Local Attractions: Beyond Our Doors

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Welcome to our new blog series in which we will take you around our area.

What can we say about our quaint little community known as Old Town? Old Town is the historic center of the city of Alexandria, Virginia or as we like to call it, Extraordinary Alexandria. It’s a community filled with good food, high energy, historic significance, unique shopping, and vast amounts of art and culture. It’s only a few minutes outside of our nation’s capital and exhibits a life of its own. The people of Old Town are often on the lookout for exciting, interesting, and extraordinary activities. Locals are always willing to attend events centered around entertainment, delicious food, strong spirits, the arts, and good company. The local businesses, restaurants, galleries, institutions, and event venues host functions that bring tourists and locals into their spaces. There is always something worth attending here in Old Town, the surrounding neighborhoods, and Washington D.C.

A few examples:

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Port City Brewing Company

  • Our nearby brewery, Port City, presents a variety of attractions, which highlight music, art, food, and their featured craft beers.
  • The local art center, the Torpedo Factory offers public attractions with various themes on the 2nd Thursday of every month, holds a number of art exhibitions in their Target Gallery, and many other featured events.

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    Torpedo Factory Art Center

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Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden

Our gallery resides on the central and most engaging street in Old Town, King Street. Therefore, it’s important for us to support surrounding businesses and remain in touch with our community. As a neighborhood business we want to draw attention to the local attractions in our area, attractions our visitors and audience will find to be relaxing, compelling, captivating, and enjoyable for everyone. We want to reach out, bring visitors into our space and beyond, which is why in addition to our gallery posts we will also be creating Local Attraction posts. This way visiting the Principle Gallery becomes more than simply a visit to an art gallery, but an overall dynamic experience in Old Town.

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Principle Gallery, Main Exhibition Space

If you have any suggestions for posts or know of any events in our area, please don’t hesitate to contact us! Our exhibition page contains a listing of all of our upcoming events, so please feel free to share them with your friends! Our gallery space is available as a venue for your private or business events! If you’re interested in renting our space, please visit our rental page.

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King Street: Photo courtesy of Visit Alexandria

 

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Principle Gallery and Alexandria’s Rich History

When you make a visit to Old Town Alexandria, and to Principle Gallery in particular, you are walking in the footsteps of some of early America’s most historically significant figures. We are amazed and humbled to be immersed in the area’s vibrant history in this way, and we’re incredible excited to share with you a brief piece written by Edward Moser, historian, author, and operator of Tours of Old Town. Please enjoy! See the end of the post for links to both Edward’s tours and his two books!


The Principle Gallery and Alexandria’s Rich History
by Edward Moser

The Principle Gallery is in the middle of everything an art, architecture, and history lover could want.

Just down King Street from it is the Torpedo Factory, a World War One, and Two, munitions factory now transformed into artist studios where visitors can watch sculptors and painters conjure up their creations in their own places of work. Across King St. from it is the imposing tobacco and ship sail warehouse, now a Starbuck’s, of George Washington’s military aide, Colonel John Fitzgerald. He and George co-endowed the nearby St. Mary’s Church, the first Catholic cathedral in the American South, and resting place of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier of the American Revolution.

A half block up King St. is the tourist information center, once the house of Alexandria magnate William Ramsey. He moved this former mansion by barge along what was then the Potomac River, now King St. landfill, and deposited his abode by crane at that spot! Across the street is the Market Square and City Hall, designed by Benjamin Latrobe, the architect of the original U.S. Capitol Building. Except for its far side, which burned down in 1871, and was rebuilt by Adolph Cluss, the architect of D.C.’s Smithsonian Castle and the National Portrait Gallery. At the meeting hall of City Hall, George Mason dreamed up something called the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Across from it is the Carlyle House mansion, the real-life setting of the recent Civil War-era TV series, Mercy Street.

Then there’s the Principle Gallery itself, built and inhabited by another colonel of Washington’s revolutionary Army, George Gilpin. He was something of a Renaissance Man. Just before the Revolution he served on the local Committee of Public Safety, the Virginia equivalent of the Minutemen militia. He fought with valor at the major battle of Germantown, Pennsylvania, around the time of Valley Forge.

After the war he helped run the port of Alexandria, then one of the nation’s busiest, and backed Washington’s plans to build a canal from Georgetown to Alexandria, the Potomack Canal, later the C&O. He was a member of Washington’s masonic lodge, now marked by the soaring George Washington Masonic National Memorial at the other end of King St. President Thomas Jefferson appointed him as a court officer involved in aiding the town’s widows and orphans.

Gilpin was part of the effort to lay the boundary stones of the new capital city of Washington, which until 1846 included the town of Alexandria. One of these stones, laid by African-American surveyor Benjamin Bannecker, remains near the Wilson Bridge one mile to the south. Also a farmer, Gilpin sold G.W. the tons of corn he used for his whiskey distillery, recently reconstructed, at Mount Vernon, and also was the largest single purchaser of the spirits.

Most importantly, Gilpin was a cousin of a wealthy, charming, and keenly intelligent widow, Martha Dandridge Custis—and introduced her to George Washington, her future husband. George Gilpin and George Washington were friends for decades: G.W. would often dine and stay over at the Gilpin house. Gilpin was one of six pallbearers at Washington’s funeral, held at the imposing Christ Church a few blocks from here. That lovely English country church was designed by James Wren, a relative of Christopher Wren, the architect of London’s St Paul’s Cathedral.

The Gilpins and the Washingtons, as Virginia gentry, had fine tastes in the fine arts, and that tradition is proudly carried on by the Principle Gallery. If you like art and history, take the time to explore the historic and finely crafted Colonial and Federal era town homes and public buildings of Old Town. Then come inside our gallery to partake even more in the finer things in life.

Moonlit Night over Old Town Alexandria, VA by Craig Hudson Photography


Ed Moser is the operator of Tours of Old Town, found at meetup.com– click here for more information!

Ed is also the author of “A Patriot’s A to Z of America: Things Every Good American Should Know,” and “The Two-Term Jinx!: Why Most Presidents Stumble in Their Second Terms, and How Some Succeed- Volume 1, George Washington- Theodore Roosevelt.” Click on either title to purchase from Amazon!

Technique Tuesday: Surrealism

What is it?

Today we’re covering a fun topic that we’ve touched on somewhat before: Surrealism! Surrealism is an artistic and cultural movement that originated in Paris in the 1920’s, and established a genre that artists are still exploring today. The art historical movements of the early twentieth century are truly fascinating, but as this is just a blog post, I’ll do my best to give a brief explanation of Surrealism’s nascence. Following the first World War, an especially brutal experience for many countries around the world, a generation of both civilians and former soldiers were left disillusioned and emotionally scarred. Reality, which art had for so long sought after so desperately, was suddenly quite painful, and the opportunity to step back from that and explore a different, more internal world appealed to many creatives during this time. The field of psychology was also rapidly growing, and the theories of famous psychologists like Sigmund Freud, such as notions of the subconscious mind and dream analysis, were becoming widely known. Several French artists and writers were inspired by the idea that the subconscious contained answers to fix the broken world around them, and that representation of these ideas, so different from reality, could jar society out of some of the long-held beliefs and structures that had led to such damage. Therefore, these writers and artists began to create bizarre, illogical scenes that evoked aspects of dreams and un-reality and elements such as odd juxtaposition, strange changes of scale, and elements of pure fantasy.

Examples from art history:

One of the names that comes to everyone’s mind when Surrealism is mentioned is Salvador Dalí. Dalí was an eccentric Spanish painter whose combination of excellent, classically-based draftsmanship and bizarre, unsettling imagery has had a lasting impact on artists even today. Below are a few of Dalí’s best-known Surrealist works:

(left to right) Salvador Dalí, “Swans Reflecting Elephants,” “Caravan,” “The Persistence of Memory”

Many other artists, including writers, photographers, filmmakers, and musicians took part in the Surrealist movement, but the work of the Surrealist painters is what has arguably made the most lasting cultural impact. Here are a few more examples from artists Max Ernst and Rene Magritte:

(left to right) Max Ernst, “Napoleon in the Wilderness,” “The Elephant Celebes”; Rene Magritte, “The Lovers,” “Golconda”

While some Surrealist painters, like Ernst and Dalí, created images that were more fantastical, some, like Rene Magritte, painted oddly familiar, ordinary looking scenes that had a major twist to them, and often an unsettling one. This is one of the aims of Surrealism–to get you to think differently! For instance, we know that a mirror reflects what is in front of it, but what if that reality was twisted a bit? Well, this is a concept that has inspired some Principle Gallery artists, too!

(left) Rene Magritte, “Not to Be Reproduced”, (right) Louise Fenne, “Mirror Portrait No. 2”

Examples from Principle Gallery:

(left to right) Michele Kortbawi Wilk, “Who’s Afraid,” Laura E. Pritchett, “Projection,” Francis Livingston, “Mating Season”

Elements of Surrealism pop up in the work that we carry here at Principle Gallery, and it’s always a thrill to see the creativity these artists are expressing, as well as the reaction from the viewers. There are two artists who show primarily at our Charleston, South Carolina location who use elements of Surrealism quite often in their work– Karen Hollingsworth and Anna Wypych! Click any collage to see it larger!

(left to right) Karen Hollingsworth, “Depth,” “Voyagers,” “No Boundaries”

 

(left to right) Anna Wypych, “Sea Color,” “Steely Eyes,” “Giant Girl”

Check out these artists, and many more, on the website for Principle Gallery Charleston!

 

by Pamela Sommer

Technique Tuesday: Gouache

What is it?

Happy Tuesday! This week we are talking about a type of paint that doesn’t often get a lot of attention– gouache! Pronounced “gwosh,” this type of paint is an opaque, water-soluble medium that has some of the qualities of both watercolor and oil, and in the case of acrylic gouache, even acrylic! The name is a French word derived from “gouazz,” which is an old Italian term meaning “mud.” Although it was not referred to as “gouache” until the 18th century, gouache paints originated long ago, as a derivative of watercolors. In order to make watercolors more opaque and therefore easier to layer and use as a highlight, they were mixed with an opaque white pigment.

Examples from art history:

Opaque watermedia is a very old medium, and can be seen in examples as early as 9th century Persian miniatures. (Later, Italian artists would attempt to achieve the same look by layering oil paints over tempera paints, giving it a matte (or “muddy”) finish.) In the 18th century, as it became more popular, French artists mainly used gouache to add highlights over their pastel work, but the use has expanded over time and many artists today paint entire artworks in gouache. It is a unique medium in that, though water-soluble like watercolors, it gives the artist an option to layer light colors over dark because of the matte opacity. An artist must use gouache very carefully to avoid a very flat and muddy effect, but those who have mastered the medium have created some incredible works with it! Modern gouache options now include acrylic gouache, which, because it is made with an acrylic-based binder, dries to a more water-resistant surface despite the water solubility of the wet medium. Let’s take a look at some examples of paintings either partially or fully created with gouache throughout history!

(left to right) Behzad, “Advice of the Ascetic”; Albrecht Durer, “Young Hare”; Thomas Moran, “Above Tower Falls, Yellowstone”; Fidelia Bridges, “Leaves”; Henri Matisse, “Black Leaf on Green Background”

Examples from Principle Gallery:

Gouache is not something we often get here at Principle Gallery, but just recently we’ve gotten a few pieces created with watermedia, including gouache! Here are a couple of examples from Mark Kelvin Horton, who recently sent us a great series of small landscapes on paper, in a variety of media. Here are two that use gouache!

Mark Kelvin Horton, “Winter Trees”

 

Mark Kelvin Horton, “Rural”

Ben Barker is another artist that we work with who enjoys the challenge of using gouache from time to time! Though all of the other artworks from Ben that we’ve shown so far have been in oil, here’s a very cool landscape of Rock Creek Park, painted in gouache!

Ben Barker, “Boulder Bridge”

We are always getting in new works from our widely varied roster of artists, so be sure you’re on our e-mailing list if you’d like to get a first-peek at new art when it arrives! To be added to the mailing list, just shoot us an email at info@principlegallery.com!

 

by Pamela Sommer

GC Myers “Truth and Belief” Opening Reception

Thank you so much to everyone who joined us for the opening reception of the GC Myers solo exhibition “Truth and Belief” last evening! It was a wonderful turnout and we’ve had such an exciting amount of sales so far in the show. We love giving you all the chance to meet and chat with the incredibly talented artists that we represent, and the artists love it as well. Last night, as you can see up at the top left here, we even had a young budding artist present GC Myers with some of her own artwork inspired by his paintings! If you weren’t able to make it last night and you’d like to meet GC Myers, you’re in luck– he’ll be back in September for an artist talk, so be sure to follow our social media pages or join the mailing list to be reminded of the date!

To see the images from the “Truth and Belief” show, check out our website here!

Technique Tuesday: Stylized Art

What is it?

Welcome back to Technique Tuesday! With the GC Myers “Truth and Belief” exhibition opening just a few days away, it’s the perfect time to take a look at stylization! Stylization is a technique that’s been around for a very, very long time. In 1979, The Great Soviet Dictionary provided an excellent definition of stylization, explaining it as “the decorative generalization of figures and objects by means of various conventional techniques, including the simplification of line, form, and relationships of space and color.” To look at it from a different perspective, stylization is a deliberate step away from mimesis, which is defined as the close mimicry of reality (in art, this is very generally referred to as “realism,” though that particular term has evolved and is rather nuanced). Rather than trying to represent the subject in a way that is close to reality, an artist can use stylization to create images that, while they contain recognizable subjects and forms, do so in a manner that places emphasis on the color, lines, and oftentimes the emotive qualities of the work.

Examples from art history:

Stylization is something that can be seen as far back as ancient cave paintings, as recognizable subjects were visually portrayed in a simplified manner. Part of this no doubt had to do with the fact that humanity was discovering the visual arts and experienced a learning curve over time when it came to more accurate mimicry of reality in drawing, painting, and sculpture. As time progressed, the goal for many artists became increased mimesis, and stylization began to slowly give way to more realism in art. We can see from the height of the Renaissance through the 19th century that artists took a great joy in creating highly realistic images and exploring the very accurate representation of architecture, human anatomy, natural plant life, etc. As Impressionism broke from academic tradition in the 19th century and brought a focus back to experimentation with colors and light, and stepped back from strict mimesis, it spurred a renewed interest in deliberate stylization and in using the portrayal of recognizable subjects as a platform in which to also revel in color, line, and shapes. Because of its accessibility (one need not necessarily go to school for art or train for years to create stylized art) and its celebration of line and color, stylization is frequently seen in street art and graffiti-style art, as in the case of the late 20th century artist Keith Haring.

(left to right) an example of ancient Peruvian pottery; Henri Matisse, “Chat aux Poissons Rouges”; Pablo Picasso, “Pitcher and Bowl of Fruit”; Gustav Klimt, “Tree of Life III”; Keith Haring, “Statue of Liberty”

Examples at Principle Gallery:

While we carry almost solely representational art here at Principle Gallery, it does certainly vary across the spectrum of mimesis. Some artists here are more stylized than others, but perhaps the most excellent example of stylization and its focus on line, form, and color here at the gallery is the work of GC Myers. GC’s work goes beyond representation of landscapes and adds an emotive quality to the subject and forms, as they portray imagined vistas and use symbolism to create feelings and messages in the artworks. If you keep up with the artist’s blog, over at redtreetimes.com,  you can often get a detailed insight right from the artist into the emotions and symbolism that infuse any given work of his, but the wonderful thing about his artwork is that it’s also something that can communicate on its own. Feelings of confusion, triumph, peace, frustration, joy, melancholy, and joy all make themselves known to the viewer purely through the interplay of lines, colors, and shapes in these landscapes. While these works come from a deeply personal place in the artist’s soul, one of the magical things about this art is that it also leaves so much space for interaction and interpretation from the viewer, independent of any verbal explanation from the artist.

We are thrilled to be opening an exhibition titled “Truth and Belief” this Friday, June 2nd, which will feature 55 incredible brand new paintings from GC Myers. Here’s a sneak peek at some of the beauties from this show, and if you’d like to see all of them, head over to our website, shoot us an email at info@principlegallery.com, or better yet, join us to welcome the artist and celebrate the exhibition this Friday evening from 6:30-9 PM at Principle Gallery!

“Truth and Belief”

“Race the Light”

“With Sanction of the Moon”

“Seeking Truth”

“So Well Remembered”

 

by Pamela Sommer

Gearing up for the June exhibition!

This post on GC Myers’s blog has us SO EXCITED for the upcoming show! Make sure you follow Principle Gallery on this blog and on social media to get sneak peeks of the new images!

This new painting is titled With Sanction of the Moon. It’s a 10″ by 20″ canvas that is part of my solo show, Truth and Belief, that opens in a little over two weeks on June 2 at the Principle Gallery. The show seems to be coming together really well with so many of the […]

via With Sanction of the Moon — Redtree Times