by December 29, 2010 at 5:00 am 3,069 8 Comments

Cecile Oreste

Cecile Oreste writes about the arts for Borderstan with a special focus on artist profiles. She also does feature stories and occasional profiles of entrepreneurs.

When Cecile Oreste approached me last March at Social Media Club DC breakfast and said she wanted to write about artists in the neighborhood, I gladly said, yes.

The Dupont-Logan-U Street area has long been an enclave for artists — we knew that artist profiles and feature stories would be popular with readers. Moreover, we wanted to bring more attention to the artists and galleries in the area.

With Borderstan Co-Editor Luis Gomez in tow as photographer, Cecile has profiled 25 artists in the Borderstan area since March (the list is below, a number are members of Mid City Artists). In addition, she has written numerous feature stories and even found time to profile several local businesses (see the list below).


by April 24, 2013 at 11:00 am 0


Michael Torra at his studio. (Luis Gomez Photos)

From Cecile Oreste of danceDCYou can follower her on Twitter @dance_DC.

Local artist Michael Torra’s life is centered around the Borderstan area. His first apartment was a studio on R Street NW, and he has lived in Dupont Circle since he moved to the District more than 15 years ago. Inevitably, the shapes and colors of the neighborhood have made their way into his paintings.

Cityscapes from the Rooftop

The most obvious influence can be seen in Torra’s cityscape series, which portrays the skylines of his rooftop views. His surroundings have also had a more subtle influence in the work of his sun series.

“I knew I wanted to create some sort of abstraction of the sun as a vehicle for playing with yellows and oranges,” he said. “As I thought about how I would structure the piece, I finally figured it out one day walking past the fountain in the Circle, looking at the ground and how the slabs of the concrete under my feet were shaped. I ended up basing the geometric structure of those paintings off the shapes of those concrete slabs.”

Painting has been a passion of Torra’s since he moved to the area, but it wasn’t his first creative interest.

“At college in Los Angeles I took a lot of art classes, all in sculpture, until my senior year when it dawned on me that after I graduated, I wouldn’t be able to afford welding torches, band saws and all the other equipment I had access to as a student,” he said. He decided to take a painting class and immediately fell in love. Torra admits it took a while to develop his own style of painting, but classes at The Art League in Alexandria helped him establish his voice — creating abstract and non-representational works that balance form and color.

East Coast and West Coast

Torra has lived on both the West Coast, in Los Angeles, and the East Coast, just outside of Boston, Mass. Although he thought he would eventually return to his native California, he ended up calling the District home after moving to the Dupont Circle neighborhood in 1998. Like many DC transplants, Torra sought and eventually reached his goal of working on Capitol Hill. After a decade long career in politics, he joined a public affairs firm where he works with progressive organizations. According to Torra, his day job not only allows him to work on causes he cares about, but gives him the flexibility to work on his artistic endeavors.

Torra has previously participated in DC’s biggest creative event Artomatic, as well as ArtRomp, a curated group show at the Warehouse in Washington, DC. He will have two pieces in the upcoming group show at Art17 at Coldwell Banker (1606 17th Street NW) and will be participating in the Mid City Artists’ Open Studios May 18 and 19. For more information about Torra, please visit his website


Artist Michael Torra and his work. (Luis Gomez Photos)

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by September 12, 2012 at 2:00 pm 1,862 0


A replica of Aqaba, a Red Sea port, constructed for the filming of Lawrence of Arabia. Click the photo to read more about the image on the artist’s website.

From Eliza French. Follow her on Twitter @elizaenbref; email her at eliza[AT]

Borderstan photographer Mark Parascandola‘s latest exhibition, Once Upon a Time in Almería, opens this Thursday, September 13 at the Spanish Embassy in Foggy Bottom. The collection of digital prints documents the unexpected landscape and surreal scenery in the desert of the Spanish Almería region.

Parascandola sought to capture this particular location in his native country because of its unique history as a set for several popular movies during the 1960s and 1970s. Filmmakers transformed the blank slate of the desert into America, Egypt, and everywhere in between for movies such as The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, Patton, and Cleopatra. Remnants of various fictional settings still remain scattered throughout the landscape, and Parascandola captures the transformative power still lingering in these ruins.

The photographer often chronicles the story of place and his artistic obsession with architecture manifests itself throughout this work. “People think of architecture as being static or permanent, but it changes over time depending on who takes over the space and how it is affected by the surrounding environment,” Parascandola told Borderstan’s Cecile Oreste in January 2011.

If you’re willing to venture outside of the neighborhood, you can see Once Upon a Time at the Spanish Embassy from Thursday through November 16. The Embassy will also host an accompanying video and film program during the course of the exhibition.

Once Upon a Time in Almería

  • Embassy of Spain
  • 2375 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
  • Hours: Monday through Thursday, 9:30 am to 4:30 pm; Friday, 9:30 am to 2:30 pm.


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by August 22, 2012 at 2:00 pm 2,590 0

" Artist Sondra Arkin"

Artist Sondra Arkin. (Luis Gomez Photos)

From Cecile Oreste of danceDC. You can follower her on Twitter @dance_DC.

“Pattern Transformation: new work by Sondra N. Arkin” opens at Long View Gallery this Thursday, August 23 with a reception from 6:30 to 8 pm. The solo exhibition features Arkin’s encaustic paintings, which have been taken to the next level with the use of shellac and walnut ink. Arkin, who is a founding member of Mid City Artists and currently a Dupont Circle resident, wanted to explore sets of patterns and see how they would transform each other as she worked through the creation of the art. “Happily or sadly (I can’t decide which), the permutations are practically infinite. It might be overwhelming to some people; but to me, the variety and the similarities continue to draw me into the artwork,” she said.

On the other hand, viewers are likely to relate to Arkin’s paintings which are open for interpretation. “My life in an urban area is fluid with my personal philosophy that there is always more than one way of doing anything; and as a community, we agree on a common direction. My recent art is made so that the viewer can arrange it in any configuration without direction from the artist. For me, that acknowledges that there are multiple viewpoints – and in art, as in life, that is fundamental to harmony.”

Arkin is not only a painter, but also a curator who experiments with printmaking, sculpture and assemblage. She previously aspired to be a poet with degrees in both Writing and Literature, and later used her education to run the creative department of a marketing agency. Arkin played multiple instruments during her college years and continues to enjoy a variety of performing arts including theater, dance and poetry, making the Borderstan area an ideal place to live. “I can’t believe how lucky I am to live and work in Dupont. It has developed into a really lively urban area,” she said. “I love that we have so many theaters and places to hear music in this part of town. Seriously, I do think this is the center of the universe.”

Arkin is fortunate to create art full time, but admits that it can be a challenge. “Producing work full time means taking on the second job of managing yourself and your career. There is an awful lot of administrative work that goes along with the production and a lot of marketing to be done to get into exhibitions and to make sales. To do it full time, you have to be out there all the time participating in everything that you can.”

In addition to exhibiting at Long View Gallery, Arkin’s work has also been on display locally at the Nevin Kelly Gallery when it was previously located on Irving Street NW, ART17 at the Coldwell Banker Office on 17th Street NW, as well as Vastu on 14th Street NW. She will also be exhibiting in a group show at Studio G on Westminster Street NW starting September 14. For more information about Arkin and her work, visit her website.

"Artist Sondra Arkin"

Artist Sondra Arkin at her studio. (Luis Gomez Photos)

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by June 13, 2012 at 9:00 am 1,084 0

Wil Sylvince of HBO's Def Comedy Jam and other artists will perform at Howard University. (Caribbeana Communications, Inc.)

From Cecile Oreste of danceDC. You can follower her on Twitter @dance_DC or email her at cecile[AT]

Caribbeana Communications, a nonprofit media and membership organization headquartered in Lanham, Maryland, will host its 24th Caribbeana Comedy Festival on Sunday, June 17 from 7  to 10 pm. The event, which helps bring Caribbean and American cultures together through comedy, will take place at Howard University’s Cramton Auditorium. Von Martin of WPFW-FM’s Caribbeana Radio, Wil Sylvince of HBO’s Def Comedy Jam and BET’s ComicView and other artists from throughout the Caribbean are scheduled to perform. Tickets are $35 in advance and $40 at the door. Click here for more information and to purchase tickets.


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by May 31, 2012 at 10:00 am 1,345 0

"Cady North"

Cady North will perform with the Congressional Chorus this Saturday at the National City Christian Church. (Valerie Russell)

From Cecile Oreste of danceDC. You can follower her on Twitter @dance_DC or email her at cecile[AT]

Logan Circle resident Cady North is a senior finance policy analyst for Bloomberg Government. She writes research on how government regulations impact industry groups, which is featured on as well as on various media platforms including television and radio. In addition to working at Bloomberg Government, she is also a member of the Congressional Chorus, the only chorus in the DC area dedicated to performing American choral music. (See Congressional Chorus Celebrates 25 Years at Thomas Circle Church.)

Now celebrating its 25th anniversary season, Congressional Chorus communicates the spirit, diversity and power of American music. They perform a wide variety of American choral music — everything from folk songs to classical, spirituals to jazz and patriotic anthems to Broadway hits. Over the years, Congressional Chorus, directed by David Simmons, has performed at the White House, Presidential Inaugurations, the U.S. Capitol Building, the Kennedy Center and numerous receptions and galas.

Borderstan: In regards to the upcoming concert, which song are you most excited to perform and why? What draws you to being part of the Congressional Chorus?

North: I’m thrilled to perform “The Awakening” by Joseph Martin. The version we are singing was commissioned in my home state of Texas. It’s nostalgic for me because I performed it ages ago back in Texas and loved it then. The piece also shares the name of one of my favorite DC sculptures. I’m also excited to perform and debut two commissioned pieces, “Be It Therefore Resolved” by Joan Szymko and “Dreams” by Christopher Urquiaga. It’s a real honor to debut such beautiful and dynamic pieces. It’s even more special that one of the composers, Chris is serving as our very talented pianist for the show.

Borderstan: How long have you been with the Congressional Chorus? How did you get involved?

North: I’ve been part of the chorus since January 2012. Performing the Chorus’ 1950s style Cabaret Concert in March “Shake Rattle and Roll” was a fantastic experience. It has been great getting back into singing after having been away from it for years. Life is much more fulfilling when you can have a creative outlet like singing. I now find myself singing to myself more when I’m working, biking or doing other random things in the area. It makes me happy.

Borderstan: What do you enjoy doing? Interests, hobbies other than singing? Favorite places to go in the Borderstan area?

North: I play tennis in the area and I also enjoy biking. Some of my favorite places and activities are reading on a sunny day in Logan Circle, grabbing Ethiopian during the Sunday coffee ceremony at Dukem, checking out Peregrine Espresso’s coffee special of the week or having evening drinks on the rooftop at El Centro D.F.

This Saturday, June 2, Congressional Chorus gives its Silver Anniversary Concert at the National City Christian Church in Thomas Circle. General admission tickets are $25 and available online, by calling (202) 399-7993, ext. 182 or at the door.

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by May 17, 2012 at 10:00 am 1,724 0

"MidCity Artists""Borderstan"

The Spring Mid City Artists Open Studios is this weekend. (Luis Gomez Photos)

From Cecile Oreste of danceDC. You can follower her on Twitter @dance_DC or email her at cecile[AT]

Mid City Artists presents its bi-annual Open Studios Saturday, May 19 and Sunday, May 20 from 12 pm to 5 pm. Twenty-seven artists, including Thomas Drymon and Dave Peterson, will be participating in the event which takes place in and around the Dupont Circle and Logan Circle neighborhoods. Open Studios offers art enthusiasts an opportunity to go behind the scenes and learn more about the talented artists who live in our area. To get background information on a few of these artists, you can read some of their interviews in Borderstan. To see a full list of participating artists and to download a tour map of artist studios, please visit Mid CityArtists.

Thomas Drymon has been a Mid City Artist for more than four years and has participated in five Open Studios Tours. He has been working on a couple of new series including painting, 3D work and some interesting photographic work that will be on display at 1716 14th Street NW. Visitors will also have a chance to learn about Drymon’s data project and participate by having photos of their faces taken.

Just down the hall from Drymon’s studio, visitors will have a chance to catch up with Dave Peterson. Most of his new work is currently at local exhibits and stores including the upcoming Artomatic festival and Dolcezza in Dupont Circle, but Peterson plans to present older work that has never been displayed. You’ll also be able to buy new greeting cards and t-shirts with his unique designs. Be sure to also visit Sally Kauffman, who shares studio space with Drymon and Peterson.

If he wasn’t participating in the event, Drymon says he would go over to Westminster Street NW to see Chuck Baxter and George Smith-Shomari. He also recommends paying a visit to Marie Ringwald and Regina Miele. Peterson suggests taking a trip down 14th Street to see Gary Fisher and Glenn Fry. Fry will be having a 50% off sale on all works on paper for the weekend. Please visit his website to see what is available.

Mid City Artists is a talented group of more than 40 professional artists who have banded together to promote their work and create an artists’ community in a central part of the nation’s capital. A number of Mid City Artists members are well known and represented by galleries, while others are emerging artists. The Open Studios Tour occurs every spring and fall.

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by May 11, 2012 at 3:00 pm 1,177 0

"Borderstan""Dupont Circle"

Plenty of sun (we hope) this Sunday for "Dance in the Circle" (Luis Gomez Photos)

From Cecile Oreste of danceDC. You can follower her on Twitter @dance_DC or email her at cecile[AT]

Dance in the Circle, which was rescheduled due to a rainy weather forecast the weekend of April 21, comes to Dupont Circle this Sunday from 3 pm to 9 pm. The free dance festival is being organized by co-producers Daniel Kramer and Michael Lipin and will feature nine local dance companies.

Most of the performers include dance companies that originally signed on for the April 21 event such as DancEthos and darlingdance company. They have also added a new edition to the lineup with Joy of Motion Dance Center’s teen hip hop performance company Urban Impact. Below is the event lineup:

  1. 3 pm – 4 pm: DancEthos, Dance Dimensions
  2. 4 pm – 5 pm: Calico Cloggers, Urban Impact
  3. 5 pm – 6 pm: DEVIATED THEATRE, YaLa Fitness
  4. 6 pm – 7 pm: darlingdance company, Urban Artistry
  5. 7 pm – 8 pm: Hoop Dance DC, Urban Artistry
  6. 8 pm – 9 pm: Open dancing

Dance in the Circle was made possible with support from the Historic Dupont Circle Main Streets, as well as local sponsors Attache Property Management, LaKritz/Adler Real Estate Investments, the office of DC Councilmember Jack Evans (D-Ward 2), Kramerbooks & Afterwords Café, Axis Salon, BGR, Diego’s Hair Salon, Mr. Yogato and Books-A-Million (and, yes, For more information and to make a donation, please visit their website.

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by April 17, 2012 at 3:30 pm 1,904 0

From Cecile Oreste of danceDC. You can follower her on Twitter @dance_DC or email her at cecile[AT]

Featured image: “Early Spring, Dupont Circle” by ok-oyot in the Borderstan flickr pool, March 20, 2011.

Dupont, Circle, Dance, Circle,

Coming to Dupont Circle on Saturday, April 21. (Courtesy of Dance in the Circle)

Dance in the Circle, a free dance festival in Dupont Circle organized by co-producers Daniel Kramer and Michael Lipin, is coming up this Saturday, April 21, from 3 to 9 pm. The festival features 12 local dance companies including DEVIATED THEATRE and YaLa Fitness, which were added to the lineup since our last post about the event.

“After exactly a year of preparation, it’s hard to believe that we’re just a few days away from show time. I’m thrilled that so many local businesses have stepped up to support this project and that a dozen local dance companies have joined us to bring a new type of festival to Dupont Circle Park,” said Lipin. “We are pumped up to again enliven and activate one of DC’s most cherished public spaces,” added Kramer. Kramer and Lipin helped organize “Soccer in the Circle” back in 2010.

To raise funds for the upcoming festival, Kramer and Lipin are hosting a fundraising happy hour on Wednesday, April 18, from 6 to 10 pm at 18th Street Lounge. If you’re interested in attending, please RSVP to the Facebook event and be prepared for a night of dancing.

Dance in the Circle was made possible with support from the Historic Dupont Circle Main Streets, as well as local sponsors Attache Property Management, LaKritz/Adler Real Estate Investments, the office of DC Councilmember Jack Evans (D-Ward 2), Kramerbooks & Afterwords Café, Axis Salon, BGR, Diego’s Hair Salon, Mr. Yogato and Books-A-Million.

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by March 30, 2012 at 11:30 am 2,599 0

Sarah Halzack performs “Hyphen” with Dana Tai Soon Burgess & Company. “Hyphen” is one of four repertoire works featured in the company’s 20th  Anniversary Spring Performance. (Mary Noble Ours)

From Cecile Oreste of danceDC. You can follower her on Twitter @dance_DC or email her at cecile[AT]

Sarah Halzack graduated from The George Washington University with degrees in Journalism and Dance. After graduation, she left her college hood of Foggy Bottom behind and moved to Dupont Circle where she has lived ever since (with the exception of a one year detour to Columbia Heights). In addition to working at The Washington Post as a web producer for business and economic news, Halzack also writes the occasional book review in The Post’s Sunday Outlook section and dances with non-profit modern dance company Dana Tai Soon Burgess & Company.

The goal of the company, which is directed by choreographer Dana Tai Soon Burgess, is to bridge cultures and reduce ethnic barriers through a focus on historic events and personal stories. DTSB&Co was awarded the Mayor’s Arts Award for Artistic Excellence in 2005, has received three Mayoral Proclamations, and has toured extensively both nationally and internationally. On April 5 and 6, the company will celebrate its 20th anniversary with two performances at George Washington University’s Dorothy Betts Marvin Center. Tickets start at $15.

Borderstan: In regards to the upcoming performance, which piece are you most excited to perform and why? What draws you to being part of DTSB&Co?

Halzack: I’m most excited about performing “Fractures,” which is a short trio that depicts the emotional wreckage of a complicated love triangle. This piece is particularly special to me because I first saw it back in 2002 when I first moved to the District. I was a college freshman at the time, and I knew nothing about DTSB&Co and had no idea that I would one day be asked to join the company. As an audience member, the dance hit me like a ton of bricks.

I had tears in my eyes watching each character try to make sense of a tangle of anger, attraction, hope, jealousy and rejection. I loved that the dance was spare and short, a distillation of only utterly essential moments. And perhaps most importantly, I fell in love with the idea that virtually anyone could see a piece of themselves in this dance, because at one time or another, we’ve all been one of these characters.

Given how strongly I reacted to the dance the first time I saw it, it was a great honor for me to be cast in it. I’m excited to bring this complex character to life, and I hope to play her with the same nuance and intensity that once kept me rapt as an audience member.

There are many things that draw me to working with DTSB&Co. First, Dana’s movement style has felt very natural and intuitive to me since the first time I set foot in his class. There’s something about his use of gesture, his floor work, and his propensity for slow, almost dream-like pacing that has always felt like home to me.

I also love working with this company because of the terrific peer group of dancers it has provided me with. Dana has stacked our company with dancers of enormous talent. I am so inspired by the way my fellow dancers move, and watching them week after week in rehearsal pushes me to dance better and dance smarter.

And perhaps most important of all, we all have quite a bit of fun together. It’s a supportive, easy-going and caring group, and that makes everything from rehearsing to touring to performing all the more enjoyable!

Borderstan: What do you enjoy doing? Interests, hobbies other than dance? Favorite places to go in the Borderstan area?

Halzack: I regularly take yoga classes at a couple of studios in the neighborhood, most frequently at Tranquil Space on 17th Street NW. It’s a great way to turn my mind off after a stressful day and I’ve found practicing yoga has helped make me a better dancer. And even when I’m off the clock at The Post, I’m a little bit of a news junkie, so I spend quite a bit of time reading. Cooking is most certainly not one of my hobbies, so I’m a frequent customer of some of Borderstan’s delivery and carry-out joints.

My favorites are Sacrificial Lamb on R Street NW, Thaitanic on 14th Street NW and Great Wall Szechuan House on 14th Street. Shopping for clothes is one of my guilty pleasures, and Borderstan has no shortage of great boutiques for that. My favorite is Muleh. Their merchandise is gorgeous but it’s usually pretty far out of my price range. But that doesn’t stop me from just wandering around in there and getting outfit ideas! And of course, I enjoy a good glass of wine and a delicious dinner and there are no shortage of places to get that in our neighborhood.

Disclosure: Oreste is on the Board of Directors of Dana Tai Soon Burgess & Company.

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by March 19, 2012 at 10:00 am 1,833 0

From Cecile Oreste of danceDC. You can follower her on Twitter @dance_DC or email her at cecile[AT]

Featured image: “Early Spring, Dupont Circle” by ok-oyot in the Borderstan flickr pool, March 20, 2011.

In the Circle Productions, the team that helped organize the “Soccer in the Circle” World Cup fan fest and created the Official Dupont Circle Snowball Fight, presents Dance in the Circle on Saturday, April 21. (You can also find them on Facebook)

Dance, Dupont, Circle

Coming to Dupont Circle on Saturday, April 21. (Image courtesy of Dance in the Circle)

Dance in the Circle is a six-hour dance festival with performances and instruction in a variety of styles inclu ding flamenco, hip hop and modern. Participants include local dance companies: the Bomb Squad Dancers, Calico Cloggers, Capitol Movement, Dance Dimensions, DanceAntonini, DancEthos, darlingdance, DCypher Dance, Furia Flamenca and Urban Artistry.

Dupont Circle resident Michael Lipin is one of the festival’s co-producers. After co-producing “Soccer in the Circle” and Dupont’s snowball fight, he caught the “event-organizing bug” and wanted to bring yet another exciting event to the neighborhood. “As someone who has enjoyed dance for years, but only took up classes recently, I thought a dance festival would be just as fun to put together, and just as unique for the Circle,” he said.

“Dupont Circle is a great gathering spot and has always been an active, creative community hub,” added Co-Producer Daniel Kramer. “From the Snowball Fight and Soccer in the Circle, it is clear that people will come to a fun event in Dupont. Dance appeals to people of all ages and is inclusive in its variety of styles, so we thought it a natural fit for our next production.”

Although the event has been fun to organize, it has also been a challenge. From recruiting dance companies to participate, to seeking permits from local authorities, and securing the support of the Historic Dupont Circle Main Streets, there has been no shortage of tasks to complete. And the work is still not done.

“We’ve raised a small amount of the necessary funds, but still need several thousand dollars more between now and the event. Please consider making a small donation via the PayPal link on our Facebook page and website. All donations are tax-deductible. Every little amount helps! The Dance in the Circle team also is recruiting sponsors who can have a booth in the park (or even naming rights for the dance floor) in return for donations of specific amounts,” said Lipin.

For more information about Dance in the Circle, visit their website or like their Facebook page. If you would like to inquire about sponsoring a booth at the event, please contact danceinthecircle[AT]

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by March 1, 2012 at 1:00 pm 1,370 0

Split, Rock, Poetry, Festival, U, Street, corridor

Split This Rock Poetry Festival 2012 will take place at various venues in the U Street corridor including Busboys and Poets at 14th and V Streets NW. (Jill Brazel)

From Cecile Oreste of danceDC. You can follower her on Twitter @dance_DC or email her at cecile[AT]

“Split This Rock Poetry Festival: Poems of Provocation & Witness” invites poets, writers and activists to DC for four days of poetry and community building starting March 22. The bi-annual event, which features poetry readings, workshops and panel discussions, will take place in various locations in the U Street corridor including Busboys & Poets at 14th and V Streets NW, the Thurgood Marshall Center for Service and Heritage, as well as Hamiltonian Gallery and the African American Civil War Memorial and Museum.

The theme of this year’s festival, “Poems of Provocation & Witness,” refers to poems that look at the wider world and reflect upon injustices in different communities, said Split This Rock Director Sarah Browning. Poems that provoke change and discuss issues of race, class and gender are an integral part of the festival, which is dedicated to Caribbean-American poet and citizen activist June Jordan who passed away 10 years ago.

According to Browning, the U Street corridor is the perfect location for a poetry festival that challenges the status quo. “DC has a rich cultural background and we wanted to both celebrate and promote the history of the area. We wanted to tell stories through a living tradition that is vibrant in the region,” she said.

The connection to Borderstan goes beyond its location. Many of the events feature MidCity writers and are also of local interest. For example, “The Radical Roots of Washington Literature” is a panel discussion led by Kim Roberts and Dan Vera on Saturday, March 24. Their project, DC Writers’ Homes, documents the homes of literary authors who once lived in the DC area, such as Zora Neale Hurston and Frederick Douglass.

Many of the homes are located in the Borderstan area, including Gwendolyn Bennett’s childhood home on T Street NW between 14th and 15th, and Mary P. Burrill’s house on 17th Street NW just east of Dupont Circle.

In addition to focusing on the festival’s theme, the organizers also put a special emphasis on providing more youth programming to reach out to the next generation of poets. “Young Voices for Justice and Peace: Youth Speak Out!,” which discusses social injustices that young people care about, and “25 Years of Youth Poetry Programs in DC: What We Have Learned, Carrying it Forward,” which explores the successes and challenges of youth poetry programs, are just two examples of these youth centered events.

To register for the Split This Rock Poetry Festival 2012, please visit their website. Student rate is $40. Day rates and scholarships are also available.

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by February 20, 2012 at 2:00 pm 1,463 0

Atlas, Peformring, Arts Center, H, Street, NW, Alana, Hill

DCypher Dance presents Access Granted as part of INTERSECTIONS: A New America Arts Festival at the Atlas Performing Arts Center. (Alana Hill)

From Cecile Oreste of danceDC. You can follow her on Twitter @dance_DC or email her at [email protected].

INTERSECTIONS: A New America Arts Festival celebrates art as an inspiration for conversation and connection among artists and audiences of all ages, races, cultures and art forms. This year, the festival returns for 12 days of performances starting February 23 at the Atlas Performing Arts Center on H Street NE.

In addition to featuring groups from Philadelphia, Baltimore and beyond, many of the performing artists have ties to the Borderstan area, including local singer Tom Goss, the Bohemian Caverns Jazz Orchestra and the Source Festival. Others are based just outside the District, such as Joy of Motion Dance Center’s resident adult hip hop company DCypher Dance, which rehearses at the studio’s location in Bethesda, Maryland. The company presents Access Granted as part of the festival on Friday, March 2 at 9:30 pm.

According to DCypher Dance company director Malaika Scott, “what makes DCypher unique is our ability to perform a variety of styles within hip hop as well as the other dance genres that some of the company members are skilled in. This means that in our shows you won’t just see all hip hop but you’ll see some jazz, tap and possibly modern too. Many companies have a distinct style that sticks with them and audiences expect to see, but with DCypher, we’re unpredictable. You won’t know what you’re going to get until we hit the stage!”

In addition to sharing their own style of hip hop dance, DCypher Dance will present choreography from Detroit native Gary Beauford and New York based choreographer Jason Anderson. Guest artists Vizion Performance Team of Howard University and Phunktions of the University of Maryland College Park will also take the stage, and audience members will get to join the fun at an after show dance party with DCypher members and DJ RBI. For more information about INTERSECTIONS: A New America Arts Festival, visit intersectionsdc.

Disclosure: Oreste is on the staff of Joy of Motion Dance Center.

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by December 29, 2011 at 10:00 am 1,420 0

go mama go! Borderstan, 14th Street,

Click for the slide show. The year’s most read arts and entertainment story was about the March farewell party at the closing of go mama go! (Luis Gomez Photos)

Following are the top arts and entertainment stories each month on Borderstan in 2011. The top story each month was the one that was read by the most readers. The writer’s name is next to each story.

Top food story for the year in terms of reader views? The winner was Photos: Sunday’s Farewell Party at go mama go! by Luis Gomez, followed closely by  Danny’s Top 10: D.C.’s Best 2010 Concerts from Danny Shapiro.

Of note: While one gallery closed on 14th Street NW in 2011, another gallery opened. See the August stories below: Irvine Contemporary closed in September and [email protected] opened in November.

by November 16, 2011 at 2:00 pm 1,772 0

Charlie Jones in his 14th Street NW studio. (Luis Gomez Photos).

From Cecile Oreste of danceDC. You can follower her on Twitter @dance_DC.

Mid City Artist and Indiana native Charlie Jones worked a corporate job with AT&T for several years. His work brought him to DC from the Midwest, to Los Angeles, to Asia and back again to DC. Jones’ experiences abroad not only helped him professionally, but eventually became a major source of inspiration for his painting.

“My travels throughout Southeast Asia are my greatest artistic inspiration,” he said. “It was a life-changing experience working over there for almost four years. I met so many different people and experienced so many cultures. It really changed my view of the world.” According to Jones, this Eastern influence can be seen in the vivid colors and interesting textures of his work and more visibly in painting titles such as “Mist of Lan Tao” and “Thai Forest.”

Interestingly enough, painting was a passion Jones discovered by accident. When he moved back to the DC area in 2001, he purchased a house that had many large walls that were in desperate need of decoration. Instead of purchasing art at a local gallery, he started creating his own paintings and soon uncovered a hidden talent. When friends, including fellow Mid City Artist Gary Fisher, saw Jones’ handiwork and truly enjoyed it, momentum continued to build. Fisher later asked Jones to do his first exhibit at Results, The Gym in Capitol Hill along with Fisher and photographer Pete Mitchell.

Since that show nearly a decade ago, Jones has exhibited at Artomatic, multiple galleries in Rehoboth Beach and most recently at Room and Board on 14th Street NW. He has been commissioned for numerous works of art locally and across the country, and participates in Mid City Artists Open Studios Weekend whenever his frequent travel schedule permits. To hone his craft, he has taken painting classes locally at the Torpedo Factory and internationally in Europe, and continues to paint on a regular basis.

According to Jones, his artistic process is a process of discovering accidents. “I add layers and layers of paint and see what happens. I think part of my talent is understanding how composition works. Sometimes you keep the accidents, but sometimes they don’t fit in the composition of the painting and you have to paint over them,” he said.

Jones credits the District and particularly Mid City Artists for helping him become an accomplished artist. “DC provided me the fertile ground to emerge as an artist and Mid City Artists provided the support I needed to grow,” he said. “The idea behind Mid City Artists is that we’re stronger as a group than on our own. The real power is collaborating with other artists. We learn from each other. We support one another.”

Although painting is not currently his full-time job, Jones enjoys his personal connection with this art form and intends to make it his primary focus when he retires. “Painting is always going to be there for me,” he said. “I love that about it.” For more information about Charlie Jones and his paintings, please visit

Charlie Jones with some of his paintings. He credits his travels in Southeast Asia as the greatest inspiration of his work. (Luis Gomez Photos).


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