Making Strides in Tallinn

In a crazy political time, it’s refreshing to see some progress of anything positive getting done by the political higher ups – whether or not if they have political appointments. In this case, it was making strides in Tallinn.

I thought it timely to read that 2nd Lady Karen Pense is traveling throughout Eastern Europe and Tallinn, where I just was, to learn about and bring attention to art therapy.

Art Therapy is a relatively new field in this area of the world and they are starting to see the benefits for participants as well as those involved as therapists.

There was no way for me to notice this at the time in Tallinn, although I was told that Estonia is known for its high-tech innovation. It’s where Skype was created.

What I noticed was a town with medieval roots, as seen in the bucolic cobblestone streets of its Old Town at the top of the hill.

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Old Town of Tallinn

2_Tallinn Medieval Fortress_AIE

Medieval Fortress

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Tallinn Church

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One of the steepest streets

5_Tallinn_Steepest street_AIE

Tallinn Market

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Dragon downspouts

However, down below in the main part of the business district and on the outskirts of town, there was a time warp with areas stuck in post Soviet style mixed with modern architecture.

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Mix of old and new parts of town

The Soviet Flashback was the most interesting tour we took. It was given by an innovative entrepreneur who had the last remaining Soviet bus. This is where our tour started with the guys pushing it to get it started and then vodka shots. His performance, while dressed in a Soviet guard uniform, was a parody of what life was like under Soviet regime controlling Estonia. It was not a happy time and it’s still raw for people here to remember that many family members and friends were sent to prison for simply flying an Estonian flag.

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Soviet Bus

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Soviet Flashback tour guide

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Our guide in front of the last remaining Soviet monument

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Tallinn Prison

Unwelcoming concrete barriers exit along the shoreline. These are coincidentally pictured in front of the Walt Disney Cruise ship. Graffiti from earlier days and the revolution decorate some outskirt streets. Our guide was one of the revolutionaries who stood up to the Russians in a peaceful demonstration that called attention to their plight and eventually ended Russia’s control.

Concrete barriers welcome the Walt Disney cruise ship on AIE

Concrete barriers welcome the Walt Disney cruise ship

Graffiti in Tallinn on Art Is Everywhere

Graffiti in Tallinn

The Freedom Cross was a striking picture as we turned the corner going out of town and back to our ship. Tallinn is a place I’d like to return.

Freedom Cross in Tallinn on AIE

Freedom Cross in Tallinn

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Thievery Stole the Show

We attended the Thievery Corporation Concert at the Kennedy Center last week. It was a one night show and I was glad to get affordable tickets with great seats in the front orchestra!

We attended the first performance. It was the first time Thievery Corporation had played at the Kennedy Center. Their normal venues might be less-upscale concert halls. This performance was a collaborative effort with Mason Bates, the Kennedy Center’s Composer-in-Residence. It was part of the KC Jukebox, which is a studio-lab that experiments with blending acoustic sounds. This was the first time to my knowledge that Thievery Corporation had the accompaniment of a full symphonic orchestra. The conductor was Teddy Abrams, Director of the  Louisville, KY Orchestra.

Before entering the concert hall, we enjoyed a glass of wine with nuts on the Concourse overlooking the Potomac River. The weather was gorgeous, sunny, 70’s and breezy. You almost didn’t want to go inside. I wish I had taken a picture but it wouldn’t capture it entirely. Here’s the Center Hall instead.

Kennedy Center Hall 1_AIE Kennedy Center Hall 2_AIE

Upon entering the concert hall there was heavy bass, electronic music by 2 DJ’s out of Chicago, Striz and Justin Reed. The music was in keeping with Thievery Corporation’s style of mixed funk, hip-hop, ambient, soul, techno, lounge with an international-cultural-bent. After Mason Bates’ composition, The Rise of Exotic Computing, (with some Radiohead-phonic inspiration) was played by the NSO Orchestra along with a more classical Astor Piazzola (finale from Sinforietta), then the showstopper started.

I’ve been listening to Eric Hilton and Rob Garza of Thievery Corporation with their own genre of lounge-style-music for 20+ years but had never heard them live. I still enjoy their Jet Society CD they produced and the actual 18th Street Lounge DC venue, where I remember some of the best dancing to African-beat rythyms. Their music adapts and it never gets old. In fact, there were fans of all ages including those in my age group, who had even brought their teenage children for the next generation to discover Thievery. The symphonic arrangements only added to the full experience. They played a few of their classics like: Richest Man in Babylon, Sweet Tides, Lebanese Blonde (below – I love the sitar and trumpet mix with sultry singing) and others from their newest album, The Temple of I & I, which is heavily based on Jamaican beats.

This video gives real insight into their creative process while recording in KEXP studio in November 2016.

Here’s a great review of the performance we enjoyed from DC Metro Theater Arts, describing the perfect combination between club and concert hall. Everyone was dancing in their seat with lots of head-bobbing.

Here’s a composite of some video clips and photos I took of the performance.

There were so many good songs to share; however, you’ll see more professional versions in these below that present the songs in their best light. Both are sung by LouLou, who sings many of their songs and in other languages. Interestingly, the second video I recognize is filmed at the National Gallery of Art’s concourse. Cool!

You can view some behind the scenes photos from the concert on their Facebook Page.

Seeing the Depth of My Soul video. Makes me think of Scandinavia…

This audience photo by Rob Myers shows the view from the stage. This could have been after the second performance because I don’t recognize those who would be on the right side near us but I think I see myself, which is weird, and I remember them taking the picture.

Attendees at Thievery Corporation Concert DC on AIE

Afterwards, we ate at the Kennedy Center’s Terrace Restaurant, which was pretty good and then walked around the entire center on the rooftop terrace. It was such a lovely night that we’re considering becoming Kennedy Center members.

Kennedy Center Terrace_AIE

Outside Kennedy Center_AIE

Catch Thievery Corporation at one of these upcoming tour dates. They’ll steal you away from the present surreal-real world, at least for a little while, with their music.

In the meantime, you can go to the 18th Street Lounge, where Thievery Corporation got their start, and is the namesake to their affiliate ESL record label. You can also enjoy some of the many restaurants around town owned by Eric and his brother, Ian Hilton. The Brighton is the latest, coming to the exciting Wharf Development this fall, along with other venues. But for now, The new Pod Hotel will host their Crimson Diner and View (opening in June & July) — another place to enjoy a good drink and dinner! Looks like a great view of the city too on the rooftop!

Pod Hotel DC home lobby on Art Is Everywhere

Pod Hotel home lobby

Crimson Diner_View_Pod Hotel_AIE

via Pod Hotel DC

Wharf Development Rendering via Washingtonian on AIE

via Washingtonian

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A Celebratory Week to Remember

Well it was a fun, celebratory week to remember — one for the recollection record books!

Easter Sunday started it off — after a month of prep with finally getting a new garage roof completed. We still have some refinement to do so I’ll have to post a picture later. My Clivia plant, also known as a Kaffir Lily, seemed to be waiting to bloom on this special occasion. How appropriate and really beautiful this African plant is. My father-in-law gave it to me with multiple “babies” as offshoots that I divided and gave to my sister and sons. I’m waiting to hear if theirs’ bloomed.

Kaffir Lily blooms on Art Is Everywhere

Other plants that are flourishing are on our roof. The two types of butter/bib and arugula lettuce are three times the size of this now and nearly ready to harvest. Snap beans, beets and cauliflower seeds are coming along. I’ll need to replant the carrots though.

Rooftop Garden GlowPear Containers on AIE

You can read more about these hydroponic GlowPear planters on Houzz, where we purchased a second one.

My husband was able to get tickets through his office to the National Museum of African American History & Culture (NMAAHC), which is near impossible since they are sold out already through July. There was a special viewing between 8 – 10 am midweek and I took my friend Liza. Although we needed Peter with us to enter, he decided not to attend in order for us to be able to when security discovered my miniature pairing knife in my purse that I had forgotten all about. Ugh!! They wouldn’t let me leave it with them so Peter took it back to his car and missed the museum opportunity but he’ll get more tickets. He also had a meeting that was going to shorten his time anyway and you really need a full day, as we discovered, to take it all in. We didn’t return home until 4:30. It took over 7 hours to go through at a leisurely pace, which you need to do to be able to read and process all the info. Fortunately, I had cleared my work calendar in advance. There is a tremendous amount to cover and the museum does a good job of showing viewers the progression of the African American history through three sub-terrain, what I call the “oppressive” concourses that move through the start of Slavery to Freedom > Defending Freedom and Segregation > Changing America 1968 & Beyond. Although there is still a sense of uncertainty at the end of the exhibit, one leaves with a positive appreciation of the African American history and all its accomplishments as well as the strength of the American Spirit.

The African American experience is the lens through which we understand what it is to be an American. — Lonnie Bunch (Founding Director)

NMAAHC museum building on AIE

NMAAHC museum

The first sense one has upon entering the museum is from the exterior grill work that suppresses the light, yet fills the space with ornamentation. It is supposed to recall the grill work in New Orleans that was made by slave labor and you do get a sense, especially in the lower galleries, of being in a cargo hold of a slave ship with only one way up and out.

NMAAHC grill work on Art Is Everywhere

You start at the bottom and walk through each concourse and move onto the next via ramps. There are no elevators or restrooms on any of these floors. If the intent was to be somewhat uncomfortable, then it works. There are, however, plenty of places to sit and rest, watch a movie, reflect or just take a break. I had to use the restroom and needed to walk all the way up while Liza rested. There was a placard at the top warning that once you exited you could not re-enter. I had to flag someone down to ask them if I could come back in. Although it wasn’t a problem, I can’t imagine the planners didn’t think this common occurrence through. It must happen a lot. There were hoards of people in line a this point and we were only half way through the exhibit. I hustled back to get a move on before it became crowded. It was starting to on the third concourse, especially when we visited the Emmett Till Memorial, where no pictures were allowed. This was a horrible event about a 14 year old African American boy who was lynched simply because some “white” folk were looking to make examples of blacks. The outcome is what sparked insurgence, uprising and riots, along with the tragic death of Martin Luther King. However, the final part of the main exhibit shows the progression of the African Americans to assimilate within the middle class, become major TV and music celebrities. In fact, America has a lot to be thankful for with their cultural contribution.

Colonial Slavery figures on Art Is Everywhere

Prominent Colonial historical figures including Thomas Jefferson and Mum Bet, who sued the State of Massachusetts to win her freedom and consequently abolished slavery in MA

Ashley's Sack 1 NMAAHC on AIE

This story is pretty heartbreaking. There were many that were but this one spoke to me.

Ashley's Sack 2 NMAAHC on AIE

It was interesting to note that at the very start of the Slave Trade, which was sparked by the sugar trade, Creole Africans were wealthy diplomats and highly sought after for their language capabilities and cultural knowledge.

Concourse 3 - 2 NMAAHC on AIE

Moving from Concourse 3 to 2

slave and free houses at NMAAHC on Art Is Everywhere

Juxtaposition between Slave House on lower Concourse 3 and Freed Slave’s own home on upper Concourse 2

Stereotypes at NMAAHC on AIE

Stereotypes in toys and paraphenalia

Segregated clinic hours at NMAAHC on AIE

These segregated clinic hours are hard to believe in this current time

Maple Leaf Rag on AIE

My parents used to dance to the Maple Leaf Rag

Angola guard station_interactive bar at NMAAHC on AIE

Angola Prison Guard Station and the Interactive “Segregation Bar” where you can follow a movement as if you’re a member

Soul Train on Art Is Everywhere

1968 & Beyond brings up Soul Train, which was big part of my childhood

Assimilating into Middle America on Art Is Everywhere

Assimilating into Middle America

Another Rat Pack Digs on Art Is Everywhere

The other Rat Pack Digs in Chicago

Foxy Brown and Sly and Family Stone on AIE

Foxy Brown movies still play on TV and notice Sly & Family Stone written on his piano keys

Main NMAAHC exhibit end on AIE

Main exhibit ends with highlights from the 2000’s like Hurricane Katrina and the Obama Administration, how could we forget.

We decided to break for lunch. The food at the Sweet Home Cafe was excellent! You could choose which regional fare you wanted to try. Of course I went right for the Creole Southern Duck / Andouille Sausage Gumbo but then changed my mind at the last-minute to get the Shrimp and Grits because the shrimp were gigantic! The meal was delicious and a generous portion! The dining hall was in the shape of the “ark” or museum Congo ship, yet each layer had vines growing in the indented, internal troughs. The back walls were mirrored to make the space look twice as large as what we thought it could hold. We didn’t wait around for that test because the buses of people were now streaming in.

Panoramic Mall view from the top of NMAAHC on AIE

Panoramic Mall view from the top

Looking down on the Gift Shop on AIE

Looking down on the Gift Shop

Reproductions of Mary Jackson's baskets in the gift shop on AIE

Reproductions of Mary Jackson’s baskets in the gift shop

After a much needed energy refresh, we tackled the top four floors. Similarly to the sub-floors, where you start at the bottom and walk up, we started in reverse at the very top and moved downward. We visited all the floors but only experienced three. There were elevators and escalators and restrooms on all of these. The top floor Culture Galleries was my favorite. It showed the importance of the African American culture in food, music, arts, fashion, and sports. I by-passed the last, but fully savored all the others. I was just as impressed with the exhibition layout as I was with the rich content. The first oval room had double display bays with the interior, bench-seating to the double-sided, wall-alcoves with a musical entertainment-video that changed visuals with the continuous music that wrapped around the top of the room. We moved from here to the Visual Art Gallery with primarily contemporary art (not my thing) to the Musical Achievement wing with Chuck Berry’s car greeting us at the entry. I breezed through the Theatre section and will have to go back.

Food & Culture greet you on the top 4th floor of NMAAHC on AIE

Food & Culture greet you on the top 4th floor. Chef Leah Chase is prominently featured with her Dooky Chase restaurant in New Orleans.

Earth Wind & Fire at NMAAHC on AIE

Earth Wind & Fire is one of my favorite bands highlighted in the Musical component

Allen Toussaint is mentioned in the Jazz sectionAllen Toussaint is mentioned in the Jazz section on AIE

Allen Toussaint is mentioned in the Jazz section

Level 3 housed the Community Galleries, where some of the main exhibit details were further explored. For instance, there was an entire room dedicated to Muhammad Ali, another section to Ben Carson, and another to the Military Experience. Maybe I missed it, but I didn’t see any recognition given to Clarence Thomas but did see Thurgood Marshal and Anita Hill mentioned in regard to the Supreme Court. There were also mini exhibits dedicated to Making a Way Out of No Way with progress in medical, religion and school, etc., highlighted.

We didn’t have enough energy to explore the Explore More Gallery on the 2nd level, which was mainly interactive exhibits. I popped my head in and saw one older white woman, who was the only one dancing to an instructional video by an African American dance troupe. Others were watching and encouraging her as if she was playing “Wei” by herself but doing a pretty good job.

We took an Uber home and had an interesting discussion with our American-Cuban driver, Marisol about the experience. Funny, we missed Oprah by one day, as she was there the next day to screen the Henrietta Lacks movie airing on HBO. I read the book several years ago and am interested to see the movie. It’s definitely a story that needs more exposure.

Earlier in the week, Peter and I celebrated our wedding anniversary by finally visiting the Trump Hotel to see how the Old Post Office was revamped. We had drinks in the main lobby, which is huge but well decorated. The main architecture and iron struts of the original building remained and painted gold. I liked the peacock, teal blue and green velvet seating paired with amber and gold throughout the expansive room. The bar wall was mirrored to the top and filled with clear glass decanters and glasses situated on dark mahogany shelving. Very impressive. Two large TV’s were playing Fox News. We were seated next to what had to be a bevy of beautiful friends of The Real Housewives of DC. No kidding. This was entertaining to say the least.

Trump International Hotel anniversary for drinks on AIE

Trump International Hotel anniversary for drinks. The ladies had left by this point.

Trump Hotel Bar area on Art Is Everywhere

Although the ambience was captivating, the service was off. We had to call someone over after 15 minutes. They gave us water and nuts without napkins and the hostess took our initial order. The place was nearly filled but not that busy. We sampled the signature cocktails, which were unfortunately too expensive at $25 – $29 and actually did not taste very good, which is too bad! We stuck with wine and cheese choices which were good and surprisingly affordable. All in all, it was a different way to celebrate an off-year; even though, there can be some improvements made, especially if you’re expecting the best.

Trump DC Hotel at night on AIE

Trump DC Hotel at night

Meanwhile, the rest of the week was enjoying the gorgeous spring weather. Even the cats seemed to relish this indoors and out.

Cats sleeping on AIE

This picture cracks me up. These cats sleep so differently.

Cats outside on AIE

Ingrid enjoys outside on AIE

Ingrid just turned 1 year old

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Venice Biennale 3D Tour

During this hectic holiday time, it’s good to sometimes just take a break.

You can do that with this 3D interactive tour of the Venice Biennale 2016.

Venice Biennale_3D Tour 1 on Art Is Everywhere

Venice Biennale_3D Tour via Venice Design and Interiors 3D.it

The interactive nature of the tour itself is quite fascinating.

It’s like a video game propelling your view through the rooms and especially interesting among the historic backdrop of the Palazzo Michiel in Venice.

Venice Biennale_3D Tour 2 on Art Is Everywhere

Enjoy your holidays and we’ll be back soon.

Under One Symbolic Restored Dome

Today is Thanksgiving.

We have a lot to be thankful for and to look forward to with a new start.

However, with such a divided country, it is hopeful to see the US Capital Dome newly restored. With the unveiling of the newly restored Capitol Dome,The Architect of the Capitol has revealed a renewed emblem of national unity.

Restored Capitol Dome_AIE

via Washington Post

Let’s remember what this Nation was built on, America’s unity and try to be grateful and move forward with America’s continued prosperity in mind, “one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”.

Click here to read more about the history of our Nation’s Capitol Dome, see 44 pictures and a video about the restoration.

Hope you and your family have a happy Thanksgiving!

 

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