A Permanent Laib Wax Room for the Phillips

In early 2013, German artist Wolfgang Laib (whose Milkstone nourished us briefly back in March 2011) will create a wax room in a little upstairs space of the original Phillips house. Up the stairs from the parlors, through intimate galleries (where works by Lee Gatch, Leo Villareal, and Paul Klee currently hang), up a few more stairs to a landing, you will discover the entrance to a small chamber just before the Main Gallery. Step inside, and you will be enveloped by the comforting scent of beeswax in a room just for you (and maybe one companion), illuminated by the glow of a single bare light bulb. The Laib Wax Room will be the artist’s first site-specific wax room for a museum and the Phillips’s first permanent installation since the Rothko Room (1960). Read more about our news on this major commission in today’s New York Times and Washington Post.

Photo of Wolfgang Laib using a warm iron to smooth the walls of the wax chamber on his own property in southern Germany. Courtesy of the artist

Wolfgang Laib using a warm iron to smooth the walls of the wax chamber on his own property in southern Germany. Courtesy of the artist

Wolfgang Laib finishes the walls of his wax rooms with a flame, which gives a unique shine to the beeswax surface. Here the artist works on a permanent wax chamber realized in a historic building in Switzerland.

Wolfgang Laib finishes the walls of his wax rooms with a flame, which gives a unique shine to the beeswax surface. Here the artist works on a permanent wax chamber realized in a historic building in Switzerland. Courtesy of the artist

Mom’s Eye View

This is the third in a series of posts about this year’s attendance record-breaking annual free family festival, this time from a parent’s point of view. Jessica is Mom to Sophia, Very Young Dancer and niece-by-choice of Rachel Goldberg. Read the first and second installments of the series. 

Photo of Jessica's family creating Jasper Johns-inspired prints in the art-making workshop

Making prints with Sophia while her dad, brother, and Rachel look on. Photo: James R. Brantley

It was a great day for sure, even from the very start. I got everyone up bright and early to beat the crowds for Jazz ‘n Families Fun Days at the Phillips–my 2 1/2 year old Sophia, 10 month old Edward, and husband who had just returned from traveling all week. I didn’t have high hopes for the day, but I was optimistic. As excited as I was to experience the instrument petting zoo and make art with my lovely daughter, I was also beside myself in anticipation of showing Sophia the Rothko Room.

A print created by Sophia in the art-making workshop

Sophia's print

As it turned out, she was curious about the instruments but not too happy about the loud noises, unlike Edward who couldn’t get enough. The printmaking activity was fantastic for Sophia; she could have stayed there all day (and, frankly, I could have too). We didn’t let Edward anywhere near the paint–I don’t think even The Phillips Collection is ready for such a young Jackson Pollock.

After feeling a bit guilty for using so many art supplies, we moved on to what Sophia most wanted to see–Degas’s Dancers at the Barre. When she saw the large painting almost at her eye level, I could see she wanted to give it a running hug. I grabbed her (along with my heart, that fell out of my chest at the sight of her enthusiasm), and we admired the painting from afar. Needless to say Sophia returned to that painting several times.

Saving my favorite for last, we visited the Rothko Room. Sophia did not quite share my awestruck reaction; instead she asked many times, “What’s that?”

It is a spectacular day when you can share the experience of art with your children. The questions never get tiresome and never run out.

Jessica, Jazz ‘n Families Fun Days Guest and Mom