Monday, January 17, 2011

Editors' Picks: The Best of Smithsonian Magazine's 7th Annual Photo Contest

Where: Smithsonian Castle

When: through February 28, 2011

Every year, the Smithsonian holds a photography contest, with submissions in several different categories. The finalists are hung in the Castle main room, where they are on public display. I went last year, and was looking forward to seeing this year's entries. There are 7 winners and 23 other finalists, so this is an easy lunchtime outing. My only criticism is that the photos are hung in the eating area, so one can't really look at the pictures as long as one might like, without intruding on people eating. I wish they'd move the exhibit out of the main room so that I could look at the pictures in a more comfortable setting.

All of the photos are terrific, so it's difficult to pick out a few to mention, but the ones that particularly caught my eye were:
  • Sarah by Marie Land, a girl in a school uniform, showing how institutions make communities out of individuals
  • A coconut floats in the shallows by Ethan Daniels, a picture of Palau's inner lagoon - a great water scene
  • The nomads of Tagong by Conway Liao, showing how even those living the simplest of lives can be happy
  • Lonely coffee break by Tobias Putzer, a photograph of the artist's girlfriend sitting in a diner
  • Lake with flax and red gum trees by Rex Naden, I love the way the plants and trees are reflected exactly in the water, an example of "natural abstracts"
  • Tree in wheat fields by Jia Han Dong, gorgeous countryside with the curved lines of the farms, with one tree in the middle of the field
It was crowded when I went (the week between Christmas and New Year's), but I'm guessing the crowds have thinned quite a bit now. The Castle also has a lovely enormous Christmas tree in the main area during the holiday season, worth seeing on your way to exhibits at the Sackler or African Art Museum.

Verdict: Well worth stopping by, either as a lunchtime destination, or as something to see on your way to or from another exhibit.

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