Rules for Survival in Washington, D.C.

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In one way or another, I’ve been working for two years on this painting of an interior courtyard at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.

By Day Nineteen at the DIAA Gallery I finally finished it. I may do it over, but, like my lobster trap painting, the details are so exhausting I probably don’t have it in me.

Courtyard at the National Gallery of Art

The painting is based on a bunch of photos I took while wandering the National Gallery of Art during my lunch hour. My office was 10 minutes away from the NGA, and I often took solace there during the winter of 2014-15. My boss was abusing me at work, and he had ordered my colleagues not to talk to me. I was just trying to survive until I could sell my house and move to Maine.

The image of the shadowy guard in the background is what the painting is about. He reminds me of me back then, a marginalized presence looking at an aspiration (even if the aspiration was to kill a goose rather than sell a house).

Judith Felch, the DIAA’s treasurer, came in to the gallery one day while Oscar and I were painting, and she mentioned she was taking her grandchildren to Washington, D.C. Judith graciously listened as I rattled off my rules for survival for tourists with children in Washington, D.C.

Go to the museums early. The American History and Air and Space museums turn into mayhem in the afternoon.

Prepare for security. You can enter few public buildings in Washington without going through a metal detector. And don’t be alarmed by the paramilitary surrounding the Capitol.  They probably won’t shoot you.

Have a plan for a place to rest. The National Mall is not friendly to pedestrians, so break up your day with a meal or a snack. The café at the Sculpture Garden, the courtyard at the National Portrait Gallery/Museum of American Art are good places for lunch. The Botanical Garden is a good place to rest after the Air and Space Museum.

(Here, by the way, is what the National Gallery is featuring:

…and Babe Ruth.

Go to the Waterfall Café in the National Gallery of Art and have some gelato.

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