At Joan Hisaoka Healing Arts Gallery, Things Have Changed

by October 4, 2011 at 11:00 am 1,717 0

Joan Hisaoka Gallery, U Street NW, Luis Gomez Photos, Borderstan

The renovated gallery space at Joan Hisaoka Gallery on U Street at the opening of “VESSEL.” The entrances to the multipurpose room and rock garden are in the rear. (Luis Gomez Photos)

Borderstan welcomes a new contributor, Kate Hays, who will be writing about art and theater. Contact Hays on Twitter @kateyhays or email her at [email protected]

From Kate Hays

This past September, Joan Hisaoka Gallery launched “VESSEL.” Pieces in the show range in type and character, but all point to the tension of holding, but lightly, with openness. This vision of a place of openness, growth, and safe-keeping has long been a part of the gallery.

Hisaoka’s origins take us back 15 years, when the Smith Center for Healing and the Arts began. It started with a focus on providing resources for cancer patients. From art therapy to movement workshops to support groups, Smith Farm provided an open place to hold the concerns of people facing devastating illness.

Joan Hisaoka Gallery, U Street NW, Luis Gomez Photos, Borderstan

An outdoor rock garden at at the back of the gallery is part of the renovated Joan Hisaoka Gallery. The multipurpose is visible straight ahead. (Luis Gomez Photos)

Joan Hisaoka was an a participant in that program, and it was her time in art therapy classes through Smith Farm that convinced her of the healing nature of art; not as a cure, but as a safe place to work through the dimensions of the disease. The gallery was dedicated to Hisaoka’s memory in 2008, when she passed away.

Now, VESSEL opens up a new exhibit in a newly redesigned and expanded gallery. A new glassed-in courtyard adds light and dimension to the space; an almost-complete roof deck opens to the sky. A multipurpose room in the back hosts cooking classes and yoga practice. And the gallery in front feels lighter for the addition.

To commemorate the new space, gallery director Brooke Seidelmann curated a show with the works of some of her favorite artists. From Ani Kasten’s “Cairns” to Jenny Freestone’s title piece “VESSEL,” the show prompts viewers to examine their own places of holding. This show is exactly the right mix to show off the vessel the Hisaoka Gallery has become.

“VESSEL” runs through October 22, 2011. Next in line? Shifting its focus to visions outward, the Joan Hisaoka Gallery will feature the U Street neighborhood in a show featuring Tom Wolff photos. The show will open November 4. Stop in and take a look at 1632 U Street NW.


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