French Artist Isabelle Spicer Finds Color in DC

by November 4, 2010 at 5:00 am 6,224 1 Comment

Isabelle Spicer with “Black and White.” (Luis Gomez Photos)

From Cecile Oreste at danceDC

Before settling in the U Street area, French painter Isabelle Spicer lived in a variety of countries including France, Belgium, Germany, Russia and Poland. Although she has only lived in the District for about three years, she has quickly become part of the local arts community.

She has taken art classes at the Torpedo Factory in Alexandria and also at the Smithsonian. Her work has been exhibited at Mid City Caffe and sold at the 17th Street Festival. Just last year, she joined Mid City Artists and recently she curated her first art show titled (Re)Discover at Bistro La Bonne on U Street.

(Re)Discover features paintings from Spicer, as well as work from Charlie Gaynor, IURRO (Jiri Stavovcik) and Deborah Saks. According to Spicer, the idea for the show was not only to exhibit work she enjoyed, but also to help her rediscover her home country of France.

Despite growing up just outside of Paris, Spicer found little inspiration from her experiences in France. She remembered the landscapes to be mostly gray and was surprised at other artists’ colorful representations of her homeland. In regards to Gaynor’s photography, she said, “He found colors everywhere in Paris. I was completely speechless.”

Inspiration from Social, Political Issues

Spicer admits that her French background has inspired some of her work. In addition to painting colorful urban landscapes of the U Street neighborhood, she creates collages that often speak to social and political issues. She produced a series of collages inspired by Obama’s election in 2008, and also about the recent shootings in the U Street area. My political awareness comes from my French background, she said. “But I didn’t feel creative when living in France. I didn’t have a way to express it.”

Living in DC, particularly living on U Street, has inspired Spicer to create art. “What I like about this neighborhood is that you have diversity. It’s a border where everybody meets,” she said.

“I also like the history behind the businesses like Ben’s Chili Bowl. It’s managed to stay open all these years. It survived the riots, the Metro construction and snowmageddon. It’s indestructible.”

French-Language Blog

Today, Spicer continues to paint and also to write about art. She manages a French-language blog that talks about modern art in Washington, New York, Philadelphia and Baltimore among other major cities. Through her blog, she hopes to educate French people about culture in the United States.

“The French are really eager to learn about what’s going on in the U.S,” she said. “I’m trying to show that there is a lot of culture in the States; even French culture.”

If you would like to view Spicer’s work, her paintings are currently on display at Bistro La Bonne and U Street Wine Shop. You can also tour her studio space during Mid City Artists Open Studios weekend Sunday, November 7th from 1pm to 5pm. For more information, visit Spicer’s website.

Isabelle Spicer

Isabelle Spicer’s work includes scenes from 14th and U Streets NW. (Luis Gomez Photos)


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