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by Tim Regan — September 23, 2016 at 3:50 pm 1 Comment

Art All Night, photo via Twitter/ArtAllNightDC(Updated at 8:51 a.m. Saturday) Though one of D.C.’s largest art events is set to return this year with more neighborhoods than ever before, its founder and former creative director won’t return with it.

In an open letter she penned to attendees and organizers earlier this week, Art All Night founder Ariana Austin said she’s parted ways with the event. Why? A participating community group and a city agency took her idea and ran off with it, she alleges.

“Art All Night was a terrific idea usurped by our sponsoring organization, not properly credited by D.C. government agencies, and a case study in competing business and arts interests in the city,” Austin wrote.

The problem began, Austin said, when Art All Night linked up with Shaw Main Streets. Though the community group “seemed like a terrific sponsoring organization,” they soon began to take credit for the festival, she alleged. (Side note: Alex Padro, executive director at Shaw Main Streets, said he had “no comment” about Austin’s version of events.)

In 2014, Austin said the D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities moved to expand the festival without consulting her. When she contacted the agency, she recalled their response as, “oops, was that you who started Art All Night? Sorry!”

Austin continued in her letter:

This year (2016), the Department of Small and Local Business Development (DSLBD) received a reduced amount of funds from DCCAH to produce the festival, changed the subtitle (from Nuit Blanche which I had a license to use to Made in D.C.), but kept the name “Art All Night” (too generic to be protected by law). Of course I sent a note to DSLBD, but they never responded.

In other words, Austin told us, the groups pushed her out of her own event.

“Nobody makes any distinction between the Art All Night that’s happening this Saturday and the other,” Austin told us. “They didn’t credit it. They didn’t say it started five years ago … It’s just Art All Night.”

When reached for comment, Ana Harvey, the DSLBD’s acting director, responded with the following statement:

We are honored to have played a role in supporting this community festival but the credit for its success and continued growth since 2011 is due to the grassroots efforts of hundreds of volunteers and community organizations. We look forward to supporting this and other programs, such as Made In DC, 202 Creates and Mayor’s Arts Awards, that capture, highlight and promote the intellectual and creative genius of DC’s local maker community.

All in all, Austin said she just wants credit for her idea and recognition for the work she and other volunteers have put in over the years. Austin ended her open letter with three suggestions:

  • DSLBD, DCCAH, and Shaw Main Streets should immediately put the history of the event on the current website and honor the contributions and intellectual capital that they’ve borrowed.

  • DC Government agencies must do a better job of giving credit where it’s due, and responding to individual citizens with respect especially when they use their concepts.

  •  The time is now for a general convening with artists, businesses, developers, and government agencies to discuss roles and responsibilities for collaboration and partnerships so we can all benefit from our shared interests in this beloved city.

Though she’s not helping organize Art All Night this year, she’ll still attend the event, however.

“I’m going to go,” Austin said. “I have a lot of friends still involved in this event. We helped them build out this project.”

Photo via Twitter / Art All Night DC

by Tim Regan — August 26, 2016 at 1:15 pm 0

Art All Night 2016, poster art by Kelly TowlesA late-night celebration of local artwork, music and performance is headed to at least seven neighborhoods across the District next month.

Art All Night is scheduled to enliven the District on the night of Saturday, Sept. 24, organizers announced earlier this week.

Last year, the festival lit up the Carnegie Library, prompted dance performances at the Colombian Embassy and put a bat signal in Shaw.

This year, Art All Night is partnering with seven main street associations, including Historic Dupont Circle Main Streets, H Street Main Street and Shaw Main Streets.

Organizers shared this update on the annual art extravaganza on Wednesday:

(more…)

by Alyse Mier — July 14, 2016 at 2:35 pm 0

A longtime art gallery in Adams Morgan will showcase hundreds of works from local artists as part of an annual show that runs through the end of August.

More than two dozen emerging artists visited the DC Arts Center (2438 18th St. NW) yesterday and paid $15 to secure a space on the gallery wall as part of the annual exhibition called 1460 Wallmountables.

Executive Artistic Director B. Stanley said the event regularly attracts dozens of artists from around the District.

“Over the last 10 years, people have really taken it seriously and show something of quality and show it well,” Stanley said.

The local art is displayed across the gallery’s walls and includes photographs, paintings and other mediums. There is no curation or selection process. If an artist pays the $15, their work goes on the wall. As the gallery’s slogan goes, “if it fits, it shows.” And it’s worth it, Stanley said.

“In my 22 years working here what surprises me is just how much quality work is out there that we don’t get to see,” said Stanley.

Artists come and display “a lot of high quality work that doesn’t get shown anywhere else,” Stanley said. “It’s usually political, esoteric or silly.”

(more…)

by Tim Regan — April 29, 2016 at 11:30 am 0

It finally happened.

After years of planning and plenty of fundraising, Dupont Underground officially opened its inaugural exhibit “Raise/Raze” to a small crowd of journalists, artists and local leaders earlier this morning.

Ward 2 D.C. Councilmember Jack Evans, Councilmember At-Large David Grosso, ANC 2B’s Daniel Warwick and members of the Dupont Underground board were among those that attended the event.

(more…)

by Tim Regan — February 17, 2016 at 1:30 pm 0

It’s dark. It’s glowing. It looks like it belongs in a sci-fi movie. But it’s not a set piece from “Blade Runner,” it’s “iGlow,” Dupont Underground’s very first art installation.

iGlow, which first debuted in the Georgetown Glow last December, is a 36-foot long glowing lavender tunnel that has been described as looking like a “streetcar of the dystopian future.” The walls of the illuminated tunnel are perforated, and to outside observers, people walking through it appear to be “warped into pixels.” (more…)

by Tim Regan — November 12, 2015 at 11:20 am 0

Sweater art project

Locals will place dozens of donated sweaters on the ground throughout Kalorama Park next month as part of an art project to help remember D.C.’s homicide victims.

ANC 1C Commissioner Hector Huezo is collecting sweater donations for the project that he and other Kalorama-area residents conceived in September.

“I was keeping track of all of the homicides in D.C. … and we started seeing a spike,” Huezo said. But it wasn’t until a man was shot during a robbery near Kalorama Park that the commissioner decided to do something.

“After that, I said, we’ve got to do something to bring the community together and bring awareness to what’s going on,” Huezo said.

So far, Huezo said he has collected 90 sweaters, but would like to match the total number of D.C. homicides by next month. The tricky part, said Huezo, is that the target keeps getting higher.

“One of the ideas that came to my head was to collect a sweater for every single life lost in the District,” Huezo said. “But the number of deaths keeps rising.”

The art project itself will come together on Dec. 12 at 2 p.m., when a group of Kalorama residents will carry the sweaters from Huezo’s apartment building to the park and lay them on the ground. The crowd will then take a two-minute moment of silence to remember the homicide victims.

Huezo said the sweaters will be donated to a local shelter after the art exhibit concludes.

“It serves a dual purpose,” Huezo said. “From my perspective, it’ll bring our neighborhood together … It’s a symbol.”

To donate a sweater to the art project, e-mail Hector Huezo.

Photo courtesy of Hector Huezo

by Tim Regan — November 2, 2015 at 1:30 pm 0

New art coming to L and 19th streets, photo courtesy of Golden Triangle BID

An intersection downtown will soon look a little more artistic.

Workers will install four new wooden sculptures in the small “rain gardens” on all four corners of 19th and L Streets NW this Friday and Saturday, announced the Golden Triangle BID this morning

Local artist Foon Sham will officially unveil his new wooden sculptures at 19th and L streets NW next Friday at noon. The temporary works of art were constructed from 3,700 pieces of wood and made to look like water-collecting vessels.

More information from the Golden Triangle BID press release:

“The sculptures bring natural elements to an unexpected place. They complement the function of the rain garden and contrast the busy urban intersection,” said Sham.

“Thousands of people walk by this busy intersection on a daily basis; we wanted to catch their eye with this unexpected art so they will take a moment to stop and enjoy the beautiful space. This project supports our greater goal to add visual diversity and interest to the public realm,” explains Executive Director Leona Agouridis.

The four rain gardens at 19th and L streets NW can filter tens of thousands of gallons of runoff annually by capturing rainfall and controlling the storm water overflow. They were built by the Golden Triangle BID in partnership with the District Department of Energy & Environment, with funding from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s 319 Program.

The new sculptures are not the first public art pieces in the Golden Triangle; the BID continuously adds color and texture throughout the neighborhood. Past projects include artistic lights along the Connecticut Avenue Median, art on the walls of the entrances to the Farragut North and Farragut West Metro stations, six artistic bike racks throughout the neighborhood, and most recently, light art at Murrow and Monroe Parks.

Renderings courtesy of Golden Triangle BID

by Tim Regan — October 30, 2015 at 10:30 am 0

Five local artists will debut new murals during a ceremony in Blagden Alley this afternoon.

Attendees can witness the ceremony and view art from muralists Bill Warrell, Lisa Marie Thalhammer, Rozeal Brown, Aniekan Udofia and Cita Chelove between M and N and 9th and 10th streets NW today at 4 p.m.

The event is meant to mark the opening of the “D.C. Alley Museum,” an outdoor collection of murals “that features D.C. artists open 24/7 without restrictions.”

“As the lead artist I have committed my entire career to this city’s artistic wellbeing, first as a curator and now joining my fellow artists,” said Warrell in a statement. “A coalition of painters from the region have been coming together in my studio and we have created the DC Alley Museum here in Blagden Alley.”

The outdoor exhibition was assembled with “generous support” from the D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities’ public art program.

Photos via Shaw Main Streets

by Andrew Ramonas — October 23, 2015 at 11:55 am 3 Comments

Ben's Chili Bowl mural on Oct. 19

When a North Korean dictator temporarily ousted an American comedian accused of rape from a mural on Ben’s Chili Bowl earlier this week, some people cheered. Others weren’t as pleased.

Though many have agreed the Cosby mural needs to go, some criticized the pasted-on art as being unfair to the artist who painted the mural, Aniekan Udofia. During a “Kojo Nnamdi Show” interview earlier this week, Udofia said he was upset that the street artist affixed a grinning visage of Kim Jong Un over Cosby’s face, calling it “disrespectful.”

Smear Leader, the artist who defaced Udofia’s mural, told Washingtonian the art was a “success,” and that his aim was to generate discussion about Cosby’s place on the mural, not diss a respected local muralist.

But even some who loudly criticize the Cosby mural don’t agree with Smear Leader’s approach.

Devin Boyle, who wrote an op-ed in The Washington Post calling for the controversial mural to be painted over and launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise money to help fund a replacement work of art, said defacing the mural was “counterproductive” to bringing about change.

“At the end of the day, he is someone [the owners] have respected for so long,” said Boyle, a 30-year-old public relations professional who lives on U Street.

What do you think? Do you back the street artist who defaced the Cosby mural at Ben’s, or do you think the act was disrespectful to the muralist? Weigh in by voting in the poll and telling us what you think in the comments.

by Tim Regan — October 19, 2015 at 12:10 pm 7,364 3 Comments

Ben's Chili Bowl hit by Smear Leader

(Update at 5:44 p.m.: The Kim Jong Un face has been removed.)

The Bill Cosby mural at Ben’s Chili Bowl has been defaced. As in, literally.

A street artist going by the name “Smear Leader”affixed the grinning visage of Kim Jong Un on top of Cosby’s head some time within the past 24 hours. The artist took credit for the piece earlier today on Instagaram.

“Instead of looking at a sexual predator, people can celebrate in jubilation that the great leader is now on the their wall,” the post reads. “Eat sh-t Cosby.”

Why Kim Jong Un? As detailed in a recent interview with The Daily Beast, vandalizing things with Kim Jong Un’s face is kind of Smear Leader’s thing.

We reached out to Smear Leader via e-mail earlier today. This afternoon, he responded:

“I drew the original piece but get them printed now due to the overwhelming demand for them on our site,” he said. “We have them posted all over the world from Australia, Kazakstan, South Korea, Russia, Brazil, you name it, the Leader is somewhere smiling.”

When asked whether he was afraid of being identified on the eatery’s security cameras, Smear Leader said, “as far as the security camera thing goes, I was aware of that but the fact that they still have that monster Cosby up on their mural is a risk worth taking.

Smear Leader continues: “It’s even more of an outrage that they have said nothing and distanced themselves from the situation that a man used his power to take advantage and sexually assault over 35 women. If you had a friend who did this, would you do the same thing?”

“Why Kim Jong Un?” he added. “The man is happily married with a  beautiful daughter and works to make a better life for his people. Some may disagree but between the two of them in comparison to one another but it’s not even a debate. Cosby is Slime and as long as Ben’s allows his face to be up there, they don’t have the right to be upset at ANY criticism coming their way.”

A representative from Ben’s Chili Bowl was not available to comment.

by Tim Regan — September 28, 2015 at 10:35 am 0

Art All Night, photo via Twitter/ArtAllNightDC

Musicians, artists, performers and crowds of onlookers filled the streets and sidewalks in five D.C. neighborhoods during this year’s Art All Night.

In Dupont Circle and Shaw, musicians played, shadows came to life, buildings changed colors and artists collaborated. Naturally, such a spectacle prompted a veritable tweetstorm of art:

https://twitter.com/BinkieReaves/status/647981226461163521

Did you see anything interesting? Let us know via e-mail or Twitter and we might add it to this post.

Photo via Twitter/ArtAllNightDC

by Tim Regan — August 25, 2015 at 2:10 pm 1 Comment

The founder of a Columbia Heights arts nonprofit had plenty to curse about earlier this month.

BloomBars founder John Chambers says a thief broke into his organization’s art space at 3222 11th Street NW and stole two donation boxes and change from a swear jar on Aug. 9 around 2:25 a.m.

“He threw a rock through the window,” Chambers says. “That guy must be a pitcher or something because he really wound up.”

The organization’s surveillance cameras filmed the alleged crime.

In a video Chambers uploaded to Youtube yesterday, a man can be seen donning a ski mask and gloves, then hurling a chunk of pavement through a glass window. The man then appears to scoop up loose change from an overturned jar and nab two metal donation boxes.

“He probably made away with and three hundred dollars, and the window was about three hundred and fifty to four hundred dollars,” Chambers says. “We’re coming up onto Columbia Heights day, we need to get brochures printed and there’s a lot that needs to happen. That’s seven or eight hundred dollars we don’t have now.”

Chambers says he reported the theft to police, but hasn’t heard if any arrests were made.

A spokesperson for D.C. Police was not available to provide more information about the crime.

In the time since the burglary occurred, the chunk of cement thrown by the burglar and the window it broke have both been turned into art installations on display at the gallery.

BloomBars will launch a crowdfunding campaign to recoup some its losses later this week, Chambers says.

Video via BloomBars

by Jared Holt — July 27, 2015 at 11:30 am 0

The Beach

Ward 2 residents can frolic in a giant ball pit for free tomorrow morning.

From 9 to 11 a.m., residents of Councilmember Jack Evans’ ward can freely enter The BEACH, a National Building Museum (401 F Street NW) exhibit with nearly one million translucent plastic balls and a “shoreline” decked with beach chairs and tables.

Visitors are welcome to dive into the massive ball pit, play beach games like paddleball and bring a book to read in the beach furniture.

Attendees must show a valid form of I.D. at the admissions desk to enter the BEACH. Visitors must use the F Street entrance between 5th and 6th streets.

The event is part of the museum’s Ward Days series.

Photo via Flickr.com/NationalBuildingMuseum

by Tim Regan — July 22, 2015 at 2:45 pm 1 Comment

DC Zine Fest

More than 55 artists will set up shop at St. Stephen Incarnate (1525 Newton Street NW) in Columbia Heights this weekend as part of this year’s DC Zinefest.

Attendees will be able to view and buy small-press comics and zines from artists and creators from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Local artists in attendance will include Andrew Cohen, creator of Howzit Funnies, Fantom Comics manager Esther Kim, DC Conspiracy co-founder and DC Punk creator Evan Keeling and comic book journalist Josh Kramer.

The event is free to the public.

Photo via DC Zinefest

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