On Stage: Wayne Brady Sings the Sammys
Entertainer Wayne Brady brings two musical icons to life with the National Symphony Orchestra Pops.
March 12, 2012
Soul man: Sam Cooke, one of Brady’s muses
Call Wayne Brady merely an entertainer, or categorize him solely as a comedian, and he will correct you, full stop. “I’m a singer, first and foremost,” says Brady, whose critically acclaimed album and Grammy nomination, as well as his smooth soul baritone, lend credence to this statement. However, if you require further proof, we suggest you see Brady during his stopover at The Kennedy Center Concert Hall in March, when he takes the stage for Wayne Brady Sings the Sammys, with the National Symphony Orchestra Pops playing backup. “I’m doing a tribute to the music that I grew up loving and grew up being a fan of; the music that made me want to sing,” says Brady of the show, which highlights the music of the incomparable Sammy Davis Jr. and legendary vocalist Sam Cooke.
“I open with Sammy and close with Sam,” says Brady, who performs this special production only a few times a year at various theaters across the country. “In between I have stories about the songs, how they came about, how they touched me personally. I consider myself a bit of an amateur historian when it comes to these guys, which is why I enjoy this show with such intensity.” For Brady songs like Davis’s “Mr. Bojangles” (“You have to do it with the same spirit that Sammy does it—I give it the respect due”) and “She’s a Woman (W-O-M-A-N)” (“This is where I throw in a touch of improvisation with the audience”) couldn’t be left off the list. Cooke’s portion of the show features hits such as “A Change Is Gonna Come” (“I was nominated for a Grammy for my version”) and “Chain Gang” (“When I was a child, I heard that song, and I knew I wanted to sound like him and follow in his path”).
Brady is currently hard at work on his next album, out in June, a souldriven R&B collection that he dubs “real” music. Despite his gigs as an improvisational comedy whiz and a television host, Brady’s path to the top of the charts is clearly marked in his mind, and he is fearless about listing singer as the headline of his personal catalog. “Sammy had a famous quote: ‘Yes, I can,’ and I really believe in that. My own variation, whenever I contemplate life or my career, is ‘Why not?’ I think Sammy put that in my ear from the time I was a little kid—and it stuck.” Wayne Brady Sings the Sammys runs from March 29 to 31 at The Kennedy Center, 2700 F St. NW, 202- 467-4600
PHOTOGRAPHY BY GETTY IMAGES
Liquefying The Hirshhorn
For artist Doug Aitken, the Hirshhorn Museum itself is the canvas on which he has created his masterpiece.
February 27, 2012
The Hirshhorn’s new “liquid architecture,” by Doug Aitken
It was little more than two years ago when Doug Aitken, an innovative artist with experience in film and video, sculpture, photography, and installation, arrived at the Hirshhorn Museum to discuss a potential project. “We actually had talked about doing a different process with him,” says deputy director and chief curator Kerry Brougher. “When Doug stepped out of the taxi, he said, ‘I have to do a film for this building.’” Shortly thereafter, they scratched the original idea and started brainstorming something bigger—much bigger.
Using 11 high-definition projectors mounted around the exterior of the building, Aitken will transform the Hirshhorn into the star of Independence Avenue with the debut of Song 1, a one-of-a-kind 360° projection that the artist defines as “liquid architecture.”
“The idea is to basically use the building itself, making it vanish, disappear into cinematic space, and for the film to work with the architecture of the building,” Brougher says. Constantly evolving and rotating, the exhibit cannot be viewed from just one stationary point, forcing visitors to circumnavigate the building. “Architecture is thought of as frozen music,” says Brougher. “The building acting as a cinema screen is releasing, in a way, a kind of musical element that will come out of this. Doug is really inventing a whole new kind of vocabulary for the film.”
Coinciding with the 100th anniversary of the National Cherry Blossom Festival, the timing is wonderfully convenient: The festival regularly attracts hundreds of thousands of people to the National Mall each year, a boon to the very nature of the exhibit, which will join the Hirshhorn’s permanent collection. “People on the street can experience contemporary art without even having to enter the building,” says Brougher. Song 1 runs from March 22 to May 13. Aitken will be giving a lecture on opening night at the Hirshhorn; admission is free and first come, first served. Independence Avenue at Seventh Street Southwest, 202-633-1000.
PHOTOGRAPHY COURTESY DOUG AITKEN WORKSHOP
Ballet on Display at The Phillips Collection
Inspired by the masterpiece Dancers at the Barre, a Phillips Collection exhibit showcases the beauty of ballet through the eyes of Edgar Degas.
December 08, 2011
Dancers In Rose by Edgar Degas
Throughout his career, Edgar Degas was drawn to ballet—to the dancers, the positions, the music, and the relentless pursuit of grace and skill. So enthralled was the artist that he produced more than 1,500 works on the subject, culminating in a masterwork: a beautiful blue-and-orange oil painting of two ballerinas entitled Dancers at the Barre, a permanent part of The Phillips Collection. Influenced by the compelling picture, as well as by Degas’s well-documented obsession with the dance form, the Phillips unveiled "Dancers at the Barre: Point and Counterpoint," which has proved immensely popular. The exhibit is centered around the iconic work and encompasses 30 related pieces of art, from bronze sculptures to freehand sketches and stunning oils and pastels—as demonstrated here with Dancers in Rose.
Degas experimented with portraying the dancers’ poses, repeating and refining them over and over again and often exploring them across several works. For example, the position of the dancers, with their arms raised, in Dancers in Rose is a familiar study of Degas’s, who loved to visually intertwine the physique of a ballet dancer and the concept of balance and poise. The group of costumed dancers, captured from just offstage, is lush with color and synchronicity, drawn from the perspective of an artist deeply enamored with one of the most sublime forms of creative expression. As a whole, Point and Counterpoint is a definitive homage to one of the most celebrated Impressionist painters in history. "Degas’s Dancers at the Barre: Point and Counterpoint" runs through January 8, 2012; tickets are $12. The Phillips Collection, 1600 21st St. NW
Making the Cut
In a city as much in the spotlight as Washington, more men are turning toward cosmetic surgery to fight father time.
October 26, 2011
|Dr. Haaki’s advice: Stay true to yourself.|
From the tight-faced women of The Real Housewives of Orange County to the enhanced bosoms of the Jersey Shore gals, women undergoing plastic surgery is more socially rampant than ever. But what about men? While a handful of DC women, such as Fox News personality Greta Van Susteren, are happy to discuss the various nips and tucks that keep them looking fresh, most men tend to be mute on the topic. Of course, that doesn’t mean they aren’t undergoing procedures all the same.
Dr. Ayman Hakki, the founder and CEO of Luxxery, a plastic-surgery office in Maryland (3010 Crain Hwy., Ste. 400, Waldorf, 301-843- 9769) with a walk-in Botox boutique in Georgetown (2141 Wisconsin Ave. NW, 202- 333-9294), notes he has seen a recent increase in men seeking consultation for cosmetic surgery. “Men go for things that make you look different without making you look too different,” Hakki explains. The two most common procedures: eye lifts, and liposuction on their love handles.
“Men wanting to fix their ‘tired’ eyes are the biggest portion of new male clients these days,” says Chevy Chase–based plastic surgeon Dr. Wendell Gordon Miles. “The biggest uptick I have noticed is in men moving up in their careers. The thought of interviewing against younger competitors seems to motivate them to come in for consultations.” The men vary in age, but, as Miles notes, they tend to be in their mid-forties and -fifties. Hakki describes two very distinct groups who come into his office: “super jocks” and “executive types.” The former are military men who need to pass very stringent physical requirements to continue moving forward in their careers. “Their neck and waist measurements need to be certain ratios or they can’t fly,” he says. “We’re talking about men who are in great shape but still have love handles.” Alternately, the executive types get eye lifts or facial Botox in an effort to look younger when competing for jobs. “They feel threatened by the young bucks coming up the ranks,” Hakki says.
Still, the surgeons caution that cosmetic surgery is not a decision to be taken lightly. There are lasting effects on both a patient’s appearance and his wallet. Procedures can alter one’s looks for years to come, and most cost between $5,000 and $10,000— and are not covered by health insurance. Before operating, Hakki sits down with his patients to discuss their decision to get surgery, and occasionally, he spots red flags. For instance, he does not operate on men who have unrealistic expectations of how an eye lift may change their lives. “The man who tells me he is doing it because he thinks he is going to be 18 again, or because his wife is leaving and he wants to win her back, those are the men I turn away gently,” he says. But not all men are going under the knife to recapture their youth. For executives or members of Congress who are constantly in the public eye, getting cosmetic surgery can be a simple public relations decision to improve their looks on camera—that is, as long as it is done right. One local public relations maven recounts the story of a client, a powerful executive, who had a botched eye lift— an unfortunate incident she described as unnatural in its complete symmetry. The PR person had to advise on handling the fallout, as the surgery could obviously not be undone. “He wore contacts, so I advised him to wear glasses until it settled in because the lines of the glasses block the eyelids,” she remembers.
Another option is to stick to non-invasive cosmetic procedures, where local physician Dr. Philip Schoenfeld, founder and medical director of Renu Med Spa, has seen a spike in male clients. “These days, men are entirely more comfortable with the concept,” says Schoenfeld, who adds that most come to his office with their wives and speak freely about the procedures. Schoenfeld is also seeing more men opt for laser hair removal, a relatively quick and painless way to change ones appearance— and a treatment that is becoming increasingly common. “Neck, back, and shoulders are the most popular places. That’s like a manicure these days,” says Schoenfeld of the in-and-out ease of the process. “Let’s face it, hairy backs are out.” But, in general, the advice from professionals is to keep it simple. Man or woman, the idea is to be the best version of yourself—not a completely different self altogether.
PHOTOGRAPH BY GREG POWERS
The rich history of tradition is woven into the fabric of one Textile Museum exhibition.
October 24, 2011
An 18th-century vest used as a covering at an Islamic holy site in Turkey or Egypt
In the 18th century, vests such as the one pictured above, from The Textile Museum’s Second Lives: The Age-Old Art of Recycling Textiles exhibition, were considered the holiest of garments. Made of woven silk, the item was constructed from a much larger piece of the fabric, which was presumably sent by a sultan of the Ottoman Empire and used at holy sites in Mecca and Medina, such as the Kaaba. Once the fabric served its purpose, normally after a year’s time, many were cut and sewn into garments and distributed as holy relics, cherished by pilgrims and loyalists. Beautiful pieces such as these are reason enough to appreciate The Textile Museum, and even more so come 2014, when the museum will move to a custom 35,000-square-foot building on the campus of George Washington University. The collaboration, which was announced this summer, represents a victory for visitors, students, scholars, and those who generally love to admire historic, rare, and uniquely displayed textiles—which are some of the most riveting, if not overlooked, works of art in our nation’s capital. 2320 S. St. NW, 202-667-0441
PHOTOGRAPH BY RENEE COMET/TEXTILE MUSEUM
As You Like It
One Washington contemporary furniture store gets it right by getting personal.
October 19, 2011
A Vastu showroom
Jason Claire detests the word “customized” when it comes to his furniture. As the co-owner of Vastu, on 14th Street Northwest, he prefers the term “personalized,” especially for upholstered pieces like the high platform bed and Madison ottoman, side-by-side in the store’s sleek showroom. “When people hear customized, they think it’s too expensive and that you just get to select fabric and leg style,” says Claire. “We have a seven-step process to personalizing upholstery.”
By personalized, Claire points out that the item is designed to fit the needs of the customer. In the same way a tailor makes a suit, the bed and ottoman are built by hand and can vary in length, width, height, color, fabric, and firmness. Along with standard considerations such as space restrictions, Claire also evaluates lifestyle, including how often his clients read in bed or whether they use hair products. (After all, no one wants to unnecessarily dirty an expertly tailored silk headboard.)
Nothing at Vastu is pre-fabricated. Pieces are made-to-order in the factory of Steven Anthony Inc., a family-owned furniture manufacturer just outside of Los Angeles that has enjoyed an eight-and-a-half-year relationship with Vastu dating to the showroom’s opening. “We help you conceive it. We design it, and he builds it,” says Claire of Anthony. Peruse the Vastu website and you will find the images of the bed and ottoman are of mere skeletons, awaiting infinite design possibilities. The bones are classic-modern, but the fabric and finishes dictate whether the perceived style is traditional, contemporary, or modern—the better to reflect the individuals who buy them.
The platform bed and the ottoman are constructed using eco-friendly materials: The frames are certified sustainable alder hardwood, and the foam padding is made from renewable resources such as organic fire retardants. The bed base is built platform- or box-spring-ready and is made to support either an Eastern king, California king, queen, full, or twin mattress. There are hundreds of fabrics and leathers to choose from, and the dimensions of the headboard, footboard, and legs are all negotiable. No detail is too minute to overlook: Even the type of seam—self-welt, knifeedge, double-stitching, or square-tufting—is yours to choose.
Despite the seemingly limitless possible outcomes, the pieces and their timeless, clean lines all share one common bond. “They will never go out of style,” said Anthony. “You will never tire of looking at them.” 1829 14th St. NW, 202-234-8344
PHOTOGRAPHS BY GREG POWERS
Get Swept Away to Paris
OpenSkies offers a month-long special on a lavish trip to Paris in honor of its third birthday.
June 21, 2011
Gourmet dining service on an OpenSkies flight
All-business airline OpenSkies is celebrating its third birthday by treating customers to special rates on luxurious flights to Paris via Newark, NJ ($799, each way) or Washington, D.C. ($699, each way). The special rates are valid on round-trip, business-class fares booked by June 30 for travel between September 6, 2011 and January 10, 2012. Happily, the special coincides with some of the City of Lights’s most celebrated seasonal events: the fall wine harvest, the Lyon Film Festival and the Paris Autumn Festival. And relaxing in 140-degree reclining seats outfitted with a universal electrical outlet and personal entertainment system available on OpenSkies flights makes getting to these whirlwind events even sweeter. C’est la vie!
Zenergy combines yoga and cardio.
May 20, 2011
If yoga and strength training met and got together, their progeny would be Zenergy, the first signature class from DC’s branch of The Sports Club/LA. Combining the benefits of yoga poses with power athletic moves, Zenergy is all about building strength and balance while encouraging an overall mind-and-body experience. It’s the best of both worlds: the peace and tranquility of a great yoga class, plus the elevated heart rate and extra caloric burn of a solid workout. 1170 22nd St. NW; thesportsclubla.com
Check out these bullet-like earphones.
April 22, 2011
Sticking titanium-coated bullets in your ears doesn’t sound like a pleasant experience, but leave it to Munitio, a powerhouse of a specialtysound company, to create the world’s first SITi (standard issue titanium) nine-millimeter earphones in a one-of-a-kind bullet casing ($159– $179). Combining radical design with superior sound quality, these may just blow your mind. Palace5ive, 2216 14th St. NW; palace5ive.com
The Phillips Collection Hosts Guston
Catch "Philip Guston," Roma"—you'll be glad you did.
April 08, 2011
CLOCKWISE FROM RIGHT: A scene from La Dolce Vita; two works by Philip Guston
We highly recommend you make time for a visit to "Philip Guston, Roma" at the Phillips Collection (through May 15), the only stop in the United States for the exhibit. The pinkish and flesh-toned hues of Guston’s paintings, and their pared-down forms, tell the story of the artist’s evolution during the latter part of his career. Turned off by staid interpretations of Abstract Expressionism, Guston, a renowned painter, opted instead to express himself in a more cartoonish style during the late ’60s, free from restriction and comparison.
The resulting work was unfortunately panned by critics, which led Guston—fortuitously, as it turned out—to flee to Italy and nurse his wounded ego at the American Academy in Rome. Guston’s stay in Italy, from 1970 to 1971, produced a plethora of new paintings, inspired by all things Italian: Fellini films, frescoes, the nature of the country’s gardens and the people of its piazzas. Entangled with his simmering feelings about America, these thoughtful works, about 40 in all, celebrate Guston’s rebellious and ultimately successful move away from popular genres and into his own definition of modern art. The exhibit is a chance to see the metamorphosis of an artist as he enters the last and final phase of his painting. Through May 15
Celebrating the White House Correspondents’ Association’s annual dinner at Carnegie Library.