Summer in D.C. can be unbearable. It’s hot, it’s crowded and it’s easy to spend an upsetting amount of time getting sucked into social media, watching your friends and loved ones travel around the country (or the world). While we wish more than anyone the Dupont Metro Station would fix its AC problem, you have to give it to D.C., there’s something a little magical about the summers here. Hanging out on rooftop bars where you can scope out the Washington Monument. Walking along the Anacostia river. Ducking into one of our many amazing movie theaters to soak up that sweet AC.
It’s a time to let loose and allow yourself to be swept up in the madness. A time where you can play tourist without any of your friends watching. In honor of that feeling of exploration and nostalgia and comfort, we decided to visit one of our favorite old school D.C. establishments, the Phillips Collection. We grabbed some of our favorite local artists and spent an evening running around the museum like we were 10-year-olds on a field trip. Along the way, they picked a few of their favorite pieces. Some of them are from the permanent collection (which you can see for free every Tuesday through Friday) and some of them are from the museum’s exhibition The Warmth of Other Suns (which is on display until September 22 and well worth the cost of admission), but they’re all spectacular.
Get out and explore your city. It’s always worth the time.
Dzesi by El Anatsui
“I think uncommon and… Let’s call it unoriginal materials being turned into something that’s really breathtaking and bespoke and original, just fundamentally really speaks to me. I think the shear scale and the choice of materials and colors and tone is elegant, and it’s a little haunting. I’m humbled, to be honest with you, with just the amount of time and integrity it takes to actually construct something like that. It’s kind of amazing that it’s here.” –Maggie O’Neill
The State We’re In by Wolfgang Tillmans
“The ocean is, other than the universe, probably the most inspiring thing to me. It’s just so massive. As big as we think we are and our everyday lives, it’s something that is grounding for me. It’s always been able to keep me calm and keep me at peace. To see it at such a large scale that I can physically stand in front of it without actually being at the beach, is a dream come true. –Tenbeete Solomon / Trap Bob
The Migration Series by Jacob Lawrence
“So I chose the Migration Series by Jacob Lawrence in part because my dad’s family was an early collector of Jacob Lawrence and had an original painting of his that they donated to the Philadelphia Museum of Art. So I grew up with a print of his in my house, and from a young age, I was a fan. I did a project about him in third grade and have really followed his career. This is such an iconic early work of his. I think the way it captures this migration of people from Africa is both tough and also, in a way, beautiful. It was an easy choice.” –Rose Jaffe
Wax Room by Wolfgang Laib
“It’s my favorite room in D.C. I’m a super taster, so I also have a really strong sense of smell. For me, the Wax Room is really special because it brings up lots of nostalgic emotions. Our olfactory sense is the one that’s tied most to memory, so when you enter the Wax Room, whatever associations you have with that smell rise to the surface. You’re not only awash in the smell in this immersive, womb like environment, but there’s the feelings that you have connected to that smell from all the other points of your life.” –Kate Warren
Tunic (American Red Sea) and Untitled by Paulo Nazareth
“I think there were a few things that really drew me in. One, there was something about the tonality of the cloth that I really liked and I like embroidery. There was something also about it being unframed. Even in the vestibule it’s in, it’s almost like you walked into someone’s closet. There was an experience. It’s active, it’s alive, it’s blowing in the wind. You can imagine it being your grandfather’s pajamas. And then to look down at the sandals and all of it feels very worn and tattered. I think seeing that… And really the note that he had walked 1000 miles in those sandals… I feel like you can feel energy in those things. I’m a collector of objects and I think it’s for that same reason. They’re infused with a certain energy.” –Joshua Cogan