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“Space Songs: Through the Distance”
Being an astronaut is a notably lonely job; those who made history on the moon did so over 200,000 miles away from their loved ones. Now, humans on Earth are pretty lonely, too. Entire countries face lockdowns and stay-at-home orders, and even nearby friends seem light years away. Music has always served as a connecting thread, though. When Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins made their legendary voyage, they traveled with cassette tapes of the 1947 album Music Out of the Moon. Perhaps there’s something for us to learn from that. According to Ellen Stofan, director of the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum, space exploration is “an illustration of how extreme circumstances can bring out the very best in us all.” In the extreme circumstances caused by COVID-19, the museum is hosting a virtual concert, “Space Songs: Through the Distance,” to bring out the best in its community. Hosted by Adam Savage of Mythbusters fame, the live YouTube performance will feature Sting, Bethany Cosentino of Best Coast, Dan Deacon, Ben Gibbard of Death Cab for Cutie, Valerie June, Lukas Nelson, Grace Potter, clipping., and Vagabon. Grab your laptop, tune in, and drift off into space. This is a musical journey you don’t want to miss. The concert begins at 8 p.m. on April 30 on the National Air and Space Museum’s YouTube channel. Free. —Sarah Smith
Wanderer/Wonderer: Pop-Ups by Colette Fu
While pop-up retail and food attractions are rare in these socially distant days, the National Museum of Women in the Arts’ online exhibit, Wanderer/Wonderer: Pop-Ups by Colette Fu, explores pop-ups of a different sort. Wanderer/Wonderer features artist Colette Fu’s handcrafted pop-up books from two of her series, Haunted Philadelphia and We Are Tiger Dragon People. Originally displayed at the museum in 2016, Fu’s meditations on haunted spaces and lesser-known tales from around the globe are equally poignant years later. While the quiet sites in Haunted Philadelphia eerily mirror D.C. today, Fu’s work offers an escape. In “Ashima, Stone Mountain,” the blend of color prints and Sani needlepoint invites readers to look more closely, losing themselves in the folds. In “Rodin Museum: Lovers,” Fu’s intricate work illuminates a tragic love story. The mélange of Philadelphia newspaper clippings animates the whimsical scene, positioning the doomed couple on top of recycled reminders of reality. Despite the image’s high pixel count, some dimensionality is inevitably lost in the digitization process. Admiring the architectural cutouts online will never reveal the full mysteries of Fu’s works, but viewing them in person wasn’t sure to do so, either. As the exhibit says, her work embodies the words of poet Jidi Majia: “I think back, not to dwell on sad losses … To relive all beautiful bygone things.” If Fu’s reveries are not enough distraction, her commentary on loss might give you a new perspective on this moment and a gentle reminder of the beauty in sorrow. The exhibition is available online at nmwa.org. Free. —Emma Francois
Take a YouTube tour of Riffs and Relations
If you’re missing Phillips after 5, fix yourself a drink and tune into the Phillips Collection’s outstanding YouTube channel. In the Riffs and Relations series of videos, guest curator Adrienne Childs whisks viewers through six galleries featuring works from the Phillips’ sadly shuttered Riffs and Relations: African American Artists and the European Modernist Tradition exhibition, showing how African American artists of the 20th century and present engage with the European modernist movement, offering critiques or claiming a space uniquely their own. Using bite-sized clips, Childs manages to make 15- to 30-second bursts of information feel effortless and relaxing, yet expansive enough to contain entire worlds. The videos offer a brief but rigorous introduction to the full exhibit, with vital historical context, close-up shots of textured paintings and sculptures, and slow shots of the galleries. Follow up by exploring high-res photos of the artwork on the Phillips Collection’s website, or learn more about the artists by falling down a few internet rabbit holes of your own. The videos are available on the Phillips Collection’s YouTube channel. Free. —Michelle Delgado