Valentine’s Day Date Ideas for Art Lovers

Mix a little culture with your Valentine’s plans—celebrate February 14 while indulging your inner artist.

By: Emily Leaman

• See art and get a free flower.
Part of the Torpedo Factory’s Second Thursday Art Night series, the special Valentine’s edition, Heart Art, will feature live music, open studios and galleries, and refreshments. A bonus: The first 300 guests will be given a flower. Stick around to do a heart-themed scavenger hunt through the gallery and enter a free raffle. The event is Thursday, February 12, from 6 to 9.

• Do a naked scavenger hunt.
No, you won’t be running around Washington in your birthday suit; you’ll be solving nudity-themed riddles and searching for nude art at the National Gallery of Art or the Smithsonian American Art Museum.

Watson Adventures, a company that hosts scavenger hunts in dozens of cities, will run two adults-only, nudity-themed scavenger hunts on February 14. The National Gallery hunt will start at 11 AM, the Smithsonian American Art Museum hunt at 1; both are $22.50 a person. According to the Web site, “No knowledge of art, or nudity, is required.”

• Enjoy a Native American lunch.
Spend time perusing the exhibits at the National Museum of the American Indian, then duck into Mitsitam Café for a taste of traditional Native American cuisine. This museum cafeteria, which features five food stations, is a favorite of our foodie staff. Though the menus change daily—one of the perks—we like the South American station best. On our visit, we sampled smoky chicken tamales, dessert-worthy plantain empanadas, and a spicy yuca stew.

• Learn to write “love” in Chinese.
The Freer Gallery of Art and the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery are hosting an event called “In Any Language Love” from noon to 4 on February 14 as part of the ImaginAsia program. It’ll include a slide show of images of love in Asian art as well as a hands-on opportunity to print a Valentine using collagraph blocks with “love” written in different Asian languages. The program is free, but seating and participation are first come, first served. If you go, be prepared to spend the afternoon with kids—though open to all ages, the program is designed for ages 8 to 14.

• Hear music all weekend long.
On Friday, February 13, at 8, the Atrium Quartet will perform works by Mendelssohn, Shostakovich, and Borodin at the Library of Congress. The award-winning string quartet is performing as part of the library’s Mendelssohn Anniversary series.

At Bohemian Caverns, Bilal Sayeed Oliver—known to fans just as Bilal—will perform two Valentine’s-themed jazz shows at 7:30 and 10. In 2006, the performer released an album in Europe called Love for Sale, which is the inspiration for the Valentine’s Day show. Tickets are $20 in advance or $25 at the door.

Sunday, February 15, at the Phillips Collection, enjoy a 4 PM concert by the Silver-Garburg Piano Duo, a pair of internationally acclaimed Israeli pianists. Museum admission is included in the price—$12 for adults, $10 for students as well as seniors over age 61, free for members and visitors age 18 and under—so be sure to peruse the works of Degas, Cézanne, Gauguin, van Gogh, and more while you’re there.

• Negotiate a good poker hand. 
The Luck of the Draw will bring photography, sculpture, graffiti artists, live music, and more to the Capitol Riverfront from February 13 through 15. Bars, lounges, courtyards, and parking lots will display the work of local artists. Draw a playing card from each location and barter, trade, and negotiate the best five-card poker hand to enter a raffle and win prizes. Artomatic, the Pink Line Project, and the Capitol Riverfront Business Improvement District are sponsoring the event.

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