As we explored the hidden pockets at the Renwick Gallery (see last week’s blog) where upcoming exhibits were concealed by various obstructions and drapes, we made some interesting discoveries. We peeked behind a barrier where another exhibit was in the process of being installed. There we spied a variety of objet d’art and standing amidst, in the center of the disarray, was what appeared to be a draped Grandfather’s Clock. My cousin who had previewed the show informed us that it was in fact the drape that is the art – it is not a drape – not fabric – but an exquisitely crafted art piece of its own accord. The ladders and other tools of the installation unintentionally supported the amazing trompe l’oiel effect. It was not a piece under cover at all – but the cover formed to suggest that there was a statuesque clock beneath it WAS the art!
At the opposite end of the staircase that we ascended is a rotund space dedicated to the history of the Renwick. Here we found the story. It is a story of passion for the arts, dedication to preserving and presenting, offering to the public these rare opportunities and during its life it has been confiscated and re-purposed for wartimes, protected by Jackie Kennedy and preserved under the official order of Lyndon Johnson that it be returned to its original purpose to be “Dedicated to Art” as a the unique exhibit space it was designed to be.
Read along the wall and you will learn about Powers’ Greek Slave and look up and you will be dazzled by a permanently exhibited Chihuly chandelier dangling with droplets of green glass that looks like it was dispensed from a frozen yogurt machine – soft and spiral, layers of iridescent and luminous forms.
The exterior is also fascinating to examine up close. It has whimsical and interesting details of relief and components, modern wave patterns all topped off by an unfortunately “tacky” sign beneath the upper pediment of the entry facade. Oh well…
Please make the Renwick a must see when next in DC.