Saturday, December 7, 2013

Handmade Holiday Cards from the Archives of American Art

Where: Archives of American Art

When: through January 5, 2014

A festive exhibit, in keeping with the time of the year.  It's clearly meant as a Christmas treat, as it will close at the beginning of January, so if you're interested in seeing the cards that artists send at the holiday season, head over to the American Art Museum now.

I'm not entirely certain what I expected from this show; I guess I thought that artists would make far nicer cards than anything I send each year.  Some cards were lovely, others, not so much.  One by Lyonel Feininger, that was supposed to be the Three Wise Men, looked like something a child would have drawn.  According to the notes, it represented the "sketchy idiom of his drawing."  I've been underestimating my own artistic talents, as I could have drawn something just as good.

I was more impressed with the work, or at least the dedication,  of Andrew Bucci who drew and painted every card he sent each year (about 125) by hand.  And I feel hard done by writing a couple of sentences in the 60 or so I send out.

I learned that the LOVE motif developed by Robert Indiana originated as a Christmas card - by the way, if you've not been to the Sculpture Garden recently, there's a new addition: AMOR set up just like the LOVE sculptures.

Umichi Hiratsuka's card with the Washington Monument and a cherry blossom was my favorite - I'd love to send those out, if only someone would sell them!

I noticed an error in one of the write-ups, which made me think how infrequently they appear.  Rather than criticizing the writer, I offer my kudos to the Smithsonian generally for making so very few mistakes.

Verdict: If you like Christmas cards, or are in the area (at the Downtown Holiday Market, perhaps), you can add to your holiday spirit with this show.  If not, it's not a must-see.

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