Explore This Weekend - Spanish Steps

 Photo by  Spencer Millsap

The first few times I visited the Spanish Steps of DC were by chance. We never intended to go there, just stumbled upon it, and it always felt like stumbling into a quiet slice of somewhere else. The Steps are modeled after the Spanish Steps in Rome, but much smaller, and in a tree covered neighborhood.

From the top looking down, the Steps remind me of steps in Montmartre, like in Brassai's photo. Just a short walk from busy Dupont Circle, it's never crowded there. We liked this place so much, we ended up getting married there - somehow squeezing more than 80 people in to a spot which was most likely not designed for that number. Beyond wedding ceremonies, it's a lovely place to walk through, picnic, sit and read, or just to breath in the quiet for a moment before heading back into the rush of the city.

See This Weekend - Odilon Redon

 "Pandora" by Odilon Redon, image from the  National Gallery of Art   website

"Pandora" by Odilon Redon, image from the National Gallery of Art website

On view in the Impressionist rooms of the National Gallery of Art are two paintings, Pandora and Saint Sebastian, by the French artist Odilon Redon.

I love these paintings. The entire Impressionist/Symbolist/Cubist/ etc. collection at the NGA is a great one, but the Redon's are really special. It's not hard to find a Cezanne or a Monet, but Redon's work is less well known and harder to find. If you find his work on display here, treasure it. Look at it for 30 minutes at a time, go back again and again. His paintings have a surrealist, dreamy quality to them, and he played with symbolism and mythology in his work. He was bold enough to leave some parts of the canvas totally bare; in other parts the paint is layered and wrought in such a manner that you can see the work behind it.

Though the NGA has a number of his paintings and drawings in their collection, these are the only two currently on display, and they weren't on view just a few years ago. Check them out now before they go into storage again!