IGNORE ALL the back-to-school promotions: It’s still summer. Still time for the beach? Sure, but here are three alternatives, outdoorsy in their own way—or at least outdoors-adjacent. I’ll start with the B’s, as in “the Bronx.”
THE NEW YORK Botanical Garden has a lush landscape exhibit this summer, a homage to Roberto Burle Marx, one of the most important Brazilian artists of the 20th century and who himself spanned much of the century (1909-1994).
“Brazilian Modern: The Living Art of Roberto Burle Marx” ranges across the whole garden. Important for his plant discoveries and connoisseurship, Burle Marx is best known to those of us general-knowledge types as the genius behind the sinuous black-and-white mosaic walkway along Copacabana Beach, which surely says “Rio” to most people.
“Brazilian Modern” is NYBG’s largest botanical exhibition ever and goes over the top, in the best way possible. There’s a Modern Garden, with black-and-white pathways that echo Copacabana’s, flanked by lush garden plantings; an Explorer’s Garden, a nod to the flamboyant Burle Marx’s enthusiasm for the rain-forest species of Brazil and the way he introduced Brazilians to their rich patrimony by adopting these extravagant species for public and private landscapes. There is also a Water Garden and, in the library, a display of Burle Marx’s paintings and drawings.
Visitors can go full-bore Burle Marx by purchasing tropical plants in the gift shop, as well as Brazilian botanical personal-care products and, if tempted, $2,100 lithographs signed by the artist.
“Brazilian Modern: The Living Art of Roberto Burle Marx,” New York Botanical Garden, 2900 Southern Boulevard, Bronx, NY; 718-817-8700. Through September 29, 2019, Tuesday through Sunday 10am to 6pm. “Artes Brasileiras” live music and dance performances take place on weekends. Ticket price includes the entire property and the tram tour; weekdays $23 for adults ($20 for seniors), weekends $28 (and $25). Tickets can be purchased online at https://www.nybg.org/visit/admission.
NEXT UP is Pittsburgh, where the Frick Pittsburgh’s Car and Carriage Museum is offering the “outdoors-adjacent” exhibit“The Hunt for a Seat: Sporting Carriages in the Early Twentieth Century,” displaying sporting-class carriages, custom-designed for the elite class that could afford such things (which called for horses, a stable, and staff to tend to both). Also on display are the sporting outfits of the leisure class, including horseback-riding costumes for women, who had to mate public decorum in dress with the exigencies of riding sidesaddle. The carriage exhibit is timed to coincide with “A Sporting Vision: The Mellon Collection of British Sporting Art From the Virginia Museum of Fine Art,” on exhibit in The Frick Art Museum, in the same compound. the exhibit includes a section of works by Pittsburgh-born Paul Mellon’s favorite painter, the horse and animal portraitist George Stubbs.
“The Hunt for a Seat: Sporting Carriages in the Early Twentieth Century,” The Frick Pittsburgh’s Car and Carriage Museum, 7227 Reynolds Street, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; 412-371-0600. Through November 3, 2019, Tuesday through Sunday 10am to 5pm, Fridays until 9pm. Admission to the Car and Carriage Museum is free; “A Sporting Vision” admission in the Museum is $15 for adults ($13 for seniors). Tickets can be purchased online at www.thefrickpittsburgh.org.
AND THAT takes us to W, for Washington DC. The National Building Museum there has managed to install a summer blockbuster for several years now. One year it was “Beach,” which featured an enormous ball pit for kids and adults alike to submit to, as if to so many ocean waves; “Iceberg” celebrated and “constructed” bergs that took the heat out of summer. Now comes “Lawn,” a rolling (fake) greensward that features hammocks, lawn chairs, setups for lawn games and lots of acreage to just chill out. And in the background, the sounds of summer: crickets chirping, bees buzzing, a lawnmower whirring in the distance. But note that summer ends at the National Building Museum on September 2, 2019.
There are morning yoga sessions, evening movies, a few days reserved for DC residents designated by ward. The museum ensures a good experience by selling timed tickets. Otherwise you might be tempted to curse out your neighbor-visitors with a time-honored “Get off my lawn!”
“Lawn,” National Building Museum, 401 F Street NW, Washington DC; 202-272-2448. Open every day through September 2, 2019, generally 10am to 5pm (from 11am on Sundays, additional hours for evening movies). Admission is $16 for adults ($13 for seniors 60 and up). Tickets can be purchased at https://www.nbm.org/exhibitions/lawn-tickets.
Nancy McKeon is managing editor of MyLittleBird.