Saturday, August 25, 2007


Samples of Wiener Werkstätte fabrics, courtesy of the Textile Museum

Today, I got together with my friend and sister Scary Feminist, Tickle the Pear. She invited me to the Textile Museum to see "Textiles of Klimt's Vienna"--an exhibit of Secessionstil and Wiener Werkstätte fabrics from the early 1900s. The exhibit itself was rather small, but did an excellent job of explaining a period in Viennese art and culture that goes beyond just simple art deco. At one point, I wondered whether Frank Lloyd Wright had been inspired by Gustav Klimt, Egon Schiele, Maria Likarz-Strauss, and Dagobert Peche as some of the designs and patterns from the era closely echo Lloyd Wright motifs.

The Textile Museum, 2320 S Street NW

The museum is housed in what was once the home of George Hewitt Myers, a collector of textiles and the founder of the museum. Before we went to see the Klimt exhibit, we sat in on a lecture about Turkmen rugs and bags. Tickle and I were the the youngest people in the room and we're not exactly spring chicks! Still, the information was interesting, but the room was too hot, so we ducked out early.

Washington's version of the Spanish Steps, which originally led to the entrance of a mansion.

After the museum, we walked down the Spanish Steps. There's not a lot of helpful information about the steps, except that they once led to a mansion in the Kalorama neighborhood. Now, they sit at the top of a cul-de-sac and, when you reach the top of the steps, to the right is the Ambassador of China's residence. The steps are not that far from Embassy Row (Massachusetts Avenue NW) and numerous embassies, chancelleries, and consulates are scattered throughout the neighborhood.

Art on Call:
call boxes that have been restored and feature art from local and national artists. These ones are located at the corner of Decatur and 22nd Streets NW, just below the Spanish Steps.

Following the steps down, we found ourselves on Decatur and encountered part of the "Art on Call" project that can be seen throughout the city. In the 1860s, call boxes were scattered throughout D.C. and were used to summon police and firefighters. They constituted the 911-system of that period, if you will. Despite their obsolescence, they remain on many street corners. "Art on Call" is a project to highlight these boxes and make them into art pieces. These are just two examples.

Urban renewal in the historic Shaw neighborhood. Someone gets creative!

Having wandered through parts of Kalorama and DuPont Circle, we then grabbed a burger at Fuddruckers, after which I took Tickle home. On our way to her place, we passed this recently painted house in the historic Shaw neighborhood. Given how hot and humid it was today, it seemed like a nice wrap-up to a lovely afternoon with a friend!

P.S. Tickle: Looking forward to MoBob's Moroccan!

Zips: Textile Museum, Spanish Steps, and Call Box (20008)
Watermelon House Zip: 20009

Photo copyright: D.C. Confidential (Janet M. Kincaid, 08/07)


Madame M. said...

Those call boxes are absolutely gorgeous! I must see them in person!

JK said...

Madame M: Welcome! There are a bunch of them scattered throughout the DuPont Circle/Kalorama area. Supposedly, there are more on Capitol Hill and a couple of other neighborhoods in DC. I keep seeing ones in my neighborhood that could use a little rehabilitating. If you have to repurpose something, this seems like a great way to go, doesn't it?