Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery Announces Virtual Programs for January and February 2021

By Editorial Team on January 12, 2021
Credit: “Left Side Right Side” (still) by Joan Jonas, 1972. Single-channel video (black-and-white, sound), 8:50 min. National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution. © 2020 Joan Jonas / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Courtesy the artist and Gladstone Gallery, New York and Brussels (left). Alice Walker by Bernard Gotfryd, gelatin silver print, 1976. National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution. © The Bernard Gotfryd Revocable Living Trust (center). Louis Armstrong (detail) by Philippe Halsman, gelatin silver print, 1966 (printed 1998). National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; gift from the Trustees of the Corcoran Gallery of Art (Gift of Betsy Karel). The Corcoran Gallery of Art, one of the country’s first private museums, was established in 1869 to promote art and American genius. In 2014, the works from the Corcoran Collection were distributed to institutions in Washington, D.C. © Philippe Halsman Archive (right).

Antonius-Tín Bui and David Antonio Cruz in Conversation with Taína Caragol
Tuesday, Jan. 12, 5 p.m.
Online via Zoom
Join National Portrait Gallery curator Taína Caragol for a conversation with Antonius-Tín Bui and David Antonio Cruz about portraiture as a platform to represent and honor LGBTQ+ communities of color. Both artists use portraiture and performance to explore the connections between queerness, their personal diasporic stories and the communities that ground them. Bui and Cruz were finalists of the 2019 Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition, and their work is now on view in the traveling exhibition “The Outwin: American Portraiture Today” at the D’Amour Museum of Fine Arts of the Springfield Museums, Massachusetts. The competition and exhibition are made possible through generous support from the Virginia Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition Endowment. This conversation is a part of the Tommie L. Pegues and Donald A. Capoccia Conversation Series in LGBTQ+ Portraiture, which is hosted by PORTAL, the Portrait Gallery’s Scholarly Center. Free—Registration required.

In Dialogue: Smithsonian Objects and Social Justice
Thursday, Jan. 14, 5 p.m.
Online via Zoom
Heighten your civic awareness through conversations about art, history and material culture. Each month, educators from the National Portrait Gallery will partner with colleagues from across the Smithsonian to discuss how historical objects from their respective collections speak to today’s social justice issues. The topic for January is: How can we build a civically engaged society? Together with our co-hosts from the National Museum of American History, we will explore this key question in relationship to an 1898 voting machine and a portrait of civil rights activist Robert P. Moses. Free—Registration required.

Wind Down Wednesday: Hygge and Home
Wednesday, Jan. 27, 5 p.m.
Instagram Live @smithsoniannpg
During this long, cold winter, we invite you to wind down with a free virtual program that fosters creativity and mindfulness. In partnership with independent mixologists, crafters, artists and other experts, Wind Down Wednesday offers an optimistic approach to the middle of the week.

January is all about at-home comfort as we celebrate hygge and the serene portrait of author Marilynne Robinson from the exhibition “Her Story: A Century of Women Writers.” First, Megan Segarra of Meganda Kitchen will demonstrate her cocktail (or mocktail) recipe for infused spiked tea. Sip away while we discuss the portrait and read excerpts from Robinson’s beloved books. Then learn about candles and aromatherapy and center yourself through a meditative botanical watercolor workshop inspired by Robinson’s portrait.


Viewfinder: Women’s Film and Video from the Smithsonian
Joan Jonas: The Inner Worlds of Video
Thursday, Feb. 4, 5:30 p.m.
Online via Zoom
For more than half a century, Joan Jonas has created some of contemporary art’s most influential videos, performances and installations. Join us for a virtual screening of Jonas’s iconic videos “Left Side Right Side” (8:50 min., 1972) and “Vertical Roll” (19:38 min., 1972) from the respective collections of the National Portrait Gallery and the Smithsonian American Art Museum. Afterward, a post-screening discussion with Jonas and curators Charlotte Ickes and Saisha Grayson will reveal how the artist explores interiority through the medium of video. Viewfinder: Women’s Film and Video from the Smithsonian is a monthly virtual screening and conversation series sponsored by the Smithsonian American Women’s History Initiative, “Because of Her Story.” The first six programs in the series reflect upon interiority, a timely theme now that the global pandemic has confined many to their homes. Free—Registration required.

Art AfterWords: A Book Discussion   
Tuesday, Feb. 9, 5:30–7 p.m.
Online via Zoom
The National Portrait Gallery and the DC Public Library invite you to a virtual conversation about representation, kinship and storytelling. Join us as we analyze Bernard Gotfryd’s portrait of Alice Walker and discuss the related book “Training School for Negro Girls” by Camille Acker. DCPL cardholders can access the book onlineFor questions, or to request accommodations such as an ASL interpreter or captioning, please email  Free—Registration required.

Exhibiting the First Ladies: A Curator’s Perspective
Tuesday, Feb. 16, 5 p.m.
Online via Zoom
Join Gwendolyn DuBois Shaw, the Class of 1940 Bicentennial Term Associate Professor of the History of Art at the University of Pennsylvania, as she presents her research and insights from curating “Every Eye Is Upon Me: First Ladies of the United States.” The presentation will be followed by a Q & A moderated by Portrait Gallery Acting Senior Historian Kate Clarke Lemay.

This program is part of the Greenberg Steinhauser Forum in American Portraiture Conversation Series and is hosted by PORTAL, the Portrait Gallery’s Scholarly Center. Closed captioning will be provided. Free—Registration Required.

Wind Down Wednesday: Good Trouble
Wednesday, Feb. 24, 5 p.m.
Instagram Live
During this long, cold winter, we invite you to wind down with a free virtual program that fosters creativity and mindfulness. In partnership with independent mixologists, crafters, artists, and other experts, Wind Down Wednesday offers an optimistic approach to the middle of the week.

In February, we celebrate African Americans’ contributions to U.S. culture and history – but this important recognition should not be limited to 28 days of the year. As the late congressman, leader and activist John Lewis would remark, the work we need to do often involves making “good trouble.” In honor of his activist spirit, we will discuss the museum’s newly acquired portrait of Lewis and pay homage to his quest for civil rights. Learn about Lewis’s organized efforts to lead the nation toward racial equality and the good trouble he made. This conversation about civic awareness, empowerment and community will help you discover how to activate your voice and increase your civic involvement – all year long. Invited guests include Mixin’ Mimi, who will craft a mocktail and cocktail to get us into the spirit.

Ongoing Programs: January–February 

Writing Hour
Tuesdays, 5 p.m.
Online via Zoom
Join us weekly for a virtual creative writing hour. We’ve set up an online space where writers can create, connect and draw inspiration from the Portrait Gallery’s collection. Free—Registration required.

Wednesdays, 11 a.m.
YouTube @smithsoniannpg
Jan. 13: Abraham Lincoln
Jan. 20: Ruth Asawa
Jan. 27: Leah Chase
Feb. 3: Celia Cruz
Feb. 10: Barack Obama
Feb. 17: Mary Mills
Feb. 24: Stokely Carmichael and Adam Clayton Powell Jr.

Introducing… a new kind of story time! Each week, a Portrait Gallery educator will shine a light on some of this country’s lesser-known historymakers and their portraits. Children will learn more about art, hear the stories behind the portraits and even learn some new vocabulary. Select story times will be in Spanish. For children ages 3 and up and their families.

Young Portrait Explorers
Wednesdays, 11-11:30 a.m. & 3-3:30 p.m.
Online via Zoom
Jan. 13: Louis Armstrong
Feb. 10: Celia Cruz
Explore portraits of astronauts and activists, scientists and star athletes – and discover the stories behind them. Join the Portrait Gallery each week for a close look at a featured portrait. Then we’ll dig deeper with some discussion questions and get moving with fun activities on the day’s topic. Download PDF activity guides from the “Visit at Home” page of the Portrait Gallery’s website. For children ages 3 and up and their families. Free—Registration required.

Drawn to Figures LIVE
Thursdays, 11:00 a.m.
Online via Zoom
Jan. 7: Scaling portraits down to miniature size
Jan. 21: Working in gouache and watercolor
Feb. 4: Drawing hands in action
Feb. 25: Creating portraits from photographs
Discover your inner artist in this live virtual drawing workshop. Facilitated by artist Jill Galloway, the workshop will include guided instruction on the techniques and challenges of figure drawing. Participants will be offered the chance to share their work at the end of the session. Each program will highlight a Portrait Gallery exhibition or portrait from the collection. Open to all skill levels, ages 18 and up. Required materials will be listed on the Eventbrite program page. Free—Registration required.

Drawn to Figures
Thursdays, Jan. 12 & 28, 11 a.m.
YouTube @smithsoniannpg
Discover your inner artist in this online workshop on sketching the human body. Artist Jill Galloway will highlight the techniques and challenges of figure drawing while providing guided instruction and helpful tips. Open to all skill levels, ages 13 and up.

Open Studio Workshops
Fridays, 11 a.m.
YouTube @smithsoniannpg

Enjoy weekly art workshops from the comfort of your own home. Each Friday, we will post a video with a new activity or technique. Grab a family member or your roommates, or make a virtual date with a friend, and get creative with artist Jill Galloway. Artists of all ages and skill levels will enjoy creating art inspired by the Portrait Gallery’s collection.

Online Docent Tours

Group Tours
By reservation
Online via Zoom
Since we can’t get together in person, let’s meet up remotely! In January 2021, the National Portrait Gallery will begin offering docent-led group tours for adults online. The following tours will be available by registration: America’s Presidents, Highlights of the National Portrait Gallery, Docent’s Choice, and Special Exhibitions. Reservations are required, and a three-week advance notice is appreciated. E-mail to receive a tour request form. All tours are subject to availability; last-minute cancellations may occur.