Category: Art (Page 3 of 4)

Gorgeous studley toolbox

This toolbox (toolchest) was built by a piano repairman (Henry Studley) who worked for the Smith Organ Company and then the Poole Piano Company in the 1800’s. This beautiful chest contains 300 tools, and is made of mahogany, rosewood, walnut, ebony and mother of pearl (all of which were probably scraps from Poole Piano).

Though now owned by a private collector, it is supposedly still on display at the Smithsonian – the National Museum of American History. I’m definitely going to check on it the next time I go downtown!



…nanostructures are building blocks for many important technological advances, including high-performance solar cells and batteries, new methods of diagnosing and treating disease, next-generation computer processors and memory, and lightweight composite materials… [from ]

you can also use them to create nifty structures like the Nanobama above, just for fun. Note that each of the Obama faces shown is made up of about 150 million nanotubes – about one for each person who voted in this election. And for scale: each face is only about 0.5mm wide (about 10 hair-widths). Created by a team at the University of Michigan.

See also: Mechanosynthesis.

Pompeii and the Roman Villa: New exhibit at NGA

A new exhibit at the National Gallery of Art opened yesterday: Pompeii and the Roman Villa. Preston and I went to see it. For an active two-year old, Preston was surprisingly well-behaved. He was most impressed by the large bronze sculptures of horses’ heads (whazzzaaaat???!!) and the dogs attacking a wild boar (whazzzaaaat???!!).

At one stop Preston did point and say “MOM!!!”. However I couldn’t tell if he was pointing to a statue of Aphrodite or the blonde standing next to it. So I covered both bases with “Yes, that looks like mom, but she’s not here right now”. (The picture at left is not Aphrodite; it’s the daughter of Marcus Nonius Balbus. You’ll have to go to the exhibit to see Aphrodite). :)

The exhibit is in the East building, and is on two floors. The exhibit is free, though I recommend the $5.00 audio tour. I found the sculptures particularly captivating. I hadn’t realized before that the blank eyes on a lot of ancient statues actually originally had inlays. Most of the time such inlays have not survived to the present, but in a number of the exhibit sculptures they do. This made the art even more striking and realistic. The frescoes were amazing; such color and detail. One piece (rather small, maybe 1.5ft on a side) appeared to be drawn in red pencil on marble. The detail on that piece was absolutely amazing. They definitely had some very talented artists 2000 years ago.

The opulence of Pompeii does show through in the sculptures and frescoes. The exhibit also contains paintings and sculptures from the 19th century (and later?) that show an artists’ recreation of Pompeii before the disaster. Wow. I think it was Augustus (Octavius) who was so captivated by the area around Naples that he bought an island.

Chocolate Steak and David Russell

Butterfield 9
Kirsten and I had a great evening this past Saturday. We had dinner at Butterfield 9 in Washington D.C., before walking a block to see David Russell perform classical guitar at the Church of the Epiphany.

The dinner was great. The restaurant has a nice ambiance – quite elegant. Kirsten started her meal with the Longneck Squash Soup (goat cheese, roasted pancetta, and apple compote) – “Delicious”. She then had a 1/2 plate of the Carnaroli Risotto (glazed butternut squash, swiss chard, and black truffle) – “Delicious.

I had the “Chocolate Steak” (New England Elk, creamed parsnips, bitter chocolate, fleur de sel). The waiter said that elk tastes a bit like venison. That would be a good comparison, except that I have never had venison (that I remember). I figured I’d give it a try. Cooked medium-rare, the elk was melt-in-your-mouth delicious. It was coated with cocoa, making for a slightly crispy crust, while the bitter chocolate sauce under the steak was a neat complement; it definitely enhanced the flavors. My only issue was the size of the portions (small). Also, I was glad I ordered “Truffle potato puree” on the side, because what came with the steak was basically a garnish, and not a real side dish(es). The puree was delicious as well, though I would have preferred a more firm “mashed” potato side.

Neither Kirsten or I cared much for the “creme brulee” desert, as it was not a “classic” version; we would not have recognized it as creme brulee if not stated on the menu. It had a sort of “cookie” crust rather than caramelized sugar. The raspberry sorbet on the side with it was good.

David Russell Small

Butterfield 9 is only a block from the church where the concert was held, so we used valet parking at the restaurant and picked up the car after the concert.
Church of the Epiphany

The concert was very enjoyable; just Mr. Russell on a slightly raised platform at the front of the church with no amplification. I could hear the guitar just fine, but I had difficulty hearing his intros clearly (also partly due to his Scottish brogue :) ). The pews were hard to sit on for 2 hours (we were glad for intermission). The music however was great. We had been listening to his Bach and Baroque cd’s – but he didn’t play any of those pieces. I greatly enjoyed most of his pieces with the exception being the one that was actually written for him by a contemporary. Oh well.

World’s Oldest Animation

gazelle animationA 5200 year-old goblet (see image below) from the Burnt City in Iran has a series of images depicting a wild goat jumping up to get leaves from a tree. The animation shown is from an 11-minute documentary about the goblet (which was actually found ~1970). Basically, if you take each image in succession (like a flip-book), you get the animation. Neat.

Note that the post-revolutionary Iranian archaeologists kinda got things wrong; they attribute the tree on the goblet to the “Assyrian Tree of Life”. But the goblet is from 1000 years before any mention of the Assyrian civilization in historical records. Ooops.

iranian goblet

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