Several Lawrence residents were among those making a trip to the nation's capital to see the Vincent van Gogh exhibition.
Editor's note: The Journal-World asked two of the organizers of a recent Lawrence Arts Center tour to see the Vincent van Gogh exhibition in Washington, D.C., to write an article once they returned from the four-day journey. Here is what Ellen Williams, education director at the Lawrence Arts Center, and Louis Copt, a Lawrence artist who served as tour guide, wrote about their adventure.
The seed for the Lawrence Arts Center's Art Quest program and trip to the Vincent van Gogh exhibition in Washington, D.C., was planted last winter.
Artist Louis Copt received a letter from his aunt and uncle with an article from the Washington Post about an upcoming exhibit of van Gogh paintings at the National Gallery of Art in the nation's capital.
"I knew this was a perfect opportunity to get a group together from Lawrence to see the show," Copt said. "A year earlier, I had seen the Vermeer exhibit at the National Gallery and knew how popular the show was and how much publicity it had generated.
"We got up at 4 in the morning and stood in line, which stretched clear around the museum (in sub-freezing temperatures), and we finally got into the show at 1 p.m. It was worth every bit of effort, and I knew that the van Gogh exhibit would prove to be even more popular."
Planning is the key to a successful trip. Ellen Williams, Lawrence Arts Center education director, and Copt spent many hours going over possible itineraries and other events that could be included to offer a well-rounded package.
They teamed with the Lied Center and Chris Armstrong and Staci Menze from Carlson Wagonlit Travel to come up with a program that was affordable but still included several interesting events. Jackie Davis, executive director of the Lied Center, was able to secure a special after-hours tour of the van Gogh exhibit.
The group arrived in Washington the afternoon of Nov. 12 and went straight to the National Gallery, where the visitors were free to roam the other exhibitions and the grounds. At 5:30 p.m., the group toured the van Gogh exhibition. The tour members really appreciated the special after-hours treatment the next day when they saw the lines wrapped around the museum.
After viewing the van Gogh exhibition, the group went on to the Phoenix Park Hotel, located within walking distance of the Mall and Union Station. That evening, everyone was free to do as they pleased for dinner and such.
Nov. 13 was mostly a free day and people took advantage of the time to explore the other memorials and museums, shop in Georgetown and see the various sights, such as the White House and other government buildings. Everyone seemed to use the free time to their advantage and had a great time doing so.
The group met in the lobby that night and shared cabs to the Kennedy Center to see Bobby McFerrin conduct "Porgy and Bess" with the National Symphony Orchestra. Dinner was at the Encore Cafe on the top floor of the Kennedy Center.
On Nov. 14, more than half of the group chose to accompany Copt on a walking tour of the DuPont Circle Gallery area. The first stop was Kramerbooks Cafe, one of the first bookstore/restaurant combinations in the country. The group took time to browse and have lunch before the scheduled gallery talks.
At Gallery 10 Limited, co-director Sabina Carlson talked about the current exhibit of works by New York artist Sydney Hamburger. Hamburger's installation filled several rooms and consisted of assemblages of painted wood, bamboo, bronze and mixed media.
The next stop was the Studio Gallery, where the group was met by artist Andrea Rowe Kraus and gallery director Shira Keyes. Kraus has traveled the world collecting images of markets, which she uses for her acrylic paintings. She combines collage and elements from the photographs to form her compositions.
"My goal on the walking tour was to introduce everyone to a wide variety of art, from traditional to more difficult art, that had to be talked about to be understood," Copt said. "Also, I felt it was important to exercise `working galleries' and hear from working artists trying to exist outside of the museum arena."
After visiting the two galleries, tour members were free to wander on their own and check out the other art spaces in the neighborhood. At 3 p.m. the group met at the Phillips Collection to see the "Winter Impressionists" exhibit. The show has been very popular, as indicated by the massive crowd in the galleries.
The elbow-to-elbow mob only served to drive home how lucky everyone was to see the van Gogh show after hours.
Group members were free to do as they wished that night. Many teamed together to share a special dinner at noted restaurants or walked Georgetown to attend the opening of a show by Wolf Kahn, a well-known landscape artist.
Helping with the tour was familiar for Copt, who worked at Maupintour travel for many years planning and guiding art tours before becoming a full-time artist.
"I am always delighted when I hear people express their amazement at how the original art looks to them," he said. "We are so conditioned to seeing famous artworks in books, posters and on television that once we see them up close and personal, it is as if we are seeing the work for the very first time. I feel that everyone on the trip would agree that there is no substitute for the real thing and it was worth the time and effort.
"Everyone in the group seemed to agree that this was a truly special tour with a special group of people. Even the weather cooperated, with beautiful sunny days and mild temperatures."
In addition to Copt and Williams, others on the trip were Phyllis and Nathan Copt, Ileene Donnelly, Bill and Janet Duncan-O'Neal, Merrill and Ann Evans, Patty Field, Sue Fischman, Barbara Frick, Mary Ellen Graham, Cami and Mary Halloran, Steve and Jane Harrington, Maryam Hjersted, Marilyn Hoecker, Melba Hughes, Nettie and Maurice Joy, Lee Mann, Debra McQueeney, Sara Melling, Staci Menze, Mindy Page, Jack Skeels, Janet and Carolyn Stevenson, Barbara Umholtz, Wes and Eleanor Unruh, Virginia Visser, Trudy Walker and Janet Huesemann.
The Lawrence Arts Center and Copt are planning another trip to the see the Vincent van Gogh exhibition. This time, however, the trip will head west.
The Feb. 19-21 trip will include a viewing of the van Gogh exhibition at the Los Angeles County Museum in Los Angeles and a tour of the Getty Center set in the foothills of the Santa Monica Mountains.
Reservations also are being taken for a "Painting in Paris" trip planned by the arts center and Copt. That trip is scheduled July 7-17.
For more information, call the Lawrence Arts Center at 843-ARTS.
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