Thursday, December 18, 2008

How I'm Spending My Winter Vacation, Part 1: National Portrait Gallery

Sorry I haven't written in a week and haven't finished another installment in the Japanese league series. I've been down here in Washington DC for the last few days, staying at my brother's house and visiting with him and his wife and my new 5-week-old niece. She's very cute.

I was wandering around the city the other day, and had just eaten lunch at the Chipotle in the Chinatown area, and was trying to decide where to head next, when I looked across the street and saw this:

I started arguing with the half of my brain that inhaled a billion books about Ty Cobb a few years back, and it went something like this:

Me: "Is that..."
Brain: "I think so."
Me: "But he's smiling."
Brain: "He smiled sometimes, you know."
Me: "But people didn't like Ty Cobb, would they paint him smiling?"
Brain: "Maybe? I think it's him."
Me: "I'm not sure. You know what we need to do, Brain?"
Brain: "Try and take over the world?"
Me: "No, we need to go in there and find the portrait of this mysterious Detroit Tigers player which is probably Ty Cobb and confirm it."
Brain: "Sounds good to me, it's cold out here."

So I go into the National Portrait Gallery and ask the little old lady at the front desk who the baseball player's portrait is outside. She has no clue what I'm talking about, but informs me that on the third floor, there are a lot of portraits of sports people.

I go up there and find the "Champions" exhibit, and sure enough, there's a whole bunch of artwork of sports stars, mostly paintings and a few sculptures. It's not all baseball, but there's certainly enough to be interesting...

It was, indeed, Ty Cobb, pictured here in a 1916 oil painting for Baseball Magazine.

There was a really neat Nolan Ryan painting as well.

One of the sculptures was of Casey Stengel during his tenure as the manager of the "Marvelous Mets".

A little more relevant now thanks to the Phillies championship, but this is Robin Roberts.

There were two Maris portraits... this one was an unpublished Time cover of him with Mantle. Very nice.

There were some others, including a gigantic canvas of Carlton Fisk, that were pretty neat.

It was a nice exhibit. I wouldn't necessarily say people should run right down there and see it, but if you're in the DC area and looking for some things to stumble onto, it's definitely interesting, and I believe it's a permanent exhibit anyway. The rest of the gallery is also kind of cool.

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