Royally holding court in a back room at the elegant Arlington Arts Center in Arlington, Virginia is one of the most incredible pieces of art in the entire DC Metro Region. Can’t blame you if you have driven past the historical Maury School building without realizing what treasures lie inside. After all, the imposing galleries and monuments down the road in Washington, DC are a much bigger magnet for area visitors short on vacation time. But if there’s anything that demands a separate road trip on its own merits, the golden Tiffany glass windows at the Arlington Arts Center must be it. Not that a photographer can claim any degree of poetic justice in describing such a magnificent piece of art, but as a hopeless romantic with a camera I found it impossible to enter this sun-bathed room without being transported to the elegant world of New York high society during the late 19th Century. There, covered by the glowing yellow light of an afternoon sun, I couldn’t help but feel a little underdressed. Shouldn’t I be wearing a tuxedo while waiting to waltz the night away with my beautiful companion? Have the cocktails been served yet? Will the horse-drawn carriages be on time outside to slowly carry us back home after the most marvelous of nights? I swear that all these thoughts crossed my mind before I had to swap memory cards on my camera, so maybe there’s really something to all those time-travel rumors we keep hearing about.
Incredibly, though, these Tiffany masterpieces, which are now part of the Arlington Public Art Collection, were almost lost to the wrecking ball fourteen years ago. After many years of neglect and disrepair, in 2000 the U.S. Navy took over the building, and before tearing it down, allowed Arlington County to salvage anything of historical value at the site. As described at the Arlington Arts Center Blog, the windows were finally discovered after having “been boarded over and long forgotten” in the long-neglected mausoleum. I can just imagine the faces of those tearing down the wooden planks hiding such incredible treasure. So much for a day’s work. So if you are in the area any time soon, pay the great folks at the Arlington Arts Center a visit. Who knows, you too may be transported to a world long since gone, but not yet forgotten. And in case you’re wondering, your carriage will be waiting for you outside.
“The muffled drum’s sad roll has beat The soldier’s last tattoo; No more on Life’s parade shall meet The brave and fallen few. On Fame’s eternal camping-ground Their silent tents are spread, And Glory guards, with solemn round The bivouac of the dead.” Theodore O’Hara.
You have to admit that some photographs are thought-provoking. This is more so when what was captured was the result of happenstance rather than design. In most of these instances you find yourself either walking into the scene by chance or visualizing the scene before it happens (in which case you just stand there waiting for the right moment). In those moments, and to quote the the famous photographer Chase Jarvis, “the best camera is the one that’s with you.” On this particular day, my best camera was the one that I threw into my pocket on the way out to the grocery store: the compact wonder that is the Sony RX100. Oh, and you may be wondering what happened here? Well, nothing did. The gentleman made it safely to the other side of the road and the UPS folks followed all the rules of the road. “All’s well that ends well.”
Have you taken the time to enjoy the colors of the season? I hope you have, as nature provides us with a spectacle that is easy to take for granted when you have lived in the northern hemisphere for far too long. Having grown up in the tropics, I remember that as a child I constantly gazed at magazines full of photographs of colored trees and of leaves that formed golden carpets over the remaining green grass of the fall season. As a young man thousands of miles from this incredible color spectacle, I couldn’t help but daydream about what it would be like to live in a house with one of those big, orange or red trees adorning our front yard. It was a vision and a dream that lasted for several decades until I could feel, and for the first time, the cool breezes of an approaching winter under one of those magnificent trees. Every fall season I can’t help but remember those childhood dreams and that first time I stood face-to-face in front of one of those colored trees. It was magic. And it still is.