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Neoclassical Adventures

Are you as fascinated with the nation's Capital / the Capital / the District / D.C. / Washington DC as I am?

Janice Sztabnik | Washington D.C.

Maybe it's because of vicariously experiencing the aura of our Judicial system while sitting on my couch watching House of Cards, with its seduction of power, beautiful clothing, elegance, and portrayal of a life we imagine in the back of our own heads. Or the insanity of truth of power as acted out by real and acting presidents on Saturday Night Live? Is the illusion so different than reality? Here again in life, truth is stranger than fiction.

My belief is that if you consider yourself an American, or a local traveler you must be familiar with what's right here before us. To appreciate our land, you must experience its natural beauty and vastness of Montana, its poverty still evident in Alabama, its history found within Washington. No passport needed, unless of course you wanna be an insider, tour the White House, Capital, and other notable Federal buildings.

There have been many occasions that I have come to DC for a one night stand- on my summer rituals while en route to South Carolina. Yet many a time for the sheer pleasure of being in DC. When I pull into town, there is always the theme song from House of Cards ramped up. It frames the space and puts me in place.

Ahh, to enjoy the youthful vigor of Georgetown, relive youth and fantasize about surrendering my brush for a scalpel while in residency as a pre med student, or a breezy walk along the Potomac River, maybe endless consumption of fresh injera (Ethiopian Bread), or how about a quick trip to France while you spend the afternoon enjoying French fare at Le Diplomate- hanging with a smooth cappuccino, or transport me to mellow, with the help of a fabulous cocktail at Old Ebbitt Grill an iconic tavern or yet finally, Rasika for some sophisticated modern Indian food. Even the cafeteria style eats are fresh and plenty at the major museums. The cuisines spread the map, so if you're down to spend or up for a quick bite, this is the town.

Now that we've satiated our gut, let's switch gears to the intellectually visual.

Welcome to the U.S. Capitol. It's home to the U.S. Congress and its two legislative bodies, the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate. The U.S. Capital is where the issues facing the nation are considered, debated, and written into law. The U.S. Capital also houses an important collection of American art, and is an architectural achievement in its own right.

The central space, was renamed "Emancipation Hall" in 2007 to recognize the enslaved laborers who helped build the U.S. Capital. The Statue of Freedom can be viewed and appreciated within this space, for this is where the original 13,000 pound plaster model for the exterior bronze Statue of Freedom that one can see crowning the sky sits atop the Capitol Dome.

Hmm, shifting gears a bit, lets emphasize that what comes to mind for me is that a woman is crowning the Capital, a symbol of our nation! and further lets remind us all that a woman ushers both immigrants and Americans into New York's Harbor. I can call upon more monuments but why? We women are still vying for R E S P E C T, our right to equal pay, a seat in the Senate, equal representation in major museums!! I know my own work comes from the perspective of what it is to be a woman and yes, I aspire for a place in history!

The Capitol is built in a distinctive neoclassical style and has a white exterior and is most recognized for the massive dome. Neoclassical architecture style encompasses the styles of Federal and Greek Revival architecture which were a major influence during the late 18th and early 19th centuries. It was during this period that many of the foundational buildings of the United States government were constructed. Perhaps the single greatest example of these architectural styles is the United States Capitol Building, for which construction began in 1793. Thomas Jefferson wanted Congress housed in a replica of an ancient Roman temple. Since the capitol in Richmond, Virginia, was an example of Roman “cubic” architecture, he thought the federal Capitol should be modeled after a “spherical” temple. The U.S. Capitol's designs, derived from ancient Greece and Rome, evoke the ideals that guided the nation's founders as they framed their new republic.

Janice Sztabnik | Washington D.C.

The central dome sits above a rotunda in the central section of the structure. If you can't get to experience, in person, the drama and beauty of the Sistine Chapel ceiling painted by Michelangelo between 1508 and 1512, a work of High Renaissance art, you must get here to appreciate the albeit simpler 1865 fresco The Apotheosis of Washington which was painted on the dome in the rotunda by Greek-Italian Constantino Brumidi. The Apotheosis of Washington depicts George Washington sitting amongst the heavens in an exalted manner, or in literal terms, ascending and becoming a god (apotheosis / elevated to divine status). Washington, the first U.S. president and commander-in-chief of the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War, is allegorically represented, surrounded by figures from classical mythology. There is too much symbolism in this building to discuss further...shown left, a column with corn as embellishment which stands outside the Old Supreme Court Chamber 1810-1860. Look up look down, look all 'round for from mosaic floor to ceiling, there is not enough time to mention the impressive statues of key persons and the historical rotunda paintings which take us from a historical journey from the early 1800's to a depiction of the Wright Brothers flight.

It's here, I've gotta fly, till Part II where we can chat the Library of Congress and The White House.

Happy weekend and thanks for spending time with me on my recent journey!


narrative of the medium

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