Strolling through the outer chamber of Marion Barry's office last week, you'd have sworn you were in an art gallery, because all the work had artists' names and prices. On a coffee table sat a brochure for the "D.C. Art Showcase by Local Artists." Art of places and things in the District -- ranging in medium from watercolors to linoleum-cut prints and in price from $90 to $2,000 -- was on display.
"They were looking to decorate the office, and they picked us because of our contacts to the local community," says Lewis Fields, managing director of the Regency Gallery, which is handling the work. "They thought we could make it less stodgy." Sales are fair so far (three works have been sold), but the gallery is getting a lot of inquiries. And the mayor's office liked the display so much that Fields has been asked to do the press conference room.
The Library of Congress is moving into high-tech this week with the introduction of a "super compact disc," officials there say. But those librarians won't be listening to the latest Top 40. Instead, the incredible seven-inch disc has 668 selections, 33 hours' worth of vaudeville, minstrel songs, oral histories and speeches -- the library's entire spoken-word collection recorded before 1910, as well as some political speeches recorded a decade later.
Political junkies can hear a young Franklin Roosevelt in the 1920 presidential race, when he was the vice presidential candidate on the Democratic ticket, and a saber-rattling speech by Buffalo Bill Cody on United States intervention in Cuba. There's even yodeling.
The new disc system, created by Interactive Productions Associates of Santa Monica, Calif., for $30,000, includes a video disc recorder, a computer terminal and decoder. With all this fancy tech, researchers need only pick a selection and the computer will find it in seconds.
Also recently available to the public are the papers of Jackson Pollock and Lee Krasner, these at the Archives of American Art. The married pair were at the center of the then-revolutionary abstract expressionist movement at the end of World War II. "He popped the lid, so to speak. His painting shifted the focus of attention from French painting to what was happening here," says Krasner in an interview in the collection. She donated the materials before she died in 1984, 20 years after her husband. The documents include letters, photographs, artists' notes and doodles, a scrapbook and transcripts of interviews. "This material will constitute an important resource for the study of abstract expressionist painting in America, the nation's first art movement of international significance," says archives director Richard Murray.
The Fairfax Symphony has appointed a new composer-in-residence. Anthony Stark will spend two years with the symphony, with duties varying from the small -- giving preconcert lectures to audiences -- to the large -- composing a major work for the orchestra. Stark has won several awards for composition and serves as American music coordinator for the Contemporary Music Forum at the Corcoran ...
Washington Opera resident designer Zack Brown will replace Edward Gorey for the opera company's new production of "Ruddigore," to play at the Kennedy Center in December. Gorey, the master of creepy Victorian illustrations, withdrew due to the press of other commitments.
The Chinese Golden Dragon Acrobats are back in town at the Kennedy Center from Tuesday to Sunday this week. The limber troupe does some pretty extraordinary feats. Bring binoculars and sedatives for the chair act, where an acrobat stacks chairs on four beer bottles to the too-high ceiling. Call 254-3776 ... The DC Contemporary Summer Musical Theatre Company opens "What He Could Have Been" on Friday at the Fletcher Johnson School. The musical features 30 youths in the city's Arts D.C. Summer Youth Employment program ... The Air and Space Museum begins its "Fly-by-Night" program every Friday from 6 to 9 p.m. through the rest of the summer. Activities include model-airplane building, telescope viewing and even a "Building in Space" contest, where children and parents can build space station towers out of straw and straight pins (It's a lot more than we have now) ... The Washington Conservatory of Music will audition new students in all instruments and voice throughout this week (and also Sept. 7 to 13). Call 320-2770 for info ... And the outdoor pick of the week: Sassparilla with singer Laurel Blaydes at the outdoor arcade of the Farragut North Metro stop at Connecticut Avenue and L Street NW. The free noon performance will shake the corner with swing, blues and boogie-woogie.