Thursday, September 11, 2014

Take Me Home

I promise, after today, I'm going to nail my feet to the floor and stay home.

But how could I pass up a quickie trip up 95 to my hometown?


First, there was barbecue and a wine tasting featuring such delights as champagne (yes, made in Champagne) made from Spanish Tempranillo grapes, a suave Spanish wine rep from Miami who came across like Jeff Goldblum, plus meeting a third generation Spanish winemaker named Amelia.

Talking to another wine rep, I learned he had lived in Jackson Ward back in the '90s, "Back when you had to run to your car when you left your house." He asked if I remembered Bird in Hand (danced there many nights) and if Bamboo was still there.

Like cockroaches, Bamboo will outlast us all.

Then it was on to our nation's capital for a trip to the Corcoran, significant because at the end of the month, they close their doors to restructure as part of the National Gallery of Art.

In the meantime, admission is free and since it had been at least seven years since I'd been there, I wanted to see their collection before it gets redistributed or parts put in storage.

There was only enough time for a few galleries, so first was modern and contemporary - Cy Twombley, Ellsworth Kelly, Warhol - and then photography.

Besides classic photographers such as Ansel Adams, Walker Evans and Dorthea Lange, I saw a Linda Connor, an artist I'd very much enjoyed interviewing when she had a show at Candela Gallery last Fall.

You see art differently when you've met the artist.

Then it was downstairs to see "An Intimate View: European Art from the Collections," a dazzling array of paintings by Pissaro, Renoir, Gainsborough, Turner, even a Rembrandt nonchalantly hanging over a fireplace mantel.

My guess is every one of them will end up in the National Gallery, for better or for worse.

But the piece that I absolutely fell in love with today was Corot's "Le Repos," a reclining nude in a sylvan setting, so unlike anything I'd ever seen of Corot's before.

What a wonderful thing it must be to be painted and immortalized for generations to admire.

Promptly at 5:00, guards let it be known that visitors were unwelcome and I left the old Corcoran for the final time. Sigh.

But being up close with beauty continued at Dumbarton Oaks, a 53-acre property in Georgetown with elaborate gardens such as mere mortals could only dream of.

Flower gardens (cleome, dahlias, phlox), a cutting garden, a vegetable garden, herb garden, a low pool with a site-specific art and sound installation in it, a rose garden (heirloom varieties and I stopped to smell as many as I could) and an inviting swimming pool.

If I'd had my bathing suit with me, I'd have gone in the pool just so I could say I had.

Garden room after garden room were connected by wooden and stone steps as we made our way around the property, something truly spectacular around every turn.

It helped knowing someone who worked there so that we could enjoy wine at a handmade table near the pool and watch a hawk soar above us (at least until dusk when the bats arrived) and talk about everything and nothing on a beautiful evening.

I was asked how it was I'd lived in Washington all those years and never been to Dumbarton Oaks and I was ashamed to admit I had no answer for that.

Here's hoping I get another chance to go.

For dinner, I chose Roofers Union in Adams Morgan, eschewing the downstairs bar with a guitarist singing and the enormous second floor dining room for the rooftop deck and a table facing the rising yellow moon.

For a short person like me, it was just possible to see it over the railing by pushing myself up in my chair and craning.

With a view of other rooftop decks, Madame Organ's Blues Bar lording over the bustling street below and assorted aircraft, it was an ideal place for a voyeur an observer.

Wine was pink - Chateau de Montfaucon "Les Gardettes" Rose - and our server was a perky Britney.

About the time grilled asparagus with Romesco arrived, so did the clouds that proceeded to obscure that gorgeous almost-Supermoon, but we held out hope that they'd move through quickly.

For dinner, I chose veal heart sausage with slaw in a pretzel roll, an obscenely rich and huge offering from the "stuffed" section of the menu (as opposed to stacked, skewered, simple or smoked) and which I'm proud to say I finished most of.

May my arteries rest in peace.

By the time I ordered a sundae with pretzel brittle, chocolate and malt, the clouds were giving us intermittent glimpses of the now bright white moon, finally high enough in the sky that I didn't need to raise up to see it.

A lovely breeze, a tease of a moon and a day that had included art, gardens and stellar company.

I'd have been a fool to pass that up...not that my Mama raised a fool.


  1. Thanks for the reminder about the Corcoran, I have been meaning to get up there to see it before the end of this month and might do the Kreeger on the same weekend. Dumbarton Oaks is a great park, a friend use to live at the corner of R and 31st, so convenient to just walk across the street and wander. I love visiting DC, makes me sad that more people don't take advantage of all that it offers.


  2. You should definitely make the time for the Corcoran before the end of the month! Of course I agree with you about Washington, but then it is my hometown so I'm a tad biased.