Monday, September 8, 2014

Three Beautiful Things 0/9/07/14: Van Gogh Lecture, Contemplative Eucharist, Capitol Hill Saunter

1.  I returned to the National Gallery of Art today to hear Mary Morton curator and head, department of French paintings at the National Gallery give a lecture on the paintings of Van Gogh the gallery holds.  Going to this lecture, making visits to the D. C. galleries, well, this is what I looked forward to when the Deke and I left Eugene to live in the D. C. metro area.  I was most interested in what Mary Morton had to say about Van Gogh's devotion to color, how the colors in his paintings complement each other (this was new to me) and Van Gogh, and his contemporaries, surrendered the idea of making paintings that looked "real" to painting pictures that explore the power of color itself.  I had thought about this when I visited the French Impressionist and Post-Impressionist galleries on Friday, how Monet, Van Gogh, Gauguin, and others were inching closer and closer to abstraction, to paintings more about the nature of color than representing the subject.  I love this and when paintings totally leave behind the representation and focus on shapes or on color itself, when they are totally abstract, I am excited by it.  So, it was the opening weekend of the National Football League, which I enjoy, but I enjoy art more.  Yes.  That's true.  I'm not snooty about it.  It's just the way it is.  I now live in a place where I can easily travel by train to one of our nation's cultural centers, stroll into a lecture hall, and hear an expert, using everyday language, help me see, with the aid of images projected on the wall, the beauty and power of Van Gogh's paintings.  I had to pinch myself.  I'm really living this life.

2.  Since leaving Eugene, I had not celebrated a single Eucharist until today.  I'm not into a Sunday morning habit yet and I haven't (yet) rallied myself on Sunday mornings to drive somewhere (say, Dunn Loring) to make it to morning worship.  Well, for years, thanks to Kenton Bird and Betsy Tesi and others, I have heard about the worship in the round at St. Mark's Episcopal Church, Capitol Hill.  St. Mark's holds a contemplative Eucharist at five in the afternoon, so I walked from the National Gallery around the United States Capitol and across from the Library of Congress to join the St. Mark's regulars in a liturgy of contemporary language, contemplative recorded music, and  communion in a circle around the altar.

3.  As the sun was sinking and shadows began to lengthen, I enjoyed sauntering on the leafy streets of Capitol Hill to the Capitol South Metro Station to take the train back to Huntington again.  This Capitol Hill neighborhood is all new to me and it was fun seeing a bar, the Capitol Lounge, packed with young people watching the NFL and getting hammered, as well as seeing people pour out of  St. Peter's Catholic Church after an early evening Mass. 

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