Blind Date: Poetic Response to Renoir

DC-based writer Kate Horowitz penned this poem about about visit Renoir’s Luncheon of the Boating Party after a visit to the museum in January 2017. It was originally published in Qu Literary Magazine.

Blind Date, Phillips Collection Luncheon of the Boating Party (1880-81)
by Kate Horowitz

August Renoir, Luncheon of the Boating Party, 1880-1881.

She is frightened. Surely,
something has happened. She has just come from somewhere
where something
has happened. Hands at her face,
holding her spinning head.

She is flushed,
pinch-browed, squinting hard out onto the water. She is
not alone: there are men

mere inches from her mouth, simultaneously shushing
and asking what has happened, shush, what has happened,

an arm around her waist, shhh, they don’t want answers,

they want an arm
around her waist, their beards by her hot mouth, and
yes, she is stammering,
but shhh, she
will not be for long,
this will blow over,
nothing has happened,
shhh, shhh, Jeanne, shhh

One hundred thirty-five years later it
has not blown over,
the men are shushing still,
Jeanne, she is still frightened, something has happened, but
the museum guide will say the men “seem to be flirting”;

the museum guide
will not say
what Jeanne is doing,
or where she was before, or even that

something has happened

and when I, pinch-browed,
standing before the painting, spot her for the first time, I say
something has happened,
she is upset, and the man
mere inches from my mouth
turns from my pointing
and says,
Look at that adorable dog

Staff Show 2017: Emily N. Rader

In this series, Manager of Visitor and Family Engagement Emily Bray highlights participants in the 2017 James McLaughlin Memorial Staff Show, on view through September 17, 2017.

Emily Rader, Double Take

Emily Rader

What do you do at The Phillips Collection? Are there any unique or interesting parts about your job that most people might not know about?

I’m a Museum Assistant. When I first got the job, I was told it was 80% museum guard, 20% docent. This job requires spending your typical workday (8 hours) guarding a particular gallery space. It’s one of the best jobs any person in the arts can get coming out of college. You get a worm’s eye view of how art viewing works. You learn the audience’s knowledge levels, entry point to art, behavior patterns, values; and also, the way art is and behaves when it is placed outside of the studio and the history books.

Who is your favorite artist in the collection?

Honoré Daumier, Raoul Dufy, Joan Mitchell, William Christenberry, and Sarah Baker.

What is your favorite space within The Phillips Collection?

The Laib Wax Room is one of my favorite permanent installations, but I always look forward to seeing how the collection is rehung to see what “conversations” the works might have.

What would you like people to know about your artwork on view in the 2017 Staff Show (or your work in general)?

Instant film cameras typically produce a single, one-off image, unlike most photographic processes; there is no difference between taking the picture and producing the print. Instant photography presents an interesting challenge. The closest relative of this variety of camera is the pinhole camera. These cameras lack the control methods that many photographers are used to. The instant camera, and the pinhole camera, require a much greater attention to light, movement, and composition.

Artist’s statement:

Engagement is very important to Art, after all, Art does not exist without being framed and acknowledged as such by the Viewer. Titles are very important to my work as they give the Viewer an entrance to the work, something they can grasp. This isn’t to say the title should tell the Viewer everything, but it should give the Viewer the ability to meet the Artist halfway. The other aspects of Art can also be read in a similar way to the title, and provide a similar entryway or conversation between. Art is not only communication or dialogue with the Artist but also the time it was created in, and the contemporary Viewer.

 

The 2017 James McLaughlin Memorial Staff Show is on view August 3 through September 17, 2017.

Staff Show 2017: Tracy Wingate

In this series, Manager of Visitor and Family Engagement Emily Bray highlights participants in the 2017 James McLaughlin Memorial Staff Show, on view through September 17, 2017.

Tracy Wingate, The Three of Us

What do you do at The Phillips Collection? Are there any unique or interesting parts about your job that most people might not know about?

I am a Museum Assistant; the interesting aspect of my job would be the public interaction.

Who is your favorite artist in the collection?

I am always amazed by the work of Jacob Lawrence and Horace Pippin.

What is your favorite space within The Phillips Collection?

I love all galleries in the house.

What would you like people to know about your artwork on view in the 2017 Staff Show (or your work in general)?

My art reflects African American relationships, the bonds that have been established with friends and family.

The 2017 James McLaughlin Memorial Staff Show is on view August 3 through September 17, 2017.