The Washington Post

Another sign of summer: Happy hour among the sculptures

Visitors to Jazz in the Garden relax around the grand fountain in the National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden. (National Gallery of Art)

The brainchild of the National Gallery of Art that started in 2001, Fridays at the Sculpture Garden (National Mall at 7th Street and Constitution Avenue NW) have become the almost proverbial happy hour option in the district. Every week, rain or shine, the garden is open from 5 to 8:30 p.m. for the concerts.

For those who enjoy the sculptures and jazz just as much as the readily available pitchers of sangria, visitors can look forward to the newly reinstalled sculpture “Moondog” by Tony Smith, standing roughly 17 feet high and weighing 4,200 pounds. New performers for the 2011 season include Elike, Rumba Club, Alan Wonneberger and Company, the United States Naval Academy Band, The Next Wave, Sheila Ross and Uptown Vocal Jazz Quartet.

Because of its surge in popularity in recent years, finding an open grassy spot for a group of, say, four or five people is akin to beach-blanket-induced turf wars. So the National Gallery of Art’s press office dispenses age-old advice. Arrive early. Some people begin setting up at 4 p.m. It’s generally most crowded after 6 p.m. when sitting Indian-style becomes a space-saving option. Of course, the long refreshment and bathroom lines are a whole other problem – one that arriving early can’t alleviate.

So readers, we want to hear from you- what are your tricks to make the most of your Sculpture Garden Fridays? Avoid long lines at the bathroom by using the dreaded Porta-Potty toilets instead, doubling up on pitchers to make more time for the jazz, or simply ditching those office reports an hour early to scope out the perfect spot? Share your tips in the comments below.


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