The Artist Sees Differently: Darci Vanderhoff

Darci Vanderhoff, Chief Information Officer, on the mic

Darci Vanderhoff, Chief Information Officer, on the mic! Photo: Joshua Navarro

DARCI VANDERHOFF, Chief Information Officer

How did you learn about the Phillips?

I originally came to Phillips exhibitions as an art enthusiast. One of my favorite shows was Impressionists in Winter in 1998. I didn’t even mind the long lines (once I got inside). Several years later, I came to sell the Phillips on the idea of online ticketing. Then, in 2001, I applied for the IT Director position when it became available at the museum.

You formerly worked as a writer, you’re a musician in a band. Do you feel you are inspired by the Phillips art? 

I worked at the editorial desk of the Washington office of the Wall Street Journal for a number of years, and then left to freelance in both writing and photography. I was published locally as well as in Dallas, Detroit, and other cities. I did research for Judy Woodruff’s book This is Judy Woodruff at the White HouseRadcliffe College’s Arthur Schlesinger Library (a women’s archive) holds a collection of my articles and photographs. I eventually became a music critic, and at the suggestion of musician friends, I decided to attend music school myself. It was a radical idea to me, so I took to it immediately. After getting my feet wet in a local music school for a year, I enrolled at Berklee College of Music in the mid-1980s with a scholarship.

I am a musician. I primarily sing but also write. My degree is in songwriting. I am one of thirteen in the local band Cleve Francis and Friends. We routinely play at The Birchmere in Alexandra, Virginia, and at local benefits. We released a CD, Storytime: Live at the Birchmere, in 2009. In addition to singing, I am the “administrator” of the group: setting rehearsal schedules, digitally recording rehearsals, distributing recordings, managing databases, etc., which is where my digital skill-set comes in handy. I am the only woman in the group. Go figure. I recently joined a smaller group doing more instrumental music across a wide spectrum of genres. Instrumentation includes keyboards, guitar, upright bass, and vocals (three of us sing). I’m having fun doing lead vocals again.

Yes, I am inspired by the art at the Phillips, and even more by the artists who work here. Most of my coworkers are brilliantly creative people.

Do you listen to anything as you do your artwork?

My “artwork” is primarily music. I listen to a lot of music during my work commute, but I also use that time to prep for shows. The rehearsing could be considered a driving distraction, I guess, but it’s been a part of my commute for some time, so I think I balance the two well. Don’t tell anyone.

Who’s your favorite artist in the collection?

I am very fond of Claude Monet, Georgia O’Keeffe, Edward Hopper, Jacob Lawrence, Paul Dougherty, Childe Hassam, Gustave Courbet, and our growing photography collections.                   

Do you collect other artwork – or anything?

I collect a few things:  I have a striped beach rock collection, mostly from Plum Island in Massachusetts where I strolled often while going to school. I have a Washington Nationals bobble-head collection that is in need of attention. I also collect art. One of my favorite acquisitions was purchased from one of the Phillips museum assistants in a staff show: a colorful photograph of multiple faucet handles from an abandoned steel mill in Pittsburgh. Clearly, I trend toward water themes.

 And do you have a favorite Marjorie Phillips painting?

I like Nuns on the Roof, too.

Hear Darci’s song, “Every Little Bit”

-Rolf Rykken


The Artist Sees Differently: Rolf Rykken

In this special edition of The Artist Sees Differently, contributor Paul Ruther turns the tables on the column’s creator Rolf Rykken, who is himself an artist on staff. 

Rolf Rykken, Museum Assistant

Photo of Rolf with Sammie, his "doggie daughter" and muse. Photo: Sarah Osborne Bender

Rolf with Sammie, his “doggie daughter” and muse. Photo: Sarah Osborne Bender

Where did you get the idea to interview Phillips Collection employees about their artistic practice and ideas?

It was Sarah’s [Osborne Bender]  idea. I liked it and thought it was both fun and funny. It was my idea to ask everyone what their favorite Marjorie Phillips painting is. Not everyone knows who she is.

Do you feel you are inspired by the Phillips art?

Yes. When I was in the MFA program at University of Maryland, one of the professors said I was “Too much under the influence of The Phillips Collection,” as if that was a bad thing.  Also being here influenced me to take art classes, and I eventually got into the Corcoran College of Art and Design, graduating with a BFA in 1997.

I remember when I first came here in junior high school,  I was amazed and impressed by the place. It was just the house then. But it’s the first museum I remember visiting.

What do you listen to as you create?

Mixes from my iPod touch, mostly alt-rock from the ’90s. I like female rock bands. Lately I’ve been listening to a band named Screaming Females, which is funny because it’s only one woman, Marissa Paternoster, but she makes enough noise for a whole band. I saw her and the band at the Black Cat recently.

Who’s your favorite artist in the collection?

Oh it’s Bonnard, and my favorite work of his is Open Window. I also like The Palm because someone once made me a present of the painting with my dog Shelby transposed over the lady in the painting. Bonnard’s model for this work was his wife Marthe.

Rolf Rykken, Family in the Park, 1998. Oil on wood, 24" x 24 1/2"

Rolf Rykken, Family in the Park, 1998. Oil on wood, 24″ x 24 1/2″

Do you collect other artwork – or anything?

I have works by Jake Muirhead, who used to work here, now teaches at Montgomery College. I want a Suzanne Koch and I own some works by Ianthe Gergel.

And do you have a favorite Marjorie Phillips painting?

Nuns on the Roof. I also did a version called Dogs on the Roof once.

The Artist Sees Differently: Caroline Hoover

Caroline Hoover helping out in the Phillips’ Conservation studio. Photo: Joshua Navarro

Caroline Hoover, Museum Assistant, Conservation Intern

How did you learn about the Phillips?

I learned about the Phillips because my great aunt [Elizabeth Turner] used to be a curator here. At the time, we came up to see her shows and visit the Phillips.

Do you feel you are inspired by the Phillips art?

I would say that I’m inspired by the Phillips art; there is a lot to take from the works in terms of formal technique in a lot of the older impressionist works and creativity and innovation found in the new works by contemporary artists.

What do you listen to as you create?

I always listen to music when I am painting, but honestly it depends on the mood I’m in, and I usually switch genres a few times before I’m satisfied.

Who’s your favorite artist in the collection?

Edgar Degas

What painting in the collection do you wish you’d painted?

Pierre Bonnard’s The Riviera

Do you collect other artwork – or anything?

When I studied abroad in Europe and Africa, I collected artwork from a lot of the countries I visited. A lot of it was street artwork, but also some from galleries. I usually collect at least a postcard of works that I especially like in other collections/museums.

And do you have a favorite Marjorie Phillips painting?

To be honest, the only one that I’ve seen is Night Baseball. But, I do like that one a lot.

Caroline Hoover, "Untitled," oil on canvas, 3' x 4'

Caroline Hoover, “Untitled,” oil on canvas, 3′ x 4′

-Rolf Rykken