dc art museum


Dorlyn Catron’s cane is making its radio debut today — its name is Pete. (“He’s important to my life. He ought to have a name,” she says.)

Catron is participating in one of the America InSight tours at Washington, D.C.’s Smithsonian American Art Museum. The museum offers twice-a-month tours, led by specially trained docents, to blind and visually impaired visitors.

Docent Betsy Hennigan stops the group of nine visitors in front of Girl Skating — a small bronze sculpture from 1907 by Abestenia Saint Leger Eberle. The roller-skating girl is full of joy. The visitors — of varied ages, races and backgrounds — stand close together, hands on top of their long canes, facing Hennigan as she describes the artwork: The little girl careens forward, arms outstretched, her hair and her dress flow behind her.

Carol Wilson trains the 12 volunteer docents. “Sight isn’t the only pathway to understand art,” she says. Wilson suggests the docents invite visitors to imitate the pose of a sculpture, and use other senses in their verbal descriptions.

Blind Art Lovers Make The Most Of Museum Visits With ‘InSight’ Tours

Photos: Raquel Zaldivar/NPR

Eastman Johnson (1824-1906)
“The Girl I Left Behind Me” (1872)
Oil on canvas
Located in the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington DC, United States

The painting’s title refers to an old Irish song that became a popular regimental ballad during the Civil War. Johnson’s viewers might have recalled the lyrics:

My mind her full image retains
Whether asleep or awaken’d
hope to see my jewel again
For her my heart is breaking.

Eastman Johnson (1824-1906)
“The Lord is My Shepherd” (1863)
Oil on wood
Located in the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington DC, United States

The title of the painting comes from Psalm 23, which begins with the line: “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.” Johnson painted it just after the Emancipation Proclamation was announced in 1863. Its imagery includes an African-American man reading the first part of a Bible, possibly the Book of Exodus. He is sitting against a blue jacket, which may indicate service in the Union army. President Abraham Lincoln had recently authorized organization of the United States Colored Troops.

Abbott Handerson Thayer (1849-1921)
“Angel” (1887)
Oil on canvas
Located in the Smithsonian Art Museum, Washington DC, United States

“No Flash Please” - I am happy to present my latest piece! Sometimes I get an idea that speaks to a universal human truth like the meaning of imagination or parenthood, but this is not one of those times. This is one of those times when a silly idea that’s been floating in my head goes too far. It’s really nothing more than a visual pun, but boy was it incredibly fun to illustrate. And like many things I’ve drawn and painted over the years, I couldn’t help but get it out of my head and onto virtual paper if nothing more than for my own benefit. So I hope you enjoy it as well. Happy Monday!