s a retelling of Anne Rice’s classic novel Interview With a Vampire and it’s told from the point of view of Claudia the child vampire who was created when she was only six years old. The sepia art is gorgeous and it’s a pretty good adaptation of the original novel. Reading that book is now making me want to dig up my old paperback copy of the original Anne Rice novel and re-read it.
Even though I already have plenty of t-shirts, I couldn’t resist buying this one, especially since I now own a pet hedgehog. (The photo is a bit on the dark side but it says "Hedgehogs—Why don’t they just share the hedge?")
I gave in to temptation and purchased one of those cute stuffed Arpakasso llamas. Mine is a light tan color and it wears a light pink ribbon with sparling silver stars. The fur is very soft.
The tan Arpakasso makes a nice companion to the pink Arpakasso that I purchased at Otakon last summer.
That’s it for my own impressions of Katsucon. If you want to see photos taken by others, I recommend that you check out Flickr’s The Katsucon 19 2013 Group Pool. I didn’t shoot any videos this time around but others did and you can see them on YouTube using the tag katsucon 2013.
After spending a full day at Katsucon the day before, I woke up totally tired and sore. I was so fatigued that I had a hard time moving. There were times when I began to think that maybe I’m starting to get too old for anime conventions. I also remembered that for several days before Katsucon I spent long hours trying to finish the tote bag that I submitted to the Katsucon Art Show and I think all that work coupled with a physically grueling first day at the con took a physical toll on me.
So I spent the morning at home. I ended up eating the lunch I had originally intended to bring with me to Katsucon. Afterwards I decided to head out when I found mail in the mailbox. I got yet another reminder of the crumbling state of my marriage—I got a letter from my husband’s lawyer. I didn’t open it that day because I didn’t need to be bummed out before I got to Katsucon. (I opened the letter a day after the convention ended and it was basically a letter verifying that I received the divorce petition from a process server. Blech!)
I didn’t arrive at Katsucon until after 3 p.m. As I was walking from the parking garage I saw this sign from one of the many bars and restaurants that dot National Harbor.
When I entered the front lobby of the Gaylord Hotel and Convention Center I walked past the hotel restaurant that had been temporarily converted into a Maid Cafe. I never checked that one out because the line of people waiting to get in was very long.
The check-in desk in the hotel lobby featured someone cosplaying as a robot that gained lots of attention from other people waiting to check into their rooms.
I saw the Asian ball-jointed doll meetup, which started at 2 p.m., was already in progress. I dropped off my tiny dolls then ran to the nearest women’s restroom because I needed to use the toilet after making the commute from my home to National Harbor. Once I emerged from the stall, I found this bottle marked "Vampire Blood" next to the sink where I washed my hands.
I managed to rejoin my dolls at the doll meetup, which was just starting to break up by the time I arrived. I still managed to get a lot of photos of gorgeous dolls (there were more of them than the previous day’s meetup). Someone also brought some homebaked gingerbread, which was very delicious. (I’m sorry I was never able to learn who baked the gingerbread because I would’ve complimented the baker.)
After the meetup ended I walked towards the Art Show and I found no bids on my handpainted tote bag. Then I walked around both the Artists’ Alley and the Merchants’ Room where I took some more photos that I wasn’t able to take on the first day due to low battery power in my cellphone. (This time I made damned sure that my smartphone was fully charged before I arrived at Katsucon.)
The biggest guest star at Katsucon was the Japanese pop band known as The Sound Bee HD. I missed out on seeing this band perform in concert mainly because the concert started after 10 p.m. and I grew too exhausted to attend a couple of hours before the concert. The group had a table set up in the Artists’ Alley and members of the band were there to greet fans, sell copies of their CDs, and sign autographs.
Both rooms had a variety of things available for purchase that one can’t find at a Wal-Mart or Target.
I went to an anime convention and a Twister game broke out.
The next few photos are scenes from the World Cosplay Summit semi-finals that was held at Katsucon. I never knew that cosplay was a serious international competition like the Olympics or the Miss Universe Pageant. Basically the winners of the semi-finals went on to the finals (which will be held during another anime convention). Whoever won the finals would represent the United States at the World Cosplay Summit in Japan later this year.
There were plenty of cosplayers who didn’t take part in the World Cosplay Summit semi-finals and they could be found walking the hallways throughout Katsucon, such as these Mighty Morphin Power Rangers.
This person dressed up as a futuristic robot version of Hello Kitty.
This guy wore a plushie on his head like it’s a hat in the Merchants’ Room.
Since Katsucon took place soon after Lunar New Year, a group of people came carrying a Chinese dragon.
This cosplayer posed for professional photographers.
Are they Anonymous? Are they cosplaying as V from "V is For Vendetta"? Or are they simply Guy Fawkes fans? In any case they were at Katsucon 2013.
After I walked around the convention for a while, I chilled out in one of the video rooms watching the anime series Fate/Stay Night. I first became familiar with this series when I was at Otakon last summer and I purchased this kit that’s based on one of the characters named Saber Lily. (I’ll admit that I haven’t worked any more on that kit since last September. I need to take it out again and work on it.) I downloaded the fansubbed manga version and it’s pretty entertaining. While the anime version is okay, I probably won’t be buying the DVD version because I personally preferred the manga version. The manga went into more details about the relationship between the characters while the anime version was mostly swordfights and it grew tedious after a while.
The one workshop panel I attended that day was one called "Kickstarter 101 With Obsidian & Dern." It was a fascinating view on the process of getting your work financed via Kickstarter.com. I took the workshop because I had a fantasy of getting a project funded via Kickstarter but after taking that workshop I learned that you really need to have a detailed production plan in order to have it work for you.
After that panel I grew very tired again so I drove home. I began to notice that my stamina for three-day anime conventions isn’t as strong as it used to. It’s another sign of getting older, I guess. <Sigh!> I’m sure that I’ll get to the point where even attending a convention for even a half-day will tire me out but I hope that doesn’t happen for several decades. <LOL!> At least driving home was easy compared with the previous night’s frightening commute (where I had to deal with both heavy rain and crazy drivers).
I had gone to the Katsucon anime convention in the past but it must have been at least five years since I attended the last one. (I remembered I attended the last one when it was still held in downtown Washington, DC instead of its current home in National Harbor, Maryland.)
The past few weeks I slacked off on doing major decluttering of my home because I decided to try participating in my first anime convention-related Art Show. (I’ve been to previous anime conventions but I’ve never submitted anything to the Art Show.) I purchased a blank canvas bag and did this two-sided painting of the Gardener Twins Souseiseki and Suiseiseki from the anime Rozen Maiden. (You can read the February 14, 2013 blog entry for more details about the painting of this bag.)
Even though I preregistered over the Internet (I was able to get a weekend pass at a discount) and it entitled me to pick up my pass the day before the convention opened, I wasn’t able to make it on Thursday because the pick-up time conflicted with my weekly support group meeting for people who are separated or divorced. (Since the meeting fell on February 14—Valentine’s Day—the group was holding an "Anti-Valentine’s Day Party" instead of the usual meeting and I really wanted to go to it.) So I woke up early and got to National Harbor as soon as possible. Luckily there was a separate line for preregistrations and it was shorter than the line for those who were purchasing passes at the door so I didn’t have to spend too much time waiting in line.
Once I picked up my pass I immediately headed to the Art Show where I entered my tote bag. I had put it in a display case but I also posted photos showing both sides of the bag since the display case could only show one side at a time. Here is what it looked like after I hung it at the Art Show.
By the time I got my pass and hung up my tote bag at the Art Show I was feeling hungry because it was around noon. In order to save as much time and money as possible, I opted to bring my own lunch, dinner, and sodas in a giant Wegman’s insulated bag from home. (The bag was pretty heavy to carry around at times until I consumed the food and drink.) So I sat in a chair in the Gaylord Hotel and Convention Center lobby and ate my lunch. I have to admit that the entire large complex was pretty fancy. Here is a shot of the Convention Center atrium.
The only major snag that first day came when I realized that I didn’t have enough battery power in my cell phone so I couldn’t issue as many Twitter tweets as I wanted. I had a car charger but it would’ve meant going to the parking garage, finding my car, starting the engine, letting it run for up to a half-an-hour while my phone recharges, then go back to the Gaylord Hotel and Convention Center. I found a Best Buy Express vending machine and I found that there was a battery recharger on sale for my cell phone. I sucked it up and charged $40 to the credit card to get that item.
So while I was eating lunch I decided to recharge the cell phone with the new battery. It worked for a while then it stopped recharging. I read the manual and found that the battery needed to be recharged and it didn’t have much juice left. The battery didn’t come with any wall adapter and I really didn’t want to pay more money at the Best Buy Express vending machine to get one so I basically dealt with a cell phone with low battery power for the entire day. As a result I ended up making tweets about the day’s events the following morning. I kept on taking photos with my cell phone until I lost battery power entirely.
Once I finished eating lunch I shopped around in the Merchants’ Room. I did mostly window shopping because I’m currently in the process of decluttering my home and I’m trying to be conservative in spending my money due to my husband suing me for divorce. There were plenty of things on sale and if you weren’t careful, you could easily go broke buying all kinds of stuff that you really don’t need to survive but they looked irresistable.
This one statue on sale made me feel old. It’s Kimberly from the early 1980’s video game Space Ace. I remember when I used to play that game in the arcades. If the statue hadn’t been out of my personal price range, I would’ve been tempted to buy it because of both the video game and the fact that she shares the same name as me. (LOL!)
The next three photos are from the most bizarre booth I saw in the Merchants’ Room. The military-style armbands promoted tolerance of same-sex relationships by using terms like Yaoi and appropriate symbols. But the hats reminded me of Nazi hats from World War II and there was even a giant swastika against a psychedelic background on display in the background. That booth had me scratching my head.
I read on the Den of Angels forum of a series of Asian ball jointed doll meetups that were going to happen during Katsucon. I was on the fence about being able to make any of those meetups so I decided to pack my smaller 1/6 and 1/12 scale dolls just in case because they are lighter and easier to carry than my larger dolls. (I’ve carried some of these larger dolls around at anime and doll conventions in the past and it turned out to be such a pain to lug them around.) I slipped these small dolls in a plastic bag then put them in the large Wegman’s insulated bag. Here are the dolls I brought with me to Katsucon from left to right: Orient Doll Ji, Soom Mini-Gem Uyoo, Soul Doll Kimmy, and Bobobie Sunny.
I arrived at the meetup right at the 2 p.m. start time. The Asian ball-jointed doll meetup went off pretty well for me with no drama. Everyone was pretty nice and I got a chance to see some gorgeous dolls. Here are the photos I took of that meetup.
After the Asian ball-jointed doll meetup I walked around and took photos of cosplayers and people carrying various plushies until my cell phone battery finally died.
Someone cosplayed as Merida from the Disney/Pixar film Brave.
This cosplayer was in a wheelchair yet was still able to rock it in this awesome looking costume.
This cosplayer in the next photo appeared as his personal fursona Azure.
Here’s Belle from the Disney film Beauty and the Beast.
Spiderman poses with a friend.
It’s a unicorn!
According to the comments and messages I got through Flickr, the woman in the next photo was cosplaying as Kougoyku Ren from the Japanese anime Magi.
The last two photos feature a total blast from my own past. Yes, it’s Gumby!
I attended my first panel at Katsucon. It was called "Publishing for the Speciality Market" and I was mildly curious about the topic since I can draw and write and it was supposed to provide tips on how to make an income off of your work. That panel was a definite eye-opener. It’s disheartening to hear that there is only one major distributor of comic books in the United States (Diamond Comics) so if your idea for a comic book gets rejected by this one publisher, you don’t really have any alternatives. As for me, I could see myself maybe doing a web comic or digital e-book in some distant future as a hobby but I found that publishing my own comic book/graphic novel to distribute myself or convince Diamond Comics to distribute to be downright daunting and scary.
Immediately after the first panel ended I attended a second panel called "Bad Anime, Bad!" That one is definitely self-explanatory. I saw clips of anime that have either a) awful animation, b) lousy dialogue, c) poor translation, or d) all of the above. I’ve seen this same panel at other anime conventions in the past and it’s amazing that the guy who runs it always gets new examples of anime so bad that it’s really hilarious.
After watching bad anime, I settled down in the Gaylord Hotel and Convention Center lobby to eat a pre-packaged dinner that I brought with me. What was funny was that I had some people sitting near me asked me where I got my dinner from and they seemed disheartened when I said "Wegman’s." (LOL!)
After dinner I managed to attend one last panel in the evening. It was called "Steampunk to Cyberpunk: A History" and it was an interesting presentation that compared the steampunk with cyberpunk sub-genres of science fiction. When that panel ended I was so exhausted that I decided to drive back home. (In order to save money I opted to commute to this convention instead of staying at any of the hotels located in National Harbor.) I had this harrowing commute because it was raining very hard and the streets were so slick that they resembled mirrors. On top of it there were crazy drivers on the road who were speeding on these very slick roads and it was a challenge to avoid accidents. At least I made it home okay.
Last Saturday Art Whino was holding a reception at its gallery at National Harbor and, as part of the festivities, it was offering a free drawing session with a live model. I decided to take Art Whino up on the free drawing session and I headed out with my drawing supplies.
There were a few minor snags on my way to the gallery. First of all National Harbor was full of traffic because it was holding a "Bourbon & BBQ Festival" that looked like it was very popular. I had to go way up to one of the top levels of the parking garage because it was so full of cars and I saw a very long line of cars waiting to leave the garage.
Once I found parking, I made my way to Art Whino. I had only been to that gallery one previous time so I walked over to where I thought it was located. Except there was a different store in the area where I thought Art Whino was located. I checked one of the street directories and Art Whino was still listed as being located where that different store is located now.
So I started walking from one end of Waterfront Street to the other in the hopes of finding Art Whino in a different location. I was unsuccessful so I decided to walk back down Waterfront Street towards the parking garage where I had parked my car. As I was walking, I briefly glanced down one of the side streets and I found Art Whino’s new location.
So I ended up arriving late but I found one empty seat so I took it. I did a bunch of drawings of the model while she did a bunch of poses in different outfits. Here are the results.
Towards the end of the drawing session, the model’s two young sons came over and they became curious about what the drawings of their mother looked like. So I volunteered to show them my work and one of them said that he thought that they were good.
Unlike Dr. Sketchy’s Anti-Art School (which prohibits photography at its events), Art Whino had no problem with people taking pictures of the model. So I pulled out my camera and took a few photos towards the end of the free drawing session. You can compare my drawings with what the model really looked like. The first two photos show the model on the right receiving instructions on which pose to make.
The model is hard at work.
A drummer is testing his equipment before providing the music for the evening while the model is doing her pose for the artists.
Here’s a close-up of the drummer.
Once the drawing session ended, I stuck around a little longer as I viewed the art on display and took a few more photos. The next few photos are of shelves full of customized urban toys. It’s amazing to see the creativity in creating and/or customizing unique vinyl toys.
Here are some drawing supplies that were provided for people who wanted to take part in the free drawing event but didn’t bring their own supplies.
As I was on my way back to the parking garage, I decided to take a quick photo of the Potomac River at twilight.
The one thing about National Harbor is that, with the number of upscale bars and restaurants, it draws enough cars on a Saturday night to create a traffic jam that resembles weekday rush hour on the Capital Beltway.
Even though the day was still cloudy from the long line of thunderstorms that have been plaguing the Washington, DC area for the last several days, I managed to see some pink during the sunset.
Uzuhi is a punk rock band from Japan who is currently working in New York City. I previously filmed them, uploaded the previous video on YouTube, and linked to that video in this blog on May 12, 2011. The previous video was shot at the Sakura Matsuri street festival in Washington, DC on April 9, 2011. The following day, I went to National Harbor, which had a one-day Cherry Blossom Festival of its own andwouldn’t you know it, when I arrived I saw Uzuhi performing there as well so I ended up filming that performance as well. If you like this video and/or the previous video, you can learn more about Uzuhi at the following links:
The Japanese band Spirit + Noise gave a very rousing concert performance at the Cherry Blossom Festival that was held at National Harbor, Maryland on April 10, 2011. If you like this video, you can learn more about the band at their website.
I shot this incredibly cool performance by a Japanese band called Se-Shami Street at last month’s Cherry Blossom Festival that was held at National Harbor, Maryland on April 10, 2011.
Se-Shami Street is a Japanese band who plays incredibly catchy music on a traditional Japanese instrument known as a tsugaru-shamisen. Not only are they talented musicians but they also display a kind of showmanship that included tricks like playing their instruments with a baby doll and standing on each other’s shoulders while playing their music. As you can see in the video, they were definitely crowd pleasers.
If you like this video, you can learn more about Se-Shami Street at the following links:
Ever feel like you’re in this weird cycle where things that happened to you a few months earlier seems to echo back at you? Well, it seemed to have happened to me.
Back in October my husband and I were in Western Massachusetts where his family held a memorial service for my mother-in-law, who died back in March. This service was for my mother-in-law’s friends who weren’t able to make it to her funeral service, which was held in March in Phoenix (where she had spent the last years of her life). Towards the end of that trip my husband and I took a driving trip from Williamstown, Massachusetts to Mystic, Connecticut (where we had to return our rental car before boarding the Amtrak for the trip back to DC).
During that driving trip we attempted to go to the Dr. Seuss National Memorial Sculpture Garden in Springfield but the gates were closed by the time we arrived. We managed to see one of the statues behind the locked gates but that was about it. On Christmas Day my husband and I went to a special ice show at National Harbor based on Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Before entering the main part of that exhibit, we were treated to a pre-show exhibit that not only provided information about the hometown of the Chinese ice sculptors who worked on that exhibit but also provided artwork and information about the life and career of Dr. Seuss. We saw photographs of the Dr. Seuss National Memorial Sculpture Garden in Springfield so we got an idea of what we missed when we arrived at the place too late back in October.
The main reason why we arrived too late to the Springfield Dr. Seuss site is because, earlier in the day, my husband and I spent a few hours at the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, Massachusetts and we ended up spending more time there than we originally planned. A few months before our visit to this museum, the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, DC had opened a special exhibit that feature Rockwell art from the private collections of Steven Spielberg and George Lucas.
It’s pretty ironic that we went all the way to Stockbridge to see Rockwell art when there was a special Rockwell exhibit in a museum closer to our home. After our visit to the Stockbridge museum, we made plans to see the DC exhibit before it closes. Unfortunately, with my husband’s travel, my mother’s health problems, my husband’s lung infection, and my own cold, we weren’t able to see that exhibit for a while. When I saw in the local papers that the exhibit was going to close after New Year’s weekend, we knew that we had to see it now.
So we spent New Year’s Day yesterday visiting the Rockwell exhibit in DC. It was really amazing to see and we were able to compare and contrast between the two exhibits.
The Stockbridge museum has examples from throughout Rockwell’s entire career and it included some of his later works, which were a bit more edgy with pointed political commentary, such the integration of the public schools. The DC exhibit was more narrowly focused. It’s been said that you can learn about a collector’s personality by viewing his/her collection. After looking at Spielberg’s and Lucas’ collections, I got a feeling about their preferences for collecting those Rockwell pieces which not only tell a story but also provides a portrayal of an idealistic America.
Since Spielberg and Lucas are both directors, it’s no surprise that they prefer those pieces that seemed to tell a full story. And if you look at their overall films like Schindler’s List, Jaws, Star Wars, Indiana Jones, and E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, you know that they prefer to make uplifting films that show heroism and good triumphing over evil. So it’s also no surprise that they would prefer Rockwell’s more uplifting work over his edgier work.
The most interesting part about that exhibit is that both Spielberg and Lucas collected Rockwell’s rough drafts as well as Rockwell’s completed works. Much of the work on display in that exhibition were black and white drawings done in pencil and charcoal on newsprint. These drawings were originally done as rough drafts but both Spielberg and Lucas were drawn to them as if they were finished pieces. Rockwell’s rough drafts were very detailed and well done and I can see why those two directors didn’t hesitate to buy them and frame them.
That exhibit was crowded since it’s the final weekend. We arrived at the museum around noon, ate lunch there, then visited the Rockwell exhibit after we finished eating. We were done by 3 p.m. so we decided to take a break at the atrium near the exhibit’s entrance. By that point, a long line had formed outside the exhibit and a security guard had to limit people entering the area. We were so glad that we arrived at the museum earlier so we were able to beat the worst of the crowds.
But it’s kind of interesting that we sort of come full circle between the Western Massachusetts trip in October and this holiday season in the DC area.