It may surprise some, but Washington, DC, has a funky, alternative side, and yesterday it was on grand display at the 26th annual Halloween High Heel Race. Guys in drag (and some women in costume, too) vamped their way down 17th Street in the Dupont Circle neighborhood for two hours before the race was run, posing for photos with spectators and giving news interviews to the press. Most wore heels of varying heights, many spiked and VERY high. The race itself included runners, walkers, and those who casually sashayed to the finish line. Usually held on the Tuesday before Halloween, the race was postponed this year due to Hurricane Sandy, but thankfully not cancelled.
November 3, 2012
September 12, 2012
Hillwood Museum and Gardens, the former home of the General Foods Corporation heiress Marjorie Merriweather Post, is currently showing an exhibition of paperworks by Isabelle de Borchgrave inspired by historic costumes and dresses. Trims, ribbons, buttons and even the lace on each outfit are all fashioned from various papers, painted in a trompe-l’oeil fashion to imitate the textiles of the period. Several of the dresses are displayed within the furnished rooms of the Hillwood Mansion, while others are shown in a more contemporary gallery setting within the Adirondack Building on the grounds. Definitely worth a visit when in the Washington, DC, area, the exhibition continues through December 30, 2012.
March 26, 2012
To celebrate the National Cherry Blossom Festival and the 100th anniversary of Japan’s gift of cherry trees to our nation’s capital, the National Building Museum commissioned artist and paper engineer Carol Barton to design do-it-yourself pop-ups that kids (and adults) could make at the event this past weekend. A pop-up Japanese Tea House and a pop-up of the Miajima Torii Gate were among the projects. Both were given out free to the crowd, along with instructions on how to cut out and assemble them. Volunteers helped with the assembly process, and everyone seemed pleased with their take-home pop-up souvenirs.
To make your own Japanese Cherry Blossom Festival pop-ups, download the designs and directions from www.cherryblossompopup.com, print them onto card stock paper and glue them together. The trees have already lost their blossom due to this year’s early spring, but you’ll have the pop-ups to remember them by.
November 10, 2011
Aside from Washington, D.C.’s impressive monuments, museums, and libraries, our nation’s capitol has a thriving theater community. The Synetic Theater Company is one of the city’s theatrical treasures. Billed as “physical theater,” most of its performances are wordless interpretations of great dramas, combining mime, dance, and acrobatics with amazing sets, props, and costumes. This season’s Speak No More silent Shakespeare Festival features three plays, MacBeth, Othello, and Romeo and Juliet.
The idea of a silent performance of Shakespeare may seem to run counter to the Bard’s emphasis on words and dialogue, but Synetic’s performances work on an intuitive level, using the universal languages of movement and art to convey the essential meaning of the plays. The company has also mounted performances of Dracula, King Arthur, Frankenstein, and our favorite, The Master and Margarita with actors posing as manuscripts in costumes of hand-written text.
Founded in 2001 by Paata and Irina Tsikurishvili from the Republic of Georgia, the company’s experimental approach to theater is a joy to experience. Washington visitors should definitely add a Synetic performance to their list of must-see D.C. attractions.
October 7, 2011
Last week we at Popular Kinetics visited one of our favorite events in Washington, D.C., the 2011 Solar Decathlon. Featuring 19 solar-powered homes designed by teams of architecture, design, and engineering students at prominent universities from around the world, the houses were on display for 10 days at a site along the Potomac River between the Lincoln and Jefferson Memorials. The houses compete in 10 contests testing their energy efficiency and evaluating their affordability and design features. Visitors are invited to tour the houses, and students are available to answer questions.
Although Popular Kinetics is focused on paper engineering, we get many of our ideas by studying architectural and engineering strategies developed in cutting-edge projects such as these.
This year’s winner was our home-state University of Maryland entry, which focused on water management inspired by the Chesapeake Bay’s ecosystem. Congratulations, Team Maryland!
For more information on the Decathlon, visit www.solardecathlon.gov
June 15, 2010
To all of you pop-up and paper engineering enthusiasts out there, start planning your trip to Washington, D.C., this year to see the exhibition “Paper Engineering: Fold, Pull, Pop & Turn.” It’s a little gem of a show nestled in the Smithsonian Libraries Exhibition Gallery on the lower level of the National Museum of American History. (If you enter the museum on the mall side, take the escalator downstairs.) The exhibit traces the history of the paper-engineered book, from its origins in scientific astronomy texts through current pop-up volumes of fantastic complexity. Some of the books you may have in your own pop-up collection, while others are truly rare and stunningly beautiful. Curated by Stephen Van Dyk of New York’s Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum library, the show emphasizes the mechanical aspects of pop-up constructions, with great signage and an engaging video of illustrator Chuck Fischer and paper engineer Bruce Foster at work. Plus there’s a wonderful little catalogue of the show available for free at the entrance.
The show runs through October, 2011, so there’s plenty of time to plan your visit. But don’t put it off too long. You’ll probably want to see it more than once!