DC and Wiley

Hi everyone,

And thanks for all the responses. We love getting them.

A big part of the reason for our trip was to see William Wiley's retrospective at the Smithsonian Museum of Art, a huge honor for any artist, and to be part of the opening festivities. We decided with some trepidation to take one of the almost notorious Chinatown buses which commute regularly from Chinatown in NY to Chinatown in DC. We knew we didn't want to make another flight; way too many flights and way too much hassle for a fairly short trip. The choice was between the Greyhound (yuck), the train (maybe) or one of the Chinatown buses. We decided on a Chinatown bus as we're staying in Tribeca, close to Chinatown in NY, and our hotel in DC was close to Chinatown in DC. Also, it is super cheap, $35 RT, and we were also curious. Reviews are all over the place with people loving them to horror stories.

A rare sight; responding to a complaint from the Italian government and the City of Pisa, the Obama administration decided to straighten out the tilt to the Washington Monument.

The last time we took a bus for any length of time was up the Croatian coast in the middle of the night, on a narrow windy road during a thunderstorm. On that occasion a bus was the only option we had as Don was absolutely sick of driving in Croatia, I won't drive in scary foreign driving conditions, and no train exists on the coast. The buses run only in the middle of the night. I think we caught the bus after midnight. It was completely packed, except for a couple seats away from each other. Don ended up sitting next to a little special needs Croatian man, who absolutely reeked of sweat and booze. (Actually, Don gallantly saved me from having to sit next to this fellow.) The little guy was pretty entertaining, in an embarrassing sort of way, singing, shouting, calling out to Don "Americano" and "George Bush." We taught him to say, "George Bush, no", "Clinton, yes." All in all, it was an almost hellish experience, pitch black outside, rain pouring down, occasional thunder and lightning which lit up the narrow road and steep cliffs, the bus careening along at a much too fast rate of speed for the road. The passengers on the bus were good-natured and laughing, that is until the little guy threw up. Luckily, he had moved his seat away from Don by that time.

I am happy to report that the Chinatown buses we took to DC and back, Eastern Travel, were very clean, almost new, very comfortable seats, lots of leg room, had working internet connections and pleasant drivers. The little "bus depots" where you pick up are colorful little Chinatown dives with bossy women managers who shout at you in Cantonese, but other than that everything was normal, normal passengers, nobody threw up.

National Portrait Gallery, which is showing Wiley's exhibition. That looks like Tallulah biking past, but we happen to know she is back at Magnolia, holding down the fort and putting out fires, along with the rest of our brave and dedicated crew.

We decided to stay at the Mayflower in DC, which seemed super luxe, especially after our art loft stay in our Tribeca digs. DC is a strange city; I don't know if we could have abided it at all under our last administration. Police and secret service everywhere; we were mostly grateful for them - Please, keep our President safe!! We were walking down one of DC's wide boulevards when sirens sounded and half a dozen black limos - SUVs - came speeding down the street, their banks of dark windows were rolled down, filled to bursting with secret service or FBI, all with what appeared to be preternaturally long necks, swiveling around in alarmingly wide arcs, their heads poking out the windows, 2 or 3 to the side, scanning the streets, buildings and even the sky in all directions from behind their super dark sunglass lenses. They looked exactly like secret service clones from The Matrix to me, but reminded Don of the weasels from the animated Wind in the Willows. Wish we had taken some photos, but it happened so fast, and probably wouldn't have been allowed.

Wiley's talk was wonderful, wonderfully Wiley. He spoke a little, played (his guitar) a little and sang, spoke a little more, back to guitar and harmonica. He showed a group of slides and had to crouch his long, lanky frame down to read some of the titles. Everything he does and says is done and said with humor and warmth and a sharp wit which deals with the ludicrous events of our time. His show and work looked absolutely great. Many terrific pieces lent from a great many collectors, who Joann Mosley stressed were the easiest, most pleasant people to deal with of any exhibition she has ever put together. The pun ball machine (Wiley pin ball) he did with Electric Works looked wonderful and was a big hit; Magnolia's button box looked wonderful also in a more low key sort of way.

Wiley reading text from his artworks on stage.

As I was listening and then speaking to Wiley, I realized that he had a Buddha-like energy, similar to the Dalai Lama, not surprising as everybody loves Wiley. Then I was speaking to Denis Ochi, who has a gallery in Idaho and represents Wiley. I thought Wow, Denis has a Buddha energy, too. Then I noticed that Mary Webster, Wiley's wife, had this same energy, and many others. Now I think that this is probably some type of result of being blessed by the Dalai Lama. I am seeing Buddha energy in almost everybody; some people have a little, some have a lot. Hope it lasts.

Jim McGrath (the famed and influential high school teacher of Wiley, Robert Hudson & others), with Betty Taira and Wiley at a party thrown by Cissie Swig after Wiley's talk.

We were in DC for 2 and a half days and managed to see most of the Smithsonian Museums, albeit some very superficially. Some pretty impressive museums.

The Air & Space Museum, DC

Enjoying the Anish Kapoor sculpture at the Sackler, or was it the Freer? This highly polished S-Curve distorts both your reflection and your voice.

Back to NY for more fun and games.

Much love,

Era and Don