I’m back to looking for my next venture.
For the previous nine months I had been building software for the Action Button product for a company called Speakable.
I have always felt that that was one of the best opportunities for me in the entire world, based on my mix of talents and dreams.
I got paid to go in every day and try to come up with a business model to save the world.
I built a bunch of cool software and worked with some great people.
I poured my soul into the opportunity.
We had access at our company to pretty much anyone in the world.
And when I say that, I mean that.
Literally any single person on the planet that you need to directly contact, or any person at any company.
If we needed to pitch to anyone, we could do it.
If we needed a partnership, we could have it.
It was the type of opportunity that you have nothing to do but take extremely seriously.
And pour your life into.
In the end I didn’t end up saving the world.
I guess I didn’t come close.
But for a while it was a privilege to try to put 7 billion people onto my back and try to give them everything that needed.
I was exposed to a tremendous amount of issues. And while it was overwhelming to be in a position to try to help them all, it was a dream to be able to work on them.
Startups come and go.
I have no doubt that Speakable will be successful. There’s too much opportunity not to. And at the core of it is a beautiful soul.
Moving on from a dream opportunity and back into reality.
There is probably a lot of questions to be answered.
A lot to be figured out.
What do I want to do with my life?
The typical things that I think we should always be contemplating and answering.
Who am I?
Questions are good.
Answers are good.
And when you are at a point where you need some of either, hopefully you have a place to turn to.
For me I had the opportunity to hang in Washington DC.
And look at art for a week.
I was feeling getting away from the beautiful city that is New York, and although DC is a city, it is much smaller. And shorter. And different. And full of some great art.
And so I went.
Nov 10, 2017
How to get the DC?
I have to talk about this because of aggravation that arose when trying to book a train ticket on Amtrak.
I think if you book this trip well ahead of time you can get it for $98 round trip. As it gets closer to departure and for better times you probably will pay $186. I was looking to grab a ticket the night before not knowing they adjusted prices (like the airlines do) and was quoted almost $400.
This is for a form of transportation that takes 2:45 to 3:30, not including the trek out to Penn Station, and the arriving early as to not miss the train. So probably 3:45 to 4:30 of travel. And then an uber or a taxi when you get to DC, probably putting your door to door travel at 4:15 to 5:00. And you have to lug your luggage all over the place.
Other options were to book a plane ticket for $250 the night before. Yes, to fly in an airplane was cheaper than a train. And at 1:20 much faster. It would involve swinging out to one of the airports in the area, but a trek out to Newark is pretty close. You still have to wait in security, catch some form of transportation to the airport and then again from the DC airport to the hotel. This would again put your door to door at closer to 4:00.
Then there’s always good old driving. Can be as quick as 3:20, but probably closer to 4:20 with the traffic. At 440 miles roundtrip and an estimate of $0.50/mile for the cost of a vehicle would put you at $220. I love driving and I think I was in the mood for a drive and so that’s what I went with.
I think bus may be a decent option but I’m not hipster enough to look into the bus schedule.
It’s tilting that in an area of maximum public transportation that the best option in the States is almost always to drive.
When you finally get to DC, go to Old Ebbitt Grill. I’d say it’s the restaurant you think about when you think about DC.
Oysters are half off for happy hour. Alright, that’s the only food picture on this entire post.
When that’s over head back to the rooftop of your hotel that will have a fire pit that you can enjoy without any of the crowds because it’s cold out.
Enjoy a unicorn bar from Buttercream Bakeshop.
Nov 11, 2017
Wake up and get to why you are here. Mostly contemporary art with splashes of modern.
Phillips Collection is definitely going to be a stop.
There’s a basement here featuring art from much younger children. No one is looking at it. But there’s some cool stuff like this piece called Peaceful Serenity by Winfield Vanison. Not sure if this is the first time you been written about Winfield, but keep up the good work.
Swinging up features a nice piece by Whitfield Lovell called Kin XLV (Das Lied von der Erde) that was done in 2011. The incorporation of a string of pearls as tears to add subtle dimensionality of an otherwise two-dimensional piece is awesome.
There is a Renoir exhibit here. There’s a quote on one of the walls saying:
“Even if the enormous expenses I’m incurring prevent me from finishing my picture, it’s still a step forward; one must from time to time attempt things that are beyond one’s capacity.” Pierre-Auguste Renoir in a letter to Paul Berard 1880.
I don’t really like quotes because of the way they are represented in forms like Instagram, but I think that one is relatable.
Here’s the colors Renoir uses in his palette, or at least they were before I changed them in Lightroom.
I’m not exactly in a mood to look at Renoir, and I think this collection of color in these little bottles might be the nicest thing in the exhibit.
I’m not having a go at Renoir.
His stuff can even be pleasant to look at, but a lot of times for me lately I want to see things that are made more recently. There is always a place for the classics, but what are the innovations of today?
The other thing I like here is this tiny drawing called On the Shore of the Seine made in 1879. This quickly executed oil study was probably a gift from Renoir to Alphonsine Fournaise to thank her for modeling for him. There’s kind of something romantic about thanking someone for doing something as intimate as modeling for you with a piece of your creative self.
The next stop is the Hirshhorn Museum. It can be arrived at with a stroll through the National Mall. I’m not here to do all of the USA stuff, but if it’s on the way, may as well give it a look.
There’s a cool hippie gathering out here that at times features some great music.
And there’s a dragon. I think it leads to a pretty cool shot.
I was thinking that would be my favorite image of the Washington Monument.
But I think this image looking up from one of the corners is more pleasing. I’m a bit upset that I didn’t center this better when I was there shooting it, but the simple shapes, simple colors, and beautiful textures make it pretty awesome.
The Hirshhorn has some good stuff. It’s a cool circular building which might give curators issues with exhibits or limit the creativity of exhibits they are willing to display.
Here’s a picture of the horizon. I like minimal photographs like this.
Oh PLEASE DO NOT TOUCH THE ARTWORK.
Here’s some stuff.
And this dude is excellently done.
Afterwards you may want to check out City Tap House Penn Quarter. They have some decent beers including the Abraxas by Perennial Artisan Ales. It’s one of those beer styles with chili peppers, cacao nibs, vanilla beans, and cinnamon sticks that has been over done. I mean, this stuff isn’t exactly beer any more, but it is delicious.
Nov 12, 2017
Another day, another bunch of art.
The Smithsonian American Art Museum has a great third floor (and probably other great floors as well but I wouldn’t know).
The Megatron/Matrix by Nam June Paik from 1995 features 215 monitors of various imagery. At times images are created outside of the monitors.
It’s a cool display.
This trip features a lot of cool screen format pieces.
Shout out to Coney Island.
There is a lot of over the top beautiful architecture in this city.
This piece if actually titled Cupcake Katy.
I’m digging lighting these days.
I love this piece because it reminds me of color palettes that you would see in a makeup store.
This piece is called Black & White by Byron Kim and Glenn Ligon from 1993. Black & White is a collaboration between Kim and Ligon, both of whom were struck by the limited pink-white range of “flesh-colored” paint available in the art store. In response, Kim, who is Korean American, painted sixteen panels of the pinkish flesh tones and Ligon, who is African American, painted sixteen panels using various black pigments.
A quick swing into the National Museum of Natural History to look at rocks. There are some good ones but it’s not as good as the American Museum of Natural History in New York City.
Back out to the Mall to take a picture in front of what I heard tourists say was “the White House, you know, the one with the big dome on the top.”
Dinner at Founding Farmers is a good option.
Back to City Tap House for some 2017 Bell’s Black Note Stout.
Nov 13, 2017
Another day, another day of art.
First to the National Museum of Women in the Arts. There’s a couple floors of nice pieces here. And the building is beautiful.
But I think for me the most emotional piece is an installation of The Clothesline Project by Monica Mayer. It’s about sexual harassment and violence. The project initially began in 1978 when Monica was 24 years old. When she was 8 years old a 30-year-old man grabbed her vagina as she was walking through her town. Her mother was only a few steps ahead of her. “I was shocked but I am even more shocked this is a common experience.”
The statistics on sexual harassment and violence are, I can only define as, disgusting. For both men and women. If you want to have a downer of a day go spend a little while looking into it.
I’ve been surrounded my whole life by some amazing women. My grandmas. My mom. My sisters. My past loves. They’ve had an enormous influence on how I see the world and how I operate within it. I couldn’t imagine doing anything to harm them. And I don’t want a world where they feel unsafe and bad things can happen to them.
It’s nice to see the momentum behind a lot of this work. 40 years after Monica started her work the world is slowly changing.
People are coming forward, standing up with extreme courage, and helping to show other’s that they are supported.
There are many things that we will always have to be striving for as a society, and to eliminate all forms or harassment and violence should be a priority.
I read through some of these cards that were hanging (the hot pink color comes from the 70s, and is not a cliche nod to women). Most are devastating. Some show optimism. There are many.
After reading through them all I turn to Monica. She’s there. I want to hug her and say thank you. But I feel tears in my eyes. I extend my hand for a handshake. Mouth thank you, and tap my heart with my hand. And walk out.
I wanted to tell her that her work is really important. That she’s helped to push the world forward. But she already knows.
I throw my jacket on, wipe the tears away, and head out for the next museum.
We have a responsibility with how we live our lives.
The National Gallery of Art East Building is up next. It’s a gorgeous building. Probably the nicest I was in on the trip.
Segue. Sigh. Yea, a giant fifteen-foot cock courtesy of Katharina Fritsch.
Sometimes I feel everything is driven by sex. Especially art. And that doesn’t have to be a bad thing. But often there is a lot more, much more important things.
This soot drawing by Lee Bontecou is rather beautiful. While maybe most known for her sculptures, it’s nice to see how some of that experience and those ideas translate to a different medium. You can see in the painting that it wants to be three dimensional. And the soot provides just the slightest capability for that.
Colors and textures.
There’s this one doorway which almost looks like it could be off limits that has these high quality beads hanging. Strongly recommend you just spread the beads and feel them with the outsides of your hands. And listen to them clink and clack together. They make a beautiful sound, that repeats over and over as the energy fades and they reassume their stillness.
Through the beads are a couple more pieces by our buddies Kim and Ligon, that we saw work from previously. Kim’s Synecdoche is an ever changing piece of work that includes skin tones and a list of the people that he matched them to. I think there is over 500 now in this piece. There are a lot. From time to time I’m pretty sure he comes in and changes the exhibit, adding, removing panels.
One of the coolest things in the museum is a video called Street by James Nares. It’s a collection of slow motion clips of every day life in New York City. The ability to slow down the city and afford the viewer enough time to start breaking down what would normally be incredibly fast paced scenes almost feels like a magic power. Walking in New York you don’t have time to look at the beautiful fast paced world that surrounds you. At this slow motion speed, you see the magic. You see expressions on people. For a moment you are able to see a person as more than a body, and just slightly glimpse their deep complexity and importance.
It’s a 61 minute that was created with only 2:40 of actual footage. It’s really a hybrid of video and photography.
I often wish some of the video that was available in museums were available online. Maybe it would diminish the presentation. But some of this stuff is just so gorgeous. It needs to be accessible to the world.
This is maybe the best I can do for you. It’s a lecture by Nares about the piece. You can fast forward through the lecture to see some great examples of the piece.
Ok, that’s enough art for the day. Time to swing out to ChurchKey, a good beer place out in the Logan Circle area. Here’s a beer called Fernet About It that unfortunately doesn’t taste like Fernet Branca.
There’s a Whole Foods Market nearby that has a good selection of bottled beer. They have some pretty good stuff here and I pick up a Deschutes Abyss.
Dinner for the night comes from Chercher Ethiopian Restaurant. They have some awesome injera.
Nov 14, 2017
Alrighty, one final day of art.
First up the Renwick Gallery. It’s a small museum. But there are some really cool quality pieces in here.
Some of these have been pretty heavily edited by me, but that’s the fun of it.
Some awesome woodwork here.
This is one of my favorite pieces. It’s just gorgeously done.
And this ended up being my 9,999th picture I took with my camera. Picture 10,000 is a similar one but of a different less pleasing angle. Seems like 10,000 pictures is a fair amount for how much I want to and do end up shooting. There’s probably been a decent shot or two in here somewhere along the way.
This ceiling installation is in a large empty room that has a couple comfortable seats that you can relax on.
Next up is the Art Museum of the Americas. It’s the smallest of museums I went to. There are a couple nice photographs but it’s really small.
Afterwards it’s time for some Astro Doughnuts & Fried Chicken.
Nov 15, 2017
The drive home is mostly uneventful.
That will be enough art for the moment. It was fun to swing down to DC and check out the museums. It’s great because most of the museums are free and you can choose to donate whatever you want.
This is a contrast to the stuff up in New York where stuff typically can cost between $40-$60 per museum.
So that’s about it.
Go out and explore.