March 1st, 2010


Poem for Monday and Terra Cotta Warriors

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I spent a wonderful day with my family plus dementordelta and her friend Lin, who came up in time for lunch with pie and pumpkin bread -- Paul made a frittata -- and came downtown with us to the Corcoran Gallery and National Geographic Explorers Hall. The Corcoran has exhibitions from two collections with many 19th century French and British masterpieces: the Davies Collection, on loan from the National Museum Wales, featuring Impressionist and Post-Impressionist art by Turner, Corot, Millet, Renoir, Pissarro, Monet, Van Gogh, Manet and Cézanne, and the William A. Clark Collection, which was the private collection of a Montana Senator and also includes works by Turner, Corot and Millet as well as Degas. Both Clark and David Davies, whose fortune funded granddaughters Gwendoline and Margaret Davies' collections, were industrialists who made a fortune and went into politics. A string sextet was playing Bach and Mozart downstairs in the atrium.

From there we walked (with a stop at Starbucks for hot chocolate) to the National Geographic Explorers Hall, where we briefly visited the Polar Obsession photo exhibit before going into the phenomenal Terra Cotta Warriors display. The exhibit is divided into two parts, with the first mostly containing Qin artifacts like weapons, building materials, ornaments from palaces, royal seals, and jade objects, while the more open second area has several of the Xi'an warriors plus acrobats, musicians, and charioteers alongside maps and diagrams of the tomb of the First Emperor (whom I must confess strikes me much more as a paranoid lunatic than a great leader, given the crushing excesses of his life and death). It's hard to remember all the highlights -- the braided bronze tassels on the chariots, the detail on the cavalry harnesses, the enormous human figures and the models showing how they were made -- even the large photos of the excavation sites in Xi'an wrapped around the Explorers Hall are simply amazing.

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Since it's Purim, Paul made kreplach and vegetable couscous for dinner, then we had hamantaschen and watched the Olympic closing ceremonies -- we missed the US-Canada hockey game while we were at the museums and it sounds like we missed a great overtime, so congratulations to Canada. I enjoyed the lighthearted aspects of the closing ceremonies -- the parody of the failure to get the torch pillar up in the opening ceremonies, the Mounties, moose, beavers, and hockey fights, the writing-names-in-snow complaints, the Shatner! I enjoyed these Games a lot. Well done, Vancouver. Happy March!