Now Blooming on the Beach

Will Ryman's 65th Street at Art Basel Miami, Sagamore Hotel beachfront, Miami Beach. Photo by Didier Leroi for VernissageTV. (Used by permission.)

We’ve posted a few times about Will Ryman’s 58th Street currently on view just outside the Phillips. Though it currently resides at the corner of 21st and Q Streets, the sculpture is named for the cross street on New York’s Park Avenue where it debuted earlier this year. Ryman’s 65th Street is now in bloom more than the few blocks away its title suggests. It adorns the beach in a special Art Basel Miami installation through December 4. Take a look at it in the Post‘s slideshow of some of the festival’s most intriguing art.

“Hello, may I speak to Will Ryman?”

Will Ryman (far right) oversees installation of 58th Street, August 1, 2011. Photo: Amy Wike

One of the perks of working in a museum is that you get to talk to the curators, and occasionally the artists, who create the exhibitions. So it had never crossed my mind to try our Guide by Cell, since I actually got to meet Will Ryman when he came to install his work 58th Street. But walking back from lunch today I passed those (ominous? fanciful?) oversized blossoms and bugs at the corner of 21st and Q and stopped to call the number listed below the work. What would I hear? Well, I heard Will Ryman. I have to say, it was kind of a neat sensation, standing there on the sidewalk in front of his sculpture, looking directly in to one of the giant blooming roses and feeling like I had just rung up the artist to ask, “Hey, can you tell me about this thing?” And he did.

You can call Guide by Cell stops even if you’re not at the museum. To learn more from Ryman about his sculpture, call 202-595-1839, 40#.

Seeing Baseball in Luncheon of the Boating Party

To celebrate our 90th anniversary The Phillips Collection held an all-day birthday party attended by 4,400 people. In honor of the event, my colleagues in the education department and I were asked to give half hour tours every hour on the special 90th anniversary installation of Renoir’s Luncheon of the Boating Party. The museum’s masterpiece is on display in its original location in a gallery in the Phillips family home, which was, when Luncheon of the Boating Party debuted there on New Year’s Day 1924, known as the Main Gallery.

Post author Paul Ruther takes visitors through a time machine to 1924 in a gallery tour. Photo: Brooke Rosenblatt

I thought it would be fun to reacquaint visitors with the Boating Party by describing what it would be like to view it in its original location as a form of time travel. I described the room as it looked then, with couches, rugs, ashtrays—in case anyone wanted to smoke—and a skylight. I let them know that in 1924 Calvin Coolidge was president, gas cost an average of 21 cents per gallon, Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue was first performed that year, and one of the year’s most popular movies was The Thief of Baghdad starring Douglas Fairbanks.

Perhaps the most interesting bit of trivia about the historic year of 1924, however, was that Duncan Phillips’s beloved Washington Senators baseball team won the World Series—remember his wife Marjorie’s most famous painting Night Baseball(1951) featured the hometown team. The Senators took game seven from the New York Giants winning four games to three, when future hall-of-famer Walter Johnson came in to pitch relief in a 12 inning game. I don’t know if Duncan Phillips ever made the connection, but the year Luncheon of the Boating Party first went on view was the first year in baseball history that a major league team from Washington ever won the World Series. The Senators have become the Washington Nationals, but we’re still waiting for the second World Series victory.

Was it a coincidence that the Senators won the World Series that year? I hardly think so.

Paul Ruther, Manager of Teacher Programs