Summertime blues and boredom have gotten me surfing the web for ideas on how in the world we can get out of this house and explore something new and exciting. We live in this vibrant area – in one direction you have Washington, DC, then drive north and you run into Baltimore, Maryland! I grew up in Virginia, and there are still places I haven’t seen in this metropolitan mecca. So with a Saturday of rest under our belts, we decided to head to the museums in the city after church. It was a late start, but it was a tad spontaneous — I mean, we did go home and change out of our ‘Sunday’s best’ after all — yet it still qualified as an adventure!
A classmate had mentioned that the Smithsonian Museum of American Art was showing “The Art of Video Games” exhibit through September. It wasn’t a mind-numbing electronic device — no, no… it was a trip to the museum disguised as a video game! This was perfect! So the, “What? We have to go walk around in the heat to boring museums?” morphed into, “Cool!!! Are we there yet?” It was magical… I was even a little excited about it myself. One area of graphic art that I have been intrigued by is 3D gaming animation. I was able to get some introduction to creating a 3-dimensional space in my last summer course, but I would like to delve deeper into that virtual arena… especially with its dynamic rate of innovation! I feel like Marty McFly hanging onto the bumper of technology with sparks shooting out from under my skateboard! Well, if you think that last reference dates me, take a look at where the genesis of video gaming began with me… That’s right, “Era 1″… bring on your “Pac Man”, the “Space Invaders” and “Break Out!” Those were the days, alright… when the characters were subtle and the audio was muddled. Fast forward thirty years, and I am watching my children flailing their arms about while bringing their Miis to life in a virtual game space. I wonder what the next 30 years will bring… Will we be installing a Holodeck in our basement for our grandchildren? Fortunately, we’re not there yet, so I have time to savvy myself up to speed with the young-un’s and to jump into this genre of illustration.
While the exhibit was a fun stride down memory lane, it was much smaller than we anticipated. Three virtual stations were available to people who wanted to showcase their gaming skills in public, with a loOong line of hopeful players watching on. There were probably three small rooms with video interviews sporadically mounted throughout the exhibit — none of which I was able to hear well with the crowds. So the obvious lesson learned here was, don’t visit on the weekend unless absolutely necessary… and if it IS the only time you can go, try to get there when it first opens. For the homeschoolers & parents of younger children: WARNING… I will advise you to move along quickly past the huge hypnotic wall of multiple screens. As I was standing there trying to snap a visually interesting photograph, I was dismayed by the images of a topless women at the hub of this digital display that appeared rather suddenly (and then lingered) in the looped video sequence. I felt that was inappropriately projected considering the target audience for video games, but I will stay off my soapbox for the moment. At the end of the day, I would not recommend heading into DC specifically to see this exhibit, which we found to be somewhat underwhelming. We felt that the potential to show 40 years of technological gaming evolution was underachieved. On the upside, the kids enjoyed seeing all the different displays of games and listening to narratives through the phone tours. Additionally, there are other engaging exhibits in the museum, and blocks of attractions to enjoy all over the city.
Phew! In desperate need of a break from Google Sketchup tutorials, I am sharing a fun find here in downtown Annapolis. This weekend, my oldest daughter & I spent a special ‘Mommy & Me’ day at the “First Sunday Arts Festival.” Even with the heat, it was a nice post derecho diversion. Speaking of which, our prayers go out to those of you who are still dealing with the aftermath of power outages and damage! With the intense and rather unseasonal temperatures in our region, it’s not a time that you want to be without A/C! What a crazy & unexpected mess!!!
So in spite of the recent tribulations, the crowd and the vendors seemed to be in good spirits, the music was lively and the breeze was just right… I wanted to share a few pictures of some of our favorite vendors of the day. Probably one I liked the most was a table of beautiful children’s artwork by KeyLime Designs. Artist, Mollie Dennis has a degree in Art Education and has focused her talents on these charming and cheerfully colored collages.
Another table we enjoyed was covered with inventive creations by Art Sea… and who wouldn’t love the name! 🙂 Her specialty was a collection of lovely sailboats she crafted from driftwood and grommeted decorator fabrics. What a great idea for repurposing natural materials into something, oh, so very Chesapeake Chic!
There were clothing vendors, jewelry, housewares, whimsical garden ornamentals, natural soaps… everything you can imagine, and some gorgeous fine art displays. It was a textile paradise!
And then there was the food! My feeling is that it’s just not a festival until you have a taste of the town. Living in Maryland for around 12 years now, you get used to the usual crab claims of the locals and frankly, I was up for something a little different. As we turned the corner of West Street and found another row of tables down Calvert, we were drawn to a tent bearing the sign, “Mad Flava Catering.” The grill was flaming, the aroma of Caribbean jerked chicken was wafting and my mouth was watering! One taste, and we knew this was the real deal! The chef, Andre Sherwood, is Jamaican born and bottles this amazing sauce. I bought 3 jars, got home and cooked up a batch of chicken for my — and I don’t use this term lightly — highly flavor-critical family. It was a unanimously HUGE hit, which, for our 4 kids is practically unattainable… many of you parents out there know my pain! So 12 thumbs up here, Chef Andre!!! We will be back for more soon, I’m sure!!!