Staff Show 2015: Jeff Whitelow

In this series, Assistant to the Education Department Emily Bray highlights participants in the 2015 James McLaughlin Memorial Staff Show, on view through October 4, 2015.

Cousins, August 2015, photograph

Cousins, August 2015, photograph

What do you do at The Phillips Collection?  Are there any unique/interesting parts about your job that most people might not know about?
I’m a Museum Assistant and also work in the AV department. I enjoy the inside track as far as hearing a lot of the artist talks and guest speakers. We meet artists, tourists, and other museum staff from around the world on a regular basis.

Who is your favorite artist in the collection?
Leo Villareal

What is your favorite gallery/space within The Phillips Collection?
The Rothko Room

What would you like people to know about your artwork on view in the 2015 Staff Show (and/or your work in general)?
This is a photo of a photo taken by the Scurlock Studio. The photo is a group shoot that’s displayed in the window of Lee’s Flower Shop at 1026 U Street, NW. I find Whitfield Lovell an influence on this work. This is a picture of my cousin Caroline at a formal. She died of cancer over a decade ago. Her son died of COPD last year. He died in the family home which probably will be up for sale soon. They had the home for about 3 generations. In the face of increasing gentrification, it’s good to preserve the past when you can.

Anything else you would like to share?
The relationship between music and visual art has always been of interest. I might hear some music which makes me wonder what kind of visual image would go with it. This can also work in reverse.

The 2015 James McLaughlin Memorial Staff Show is on view September 2 through October 4, 2015. The show features artwork from The Phillips Collection staff.

ArtGrams: The Rothko Room

Welcome to the first of our newest monthly blog series, ArtGrams, where we feature our favorite Instagrammed pictures taken around or inspired by the museum. We love seeing you create your own works of art using unique perspectives, strategic crops, and the funkiest filters.

Each month, we’ll feature a different theme based on trends we’ve seen in visitor photos; first up, The Rothko Room. The room’s bold colors and shapes have inspired these great shots. Be sure to hashtag your images with #PhillipsCollection or tag your location for a chance to be featured.

Rothko Room_1_allwegrow

Via Instagrammer @allwegrow: “We spent our 3 year anniversary visiting the Rothko Room”

Rothko Room_2_jamellita

via Instagrammer @jamellita: “American Living: ‘Luna and me in Rothko’s room'”

Rothko Room_3_mrscis

Via Instagrammer @mrscis: “Admiring the beauties of the centuries”

Rothko Room_4_pennykim

Via Instagrammer @pennykim

Rothko Room_5_pootie_ting

Via Instagrammer @pootie_ting: “Feeling Red. Rothko Red.”



Listening to Rothko

In a stimulating Duncan Phillips Lecture, “John Cage and the Question of Genre,” which served as a keynote to this year’s International Forum Weekend dedicated to the confluence of art and music, the novelist and musician Rick Moody praised Cage’s chance works, such as his ineffable composition 4’33”, as a “a breath of fresh air in the midst of bourgeois individualism.” According to Moody, Cage disregarded any notion of genre in favor of “creative work whose primary intention is simply that it is creative, so that it might simply give a name to creativity itself.” 4’ 33”, first performed in 1952, was designated by Cage as a “composition for any instrument (or combination of instruments).” It consists solely of potential sound: the random noise that occurs during the duration of its “silent” performance.

Halfway through, Moody intermitted his lecture with a cunning act of bravura by playing the sounds of paintings and photographs he recorded in various museums with his iPhone: the incidental noises created by the crowds moving past them.

Afterwards, Moody took me aside and asked if he might be able to spend a few minutes in the Rothko Room in order to record the sound of Rothko’s paintings. I happily obliged, and we both intently listened to the paintings. Rothko may have approved: he once compared his paintings to the voices in an opera. And for a moment, ever so faintly, I thought I heard Rothko’s beloved Mozart emerge from the depth of the silence in the room.

Rick Moody in the Rothko Room

Rick Moody recording the sound of the Rothko Room. Photo: Klaus Ottmann