Washington Life Magazine
Washington Life Magazine


IndeBleu Opens in Penn Quarter

The highly anticipated IndeBleu restaurant opened in Washington's Penn Quarter on December 20. Just entering this establishment is an experience in itself. Guests can sip colorful cocktails on swinging sofas or curved mattresses that arch into the ceiling, or sit at the 65-seat bar for drinks while a DJ spins international sounds. The main dining room's floor-to-ceiling windows offer views of the National Portrait Gallery and the bustling Penn Quarter district; the second dining room is designed for private parties and features a cozy fireplace set amid hues of orange and red. What more can one expect from the award-winning design team of Adamstein & Demetriou? Chef Vikram Garg has created an extensive menu of French cuisine infused with the bold flavors of India, and should you want to watch him at work, reserve the chef's table, which faces the restaurant but also rotates to view the kitchen. “Parisian cachet set against the lively backdrop of South Beach,” IndeBleu is already making its mark in D.C. — Over 1,200 people turned out for its opening party on December 18.

The Chocolate Road to Georgetown

Does this St. Valentine's Day make you think of chocolate? It clearly has that effect on the proprietors of Georgetown. The shops and restaurants have joined together this month to offer various chocolate gifts and treats in honor of the year's most romantic holiday. Istanbul Caravan is offering decadent Turkish chocolates in various colors, while Baked and Wired is tempting customers with pink-frosted chocolate cupcakes. For a healthier treat, Georgetowners are heading to Aveda for the Inner calm Organic IN-Fused chocolate bar, infused with plant ingredients to promote inner peace and clarity. If you have made a New Year's resolution to stay away from sweets, treat yourself to an Annie C. chocolate brown clutch from Urban Chic, or a chocolate brown lace and silk top by Miguelina and Gold Hawk at Wink.

Lights Come on at Tivoli Theater

The Tivoli Theater in Colombia Heights opened to the public in December, after being closed for nearly 30 years. The 1968 riots following the death of Martin Luther King, Jr. devastated Columbia Heights. While the theater itself suffered no damage, the economic devastation of the neighborhood forced the theater to close in 1976. Previously, the Tivoli was one of the most elegant theaters in Washington, offering film, orchestral works, ballet and short movie reels. The theater was built for $1 million in 1924, a huge cost around the time, and was designed with ornate cornices and a spectacular ceiling dome with a crystal cut chandelier. D.C.-based Horning Developers, was able to restore many of the historic elements. The restored theater will only have 250-seats, compared to the previous 2,000, and will also house a Giant Food store, the GALA Hispanic Theater and a variety of shops and restaurants as well as offices and 40 residences. The entire project should be completed by Spring.

Café Libre

For more than four decades after the revolution that brought Fidel Castro to power, the U.S. government has restricted Americans from traveling the Cuba. Now, California-based Thanksgiving Coffee has created Freedom to Travel coffee, to support the effort to restore freedom of access for Americans who wish to travel to the communist island. The label urges Washington to “Wake up and smell the coffee,” explaining that, if the restrictions are lifted, the coffee could indeed be “café authentico.” Freedom to Travel Coffee is grown in Nicaragua and is free trade, organic and shade grown. Both the dark and light roast are from the SOPPEXCCA cooperative, known for producing some of the finest coffees in Nicaragua. The company is donating $2.25 from every package of the coffee to the Freedom to Travel Campaign of the Center for International Policy, which has been working to lift the ban on travel to Cuba and promotes a U.S. foreign policy based on international cooperation, demilitarization and respect for basic human rights. To purchase the coffee or to learn more about the Freedom to Travel Campaign, visit www.cubacentral.com.

Exclusive Children's Boutique Opens a New Location

Piccolo Piggies of Georgetown has opened a second store in Bethesda. The popular children's emporium opened in Georgetown two years ago, and carries exclusive clothing and gifts for newborns and children up to age 14 from chic European brands such as Catamini, Bon Point, Simonetta, Petit Bateau and Lilli Gaufrette, as well as fashions from esteemed American designers, including Lilly Pulitzer, Betti Terril, Helena and Harry and Annavini. In addition, the store's district manager, Jessica Murray, is a native Parisian who returns to France each year to stake out new designers for the store. The Bethesda branch will allow founder, Dahlia Neiss to feature the most popular items from the Georgetown store as well as offer new and different items. The new store is located in the Wildwood Shopping Center on Old Georgetown Road.

Art: L'Art Nouveau: The Bing Empire

An eclectic range of artworks, including Toulouse-Latrec prints, Rodin sculptures and Tiffany glassware are on display this winter at the Van Gough Museum in Amsterdam. The 400 sleek, stylized Art Nouveau artifacts may seem a far cry from Van Gogh's work: What do, after all, ornately curving French jewelry and lamps have to do with the Dutch postimpressionism? The missing link is legendary art dealer Siegfried Bing. While in Paris, Van Gogh fell in love with Japanese prints -- exotic and cutting-edge for their time - - that were sold at Bing's Gallery, L'Art Nouveau (which later gave its name to this seminal movement). Van Gogh bought hundreds of these prints, and they later influenced the style and subject matter of his painting (as exemplified by The Pear Tree in Blossom, 1887, and The Courtesan, 1888). Art Nouveau -- essentially originating in Bing's diverse collections -- not only influenced postimpressionism but was an important forerunner of the art deco movement as well. It is surprising how few of the many exhibitions organized each year around the world are dedicated to the cultural and historical significance of galleries and art dealers.
What makes Bing such an important figure in the annals of art during the last quarter of the nineteenth century? Aside from popularizing “Japonisme” and his considerable influence on Van Gogh, Bing blew new life into the applied arts and decorative painting. What makes Bing such a fascinating topic of study is that in addition to being a dealer, he was a patron and, in effect, a creative entrepreneur. He not only commissioned artists but also opened workshops where artisans designed and manufactured objects that would fulfill his vision of a new art for modern living. Bing's commitment to the applied arts worldwide, his entrepreneurship in the creation of modern décor for the home, his international use of commercial contacts, and his ability to use images, new typefaces and logos to communicate ideas about a modern aesthetic, made him a pioneer in the formation of a style born out of international cooperation and artistic cross-fertilization. He was a risk taker who brushed off criticism and was one of the first to display “controversial” pieces such The Scream, The Madonna, and The Vampire by Edvard Munch. Telling Bing's story meant much more than simply looking for objects in order to assemble them in an attractive manner in a museum. This exhibit displays the considerable perspicacity of co-curators Edwin Becker, Evelyne Posseme and Gabriel Weisberg, who together with Yvonne Brunhammer and her staff, managed to ferret out a multitude of historical documents, and seemingly disparate paintings, ceramics, furniture, silver, glass and photographs to create a unified whole and pay homage to Bing's lasting vision and influence. All the items on show at the museum passed through Bing's personal collection at one time or another. However, the narrative that emerges is not limited to the viewing and admiration of beautifully designed objects; visitors will learn about the commerce of art, about design and manufacture of objects and their promotion through widely distributed advertisements in the specialized and popular press. Van Gogh aficionados will also appreciate the over 100 masterpieces by the celebrated artist in the museum. The show runs daily through February 26 and is a must see for lovers of art and travelers to Holland.

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