Culture Vulture: Free, Easy and Cool

Well, we’re in at the end of the middle of our summer doldrums. Every weekend marks another mass exodus to 95 North and beyond; presidential election wonks take turns claiming, “Polls don’t matter right now” and “Look at this poll! Look at it, I say!” And, of course, it’s hot. And humid. History repeats itself. We’re looking for the greater angels of central air conditioning, not an answer to an unanswerable question about an election three months away.

We can help with our roundup of activities in cool places—and unlike most things in Washington, the help and the suggestions themselves are free. As in, we can help you find that oasis of treated air circulation, where you can rest your feet, feed your soul, ignore your wallet, and pretend you don’t live in the middle of a swamp.What: Screening of John Milius’s Big Wednesday
When: Tonight, 7 to 9 PM
Where: Library of Congress
Even if you do make it to Rehoboth—or Dewey or Bethany—you aren’t going to spot any red-blooded surfers. Besides, you’d have to fight it out with the thousands of other beach denizens, and who wants to do that? In this heat? Catch this free movie about the surfing culture of the late ’60s tonight after work.

What: Art exhibit, “Yellow Mountain: China’s Ever-Changing Landscape
When: Through August 24
Where: Arthur M. Sackler Gallery
It’s a tired cliché to describe Eastern art as calm or peaceful or serene or contemplative, but sometimes it does no harm to cash on in on easy assumptions for the betterment of your eyes and mind. On the basement level of the Sackler, the “Yellow Mountain” exhibit boasts beautiful works from throughout China’s history and also offers a contemporary interpretation of traditional Chinese artistic practices.

Tiny bonus? The gardens that flank the Sackler and Freer galleries are exploding with stuff decidedly more interesting than whatever is on your computer monitor.

Ongoing:
What: “Running for Office: Candidates, Campaigns, and the Cartoons of Clifford Berryman
When: Through August 17
Where: National Archives
Okay, maybe it really is impossible to completely avoid politics in this town. But if we must confront that bitter reality, then by golly, we’ll fight fire with fire—the second fire being political satire. This exhibit rocks 42 pen-and-ink drawings by political-cartoon heavyweight Clifford K. Berryman.

What: “Eero Saarinen: Shaping the Future
When: Through August 23
Where: National Building Museum
It’s doubtful that, regardless of artistic inclination, you or anyone else with a plane to catch has really pondered the beautiful architecture that is Dulles International Airport. Aside from being esconced in the comfort of the lovely National Building Museum, this exhibit is a doozy for Modernism buffs and neophytes alike.

Enjoy, folks, and stay cool. The heat isn’t going anywhere—but you can.

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