I had a great week and it isn't over yet. On cable TV I saw a French movie that won academy award for foreign film a couple years ago. The Diving Bell and the Butterfly. Excellent! Sunday, Keith and I went to the National Gallery of Art for a look at Luis Melendez the Spanish master painter's still lives of the 1700's, beautiful exhibition that opened a few weeks ago. I did some sketching of the objects that accompany the show while Keith looked at all the paintings I saw opening day. Next was the long awaited Washington DC premiere of a French film by Agnes Varda : The Beaches of Agnes (Les Plages d'Agnes) 2008, a auto biography by the 80 year old "new wave" film maker which was a pure delight. She remembers being at the beach all through her life and sailing in a small boat, from her home on a bigger boat, up the river to Paris during the Nazi occupation and shows clips from all her best films since she began in 1955. She has a very powerful life story. I highly recommend seeing her movies. We also saw The Gleaner's and I, two years ago at NGA it was very interesting and powerful, a great introduction to her work. Gleaners is about people who collect food from the fields after harvest is done in France with the blessing of the farmers. Millet's famous 19th century painting titled Gleaners was the beginning of the story.
Then I suffered. I searched to replace a model for my Monday night figure drawing group for four days and none could be found. I gave up and cancelled for this week. The next day a new model called back with dates for later this month which brings me a lot of happiness. He is a great figure and I hope will be a good model for my drawing group after waiting several months for him to give me a date. I went back to the NGA to a great tour with a conservation fellow Monday to distract me from the blues about drawing. The young lady was so enthusiastic and knowledgeable it was well worth the trip. On Sundance cable channel TV Monday night I was lucky to get to see the premiere of the film about Derek Jarman the out gay English film maker who died in 1994 of AIDS. He was one of my heros because he made a very queer film about the man who is saint Sebastiane with subtitles to the all Latin text in 1974 which was the first gay art film I ever saw and later in 1990 he came out about his health status and showed us the grace one could make art and be a dying man worthy in a time where that was not the normal view. If you like Derek Jarman films you should see this film with lots of footage of him telling his own story. His pal Tilda Swilton acted in many of Jarman's films and wrote and narrated the 2008 Sundance film Derek we watched on Monday night.
Tuesday, we did laundry shopping and gardening.
Wednesday, I went to a 5 hour tree forum presented for DC residents by experts from across the country on urban forestry. They told us how to become better tree caretakers for our community trees and served a nice lunch. Then after a rest, Keith and I enjoyed a tour of the mysterious McMillan Reservoir sand filtration water treatment site closed to the public sine 1986 when the DC government bought it from Federals to develop it like the rest of the city. It has been named a national historic site because it is so beautiful and so unique but not yet developed. I have admired it for years from the outside and wondered about what it was. We joined about 75 others that split into one of three guided groups and went inside the locked gates for an hour's look around. We got to go under the visible fields that cover some 25 acres of individual sand filter cells near the Washington Hospital Center and North Capital Street. It has numerous underground cells with vaulted ceilings and a sand floor where water used to be filtered for drinking from 1905-1986. Now Army Corps still filter and store it in the reservoir but they use a modern chemical treatment to remove debris and pathogens in a much smaller facility across the street. I took nearly 90 photos there and spent all day getting those ready to show and share. I loaded them on facebook and will set them on flickr.com soon.
Today I uploaded to flicker.com all 74 photos of the McMillian Reservoir Sand Filtration Site Tour I found some more interesting information about this place and process on Wikipedia and the Historic Preservation League of Washington DC where the whole site is listed as a historic landmark endangered since 2005. Slow Sand Filtration is a very green process that requires no electric power to clean water which is still used in developing countries and in the United Kingdom.