"Space, Light and Sound," Seeing Deeper, Washington National Cathedral, Washington, DC, February 5, 2018
"Space, Light and Sound," Seeing Deeper, Washington National Cathedral, Washington, DC, February 5, 2018

Seeing Deeper At National Cathedral

Deep blues, striking reds, soothing greens and princely purples. Washington’s National Cathedral was awash in a remarkable array of shifting colors on the first night of its annual week-long “Seeing Deeper” program February 5-9.

With the building’s central nave completely cleared of chairs, the public was invited to experience the Cathedral’s vast open space. “Space, Light and Sound,” an ever-changing kaleidoscope of revolving hues, patterns, shadows and colors splashing the Cathedral’s Gothic architecture, provided unique and stunning views for hundreds of visitors.

Attendees were invited to prayer and introspection while accompanied by soothing sounds of the harp and flute.Or people could simply sit, lie or wander in awe throughout the nave. At 8:45 p.m., the sanctuary was cleared of visitors so that we could set up our tripods and photograph the cavernous sanctuary devoid of chairs and people. Visiting the open and empty Cathedral was a special and rare opportunity, but to experience its open spaces glowing with myriad colors was truly exquisite and humbling.

The Washington National Cathedral is open to, and welcomes, all persons regardless of denomination, nationality, or personal beliefs. Look for next year’s announcement of “Seeing Deeper” in January 2019 or to get more information about the Washington National Cathedral’s many programs here. Photos/write-up: Mark Caicedo

Photo: Courtesy of Slate
Photo: Courtesy of Slate

Dick Cavett Takes the Cake at The Watergate

Slow Burn begins with a story that you’ve likely never heard, according to show host Leon Neyfakh. A few days after the Watergate break-in in 1972, Martha Mitchell was held as a prisoner for several days by Nixon acolytes for knowing too much.

When she did share her story, she was dismissed as deranged, and it wasn’t until years later that she was vindicated. Thus we now have the “Martha Mitchell Effect” – the process by which a mental health clinician labels a patient’s accurate perception of real events as delusional.

Slow Burn is a podcast about Watergate produced by Slate, and on it, Neyfakh shares this and other such stories. The show gives a sense of what it was like to live through Watergate – not knowing that it would lead to Nixon’s disgraceful resignation.

To that end, Neyfakh talks with those who experienced it firsthand, and incorporates some of these interviews into the show. This has included his interview with comedian and eponymous talk show host Dick Cavett.

“I must say, I miss it terribly,” Cavett said.

He compared the Watergate era to a trip you might get to take to Paris when you’re young that you’ll never get to relive.  

“You can never get back to that wonderful feeling.”

On February 8, Cavett joined Neyfakh at The Watergate Hotel itself for a live taping of the podcast, during which they had an open conversation about that wonderful and often scary feeling.

The two were joined by Susan Glasser of Politico, Elizabeth Drew, who reported on Watergate at the time for the New York Times, and Evan Thomas, the author of the Nixon biography Being Nixon: A Man Divided. Of course, in the case of Neyfakh and Glasser, what it was like to live through Watergate was more of a speculative question.

Each had their salient points and insights to share; however, Cavett’s stories and one liners tended to steal the show. Cavett, on his show, was one of the first people to begin talking about Watergate, and Nixon came to despise him for it.

Nixon’s malice toward Cavett even comes out on the White House tapesand Cavett said that now whenever he’s feeling down, he goes and listens to that snippet of Nixon asking, “How can we screw him?

Cavett also shared contemporaneous jokes.

“Nixon was the kind of guy that if you fell overboard and were 20 feet from shore, he would throw you a 15 foot line. And [Henry] Kissinger [Nixon’s Secretary of State] would announce that Nixon had met you more than halfway.”

On the show, Neyfakh, excluding one or two asides, steered the conversation away from parallels to life under Trump; however, at the Watergate, the panel openly discussed the extent to which Nixon and Trump could be compared.

Slate certainly knew their audience, for the turn in discussion was well met by the crowd. Neyfakh also described a sense of relief in being able to talk about it openly. I think on both sides, it felt like getting to the heart of the matter.

But some of the comparisons drawn were more superficial (e.g., the contrast between Nixon’s reading habits and those of Trump). Nixon read whole libraries whereas Trump, as Cavett puts it in a tweet:

“A: Imagine Donald Trump’s library.”

“B: You’d have to.”

Cavett also didn’t miss a beat when Glasser began to discuss the contrast between the linear progression that was Watergate and the upside down world of life under Trump.

“Trump came in like an asteroid,” Glasser said.

“I’m sorry, what kind of an ass?” Cavett asked.

“I’ll play your straight man,” Glasser responded.

Perhaps some of the strongest points had to do with the extent to which Nixon and Trump are both insular, and those who have their ear might stand even further outside the norm. 

The emphasis on what it was like to live through Watergate felt germane as well. I was able to speak with Neyfakh over the phone several days before the event, and he said much the same.

“The extreme tension and frankly despair for the country paired with a sense of curiosity, of amusement, the fact that those two things could coexist and be felt in equal measure – I think that’s something that people today can identify with.”

In our conversation, Neyfakh also described the impetus for making the show.

“We were all overwhelmed with the news and with the feeling that we were living in objectively precarious times – when you feel like you can wake up and not know what’s going to happen or what the alert on your phone is going to say. And so Watergate is the last time the country went through this on this scale. So we thought that going back and capturing that experience would give us some perspective on our own experience, and I think that’s panned out.”

When I asked him what the most surprising thing he encountered in his research was, he had two answers. The first of these I’ll leave for the end, but the second had to do with another point emphasized at the live show: Watergate never necessarily had to become Watergate.

“I think the bigger thing I had no appreciation for was how long it took. I knew the dates, but I didn’t have an appreciation for how many steps there were along the way, and how many forks in the road there were in which the country went one way and it could have gone another. And to realize that this story did not have a foregone conclusion, that it was never inevitable that Nixon would have to resign under pressure with the threat of certain impeachment looming over him if he didn’t.”

The other surprise Neyfakh left me to chew on was Nixon’s breakfast of choice: cottage cheese and ketchup. Yuck. Add some aspic next time, Dick.

You can listen to Slow Burn on iTunes, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts. And keep an eye open for season two; Neyfakh revealed at the live event that it will follow the impeachment of Bill Clinton.

Photos: Michael Loria
Photos: Michael Loria

Americans at the National Museum of the American Indian

The main gallery space of “Americans,” a new long-term exhibit at the National Museum of the American Indian, has the immersive feel of Nam June Paik’s “Megatron/Matrix” at the Smithsonian Museum of American Art on F Street. Though it isn’t frenetic like Paik’s field of TVs, “Americans” is still mesmerizing, and has the same quality of making familiar objects appear strange.

“Americans” doesn’t read like a typical museum exhibit, and the feeling it leaves you with is quite different as well. This is due to the question that the exhibit poses, which museum director Kevin Gover shared in an exhibit preview before the public opening on January 18. 

“American Indian images, words and stories are all around. Why?”

The exhibit goes into the commonly referenced American Indian stories of Pocahontas, Little Big Horn, The Trail of Tears and Thanksgiving, but it’s the main gallery space that has the most palpable effect, and which so plainly encapsulates Gover’s words.

View from main gallery space.

Stand in the center of the main gallery space, and all around you will see how American Indian imagery is ubiquitous in American branding and how American Indian words are ubiquitous in American geography. You will see countless schools and spirits that take their imagery from American Indians, and there’s even a poster of Cher in an American Indian headdress.

Granted, many of the objects on display come from an older generation, but there are so many more which we encounter still, including Land O’Lakes butter, any number of sports teams (the Washington team chief among them), American Spirit cigarettes and, on the wall, there’s even a deactivated Tomahawk missile.

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest plays at one end of the gallery

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest playing in the gallery

The side galleries that go into the aforementioned stories are very interesting and enlightening (e.g., did you know that John Smith was a fabulist and Pocahontas likely never saved his life in so dramatic a fashion, but that her marriage to John Rolfe still saved the life of the colony?) But it’s the main gallery space that is not to be missed.

The main gallery even made me reconsider my Hydro Flask canteen, which I was drinking from during the preview. There isn’t anything particularly American Indian about Hydro Flask, but it’s the Wyoming state sticker on my canteen that gave me pause.

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The sticker depicts a bison, and what is that bison but a synecdoche for American Indian imagery otherwise? Will I remove it? No, probably not. I have the sticker because it reminds me of a summer spent camping with friends in Wyoming and Utah, and that reason still stands. But I also won’t ever look at my canteen in a so “la vie en rose” way again.

“Americans” is on view every day from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Learn more about the exhibit here

National Museum of the American Indian: 4th Street and Independence Avenue in SW, DC; 202-633-1000; www.nmai.si.edu

"The last image of an american indian i saw was i looked in the mirror"

“The last image of an American Indian I saw was when I looked in the mirror.”

Pictured: Ophira Eisenberg/Photo: Andrew Boyle Photography
Pictured: Ophira Eisenberg/Photo: Andrew Boyle Photography

Radio Game Shows Offer Escape from Reality, the Nerdy (Read: DC) Way

Information overload. Saturated media market. Stimulus fatigue. Call it what you will, but especially over the past year, many readers and media consumers have felt varying degrees of stress associated with choosing where, when and how often to engage with news and information sources, including which outlets they “trust,” which they prefer and which they feel comfortable supporting.

To stay sane, I personally choose to limit the time I spend diving down the rabbit hole of Internet media, and instead focus on an hour or so of public media radio and podcast programming each day. In this way, I feel like I am exposed to a mix of critical news pieces, diverse voices and entertainment.

Through some very informational research – a.k.a. individual conversations and a Facebook poll – I asked people in my network what kind of public media programs, specifically those offered on NPR, they are drawn to. It wasn’t surprising to me to see many favorite programs and hosts were the ones presented on geographically local affiliate stations – for example, here in DC, The Kojo Nnamdi Show, The Diane Rehm Show and 1A topped people’s lists, while in the Philly area, Fresh Air was overwhelmingly popular. The revelation makes sense: we are interested in and connect more easily to what is happening in our immediate communities.

But many also mentioned variety and game show-type programs, like Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me!, as second favorites. These fall under what appears to be an increasingly popular category of programming that satisfies both the information-seeking and playful parts of our brain. In other words, if we can skip the “fake news” debate and instead laugh along as a contestant tries to “name that tune” about say, megalomaniacal dictators, we are less prone to feeling overwhelmed by news and more apt to engage. Comedy is a great equalizer. Ophira Eisenberg, a comedian, storyteller and host of NPR’s Ask Me Another, understands this well.

“We’re a light show,” she says. “We’re truly escapist.”

Eisenberg has been the host for the program, accompanied by musician Jonathan Coulton, since it began five years ago. Then program director Eric Newsome and the game writers “were hellbent on finding a female trivia host – which, what a great initiative that was,” Eisenberg says.

Ask Me Another is like bar trivia meets Nerd Nite, and part of its success is in the element of surprise. While contestants are pre-vetted, the show is recorded live, so neither the host nor the listeners know what to expect.

“What’s happening onstage, there is so much of what you hear that is spontaneous,” Eisenberg says. “It is not written. So that’s [what is appealing] to me: the excitement that we get to capture that. We get these contestants onstage that I’ve never met, they’ve never met me and we are in this very odd and sort of accelerated reality because we’re playing a game show. So we’re in this altered reality where we chat and hang out onstage, and I really think it brings out the coolest aspects of people.”

In addition to suspending reality for a moment, another major appeal to listeners is the chance to hear notable guests – each show also features a VIP contestant, a writer, artist, musician, scientist, politician or other public figure – be interviewed in a way that humanizes them, aka they play the games along with the host and audience.

During roadshows, the production team tries to tie the VIP guest thematically to the city where they’ll be taping. Ask Me Another is on the road in DC this week live at the Warner Theatre, featuring astronaut Chris Hatfield as the special guest.

“There was some talk about getting someone who works in politics,” Eisenberg says. “But then we thought, can we do something that’s just a little bit of a left turn because maybe people want a break from that?”

We in the DMV could definitely use a break from political themes and, it seems, that’s exactly why we tune in. After all, we’re dying to know: when you cry in space, the tears stick to your face, but what if you sob? Is every cry in space an ugly cry?

NPR’s Ask Me Another with special guest Chris Hatfield will be played live at Warner Theatre on Thursday, February 1. Click here for tickets and more information.

Warner Theatre: 513 13th St. NW, DC; 202-783-4000; www.warnertheatredc.com

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Leading Ladies of the Airwaves Dish on Dreamy Athletes

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, and while you may not have a SO in your life at the moment, you can always put on a Caps game and pretend you’re dating Braden Holtby. Or maybe you do that even if you are in a relationship… Either way, you are not alone in admiring some of today’s most talented – and attractive – professional athletes. Five fierce females in the world of local TV and radio gushed to On Tap about their favorite sports stars, and what makes each of them so crushworthy.


Ashley Laconetti (Photo - Courtesy of Ashley Laconetti)

Ashley Iaconetti, Reporter/podcast host
Access Hollywood, Almost Famous and I Don’t Get It

Crushing on: 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo

Best traits: Strong leader and hard-working

Why she’s crushing: He’s so commanding and encouraging with teammates. He can carry a team. Also, that face…

Perfect date with Jimmy: I’m pretty classic: good food, wine and conversation, ideally somewhere warm and by the water.

Best Valentine’s Day spot in the DMV: Ever since I was a little kid, I’ve wanted to go ice skating at Reston Town Center with a crush and stroll around with hot chocolate.

Where she’d shop for him: Odds are I’d be hitting up some of the athletic wear stores at Tysons Mall.

Find Iaconetti dating and competing on The Bachelor Winter Games this February on ABC, reporting every Tuesday on Access Hollywood on NBC, hosting the Almost Famous and the I Don’t Get It podcasts, and writing for www.cosmopolitan.com. Learn more at www.byashleyi.com.


Julie Wright (Photo - Courtesy of Julie Wright)

Julie Wright, Anchor
Good Morning Washington and NewsChannel8’s Let’s Talk Live

Crushing on: Washington Capitals right wing T.J. Oshie

Why she’s crushing: I’ve had the pleasure of interviewing T.J. a couple of times, and he’s always so easy to talk to. To say that he’s friendly is an understatement. He’s a humble guy, and he really lights up when talking about his family.

On his “it” factor: The thing that makes T.J. so dreamy is that he’s tough on the ice but so smooth in person, [and I] love that about him. He handles his business on the ice but during interviews, he really is just a guy who’s psyched about playing hockey!

What she’s dying to ask him: If I could ask T.J. a personal question, I would ask, “Do you wish for your girls to play hockey?”

Watch Wright on ABC7/WJLA-TV’s Good Morning Washington and NewsChannel8’s Let’s Talk Live, and follow her on Twitter at @thejuliewright.


Elizabethany (Photo - Courtesy of Elizabethany)

Elizabethany, Host
HOT 99.5

Crushing on: Redskins safety D.J. Swearinger

Best traits: My crush is totally on his personality. He’s fun to watch on the field. He always seems amped up, and the energy spreads to the fans and teammates. [It] doesn’t hurt that he makes some big plays.

What she’s dying to ask him: My first very important question would be: Team NSYNC or Team BSB? If I’m only getting one question, we’ve got to figure out the real deal breaker issues.

DC date night spot: I’d want to go to whatever his favorite spot is so that I can get to know him, and so I don’t have to make the decision. Then we can finish up the night with alcoholic milkshakes at Ted’s Bulletin because I’m not sure there’s anything else I need on any given night.

What she’d buy him for Valentine’s Day: It’d be fun to do one of the Smithsonian’s scavenger hunts together or get tickets to zipline, kayak, paddle board or any other outdoor activities to do once it’s warm again.

Why they’re a good match: We’d make a good match on the days he brings home the “W.” My heart is already so affected by Redskins games; it might be dangerous to get that much closer to it all. What if he breaks my heart in all of the ways?!

Catch Elizabethany on HOT 99.5 from 2-7 p.m. every day, and on Mondays with the station’s new “Monday Motivation Mix.” Follow Elizabethany online at @luvelizabethany.


Aly Jacobs (Photo - Stacy Zarin Goldberg, Makeup - Valerie Hammer Makeup Artistry and Hair - Anna Fazio)

Aly Jacobs
Media personality & former radio host
98.7 WMZQ and Mix107.3

 Athlete crush: Washington Wizards point guard John Wall

Why she’s crushing: He’s got swag and confidence. Oh, and he’s not bad to look at either.

Best traits: He’s fearless on the court and has a lot of heart. It’s admirable to see all [of his] charitable work – from his Light the Night Walk to the John Wall Foundation, he’s always giving back to the community.

Why he’s a star athlete: His speed and his vision on the court

Perfect date night: Well, it would have to be a date that my husband is invited to since he is just as much of a fan as I am. Bowling with John Wall would be pretty awesome.

Where she’d shop for him: I know he’s a fashion guy, so I would say Tysons for a custom suit.

Follow Jacobs on Twitter at @alyjacobs727 and Instagram at @alyjacobs.


Kelly Collis (Photo - Courtesy of Kelly Collis)

Kelly Collis
Co-host on 94.7 Fresh FM’s The Tommy Show

Athlete crush: Washington Nationals

Why the team love: I have an interesting love affair with the team. I have raised my kids since they were in diapers to love baseball and now that they are teenagers, it is one of our favorite activities to do as a family. There is nothing better than a Saturday night game in the middle of the summer!

Best traits: Their ability to have games that make you proud to be a fan. I was there for Zimmermann’s no-hitter and Scherzer’s 20 strikeouts. I was there when they clinched the playoffs in 2017. Those memories are the best.

On who stands out the most on the team: Ryan Zimmerman, the heart and the unofficial captain of the team. He has been with the team since the beginning, he had an incredible season in 2017 and [he’s] one of the few players to really put his roots into the DC community.

What she’d give the team for Valentine’s Day: An extension in Bryce Harper’s contract

Find Collis every weekday morning with Tommy McFly and Jen Richer on The Tommy Show from 5-10 a.m. on 94.7 Fresh FM, and follow her on
Twitter at @cityshopgirl.

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JD Deardourff, the Artist Behind Uncanny Fantastic

SPACE4, a shipping container converted into an art gallery, is now home to artist JD Deardourff‘s body of work. His exhibit, “Uncanny Fantastic,” is a collection of abstract collages inspired by comic book imagery. Deardourff’s comic-style pieces are now firmly supplanted in Union Market, as the mobile art space continues its mission to relocate to unconventional venues across DC. We recently caught up with Deardourff about his inspirations and furry assistants.

On Tap: Tell us a little about yourself. I had trouble finding much online.
JD Deardourff: So, the reason there’s not that much about me online right now is because my website is down, which is a bummer. But I’m from Virginia, and then I went to Davidson College in North Carolina, and then I transferred from there to the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. I graduated in 2012 and moved back to DC, and I’ve been an artist/working odd jobs here ever since.

OT: When you say Virginia, I assume you mean Northern Virginia?
JD: Yeah, so my mom was actually the headmistress at the girls’ boarding school Madeira. I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of it.

OT: Oh yeah, I used to drive by there when I was younger. How did you get into comic books and making art?
JD: That’s a good one. I think I was always sort of doing it, but with this body of work […] I was making art in art school that, in retrospect seems sort of emo or weird. [But] then I wanted to make artwork that I liked, and I’ve always liked comic books, so I started to make collages from comic books.

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OT: So “Uncanny Fantastic” is collage work then?
JD: Well, it’s sort of a screen-printed comic book based on collages of comic book imagery. Basically, I was making these larger pieces of comic book-inspired artwork, and it seemed like an obvious but also necessary next step to put it into a physical comic book.

OT: That makes sense. Is there a story to it?
JD: Well, there are no words. It’s abstract. [But] I think there’s sort of a narrative. There’s a flow in the way colors and imagery repeat. And there’s a sort of crescendo in the middle to some extent, but there’s no real story.

OT: So where does the title come from?
JD: It’s a combination of…all superheroes are like the Amazing Spiderman or the Incredible Hulk. So, it’s like the Uncanny X-Men and the Fantastic Four. It’s [the] two adjectives combined. I guess “Fantastic” is functioning as a noun in the situation.

OT: Do you have any favorite comic books stores around the city?
JD: I feel bad alienating one or the other. But Fantom Comics in Dupont is the best store. I go to all the comic stores, but Fantom has the best community. They have lots of events and there’s always people hanging out there, like nerds talking about nerdy stuff.

OT: Your exhibit accompanies a book release of Uncanny Fantastic. Is this on Fantom Comics’ radar? 
JD: Yes. I have a pretty good relationship with them. I do screen-printing services for them pretty often.

OT: Are there any galleries you like to stop in?
JD: Well obviously, whatever CulturalDC is doing. But Transformer is one of my favorite galleries. I really like Hemphill. And I like the WPA [Washington Project for the Arts]. Those are the ones I always go to for openings.

OT: Your dog is a recurring character on your Instagram feed. Could you tell us about your dog?
JD: My dog Bruce is a Bernedoodle. He’s like my assistant. He comes with me to my studio and when I’m painting murals and stuff. I live in Petworth and we go to Rock Creek Park a lot to hike around. Those are his favorite activities. But I also take him to the National Gallery from time to time, and the Phillips Collection.

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OT: Are you allowed to bring dogs in there?
JD: Technically no, but he counts as a service dog. I sneak him in. [Laughs]

OT: Do you have any murals in the city?
JD: I do. There’s one in a restaurant called Honeygrow in Chinatown. There’s one that I did for Pow! Wow! DC, which is like a mural festival, and that’s on the corner of First and Pierce in NoMa. Those are the only two that are open to the public. There are a couple others in apartment buildings. My next project is one I’m doing on the bottom of a pool for a building called Central in Silver Spring. And then I’m working on one for this place on 14th. And there’s another one I’m actually doing with CulturalDC, which is next to the Hyatt Hotel on the corner of 23rd and Virginia. Those are the three upcoming ones.

OT: What else do you have coming up?
JD: The community workshops, which will be open to the public. They’re going to be hands-on screen-printing demonstrations, and right now I think the idea is that people will print the last layer of a poster [that] they can take with them. Another part of the exhibit is that the artwork is wheat pasted onto the walls, which is like a homemade glue. So, I think I’m also going to include a wheat paste demonstration. Yeah, screen printing and wheat pasting.

OT: Is the artwork all taken from the book?
JD: Some of it. There’s a crossover for sure. I would say the exhibit is all the work I’ve done for the past four years, and the book is selections of that work.

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JD’s “Uncanny Fantastic” exhibit will be on display in SPACE4 at Union Market through February 23. You can find him selling copies of the Uncanny Fantastic book there, or look for him around the city painting murals with his Bernedoodle Bruce. The gallery is open Wednesday through Friday, 12-8 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday, 10 a.m. – 8 p.m. Admission is free.

For more on JD, follow him on Instagram here. For more on SPACE4 and CulturalDC, click here

Union Market: 1309 5th St. NE, DC; 301-347-3998; www.unionmarketdc.com

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DC Tattoo Expo 2018

The DC Tattoo Expo was held from January 12-14 at the Crystal Gateway Marriott in Arlington, Virginia, once again featuring a score of talented tattoo artists from around the country. Whether you were in the market for ink, prints or even some graphic street wear, the expo featured vendors for nearly any and all things tattoo. Photos / Write-up: Trent Johnson

Photo: Denizens Brewing Co.'s Facebook page
Photo: Denizens Brewing Co.'s Facebook page

Denizens Brewing Co. Highlights Forgotten Causes A Year After Trump’s Inauguration

Denizens Brewing Co. has one message for the Trump administration: we’re still here.

Denizens General Manager Stephanie Nale says she saw many people come together and congregate at the brewery when Donald Trump was inaugurated, marking a time that saw great division among different groups. To reignite that unity, the brewery wanted to host a celebration and gather people together again, but also to celebrate the causes that Denizens feels the Trump administration has ignored – whether that be women, immigrants or climate change, to name a few.

To remind the administration that these groups and their supports are not going anywhere, Denizens will be hosting the four-day event “We’re Still Here.” From Thursday, January 18 through Sunday, January 21, the brewery will put a spotlight on a different organization each day with a focus on DMV chapters, and donate 10 percent of that day’s profit to that organization.

Thursday’s featured organization will be Ayuda, a DMV-based, immigration-focused organization; Friday will be Planned Parenthood of Metropolitan Washington; Saturday will be ACLU, an organization that protects and defends rights and liberties guaranteed by the Constitution; and Sunday will be the Climate Reality Project.

“These organizations [are] some we’ve supported before, and some of them we are just continuously standing behind and we want to give them a chance to shine within our own community,” Nale says.

Each day of the event will have information about the cause-of-the-day spread throughout the taproom, whether it’s people from that organization talking to patrons or literature available to read. In addition, Denizens will be releasing a new beer in celebration of the weekend.

Denizens prides itself on being a place where everybody is welcome, and Nale says she hopes this event will unite people together again, as they were a year ago, and spark healthy conversations where people can feel free to voice their thoughts.

“We do definitely have our own opinions” Nale says. “We don’t force [them] upon anybody; we really try to make that clear. But we’re also not going to be afraid to say, ‘Hey, these are the things we do believe in.’ So just come and join us, and hopefully we can start a conversation.”

Visit Denizens Brewing Co. from January 18-21 to take part in their “We’re Still Here” event. Entry is free.

Denizens Brewing Co.: 1115 East-West Hwy. Silver Spring, MD; 301-557-9818; www.denizensbrewingco.com

Photo: www.nmwa.org
Photo: www.nmwa.org

Seeing the Invisible at the National Museum of Women in the Arts

Set over a gold-colored background, lines of red and blue seem to pulse from the center to the edge of the canvas in Mildred Thompson’s Magnetic Fields (1991). It’s one of the first paintings on view in the National Museum of Women in the Arts’ current exhibit, which runs through January 21, and it is also the inspiration for the exhibit title: Magnetic Fields: Expanding American Abstraction, 1960s to Today.

Virginia Treanor, the museum’s associate curator, tells me that she and her team were inspired by the way Thompson renders the invisible in her painting, and wanted to do the same with the exhibit – that is, make visible the work of black women abstractionists. The exhibit was originally designed by curators at the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art in Kansas City, Missouri, and features 21 artists. Magnetic Fields broadens notions of what abstract art can look like, what it can say and who can practice it.

The works in the exhibit were chosen for the way that they could be perceived as in dialogue with one another. For the works of Abigail Deville and Mavis Pusey, in Harlem Flag (2014) and Dejygea (1970) respectively, that dialogue is about New York, though both speak to such different things and in such different forms.

Deville’s Harlem Flag looks as if it might carry infection. It’s composed of detritus Deville found walking through Harlem and later treated. The flag in the title comes from the American flag, which Deville found, and it’s lost almost all of its color to the amount of sewage it’s seen. The work captures Harlem when for the first time, it was no longer predominantly black.

Pusey’s Dejygea is more classically abstract. It’s an oil on canvas, composed of abstract shapes. Like Deville’s Harlem Flag, it speaks to her personal experience in New York, but only to the extent that she was fascinated by the constant construction she saw going on when she moved to the city from rural Jamaica. Dejygea also shows how art by a minority artist can have little or nothing to do with identity, unless that’s the artist’s intention.

Two works from Mary Lovelace O’Neal and Shinique Smith, Racism is Like Rain, Either it’s Raining or it’s Gathering Somewhere (1993) and Bale Variant No. 0017 (2009) respectively, are often interpreted as being about identity, but these do not speak about the same thing so much as they speak in the same, almost tongue-in-cheek way.

O’Neal’s large-scale acrylic and mixed media on canvas gives nods to both minimalism and abstract expressionism by being one-half flurry of vibrant gestural painting and one-half solid black. Taken as a whole, though, the piece is an evocative representation of its title.

Smith’s Bale Variant No. 0017 is also often interpreted as being inspired by her identity as a black woman. Her sculpture is a massive cube made from what looks like laundry held together with twine. The clothing is assumed to be an allusion to the cotton trade in the U.S. and slavery, but rather, she says that her intent was to make the piece more about her identity as an American.

“The way we cast off and consume materials is very unique to us.”

She complicates the work’s meaning by using the clothing of family members and lovers. At the same, there’s a subtext in her choice of both a cube and fabrics as her material. With regards to the former, she winks at minimalism in making a cube, but such a messy cube; and with regards to the latter, she undermines the idea of sculpture as a masculine medium in her use of fabric as her material.

These works are on view, along with many others, at the National Museum of Women in the ArtsMagnetic Fields: Expanding American Abstraction, 1960s to Today through January 21. Come Wednesday, January 17 at noon for a 30-minute guided tour of the gallery. And see one of the featured artists, Maren Hassinger, speak about her work in the exhibit on Friday, January 19 at 1 p.m.

National Museum of Women in the Arts: 1250 New York Ave NW, DC; 202-783-5000; www.nmwa.org

Photo: Farrah Skeiky
Photo: Farrah Skeiky

LinguaLink DC’s Verbal Virtuoso

At just seven years old, German-born Marike Korn was already an English language teacher. It started small, helping her parents learn how to read English in their family living room, and later as a teenager, teaching her friends.

Since then, Korn has taken teaching to a whole new level. She’s the founder and sole coach of LinguaLink DC, a company that teaches English. Professionals from all over the world who find themselves in DC come to Korn, who speaks three languages and has a working knowledge of four others, in order to improve their English skills in their field of work.

But Korn’s teaching methods are not your average language lesson. For every new student that comes along, Korn customizes English lessons that are unique to the individual, strongly believing that no two people learn exactly the same way.

“I just firmly believe, especially when it comes to learning, that every single person learns differently,” Korn says. “We have different backgrounds, approaches and interests, and our first language also has an effect on how we learn another language.”

And Korn’s seen it all. She’s taught English to people from almost every non-English speaking country in the world – everyone from refugees to doctors – including some who were not even literate in their own language.

More than just a trained English teacher, Korn also pursued American studies and received a master’s in political science, with a specialization in U.S. domestic and foreign policy and international relations. Needless to say, she knows as much about being American as those born and raised in the States.

“It’s the perfect package for what I do,” Korn says, as most of her students are diplomats and international professionals.

For some of us (like myself) who had to sit through Spanish class repeating after the teacher and learning grammar that seems impractical for a beginner, it can be difficult to understand how someone like Korn could learn and teach languages so easily. So what does Korn tell her students when learning a language feels like a chore?

“Visualize how beautiful your future will be with you achieving [your] goals.”

For example, she says, imagine ordering Chinese food in front of your partner and impressing them.

“As soon as you fall in love with a language, it’s so much easier to learn it. As soon as you start associating beautiful memories with it, then you kind of embrace it in a way. And as soon as you understand it’s not just a tool, it’s so much more fun.”

She also recommends getting a language app like Duolingo, at least for languages with easier grammar like Romance languages, and practicing at least 15 minutes a day.

“You have to be disciplined,” she says.

She also advises exposing yourself to the language as much as possible, like watching movies with subtitles or going to exhibits. She says ultimately, you need a teacher if you truly want to speak another language.

So how does one get a job like Korn’s? She says there is no easy answer as she has formed her company around her skill set, but having a degree in English as a second language is necessary. Who you are teaching also plays a part.

Korn says it is important to be able to keep up with the industry that your student is a part of, as often times these people are already at a high level of English and only need help with industry lingo. Lastly, she says having a passion for people is vital.

“A language is not just a tool, it’s so much more. It’s about building connections with other human beings; it’s about building bridges between countries and culture. It’s something that I think could make our world a better place – understanding each other.”

For more information about Korn and LinguaLink DC, visit here.