Washington, DC Volume 20 Number 2 April 2009

Editor’s Note: To save space and aid in speed of downloading this page, photos originally included in this issue are available on our “The Artworld Selects” page.

Washington, DC

Is Washington, DC, the city that comes to mind when thinking “style”— as in “up to the minute?” Probably not. DC is first and foremost about, well, you know, those things we don’t talk about at dinner parties? But with a young, hip family settled into the White House — enthralling the country as our celebrities du jour — let’s re-examine the newly stylish capital city.

Inaugural celebrants are gone from the National Mall, taking winter with them, and the cherry blossoms are exquisite, so be nostalgic and start here (click here for The New York Times architecture critic Nicolai Ouroussoff’s thorough re-evaluation of the Mall memorials). It’s a shame that Mall spruce-up funds were cut from the budget stimulus; it’s where locals, tourists — national and international — come together; where Americana meets public art. If you visit in springtime, you’ll avoid the crowds (and wilting humidity) that summer invariably brings. Bear in mind that as Obama fever heats up the nightlife, an after-dinner stroll amongst the artfully-lit monuments is a romantic alternative to daylight touring.

Because most of the recent Mall memorials suffer from “design by committee” syndrome, stay with the classics: those honoring Washington, Jefferson and Lincoln — with one exception — Maya Lin’s Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall. The Wall was architecturally completed in 1993, but its list of those killed or missing in action was updated as recently as 2007. No visitor leaves the Wall unmoved — hard to believe that it once prompted such contention that a modest figurative monument was added off to the side — detracting from the original design only if you allow it to intrude. Lin’s latest installation work, currently at The Corcoran Gallery of Art Maya Lin: Systematic Landscapes, “addresses notions of landscape and geologic phenomena… ” (March 14 - July 12). The Corcoran, located across from the South Lawn of the White House in a Beaux-Arts building by James Renwick (1869), has also weathered its share of controversies, most recently, the 2005 cancellation of a much-anticipated wing designed by Frank Gehry, which supporters hoped would do for DC what his titanium-clad Guggenheim Museum Bilbao did for the Basque region of Spain — attract tourists passionate about art and architecture.

The main art anchor on the Mall is The National Gallery. The West Building, constructed to house Andrew Mellon’s collection, was designed by (Jefferson Memorial designer) John Russell Pope, and opened in 1941. Then some three decades later, I. M. Pei, architect of the East Building (1974-1978), took the adjacent, awkward, triangular chunk of property and created such a spectacular space (our favorite feature: the pyramidal skylighting), that it prefigured trends in museum architecture in the United States until the 1970s and beyond. In addition, the National Gallery’s amazing sculpture garden constitutes another entire wing to be explored, albeit outdoors. Designed by renowned landscape architect Laurie D. Olin (Olin Partnership, 1999), it occupies 6.1 acres adjacent to the West Building, and offers 17 outstanding works by such masters as Oldenburg, Miro, Samaras, Bourgeois, and more, including our favorite: Roy Lichtenstein’s House I (1998), animated by its illusionistic, 3-D effect emanating from a single sheet of painted aluminum.

At the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden (marked by Gordon Bundshaft’s design resembling a dramatic cylinder on stout legs,1974), the current exhibition is Strange Bodies: Figurative Works from the Hirshhorn Collection (through December). The museum’s ongoing emphasis on collecting figurative work makes this the place to examine “the tension between the enthusiastic response that figuration often receives from general audiences and the loaded, at times dark content it can carry… ” Included are famous pieces by Giacometti, de Kooning, Bacon, and others; plus contemporary takes by Magdalena Abakanowicz, Lucian Freud, Julian Schnabel, Matthew Barney, John Currin and more.

At another Smithsonian museum, the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery (post-modern addition to the Freer Museum, Jean-Paul Carlhian, 1987), the focus is contemporary Asian art. Currently highlighted in their “Perspectives” series (through July) is Anish Kapoor’s S-Curve (2006), consisting of two, sixteen-foot lengths of polished steel that create a continuous convex/concave wall, reminiscent of Kapoor’s Cloud Gate in Chicago’s Millennium Park. Opening March 14, catch Moving Perspectives, a collaborative effort between Japanese/Vietnamese artist Jun Nguyen-Hatsushiba, renowned for his “submarine” films, and cutting-edge Indonesian filmmaker/photographer Fiona Tan (through June 7).

The latest museum added to the Mall — which filled the last available building space — is the National Museum of the American Indian (2004). Five curvy stories clad in limestone, surrounded by 4 acres of wetlands, this (non-Smithsonian) institution was 15 controversial years in the making. Edward Rothstein remarked in his review that architect Douglas Cardinal’s original vision (the Canadian Blackfoot was fired from the project early on, and ultimately referred to the finished building as “a forgery”) demonstrated a “verve and theatricality” that was retained in the final version’s dramatic mesa façade. Unfortunately, the rest of the building is less than exciting, with a “leaden” looking northwest corner, and a “half-hearted” Mall-facing façade.

Meanwhile, the National Portrait Gallery and National Museum of American Art, two separate Smithsonian entities, remain joint tenants in a spectacular, new $266-million renovation (2006) by the local architecture firm Hartman-Cox, now dubbed the Donald W. Reynolds Center (named in honor of a gift from the Reynolds Foundation). The Center is located in one of Washington’s oldest buildings, originally the U.S. Patent Office (Robert Mills, 1836), and considered to be one of our finest examples of Greek Revival architecture. In 2008, architect Norman Foster, of Foster+Partners, covered the Kogod Courtyard with a glass canopy, creating an ethereal place to alight between the two venues. Another new attraction is The Lunder Conservation Center, where floor-to-ceiling windows offer a view of conservators caring for entrusted works. Currently at the Center: Inventing Marcel Duchamp: The Dynamics of Portraiture (March 27-August 2) features nearly 100 portraits from 1912 to the present.

The newest of the new DC architectural treats is the Newseum (Polchek Partners, 2008) where high-tech artfully meets historical. The 250,000-square-foot museum blends 500 years of history with up-to-the-millisecond technology in the form of hands-on exhibits. Previously located in Roslyn, Virginia, the $450-million museum now rightfully sits where news is made every day — between the White House and the Capitol on Pennsylvania Avenue. The exterior features a 74-foot-high marble engraving of the First Amendment, and an impressively immense front wall of glass (who says there’s no transparency in DC?). Inside, find seven levels of galleries, theaters, shops and more, exploring “how and why news is made.”

Among the usual must-sees, favorites such as The White House (James Hoban, 1793-1829) and U.S. Supreme Court (Cass Gilbert, 1935), The U.S. Capitol (Thornton-Latrobe-Bulfinch, 1793-1830) formerly required tour reservations through your member of Congress. While this is still possible, tickets are also now available (first-come-first-served) at the new addition to our Capitol, the U.S. Visitors Center. Many misspent dollars’ worth of design (RTKL, 2008 with Alan Hantman), $621 million to be exact, went into creating the Center, a cavernous, ponderous thing where security trumps any other concerns (such as beauty or function). The only public entrée into the Capitol is through it, but at least it’s underground, so it doesn’t disrupt the much-beloved view of the Capitol’s East Front. Boston Globe critic Robert Campbell advises “architecture groupies” to “traverse a new pedestrian tunnel, which now connects the Visitor Center with the Library of Congress. The tunnel itself is a total bore, but at the end you explode into the fantastic interior of the library’s original building (Paul Pelz and J. L. Smithmeyer, 1873), with its great domed stair hall and vaulted reading room. At last, you’re in the presence of architecture.”

Another great presence, the National Building Museum, originally the U.S. Pension Bureau (Montgomery C. Meigs, 1885), is one of the most beautiful public spaces in the country. Based on the floor plan of a Renaissance palace, this block-long, 19th-century marvel of engineering, made from over 15 million red bricks (some forming 75-foot-high Corinthian columns we swear are made of marble), has been the site of many historical events, beginning with Grover Cleveland’s 1885 inaugural ball, leading up to Hillary Clinton’s dramatic concession speech in 2008. While there, be sure to see the powerful exhibition of photographs by Richard Ross, Architecture of Authority (April-May), a series of large-scale images that captures the essence of spaces such as prisons and mental institutions.

The nondescript Main State Department Building (2201 C Street NW) seems an unlikely place to find “the most beautiful rooms in the world,” until you consider their purpose. The Diplomatic Reception Rooms found on the 8th floor, tastefully appointed with a premier collection of 18th-century American furniture, paintings and decorative arts, is where the Secretary of State, Vice President, and Members of the Cabinet entertain their fellow world leaders and other dignitaries. Take a virtual tour here, then call 202-647-3241 to reserve the real thing.

Somewhat off the downtown-beaten path, Hillwood Estate, Museum & Gardens offers a wonderful day exploring Marjorie Merriweather Post’s gracious home. The co-founder (with financier husband Edward F. Hutton) of General Foods, Post’s passion for collecting French and Russian 18th-century art, along with her generous philanthropic grace, were catalysts for turning her personal 25-acre estate into a public museum upon her death in 1973. The time Post spent in the Soviet Union (with husband number three, American Ambassador Joseph E. Davies) during the late 30s prompted her interest in Russian decorative arts and the result is one of the world’s most comprehensive collections of Russian Imperial art, boasting such highlights as a diamond crown worn by Empress Alexandra at her marriage to Nicholas II, and two Imperial Faberge Easter eggs. Spring is the perfect time to tour the themed gardens; be sure to check their events calendar for special docent-led tours.

Finally, before you take your last gulp of newly effervescent Capitol Hill life, take a walking tour through Dupont Circle, and catch Morandi: Master of Modern Still Life (through May 24 at the venerable Phillips Collection), a serene show of paintings and etchings that span 1913-1960 — and provides a soothing respite from the bustle of DC noise — political and otherwise.

-Susan Malmstrom, Contributing Editor

Focus Washington, DC

HOTELS
Park Hyatt Washington, 24 & M Streets NW, Tel: 202-789-1234. Designer Tony Chi’s spare, minimalist approach is softened with “Americana” touches, such as Shaker boxes atop marble counters and handmade Windsor-style chairs. At the award-winning Blue Duck Tavern, get a table near the wood-burning oven; the Washington Post’s Tom Sietsema likened it to “an orchestra seat at a cooking show.”

Four Seasons, 2800 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Tel. 800-332-3442 or 202-342-0444. A $35-million renovation designed by Pierre-Yves Rochon last spring makes this a must-stay if you haven’t been lately. The transformation includes the addition of ENO, a new wine, charcuterie, and chocolate bar.

Mandarin Oriental, 1330 Maryland Avenue SW, Tel. 888-888-1778 or 202-554-8588. Located a few blocks from the Mall, the Mandarin is a mix of Asian and American luxury. Guest rooms strictly follow principles of Feng shui, and furnishings include (replica) pieces from the Smithsonian; Fili D’Oro linens grace the beds. Stroll the hotel’s terraced gardens, and book dinner at CityZen, where chef Eric Ziebold (once under Thomas Keller at The French Laundry) serves modern American/classic French cuisine based on local, pristine ingredients.

Hotel Monaco, 700 F Street NW, Tel. 800-649-1202 or 202-628-7177. Situated across from the National Portrait Gallery, this boutique hotel is often mistaken for another museum! It occupies a four-story, all-marble, mid-19th-century building, half of which was designed by Washington Monument architect Robert Mills, the other half by Thomas Walter, architect of the Capitol. The halves enclose a landscaped courtyard. Some guests complain about the small armoires (no closets allowed owing to Monaco’s National Landmark status); we’re too busy admiring eclectic touches like the three-legged desk.

Sofitel Lafayette Square, 806 15th Street NW, Tel. 800-763-4835 or 202-737-8800. Minutes from the White House, suddenly you’re in Paris as the staff greets you with, “Bonjour!” Architecturally, it’s an early-20th-century building boasting a façade of bronze corner panels, bas-relief sculptural panels at ground-floor level, and a decorative 12th-floor balcony. Interior accents by designer Pierre-Yves Rocho provide a 30s-era French Moderne look. For a floor-to-ceiling window, book 2nd- or 3rd- floor rooms facing 15th or H Streets.

Hotel Palomar Washington DC, 2121 P Street NW, Tel. 202-448-1800. A boutique hotel in Dupont Circle, the Palomar loves art lovers, evident in such touches as a Washington Ballet-trained staff (they do move with grace!) and original artwork throughout. Rooms are comfort-luxe, with Frette linens and duvets. Check before booking for special packages, such as ballet or theater tickets with backstage tours. Another Palomar boutique hotel, the I. M. Pei-designed Hotel Palomar Arlington offers views of the Potomac, and interiors by Beverly Hills designer Cheryl Rowley — it’s recommended if you don’t plan to stay downtown (Hotel Palomar Arlington, 1121 N. 19th, Tel. 866-505-1001 or 703-351-9170, www.hotelpalomar-arlington.com).

Inn at Little Washington, Middle and Main Streets, Washington, VA, Tel. 540-675-3800. Sixty-seven miles from DC takes you on a side trip through the famous Shenandoah Valley countryside of Virginia, to an English manor house, where service matches setting. Proprietor and (self-taught-but-much-lauded) chef Patrick O’Connell opened the Inn in 1978 in an abandoned gas station; it now regularly tops critics’ lists. Accommodations consist of 18 rooms and suites, plus two cottage houses, all styled by London stage and set designer Joyce Evans (think William Morris times ten). The contemporary American cuisine is divine, and the wait staff treat diners as honored family members. O’Connell — who served as chef to the Queen when she visited Virginia in 2004 to mark the 200th anniversary of Jamestown — is renowned for such sensations as his “Tin of Sin” appetizer: osetra caviar with a crab and cucumber rillette. Our current favorite entrée is the Peking duck breast with pumpkin risotto. For dessert, if sweet is not your thing, choose from the cheese plate, delivered on a life-sized (faux) cow, complete with moo. Take a tour of the impeccable kitchen, and marvel at the “fish file” — a refrigeration unit the size of a car that keeps the fish freshly compartmentalized.

RESTAURANTS
Citronelle, 3000 M Street NW, Tel. 202-625-2150. Chef Michel Richard loves the “magic of surprise,” and so do we — especially when he’s the magician. Currently the top chef in DC — and perhaps on the East Coast — in Citronelle he has created a mecca for serious foodies who think they’ve tasted it all. As one of the chefs at the launching of the French/American food revolution, Richard continues to astound with his creativity, while the cuisine remains fresh and light. The award-winning sommelier Mark Slater will help you choose from one of the most extensive wine cellars in the country, and has no problem with pouring just a glass of some of the most sought-after vintages. The best (and, of course, most expensive) seat in the house is at the chef’s grill-side table inside the kitchen, for parties of 6-8. Find an occasion and make the reservation!

Equinox, 818 Connecticut Avenue NW, Tel. 202-331-8118. At Equinox, where Michelle Obama celebrated her birthday in January, chef/owner Todd Gray’s emphasis is on organic, mid-Atlantic ingredients with an Italian touch. Order one of the Himalayan salt block specialties, wherein a beautiful pink block of salt used to cook and serve ceviche, or add a salty tang to dessert concoctions like chocolate gelato, arrives at your table (plan to linger — the longer the gelato sits on the salt, the tastier it becomes).

Marvin, 2007 14th Street NW, Tel. 202-797-7171. Located in the historic Shaw district (and the trendy U-street corridor), Marvin was inspired by singer Marvin Gaye’s two years in self-imposed exile in Ostend, Belgium. Here Belgian café society mixes with “the proud soul of Shaw”; translation: moulles-frites are served alongside southern-style shrimp and grits — while country-fried chicken shares a plate with Belgian waffles — all creations of adventurous chef James Claudio.

Café Atlantico, 405 8th Street NW, Tel.202-393-0812. Chef Jose Andres has been a favorite since the afternoon we were revived by tapas at Jaleo. Since then, keeping up with his hip takes on Latin American cuisine hasn’t been easy — he’s now associated with seven restaurants here — and has been dubbed the “boy wonder of culinary Washington” (The New York Times). At Café Atlantico, he works with chef Katsuya Fukushima to create Central and South American-based wonders like pineapple raviolis and Dominican conch fritters. “Latino dim sum,” Fukushima’s Latin twist on traditional Chinese family brunch, is served weekends and during the pre-theatre crush.

MUSEUMS & MONUMENTS
The National Mall, envisioned by 18th-century French engineer Pierre Charles l’Enfant as a 1½- mile-long boulevard bordered by Parisian-style houses, instead became a (muddy!) market space. In 1902, it was finally designated a green area, to be surrounded solely by museums and scientific buildings. On the Mall, east to west, find the US Capitol, National Gallery of Art, Hirshhorn Museum, Smithsonian Castle, Washington Monument, Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall, and Lincoln Memorial, plus many other special destinations. Near the Tidal Basin: the Jefferson Memorial.

BEYOND THE MALL
White House, 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Tel. 202-456-7041. For tours inside, contact your state representative (www.house.gov or www.senate.gov).

Newseum, 555 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Tel. 888-NEWSEUM (888-639-7386).

Donald W. Reynolds Center: National Portrait Gallery & Smithsonian American Art Museum, 8th & F Streets NW, Tel. 202-633-8300.

Phillips Collection, 1600 21st Street NW, Tel. 202-387-2151.

National Building Museum, 401 F Street NW, 202-272-2448.

Temple of the Scottish Rite, 1733 16th Street NW, Tel. 202-232-3579.

Old Post Office Pavilion, 1100 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Tel. 202-289-4224.

Hillwood Estate Museum & Gardens, 4155 Linnean Avenue NW, Tel. 202-686-5807.

SHOPPING
Shopping in DC is best categorized by what goodies can be found where. A few suggestions to get you started:

Galleries: Dupont Circle holds the lion’s share of DC gallery addresses. A favorite is Kathleen Ewing Gallery, with vintage (August Sander, Marion Post Wolcott) and contemporary (Sam Abell, Rosamund Purcell) photography (1767 P Street, Tel. 202-328-0295).

Upscale: Friendship Heights (Upper Wisconsin Avenue Northwest), is where you’ll find Saks Fifth Avenue at one end, Sur La Table at the other, and Lord & Taylor, Neiman Marcus, Tiffany’s, Versace…and more in between.

Boutiques: Off Dupont Circle, unique boutiques include Betsy Fisher (1224 Connecticut Avenue NW, Tel. 202-785-1975) featuring up-to-the-second style, plus ultra-friendly staff (even their website/online shop is fun); and nearby, Green and Blue (1350 Connecticut Avenue NW, Tel. 202-223-6644), who recently launched their spring/summer collection of in-house Ela Ela line of fun, femme dresses.

Antiques: Kensington, Maryland: a side trip of a few miles north is worth discovering Antique Row. Every period and style is represented throughout the 40+ shops here (Howard Avenue, 1 block north of Knowles Avenue, www.kensingtonantiquerow.com).

News

We’re not willing to let the wretched economy steal Bruce Nauman’s day in the Venice sun. This is the season of the Biennale that will celebrate Nauman’s forty years in the American and international spotlight, along with the lifetime careers of John Baldessari and Yoko Ono, who will receive Golden Lions for their contributions. If the stars are aligned, Nauman will be named the premiere exhibiting artist, as well, in the most anticipated Biennale appearance since Robert Rauschenberg’s 1964 triumph. The Philadelphia Museum of Art commissioners/curators Carlos Basualdo and Michael R. Taylor, plus officials at the museum, are pressed, in the present financial climate, to raise the funds needed to support the ambitious exhibition, which is not confined to the American Pavilion alone, but will also be seen at the Università Iuavdi Venezia at Tolentini and on two floors of a 15th-century palazzo that houses the Universita Ca’ Foscari. Titled Bruce Nauman: Topological Garden, the large-scale survey will cover four decades of Nauman’s art, including installation, performance, video, and neon work. The museum says that at this writing, 80% of the funds are in place, with grants from the State Department, the Pew Charitable Trust, the Henry Luce Foundation, and the State of Pennsylvania. Donors are invited to join the “Friends of Bruce Nauman,” and they are indeed legion.

Among many pavilions on the must-see list are Britain (Steve McQueen), Wales (John Cale), Poland (Krzystof Wodiczko), Canada (Mark Lewis), Germany (Liam Gillick), Netherlands (Fiona Tan), Spain (Miquel Barcelo), and…more! Biennale Director Daniel Birnbaum says his program, titled Making Worlds, represents “a vision of the world…” and “the relationship between some key artists and successive generations…” (Biennale di Venezia 53rd International Art Exhibition, Venice, June 7-November 22, 2009; press previews June 4, 5, 6; Golden Lion awards to be presented June 6). Other new attractions that make Venice so desirable this year include François Pinault’s newest venture at the Punta della Dogana (that nose-tip of land at the Grand Canal entry, where previous warehouse spaces have provided some 50,000-square-feet of exhibition space designed by starchitect Tadao Ando), a contemporary art center scheduled to open June 6 with a vast display of Pinault’s collection (don’t miss a visit to Pinault’s Palazzo Grassi either).

Also designed to coincide with the opening of the Biennale is the Prada Foundation’s survey of the work of American Pop artist John Wesley, curated by renowned scholar/curator Germano Celant. Some 200 works will be shown at the Fondazione Giorgio Cini on the island of San Giorgio Maggiore — where no visitor will forego a pilgrimage to Andrea Palladio’s magnificent 16th-century church of the same name. Another new destination opened in December as a museum, following 20 years of restoration: Palazzo Grimani — one of the city’s most important Renaissance palaces. The fabulous Grimani family residence was built on Byzantine foundations in the 15th-century and remodeled in the 16th-century — probably under the supervision of the great Renaissance architect Jacopo Sansovino. The Grimani collection has been largely dispersed, but portions of the sculpture collection have been returned from the Ducal Palace, along with the Hieronymus Bosch four-canvas Visions of the Hereafter cycle. The stunning palace itself is the centerpiece, however (the palace was transferred to the Italian State in 1981 and restoration begun in 1984). The most wonderful thing about Venice, here and around each corner, is that it constantly reminds Biennale goers that art and connoisseurship are not by any means all about the present!

In May, art eyes will turn to Chicago — first to the new Renzo Piano Modern Wing of The Art Institute of Chicago. With 264,000 new square feet designed specifically to display the AIC’s 19th-and 20th-century collections, including painting, sculpture, architecture, design and photography, the astonishing breadth and quality of these collections will be a real revelation! The restrained, elegant, limestone and glass building capped by a sun-screen canopy that appears to float magically over the roof — faces Millennium Park, to which it is connected by Piano’s sleek, soaring Nichols Bridgeway. From the park, the bridgeway rises to an outdoor sculpture terrace, a new restaurant and the third floor of the Modern Wing. The new addition, nearly a decade in the making, will increase the Art Institute’s space by a third — making it the second largest museum in America. Following VIP and donor previews, the museum will open to the public on May 16th, and throughout May museum members will be given priority access.

May has always been a celebratory month in Chicago (who can’t wait to get rid of winter!?), and this year, there is much to complement the AIC opening. Artopolis, the city-wide arts festival that includes the Art Chicago and NEXT art fairs and the Merchandise Mart Antiques Fair, is scheduled for May 1-4. Art Chicago drew 50,000 visitors last year, while the debut of NEXT’s emerging artists in 180 galleries from Tokyo to Amsterdam, added to the excitement. Special events, previews and parties are scheduled this year, so keep tabs on www.artopolischicago.com.

Exhibitions to include on your Chicago itinerary begin with Cy Twombly: The Natural World (May 16-September 13), the opening blockbuster at the Art Institute, followed by Buckminster Fuller: Starting with the Universe (until Jun 21) and Take Your Time: Olafur Eliasson at the Museum of Contemporary Art. Also, at the MCA, the Artists in Depth series is showcasing the amazing William Kentridge through May 31st.

Beyond our borders, the other new architectural addition stirring up conversation is Frank Gehry’s redesign of the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto. Whether it’s the sweeping glass face that curls 600 feet along Dundas Street or the sculptural interior staircase that loops into space trumping the Guggenheim arcs, the extensive transformation by the Toronto-born architect has viewers agog. New facilities made possible by the expansion include a grand sculpture gallery, a two-level gift and bookshop, restaurant, casual café, lecture hall, new projects/contemporary art gallery, and a large meeting/social space with street access. Don’t pass up a meal at FRANK-ART.FOOD.TALK. From “Still Life with Pear, Pancetta and Fig” to “Open-faced Ravioli with Braised Beef Shortribs,” the menu sounds divine and the museum’s showplace is known for its fine cuisine. June is “Luminato — Toronto’s Festival of Arts and Creativity” time, when the city turns out for the world’s newest international multidisciplinary arts festival. Concerts, exhibitions, performances, and museum programs are all focused on showcasing Toronto’s creativity from June 5-14. Proposals are presently being accepted for the “Luminato Box,” a temporary experimental gallery to be constructed in Sam Pollock Square, Brookfield Place. Participating artists will be selected by the Luminato curatorial team and a new artist or collaborative will be presented each day of the festival. Toronto exhibitions to catch this spring include Lawrence Weiner: The Other Side of a Cul-de-Sac at the city’s avant-garde kunsthalle, The Power Plant (through May 18); Sin and Salvation: Holman Hunt and the Pre-Raphaelite Vision at the AGO (through May 10); and Dead Sea Scrolls (June 27-January 2010) at the Royal Ontario Museum. This is the smallest sampling of Toronto’s museum riches!

If you keep Storm King on your list of “always revisit” locations, now is the time to make that ninety-minute trek from New York City. Always deeply engaging, this spring the sculpture park is greatly enhanced by artist/architect May Lin’s new eleven-acre project — Storm King Wavefield. Great, undulating waves of grass mounds sway with majestic regularity across the landscape, creating a rich green sea punctuated by the gentle swells of earth. It’s magical! In New York, Lin’s Museum of Chinese in America will open in May as well (in Chinatown) so, if you follow our Washington itinerary in this issue, it can be “Maya Lin Month” up and down the Eastern seaboard. (Storm King Art Center, Mountainville, New York, stormking.org).

Great Addresses

IN VENICE
Venice Connected. This new online reservation service, which debuted in February, allows you to buy advance, discounted passes for airport transportation, water transport within the city, parking and ground transport, plus tickets to city museums, which include the Doge’s Palace, Museo Correr, Ca’ Rezzonico, Goldoni House, Ca’ Pesaro… and more. At Biennale-opening time, the “all civic museums” pass is 16 euros, round-trip airport transport is 22.5 euros, and a 7-day local transport pass is 37.50 euros. Order in advance and pay online with your credit card.

In Laguna da Toni, Tel. 39-338-821-1229. Seven-course dinner and boat transportation roundtrip to and from Portegrandi, 35 euros per person. Chef (and lifelong fisherman) Toni Zottarel cooks splendidly for groups of 14 in his simple fisherman’s house on stilts out in the lagoon where the marshland and the mainland collide. There is room for just one long table and the catch of the day couldn’t be fresher. The nets alongside are a preview of dinner! In the busy summer months, reserve at least two weeks in advance.

Bauer Palladio Hotel & Spa, Giudecca 33, Tel. 39-041-520-7022. To stay in a Palladio design (originally a sanctuary for unmarried women) is a dream come true for architecture buffs and it doesn’t get any better than this exquisite boutique hotel and spa, complete with gorgeous views of the lagoon. The Bauer’s own electro solar-powered shuttle will whisk you back and forth across the Grand Canal and the spa will re-energize Biennale-tired bones. Bauer Il Palazzo, L’Hotel, and Palazzo Mocenigo in San Marco are also among Venice’s finest hotel destinations.

Oltre il Giardino, Fondamenta Contarini, San Polo 2542, Tel. 39-041-275-0015. On a much less grand scale, all six rooms of the redoubtable Alma Mahler’s former home are steeped in charm (150-250 euros). As is the lovely garden, shaded by olive and magnolia trees. Plus, here on a small canal in the heart of San Polo, you’ll find yourself only a stone’s throw from the Church of the Frari and the Scuola Grande di San Rocco — together, arguably home to the finest art in Venice, from Titian to Tintoretto.

Lineadombra, Dorsoduro 19, Tel. 39-041-241-1881. Just behind the Salute and facing St. Mark’s across the Giudecca Canal, Lineadombra is simple and elegantly contemporary indoors and blessed with a huge waterfront terrace. The fare is traditional Venetian with a nouvelle twist, coupled with a memorable wine cellar.

Palazzo Grazzi, Campo San Samuele 3231, Tel. 39-041-523-1680. Open daily 10-7, closed Tuesdays. Tickets on the web at www.vivaticket.it. The last great Venetian palace built before the fall of the Republic is now owned by the French billionaire collector François Pinault and serves, along with the Dogana contemporary art space, as the repository for his stupendous collection. The opening exhibition of the Punta della Dogana Contemporary Art Museum will take place on June 6 with an exhibition curated by Alison Gingeras of the Pinault collection, along with Francesco Bonami, the next Whitney Biannual curator. The exhibition will be divided between the Dogana and the Palazzo Grazzi, while the Dogana itself is intended to be the permanent home of the Pinault collection.

Palazzo Grimani, Santa Maria Formosa, Castello 4858, Reservations required: Tel. 39-041-52-00-345, Mon.-Fri. 9-6, Sat. 9-2. Arrive 20 minutes in advance of your appointment time, and if you pay by credit card, you must show your “identification document” (i.e. passport). For further information, call 39-041-52-10-577.

IN CHICAGO
Alinea, 1723 North Halsted (Lincoln Park), Tel. 312-867-0110. From the French Laundry, through Charlie Trotter’s and Trio, Grant Achatz was headed for a place of his own. He found it in 2005 at his ultra-modern Alinea. No setting is more beautiful, no fabulous cuisine more artfully presented (the website alone will knock you over — www.alinea-restaurant.com). Chef Achatz’ kitchen is rightfully renowned — said to be one of the world’s finest. Dinner only, reservations required, jackets for gentlemen, no jeans!

North Pond, 2610 North Cannon Drive (Lincoln Park), Tel. 773-477-5845. If “eat local,” or regional, is on your mind, no slow food devotee is more welcomed than at North Pond. The 1912 Arts and Crafts-style building hidden in a verdant dell is the realm of chef/partner Bruce Sherman, who will gladly show you his list of Midwest suppliers. The dinner menu features a seasonal, five-course meal served for the table or a sumptuous a la carte menu. Sherman came to North Pond in 1999, and has been dazzling diners ever since.

IN TORONTO
Gladstone Hotel, 1214 Queen Street Toronto, Ontario, CA, Tel. 416-531-4635. The Gladstone, built in 1889, is the oldest, continuously operating hotel in Toronto. Its architecture is Richardsonian Romanesque, restored meticulously by the Zeidler family — the current owners. Considered a model urban renewal project, it’s a center for hip travelers, artists and the surrounding community, with rooms designed by local artists, studio space available for rent (short term) and a regular schedule of exhibitions. Your typical urban hotel it’s not, but it is well-loved by visitors, not to mention Condé-Nast Traveler, CNN, The New York Times, National Geographic Traveler…and more.

Frank, Art Gallery of Ontario, 317 Dundas Street West, Tel. 416-979-6688. Executive chef Anne Yarymowich and chef de cuisine Martha Wright set a fine table in Frank Gehry’s new addition to the AGO. They prove good food can be found behind museum façades (especially this stunning one). The restaurant name refers not only to Gehry’s design but, according to the museum, also to artist Frank Stella, whose work hangs there. Frank is open 6 days a week, with lunch Tuesday-Friday; dinner Tuesday-Saturday; and brunch Saturday and Sunday; closed Monday. Reservations are recommended.

Travel Bookshelf: Washington, DC

Guides
Blessing, Anna H. eat.shop washington dc: The Indispensable Guide to Stylishly Unique, Locally Owned Eating and Shopping, 2006.
Zagatsurvey 2009 Washington, DC, Baltimore Restaurants.
Aaron Anderson, Becca Blond. Lonely Planet Washington DC, 2007.
The Official Guide to the Smithsonian, 2002.

Art & Architecture
G. M. Moeller, Jr. AIA Guide to the Architecture of Washington, DC, 2006.
Frederick Gutheim, Antoinette J. Lee. Worthy of the Nation: Washington, DC, from L’Enfant to the National Capital Planning Commission, 2006.
James M. Goode. Washington Sculpture: A Cultural History of Outdoor Sculpture in the Nation’s Capital, 2006.
James W.Goode. Capital Losses: A Cultural History of Washington’s Destroyed Buildings, 2003.
Luca Moniari, Andrea Canepari. The Italian Legacy in Washington DC: Architecture, Design, Art, and Culture, 2008.
Cynthia R. Field, Isabelle Gournay, Thomas P. Somma. Paris on the Potomac: The French Influence on the Architecture and Art of Washington, DC, 2007.
Nathan Glazer, Cynthia R. Field, eds. The National Mall: Rethinking Washington’s Monumental Core, 2008.
Sarah Luria. Capital Speculations: Writing and Building Washington, D.C., 2005.
John Oliver Hand. National Gallery of Art: Master Paintings from the Collection, 2004.
Anthony Alofsin. A Modernist Museum in Perspective: The East Building, National Gallery of Art, 2009.

History
Les Standiford. Washington Burning: How a Frenchman’s Vision for our Nation’s Capital Survived Congress, the Founding Fathers and the Invading British Army, 2008.
Fergus Bordewich. Washington: The Making of the American Capital, 2008.
Douglas E. Evelyn, Paul Dickson. On This Spot: Pinpointing the Past in Washington, D.C., 1999.
Joseph Passonneau. Washington Through Two Centuries, Monacelli, 2004.
Sue Kohler. Designing the Nation’s Capital: The 1901 Plan for Washington, DC, 2007.

and… strictly for fun…

Mysteries
Margaret Truman. Murder in the National Gallery, 1997.
Margaret Truman. Murder in the Smithsonian, 1985.

Calendar

Through Apr. 19 Museo del Prado, Madrid Francis Bacon
Through Apr. 26 Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto E. Burtynsky On Site Transformation
Through May 3 Albertina, Vienna Gerhard Richter
Through May 3 National Gallery, Washington, D.C. Pride of Place: Dutch Cityscapes
Through May 11 MOMA, New York Martin Kippenberger: The Problem Perspective
Through May 17 Hirshhorn Museum, Washington, D.C. Louise Bourgeois
Through May 17 Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice Theme & Variations: J. Martin
Through May 24 Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Moderna, Rome Cy Twombly
Through May 25 MOCA, LA Dan Graham: Beyond
Through May 31 UCLA/Hammer Museum, L.A. Nine Lives: Visionary Artists from L.A.
Through May 31 MOMA, San Francisco William Kentridge: Five Themes
Through May 31 Whitney Museum, New York Jenny Holzer
Through June 6 Art Institute of Chicago Matisse & Methods of Modern Construction
Through June 7 LACMA, Los Angeles Franz West, To Build a House…
Through June 7 National Gallery, London Picasso: Challenging the Past
Through June 14 Walker Art Center, Minneapolis Live Forever: Elizabeth Peyton
Through June 21 MCA, Chicago Buckminster Fuller: Starting with the Universe
Through June 28 Kunsthalle, Hamburg Sigmar Polke
Through July 12 Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D. C. Maya Lin
Through July 20 Centre Pompidou, Paris Alexander Calder: The Paris Years
Through Aug. 9 J. Paul Getty Museum, L.A. Jo Ann Callis: Woman Twirling
Through Aug. 9 J. Paul Getty Museum, L.A. Paul Outerbridge: Command Performance
Through Aug. 30 MCA, Denver Damien Hirst
Through Sept. 6 High Museum, Atlanta Louvre Atlanta
Through Sept. 13 Guggenheim, Bilbao Cai Guo-Qiang: I Want to Believe
Through Sept. 13 National Gallery, Washington, DC In the Tower: Philip Guston
Through Dec. 31 Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice Masterpieces of Futurism
May 1 - May 4 Art Chicago 2009: International Contemporary Art Fair (Artopolis)
May 1 - May 4 NEXT: The Invitational Exhibition of Emerging Art, Chicago (Artopolis)
May 1 - May 4 International Antiques Fair, Merchandise Mart, Chicago (Artopolis)

May 1 - Sept. 13 MCA, Chicago Take Your Time: Olafur Eliasson
May 3 - Sept. 6 OCMA, Newport Beach Illumination: O’Keeffe, Pelton, Martin & Pierce
May 9 - Aug. 2 Nelson-Atkins Museum, Kansas City George Segal
May 10 - May 31 MOCA, Chicago Artists in Depth: William Kentridge
May 16 - Aug. 23 SFMOMA, San Francisco Looking In: Robert Frank’s “The Americans”
May 16 - Sept. 13 Art Institute of Chicago Cy Twombly: The Natural World
May 22 - May 26 ArteBA ‘09, Buenos Aires: Contemporary Art Fair

May 30 - Sept. 7 SFMOMA, San Francisco G. O’Keeffe & A. Adams: Natural Affinities
May 30 - Sept. 20 Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice Robert Rauschenberg: Gluts
May 31 - Aug. 30 National Gallery, Washington, DC Stanley William Hayter
June 7 - Nov. 22 La Biennale di Venezia: 53 International Art Exhibition, Venice
June 8 - June 13 Volta5: The Cutting-Edge Art Fair, Basel
June 8 - June 14 Scope Basel ‘09: International Emerging Art Fair
June 9 - June 13 Design Miami/Basel: Global Forum for Design
June 10 - June 14 Art 40 Basel: International Modern and Contemporary Art Fair

June 20 - Sept. 20 Corcoran Gallery, Washington, DC W. Eggleston: Democratic Camera