Both the Sackler Gallery and Freer Gallery are located on the National Mall between the Capitol and Washington Monument. The hours of operation are 10.00 am to 5.30 pm except on December 25 and admission is free.Charles Lang Freer, the founder of the Freer Gallery of art expressed his enthusiasm by “I am over my head in love with India” after his first visit to the subcontinent. As I casually browsed the Freer Gallery, the beautifully decorated image of Buddha caught my attention. Also, on display were other masterpieces of Mughal and Rajput paintings along with richly decorated court arts and daggers used by Mughal emperors. I can clearly relate to this period of history because I am of Indian descent and also practice Hindu religion. I am well aware of this particular aspect of art and culture that we have covered during this course. During The Chola dynasty, the Hindu god known as Siva Nataraja (Lord of the Dance) was the perfect embodiment of Chola beauty.
The Chola dynasty was one of the most dominant artistic, religious and political forces in south India from the ninth through the thirteenth century. Siva Nataraj was portrayed as the family diety because he was always seen with his consort Uma and their elephant headed son Ganesha, often referred to as the remover of all obstacles. According to the Hindu scriptures, Siva beheaded his newborn son accidentally and the only head he could find at that time was one of an elephant. This is the reason Ganesha appears with an elephant head on a human body and not a human head like other human beings. Almost every Hindu temple has as a central point of worship of a particular diety and the devotees perform worship to that diety by offering garlands, fruits and flowers and chanting as a means of invocation. Also, there was a large collection of lavishly decorated Buddhist, Jain and Islamic objects as well as magnificent pieces of Rajput and Mughal paintings.
Most of the Chinese art collection consists of Chinese jade and bronzes that spans the time from the Stone Age to China’s Imperial period. On view were remarkable representations of Bronze ritual vessels and weaponry from the Shang (ca. 1600- ca. 1050 B.C.E) and Zhou (ca. 1050 –ca.221 B.C.E) dynasties. The exhibition also displayed works such as paintings, calligraphy and other decorative objects. Buddhist sculpture done in stone, gilt bronze, lacquer and wood and wall murals painted for the cave chapels were representative of Chinese religion. Chinese rulers often requested ceremonial music to be played at their courts using the most beautifully crafted instruments such as bells, drums, chimes and zithers. Also on display were imperial Ming dynasty (1368-1644) porcelain and enameled Qing dynasty as well as their paintings. The jade collection on display which reflects back to the earliest ages of Chinese civilization was a means of measuring status in China. Jade was used as part of ritual function as many of the pieces bore a mask motif which meant it was used for burial purposes.
SMITHSONIAN MUSEUM – The National Museum of African Art
The National Museum of African Art is located on the first floor of the Smithsonian Museum and its hours of operation are 10.00 am to 5.30 pm every day except December 25.
After I visited the Vantage Point – The Contemporary Native Art Collection I gained a better understanding of African artworks. On display were beautiful paintings, drawings, sculpted artworks, masks, figures, musical instruments, ceramics, fabrics, beaded costumes and artifacts that explained the history and cultures of the people from different countries and regions of Africa. Vessels were made primarily by women and they were representative of the various regions within the African continent. The African Mosaic collection reflected upon the diversity and magnitude of Africa’s arts. Many of the artworks on display in the Walt Disney Tishman African Art Collection Highlights were inspired by twentieth century artists such as Picasso and Juan Gris. These art pieces represented the African countries, the people and gave a better insight to African art. African culture was based on moral behavior, leadership, intelligence and fertility and these attributes were obvious through their traditional artworks.
Sandro Botticelli and Studio. Madonna Adoring the Child with Five Angels. c. 1485-1490. The Baltimore Museum of Art: The Mary Frick Jacobs Collection, BMA 1938.226
Baltimore Museum of Art—European Art
The Baltimore Museum of Art is located on the first floor of the building and the hours of operation are 10.00 am to 5.00 pm on Wednesday and Friday, 11.00 am to 6.00 pm on Saturday and Sunday, Monday and Tuesday are closed. Admission was free except on special ticketed exhibitions and events.
As I browsed through the Baltimore Museum of Art I stared in awe at the magnificent pieces of European art collection of the fifteenth century throughout the nineteenth century. The painting of Rinaldo and Armida done by Anthony van Dyck caught my attention; my interpretation of the painting was that it portrayed characteristics of Rocco art whereby the artist focused mainly on romance and emotions. Another interesting piece of artwork was Emilia Pia la Montefiore, c 1502-1504 done by Raphael who concentrated on depicting the features of Italian Renaissance artworks.
The painting Virgin and Child and Portrait of a Gentleman were perfect representations of Medieval and Renaissance art pieces. Also on display were collections of nineteenth century French artist such as Auguste Rodin’s The Thinker, animal sculptor Antoine Louis Barye, Barbizon artists such Jean Baptiste Camille Carot and Impressionist Camille Pissarro. Included in the Contemporary Art collection were exceptional examples of Abstract Expressionism done by Robert Motherwell and Jackson Pollock. The collection of Baltimore industrialist and banker T. Garrison Garrett displayed etchings, engravings and woodcuts done by Francisco Goya, Albrect Durer and Rembrandt van Rijn from the fifteenth century to the nineteenth century.
Art, Sculpture and Monuments of Maryland
Historical Attractions in Baltimore
The reality of art is dominant in Baltimore; one is surrounded by diverse architecture, monuments and sculptures. Baltimore was nicknamed as the Monumental City because of historical characters such as George Washington, Thurgood Marshall and General Lafayette and the role they played in history. Monuments of historical characters, architecture and sculptures help one to understand the history of Baltimore. Mount Vernon square was noticeable because of its classical facades; Inner Harbor displayed diverse architecture while Bolton Hill stately brownstones represent nineteenth century urban grandeur. Baltimore played an integral role in the war of 1812 where they successfully defended a British attack on Baltimore, after winning Francis Scott Key wrote the famous poem “The Star-Spangled Banner” the national anthem of Baltimore. The Baltimore Civil War Museum displayed historical maritime vessels and ships, architectural masterpieces and religious shrines. The arts are alive in Baltimore through breathtaking sculpture, vibrant paintings, historic architecture, and historical attractions.
I gained a better understanding and appreciation of Baltimore’s arts and cultures after visiting Mount Vernon Cultural District. Art museums, theatres, opera halls, historical museums, symphony orchestras and religious shrines were all representative of the areas mix of culture. The Basilica of the Assumption (1806-1821) was the first metropolitan Cathedral constructed in America and was representative of the country’s newfound religious freedom. Also I visited the Regional F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History and Culture which reminded me of the continuous struggles to freedom. The National Great Blacks in Wax Museum was unique in its display of life like figures of historical and contemporary personalities of African ancestry. Arts and humanities were dominant factors at the Creative Alliance which is an organization of artists, arts supporters, writers and scholars. The Center for Art, design and Visual Culture focused on a variety of educational and cultural activities such as paintings, imaging and digital art, art education theory, industrial design and architecture.
Black Magic –Grandpa’s heir: Shop owner Ted Perry creates number sheets used in betting by practitioners of hoodoo
Old Grandpa’s is officially called the Lucky Star Candle Shop. This shop is equipped with items such as aromatic oils, magical roots and psalm candles. When Africans were brought to America as slaves, their beliefs and cultures were mixed with either Catholicism (voodoo) or Protestant (hoodoo).