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The official photo blog of J. David Buerk Photography.

Taste Leesburg

This weekend, after attending the Lexus Experience Amazing Drive Event (photos coming very soon), I stumbled onto the Taste Leesburg street food festival with some friends. It’s been quite a few years since I’ve really explored old town Leesburg, and between barhopping Leesburg for a friend’s birthday a few months ago, and walking around this weekend sampling the restaurants, food trucks, stores, and local wineries and breweries, I’ve happily learned that Leesburg has quite clearly undergone a revitalization since I last explored it in depth.

I’m not sure if Taste Leesburg is a new food festival, or if I’ve just been missing out for a long time, because I usually go to similar festivals in DC, Reston, Herndon, Fairfax, and even further West into Aldie, Middleburg, and Waterford. All participants got a tasting glass, and I was very surprised at how generous all the vendors were being with the servings of their samplings. Of the local wineries that had tables this weekend, I’ve visited about half of them in person at some point or another. Full sets were played by King Street Kats, Hard Swimmin’ Fish, and Hungry on Mondays.

Silly me, I had my camera and took pictures of everything except the food! I didn’t take a single picture of any food or drink, even on my phone, which is crazy considering the event. But enjoy some photos of the festival as a whole and a few things that caught my eye along the way!

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A Day at the Museums

Smithsonian Folklife Festival

Every year I try to visit the Smithsonian Folklife Festival; this year was no different.  As we always do, Adrianna and I arrived hungry and enjoyed several of the different cultural food vendors.  With this year's festival, however, that was about all we did, as we found the entire festival quite small underwhelming, particularly in comparison to previous years; it seems as though the festival has been shrinking over the last few years, much to our disappointment, as we both look forward to attending each year.  The nearby waste bins reminded me of some fine art photography series I've seen done on trash.

We perused the entire grounds of the festival, and barely anything was going on - we saw two discussion panels, which the speakers seemed to be attempting humor that was falling flat on the gathered audiences, and there were no demonstrations taking place even at the scheduled times posted.  Disappointed, we decided to hit a few of the less trafficked museums.

Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden

At the Hirshorn we saw parts of Yoko Ono's exhibits which were nearing their close, and Ai Weiwei's "Trace" exhibit of large LEGO portraits of political dissidents.  This of course was alongside some of Hirshorn's collection of rotating artifacts on display.

One piece that initially confused us was Reynier Leyva Novo's "5 Nights," which appear as different sized rectangles of black ink on the walls, each equal to the amount of ink used in writing five totalitarian leaders' manifestos; at the museum, we did not see a plaque explaining this, but we did notice the plaque underneath the largest rectangle labeled "Adolf Hitler: Mein Kampf" and we incorrectly surmised that these were placeholders for an upcoming exhibit, one of which would be a painting by Adolf Hitler sharing the title of his infamous autobiography.  It wasn't until later that evening on the Hirshorn website that all was made clear; the conclusion we'd drawn earlier just didn't feel as though it added up, and had been bugging me for clarification and correction all day.

The detail and depth in Weiwei's repeating patterns is breathtaking, and a designer's delight.  Overtones of surveillance, oppression, suppression.  The rise of Twitter, resistance, transparency through opposition.  It's bleak and hopeful and applicable to the political state in many governments the whole-World over.  It is a modern illustration of a timeless struggle.

Weiwei's LEGO art was expansive and reminiscent of 8-bit art, eliciting thoughts of the digital age in which many of his subjects relied upon in their tasks.

National Museum of the American Indian

Next we decided to visit the nearby National Museum of the American Indian.  Adrianna is part Native American, so she's visited many times and is well versed in the exhibits and history.  I, on the other hand, had never been before, and my entire knowledge of Native American history is limited one learns in 4th grade; that is, to say, I admittedly have no significant knowledge of Native American history.  Our visit was rushed because they would be closing in less than two hours, and frankly this is a museum to fully absorb a whole day would be required; I will need to return to devote an entire day to give it the attention this museum requires and deserves.

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At closing time we split a pastry in the cafeteria head off back to Virginia for dinner.

2016 Waterford Fair

For several years now I've been making it a point to visit the Waterford Fair annually, although last year the Fair was cancelled due to flooding, but the town of Waterford, Virginia made up for it a month later with the Art Harvest.

This year was a little rainy, but that wasn't enough to keep me away, and it certainly wasn't a flood, even if it was caused by a hurricane just like in 2015.  My first stop was at a woodworker, who has begun making pens this year in addition to his other goods.  I bought my 6th fountain pen, and it's my absolute favorite, and my daily writer now; Hawaiian Koa with 24K Gold Nib.

Other stops I always make include buying honey from Loudoun Center Apiaries (1 bottle of their light honey lasts me the entire year!), the antique farm equipment display, the corner store to buy lamb sausage for slow grilling later on, and the beltmaker who I buy a belt from every year; he actually recognizes me now.

I always go through each art and photography gallery, mostly to admire the skills that other artists have that I lack - I so wish I could paint.  On this same note, I usually stop in on Katherine Riedel's studio for a moment or two, but this time we actually got to talking about my unexplored desires to learn to paint (specifically watercolors, if you're wondering).  Katherine and I spoke for about a half hour, and listening to her talk about art and paint and shape was so interesting I wish I'd been able to turn it into a full interview / spotlight.  I did ask if I could film her painting for a bit; the gourds and pumpkins in the video is what she was working on when I dropped by.

Finally, I always visit the wine tasting section (shocker, I know).  This is probably one of the best ways to go wine tasting for a beginner, because the 5 or 6 wineries that have booths all give an abbreviated tasting.  Most tastings at a winery sample ~6 - 12 wines, while each tasting at the Waterford Fair samples ~4 - 6; that means if you do the full tasting at Waterford of all the wineries, you're sampling ~25 - 30 different wines!  For $20 including a souvenir glass, this is an incredible bargain considering the amount of variety (and frankly, sheer amount, especially considering some of the wineries are heavy pourers); a full tasting at just a single one of these wineries including a glass will always run above $20, and here you're getting to try FIVE!  If you find a winery you especially like, you can buy bottles right at the tasting, or you can go visit their actual location some other day.  I've been to all but two of the wineries at the Fair this year, and with all the vineyards I've visited, I'm pretty well versed in Virginia wine (hint: I generally dislike Virginia wines - actually, I've noticed I generally dislike most American wines).  I have three favorite Virginia wineries, and unfortunately none of them display at Waterford - that is just personal preference and nothing against the wineries present at Waterford; most of them are very good and are highly regarded.  I even got a little something to bring back from Creek's Edge.

And don't forget to watch the video to see some of this stuff in action.