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 November 16, 2011 at 2:00 pm 2,118 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).

by October 21, 2011 at 9:50 pm 1,261 0

Robert Cole

The Robert T. Cole and Susan Cole Sculpture Studio is on this weekend’s Fall Open Studio tour of Mid City Artists. A number of Robert Cole’s sculptures can be found throughout the Dupont-Logan-U Street area. Check out Cecile Oreste’s profile of Cole along with 13 other Mid City artists. (Luis Gomez Photos)

This weekend is the Fall Mid City Artists Fall Open Studios, which runs from 12 to 5 pm on Saturday and Sunday, October 22-23. There are a total of 21 artists at 15 locations. The Mid City Artists area encompasses several neighborhoods, including Dupont Circle, Logan Circle and U Street.

Go to the Mid City Artists website for a complete list of artists participating in this weekend’s event — and download their great map that shows the studio locations.  Over the past two years Borderstan arts writer Cecile Oreste, along with Luis Gomez as photographer, profiled a total of 14 Mid City artists.

Mid City Artists Profiled on Borderstan

by May 19, 2011 at 9:30 am 1,625 0

Mid City Artists, Borderstan, Ryan Epp, Luis Gomez Photos

Ryan Epp is one of 28 Mid City Artists participating in their open studios tour this weekend, May 21-22. (Luis Gomez Photos)

If you haven’t partaken of a Mid City Artists Open Studios weekend, it’s a great opportunity to discover artists in the neighborhood. You’ll have the chance to meet some great local artists, 13 of which have previously been featured on Borderstan — check out the list below.

Download a Mid City Artists map with studio locations and hours for May 21-22. A total of 28 studios (at 21 locations) are open this weekend; the artists also host a fall weekend session.

Profiles of Mid City Artists

Check out the 13 profiles of Mid City artists by Cecile Oreste.

by May 5, 2011 at 10:00 am 1,269 0

Helanius J. Wilkins, EDGEWORKS Dance Theater, danceDC

Helanius J. Wilkins is the founder of EDGEWORKS Dance Theater. (Courtesy danceDC and Wilkins)

Editor’s note: The following story is from danceDC, which is written by Cecile Oreste. In addition, Oreste writes about the arts for; you can follow her on Twitter @dance_DC. This story is crossposted with the permission of Oreste and the author.

• • • • • • • • • • • •

From Helanius J. Wilkins, Founder & Artistic Director

When I founded EDGEWORKS Dance Theater, I had only a dream and a gut feeling telling me that this was what I needed to do. I planted my feet firmly onto the ground and began the work — the work that would lead to, and is, the journey of EDGEWORKS. Back then I wasn’t so concerned with the future. I was more focused on creating the moments that would give way to building a foundation and shedding light on the possibilities of a future. It is now 10 years later.


by December 29, 2010 at 5:00 am 3,780 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 December 1, 2010 at 5:30 am 3,667 0

Transformer gallery Logan Circle NW

Transformer is at 1404 P St. NW. (Luis Gomez Photos)

From Cecile Oreste at danceDC

Transformer hosted its 7th Annual Silent Auction & Benefit Party at the Mexican Cultural Institute Saturday, Nov. 13. The current exhibition, Tang: “Freedom & Its Owner,” is on display at their Logan Circle gallery space at 1404 P St. until Dec. 4. I recently spoke with Executive and Artistic Director Victoria Reis to talk about Transformer’s gallery space and to learn more about the organization.

Transformer is a non-profit visual arts organization founded in 2002 by Reis along with Jayme McLellan, Founder and Director of Civilian Art Projects.

Borderstan: Transformer is a catalyst and advocate for emergent expression. Why the focus on emerging artists?

Reis: At the point when I founded Transformer with Jayme, there were no consistent programs for emerging artists. None of the commercial galleries and no other nonprofits were consistently presenting works of emerging artists. We wanted to fill that need.

Transformer defines “emerging artist” somewhat broadly as someone who doesn’t have an established art career or who is seeking to build their career outside of his or her established base of operations. D.C. based artists Transformer exhibits may have been in group shows, but have not yet had a solo show. An artist based outside of D.C. may have more exhibition experience, but has not yet exhibited in D.C. Emerging is not necessarily tied to a specific age and the artist may or may not be represented. Transformer not only looks for artists who are just launching their careers, but are also launching new ideas or experimenting with processes and themes.


Transformer gallery Logan Circle NW

Borderstan: How do you find the artists you work with? What do you look for in artists and their work?

Reis: In launching Transformer, I personally knew so many amazing emerging artists who had recently graduated from the Corcoran and other area institutions like Virginia Commonwealth University. Additionally I had been building connections with many D.C. artists who were also musicians, as well as artists from outside D.C. that I connected with through my previous work experience with the National Association of Artists’ organizations.

I started with artists I knew and found other artists from referrals of artists and arts colleagues, and word of mouth. Transformer also gets referrals from our advisory council and our network of peer arts organizations that we are connected to via the Warhol Foundation and other networks.

In addition, Transformer staff members make frequent studio visits and see exhibitions around the region, nationally and internationally. We also have an open submission process for any artists who would like to submit work for us to consider.

It’s exciting for me to see an artist that is experimenting with a new process. I look for artists who are ambitious and really committed to furthering themselves, artists who are open to feedback and working hard. It’s a combination of talent and a unique voice. Transformer does have a certain aesthetic. Our program tends to focus on artists who want to present their work in a fully realized installation format.

Borderstan: What makes Transformer unique?


by October 3, 2010 at 11:28 pm 5,008 0

Mike Weber Luis Gomez Photos Cecile Oreste

Mike Weber in his Logan Circle studio. (Luis Gomez Photos)

From Cecile Oreste at danceDC

Mike Weber has been involved with the DC art scene for nearly a decade. In addition to being one of the founding members of Mid City Artists, he has exhibited his work at both Longview Gallery and gallery plan b. He also managed his own art consulting business for eight years, representing more than 40 artists worldwide. Weber lives and works in the Logan Circle area.

Prior to moving to DC, Weber lived in various cities including St. Louis, Dallas, New York City and Milan. Despite his plans to move to Venice Beach, California, next month, he acknowledges that he has gained a lot from living in DC: “I love the historical significance of DC. The presence of history is so in your face. I’m going to miss that.”

Background in 3D Animation

Weber comes from a background in visual communication and 3D animation. He designed and directed broadcast graphics for various films and television shows after receiving his degrees in Visual Communications and Computer Animation/Multimedia from Southwest Missouri State University and The Art Institute International of Dallas.


by September 14, 2010 at 9:41 pm 2,662 1 Comment

Cecile Oreste Bettmann Dances Luis Gomez Photos

Robert Bettmann shows off his dance moves for Borderstan on the steps of the Scottish Rite Freemasonry Temple at 16th and S Streets NW. (Luis Gomez Photos)

From Cecile Oreste at danceDC

Conversations about security and what that means for our nation often come to the forefront around September 11, 2001. This year is no different for Robert Bettmann, artistic director of Bettmann Dances, who aims to explore the issue of security through his company’s latest project, Quis Custodiet.

Quis Custodiet, an abbreviation of the Latin phrase, Quis custodiet ipsus custodet? It translates to, ‘Who will watch the watchers themselves?’ and is inspired by the personal connections Bettmann has with the issue of security. His grandparents met as refugees in New York during World War II, and Bettmann himself experienced life in DC both before and after 9/11.

The title of the project, “Quis Custodiet,” also plays with the idea of performing for an audience. Spectators watch the dancers, but who watches the audience?

In addition to inspiration from his personal questions about security, Bettmann hopes to infuse the year-long project with feedback from the local community. He plans to hold dance workshops in different areas of DC, inviting participants to share their experiences through movement.

Bettmann Dances will also be launching a website where visitors can exchange information and learn about the issue of security. According to Bettmann, the idea behind these initiatives is “to project local voices into a national dialogue.”

Cecile Oreste Bettmann Dances Luis Gomez Photos

Robert Bettman. (Luis Gomez Photos)

What about Bettmann’s dance style? He describes it as theatrical, modern dance and tries to create “beautiful and meaningful choreography that can be enjoyed on a variety of levels.”

You can support the Quis Custodiet project by pledging to their Kickstarter through September 26.

by July 20, 2010 at 11:37 pm 4,166 1 Comment

BTI Dance Institute Alvaro Maldonado Luis Gomez Photos

An Afro-Brazilian dance class with Angela Ingram at the BTI Dance Institute, 1515 14th Street NW. (Luis Gomez Photos)

From Cecile Oreste of danceDC

Long before moving to DC and opening BTI Dance Institute on 14th Street, Alvaro Maldonado was a kid growing up in war-torn El Salvador. Free dance classes at the National Ballet School kept him away from the violence and gangs that surrounded him, and the lessons he learned in the classroom changed his life.

“I wouldn’t be able to be here without dance,” Maldonado said. “Dance transformed my life and I hope to use the power of dance to transform the lives of others.”

BTI Dance Institute Alvaro Maldonado Luis Gomez Photos

Alvaro Maldonado. (Luis Gomez Photos)

Inspired by his personal experience, Maldonado, who is also a nutrition consultant and co-owner of the personal training gym Fit on 17th Street NW, began to implement dance programs in his home country, and in other troubled areas of Central America. According to Maldonado, the goal of the program is not to create dancers, but instead to inspire students and provide them the tools needed to succeed in life.

He now brings this transformational outreach program to District schools and youth groups through BTI–Ballet Teatro Internacional–Dance Institute, which opened its doors on 14thStreet NW last weekend. He is the owner and artistic director.

In addition to its outreach programs, BTI Dance Institute has both an adult and youth dance training program. To promote its repertoire of classes and to test out the current schedule of its adult dance training program, the studio is offering free classes until Friday, July 23.

First time students and experienced dancers alike will have the chance to try a variety of free classes before regular rates go into effect this Saturday. They will also be able to purchase discount cards at reduced rates before Saturday the 24th.

Youth Program Starts in September

The success of the first few weeks of BTI is not only important to keep the studio going, but it is also key to building a solid financial base for its youth dance training program scheduled to start this September. Maldonado wants to train modern dancers through this program.

Students of BTI Dance Institute’s youth dance training program will take dance history and other relevant academic classes, as well as daily technique and modern dance classes. Graduates of the program will receive a diploma in contemporary dance concert performance and will be prepared to audition for modern dance companies all over the world.

Ballet Performance Workshop

Students interested in the training program and ballet dancers who have been out of practice may be interested in BTI’s Classical Ballet Performance Workshop with Elizabeth Wisenberg of the Stuttgart Ballet.  The two week intensive workshop runs Monday through Friday 10:30 am to 12:30 pm, August 16-27. Total cost for the workshop is $190, but students can also pay for drop in classes with Wisenberg.

Dancers who participate in the workshop will take an hour of technique class and an hour of repertory to learn one of the well-known pieces from Swan Lake. The workshop culminates with a small performance of the Swan Lake piece for family and friends at the studio.

Maldonado noted that BTI is still working on its studio but hopes to complete everything over the next couple weeks. Classes will be adjusted and added to meet the needs of the studio and its clientele–but hip hop and flamenco fans will be disappointed to hear that these types of classes will not be included to the roster.

For more posts about dance in DC please visit my new blog, danceDC. – Cecile.

by July 12, 2010 at 10:00 pm 3,136 1 Comment

Allen Russ Vastu Borderstan Luis Gomez Photos

Photographer Allen Russ at Vastu. (Luis Gomez Photos)

From Cecile Oreste

Allen Russ is a local photographer whose work is currently for sale at Vastu’s $500 or Less Art Exhibition. His on-location work featured in the exhibition includes landscape shots of Acadia National Park in Maine, Estero Bay in Florida and Monument Valley in Arizona.

Landscapes and elements of the environment are often the focus of Russ’ photography.

“I’m always searching for that pure, pristine place,” he said. “In some ways, photography is escapism. When you take the signs of humanity out of the photo, you are redefining the world as you would like it to appear.”

According to Russ, all of the work featured at Vastu was shot on film, which is rare in today’s photography industry. The shots were then scanned into a computer and traditional dark room work was completed using Photoshop.

Despite using new technologies for his dark room work, Russ still uses old school principles to create his finished products.

“I don’t look at a photo as infinitely modifiable,” he said. “I still limit myself to what should theoretically be possible in a traditional darkroom. I try to use the raw digital file as if it were a film negative.”

When asked about the pieces he chose to contribute to the exhibition, Russ rediscovered older pieces in his collection. “I think they will appeal to people seeing them for the first time,” he said. He also based his decision on what would work best in the store, where he previously exhibited his work in 2007.

In addition to his artistic photography, Russ makes a living as an architectural photographer at Hoachlander Davis Photography in Adams Morgan. He was recently a finalist in the 2010 International Photography Competition at Fraser Gallery and also regularly participates in the Hickok Cole Architects/Washington Project for the Arts annual benefit.

He is currently working on a project titled “City of Trees,” a collection of tree photographs in the District which he plans to publish as a book. He hopes to donate the proceeds from the potential book sales to the Trust for the National Mall and to eventually expand this business model in order to impact other important organizations.

Allen Russ Vastu

“Acadia National Park” by Allen Russ. (Luis Gomez Photos)

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by July 9, 2010 at 12:44 am 2,231 0

Vastu Cecile Oreste Luis Gomez Photos

Vastu’s exhibition of six artists lasts through August 19. (Luis Gomez Photos)

From Cecile Oreste

Vastu is known for its contemporary furniture and interior design services. But, did you know it also houses a vast collection of works from several Mid-Atlantic artists? In fact, Vastu is currently hosting its first ever $500 or Less art exhibition with works from six artists, all priced at $500 or less.

According to Art Director Brian Petro, Vastu “likes to change things up once in awhile.” With the recession still affecting thousands in the District, he thought what better way to mix it up than to put together an exhibition featuring an array of affordable art.

“People are crunched for the extras in life,” he said. “This exhibition gives people who don’t have the budget the opportunity to purchase high quality art.”

Vastu’s Marketing and Showroom Manager Janelle Tracy added that the goal of the exhibition is to make art more accessible: “People often feel intimated about buying art for the first time. This exhibition gives people the opportunity to own art work that is original,” she said.

The exhibition features photography, wall sculpture, paintings and mixed-media works from two new artists and four artists who have previously shown at Vastu including Mid City artist Colin Winterbottom.

Allen Russ and Kristina Bilonick, also based in the DC Metro area, have contributed works to Vastu for the exhibition. In addition, you will have the chance to purchase works from DeMarquis Johnston, Rose Minetti, Gabriel Shuldiner and even Brian Petro himself.

When asked how he decided to group these particular artists together, Petro said he looked for high-quality work that is really unique. He thought about their previous work and decided on these six based on the variety in color and structure each artist would bring to the display. “I wanted to give people the opportunity to see more art. I wanted them to have more options so the exhibition features a wide range of styles and mediums,” Petro said.

Vastu Cecile Oreste Luis Gomez Photos

 From left to right, the works of artists Rose Minetti, DeMarquis Johnston and Gabriel J. Shuldiner (Luis Gomez Photos)

You can view the exhibition and purchase the works on display until August 19. For more information and examples of pieces in the exhibition, visit Vastu’s blog, Design Clique. Also, watch for profiles on Borderstan of the DC-based artists featured in the exhibition. (See “Kristina Bilonick: From Journal Entries to Screen Prints.”)

by July 5, 2010 at 10:59 pm 2,339 0

Kristina Bilonick Luis Gomez Photos Cecile Oreste Vastu

Kristina Bilonick grew up in Chevy Chase, MD, and many of her screen printings and mixed media works reflect journal entries from her childhood. (Luis Gomez Photos)

From Cecile Oreste

Kristina Bilonick is one of the local artists featured in Vastu’s current $500 or Less art exhibition. When asked to contribute her work to the exhibition, she considered the aesthetic of the store and selected pieces that would complement its modern décor.

Some of her works on sale at Vastu include an acrylic painting on canvas titled “Frutas” and a screen print with acrylic and graphite on paper titled “Love Boat,” which portrays her childhood dreams of being a famous actress.

“My work is about family, personal experiences and growing up in the DC suburb of Chevy Chase,” she said. “A lot of ideas come from journal entries I’d written when I was in grade school.”

Bilonick recalls being inspired by summers spent in Panama as a youth, as well as observations of her grandmother. Her grandmother collected Maybelline Great Lash mascara, a memory which inspired her to create a five foot sculpture of the pink-and-green makeup tube.

Bilonick has shown at several galleries in the DC Metro area including Transformer and Studio Gallery. However, this is her first time showing at Vastu despite previously working out of the store’s basement studio space. She now calls Gold Leaf Studios, between Union Station and Chinatown, home. Artists Sarah McLaughlin and Nick Pimentel also share the space, where Bilonick has worked out of since last September.

Bedroom by Kristina Belonick (Luis Gomez Photos)

Bedroom by Kristina Bilonick (Luis Gomez Photos)

In addition to creating interactive installations, Bilonick designs a line of screen-printed apparel and accessories which can be purchased at Smash! Records in Adams Morgan, The Shop @ Civilian Art Projects and her own website. She is also involved in other areas of the arts community in DC.

She recently performed in “Memoria Brassica”–one of the “Artistic Blind Dates” during Week 2 of the Source Festival and currently works as Program Director for the Washington Project for the Arts.

More Information

by June 15, 2010 at 11:05 pm 6,588 0

Joren Lindhom Mid City Artists 14th Street NW portrait photography

How does painter Joren Lindholm compare the DC and New York art scenes? (Luis Gomez Photos)

From Cecile Oreste

Although Joren Lindholm recently joined DC’s Mid City Artists, he is no stranger to the local art scene. He has shown his work at the Studio Gallery in Dupont Circle and Willow Street Gallery in Takoma Park. His work has also been featured locally by Exhibit 9, Gallery Slye and area businesses including the former Common Grounds (now Murkey Coffee) in Arlington, and Habitat Real Estate in Mount Pleasant. Most recently, his work has been featured at, and donated to LOTTOheart and the Camp Rehoboth gay and lesbian community center auction raffle.

Lindholm’s main medium is painting, which he uses to create synthetic images that convey reflective themes. They explore emotional or psychological issues, and are frequently inspired by the tension in male-female relationships:

“My work’s premise also has to do with time–a juxtaposition between now and future possibilities,” he said. His art “consistently walks the line between abstract and representation,” provoking viewers to start questioning their perception and to realize that things are not always what they seem.

Joren Lindhom Mid City Artists 14th Street NW Luis Gomez Photos

Joren Lindholm. (Luis Gomez Photos)

Lindholm works on his narrative painting full time at his new studio location at 1716 14th Street NW, just above Cork Wine Bar. Previously, he held several art-related occupations. Lindhom worked as an art handler, an associate college art teacher and even worked with the National Gallery of Art publications/sales division.

In addition, Lindholm has extensive knowledge of art through his education. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois, a Master of Fine Arts from American University and spent two years painting and drawing from the model at the New York Studio School.

When asked about the District compared to the city that doesn’t sleep, he noted that DC is much more manageable than New York. He sees DC as having a unique centralized culture. “I like it because it’s a city that is both cosmopolitan and compact,” he said.

In regards to the cities’ respective art scenes, Lindholm thinks there is more of a mixing and blending together of different niches in DC, which has both positive and negative implications. According to Lindholm, “there is less environmental support to achieve what you want but the good thing is that people question a lot more and are exposed to more things.”

Lindholm hopes his participation with Mid City Artists will over time help his work coalesce with that of artists who work in a similar vein. He also hopes to further develop his blog IMX matter, which he uses to make highlights on art and to sharpen his art critical skills.

Joren Lindhom Mid City Artists 14th Street NW portrait photography

Painter Joren Lindholm in his 14th Street studio. (Luis Gomez Photos)

by June 10, 2010 at 9:34 pm 6,152 1 Comment

Dave Peterson Mid City Artists Luis Gomez Photos Borderstan

Dave Peterson with “Regretful Mosquito.” (Luis Gomez Photos)

From Cecile Oreste

Rockville native Dave Peterson did not seek to start a business. But, after graduating from Wheaton College near Chicago and returning to the District he became an integral part of launching Be As You Are. It is an apparel company based in Georgetown that sells ‘fun and funky stuff’ including tee shirts, hats, flip flops and more.

Peterson’s involvement happened by chance when his former business partner contacted him after seeing fliers Peterson made to advertise his own tee shirt designs. The company has expanded and become successful over time thanks in part to Dave’s artistic contributions.

Two years ago, Peterson branched out to explore other artistic endeavors and has been actively involved with the DC arts scene ever since. He has participated in the month-long art festival Artomatic multiple times and recently joined Mid City Artists after relocating to a studio space near 14th Street’s Cork Wine Bar.

Local dog owners will also recognize his work at the Shaw Dog Park on 11th Street–the welcome sign includes one of Peterson’s dog drawings.

Dave Peterson Mid City Artists Luis Gomez Photos Borderstan

Dave Peterson with “Dog.” Another one of Peterson’s dogs graces the welcome sign to Shaw Dog Park at 11th and R NW. (Luis Gomez Photos)

Peterson admits that when he first started his career as an artist that he didn’t really know what he was going to do. All he did know was that he wanted to live a life where he wasn’t afraid to take risks. Today, he experiments with a number of different materials including wood, pegboard, Styrofoam and plastics for his screen printing designs.

According to Peterson, “it’s fun to experiment with different materials. They add more texture and substance to the work. I also never want to have too much of the same thing. I like to mix up combinations of graphics and captions.”

Peterson’s work often features subjects like people, dogs, birds and, recently, pickles. The process of creating his screen print designs is surprisingly not that thought out:

“I like everything to be spontaneous so I don’t do a lot of editing. I try to make things funny, but at the same time not too cartoony. I like it to be kind of ambiguous although sometimes it is helpful to add titles and tell people what it is.”

Dave hopes to expand his current business of designing tee shirts and prints into designs for furniture and home décor like pillows. He also sees potential in partnering with interior designers to create innovative spaces and in the near future plans to focus on marketing Branddave, his ‘one-stop-shop’ for his various creative endeavors.

Peterson’s work was incorporated into the design concept of Barbara Franceski, who designed the guest sitting room of the 2010 DC Design House in Chevy Chase. His ‘Gaggle’ artwork was the first piece in the entire house to sell. Peterson has also exhibited at Baked & Wired in Georgetown and will be exhibiting his work at local area businesses Mid City Caffe and Caramel come September.

For more information about Dave or to view and purchase his work, visit

Dave Peterson Mid City Artists Luis Gomez Photos Borderstan

Dave Peterson, center, with several of his creations in his studio, from left: “Gaggle,” “Take Out,” “Bird Seed,” and “Jack.” (Luis Gomez Photos)


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