Author Archives: Sheila Blake


This is our last regularly-scheduled episode for WOWD-LP Takoma Park, although we may, from time to time, present a special unscheduled episode. After almost 150 shows, we decided to take a break and figure out where we’re going from here.  In this episode, Tom, Sheila, and Peter discuss the history of the show, and what we tried to accomplish: our ideas and strategies to arm our listeners for rich artistic experiences.

Vermeer’s Secrets

The National Gallery of Art, in Washington DC, has mounted a small exhibition showing three sublime Vermeer paintings and three false Vermeers.

Our episode discusses:
  • what makes Vermeer so good  (a little art criticism/theory)
  • the scientific research done by the museum’s conservation department,
  • how forgeries are made, marketed, and detected,
  • and more.

Sargent and Spain

Sargent, as revealed in Sargent and Spain, the new exhibition at the National Gallery of Art, gives us visions that are full of desire and celebration – both documentary and dreamlike.

John Singer Sargent was, in his day, one of the most celebrated artists in Europe; but his obituary in the London Times described him as the exemplar of an age that had passed. He’s always been easy to like, and for this reason, his reputation in the art world suffered for decades. But in our reassessment, we argue that in this post-modern age, there is no longer any hierarchy of genres or styles, and that Sargent deserves his renewed popularity, because he shows, in Wallace Stevens’ phrase, “the essential poem at the center of things”.

Robert Rauschenberg and John Cage

We explore the art of Robert Rauschenberg, the influence of John Cage, and two of Rauschenberg’s paintings, Factum 1 and Factum 2, currently on view at the National Gallery of Art in their current exhibition, Then Double: Identity and Difference in Art since 1900.

We find a lot of terrific information in a new book by Louis Menand – The Free World – and its story of the collaborations between Rauschenberg, Cage, and Merce Cunningham
Musical breaks by John Cage.

We are Made hof Stories: Self-Taught Artists at the SAAM

Hosts Sheila and Peter Blake visit the outsider/folk/self-taught art exhibit at the Smithsonian American Art Museum: We are Made of Stories: Self-Taught Artists in the Robson Family Collection.

This is perhaps our third show on folk art, and every time, we probe deeper into this rewarding art world.  Artists include Bil Traylor, Dan Miller, Judith Scott, and many others.

For images, go to the Smithsonian’s website:    
or to our Facebook page:

The Double

Sheila and Peter Blake use the current exhibition, The Double, Identity and Difference in Art Since 1900, at the East Wing of the National Gallery, to explore art over many decades, mixing famous masters with contemporary artists, all creating with some aspect of visual doubling, reversal, or the split or doubled self.

American Portraiture Today

Sheila Blake and Peter Blake discuss portraiture as a art form, and the current exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery, the finalaists of the Outwin 20221 competition.

You can find images of the exhibition works here:


New Ways of Being Together: Laurie Anderson and John Cage

With insights from our recent episode on postmodernism, we reprise our conversation about the Laurie Anderson exhibit currently at the Hirshhorn Museum of Art in DC.  We draw out the connections between Anderson’s work and that of John Cage: even though their music is completely different, their ethical purposes are in alignment.