From Cecile Oreste at danceDC
The familiar saying, “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure,” is particularly relevant to Mid City Artist Chuck Baxter. For more than 15 years, the Shaw resident has created works of art from objects found in the alleys of D.C. Basketballs, ties, yogurt containers, vodka bottles, lighters and car air fresheners have all been artistic inspiration to the area’s “foremost collector of gutter gifts.”
Whether you view his work as trash or treasure, Baxter has had great success exhibiting in the area. He has shown his work at Artomatic, Arts on Foot, Touchstone Gallery, Studio Gallery, Mid City Caffe and the 17th Street Festival, among others. Currently, he is part of a group show, “Social Network in the Neighborhood,” with 11 other Mid City Artists at DC Loft Gallery on 14th Street NW.
When it comes to his artistic process, Baxter admits that there is not much planning involved. The approach may differ for each piece, but the result is always something unique.
“I rarely have a preconceived notion of what I’m going to do,” he said. “I usually look at the materials and think about what I can do with them. Sometimes it comes to me. Sometimes I manipulate the material.”
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.”
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.
Check out the photos on Flickr from the groundbreaking ceremony on September 2 at The Howard Theatre.
Thursday was another groundbreaking day for another project in Shaw. It was celebration time in Shaw at the doors of the the historic Howard Theatre. After years of delays, the celebratory crowd at 620 T Street NW included Mayor Adrian Fenty, Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton, Councilmember Jim Graham (D-Ward) and At-Large Councilmember Kwame Brown.
It will take an estimated $28 million to fully renovate and endow The Howard Theatre. The DC Government has already contributed $8 million. The developer of the project is Ellis Development Group.
A mixed-use entertainment venue is planned with the centerpiece being a 600-person hall used primarily for live music events. In its development plan, Ellis says that the restored theater will be “Symbiotic but not competitive with the other stars in the constellation of Washington theatres, venues such as its sister stage, The Lincoln Theatre” (1215 U Street NW). Ellis will also be developing the adjacent United Negro College Fund project at 7th and S, above the Shaw-Howard University Metro station.
A couple of months ago semi-local artist Gaia had an exhibit at Irvine Contemporary. I started to see his work around the city and photographed some of his pieces, posting one from 14th and Q NW on One Photograph a Day.
Gaia also painted a mural on a wall behind the P Street Whole Foods–and now it is gone, removed by the store. I read the story yesterday about how the mural disappeared at TBD.com. Sadly, I didn’t get any pictures of it.
I don’t like tagging and destructive graffiti; they are never good for a community or neighborhood. But to me there are a couple of things to consider here. First, Gaia’s work is truly Street Art. Second, it wasn’t even on a street facade–it was in an alley. Due to the nature of Gaia’s work, it would eventually disappear. He uses large sheets of paper, which he paints on and then attaches to walls.
Why can’t Washington enthusiastically embrace art in public spaces such as alleys? What, exactly, was so objectionable about Gaia’s mural that a neighbor–facing an alley of trash cans and delivery trucks–demanded its removal? Wasn’t it obvious that this piece of art was not the work of a vandal?
Philadelphia, for example, has tons of beautiful murals all over the city and has even created city tours of murals and street art. It was sad that in the rush to remove the mural that there wasn’t time to talk about the mural… that no one contacted Irvine Contemporary before destroying Gaia’s mural.
What I find somehow funny, and most ironic, is that now the wall has three huge patches of lightly colored paint on a red wall. No art, just splotches of paint. But, apparently, it doesn’t offend anyone.
Click on the collage above for a slide show of Luis’s pics from Dog Days 2010 on Flickr.
The annual Dog Days of Summer Sidewalk Sale on Saturday and Sunday attracted more than 100 businesses and organizations this year on the 14th and U corridors–and thousands of shoppers and gawkers. What began in 2000 with six businesses has grown along with the influx of new residents and entrepreneurs into the Mid City area, aka the Logan Circle and U Street neighborhoods.
One of the main draws of Dog Days are the reduced prices on goods at local stores–on the sidewalk. But the people and dog watching is just as important during Dog Days. One notable change in recent years is the increasing number of restaurants that participate in Dog Days (there are more of them now, obviously). Late morning and mid-afternoon on Saturday seemed to be the busiest periods for foot traffic, followed by the post-brunch crowd on Sunday after 2 pm.
In addition to regular folks–we met quite a few from outside the neighborhood, including suburbanites–Dog Days attracted a smattering of politicians. Councilmember Jim Graham (running for re-election in Ward 1), Council Chairman Vincent Gray (running for mayor) and Clark Ray (running for At-Large Council seat) were all spotted during the weekend. Saturday afternoon brought a quick, brief siting of White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emmanuel with children in tow on 14th Street (we’re 95% sure it was him).
Dog Days is sponsored by the MidCity Business Association.
Welcome to Week #18 of Luis’ collection of cities from South America, Europe, Australia and North America.
Last Week: Chichiriviche
Last week’s Mystery City #17 was Chichiriviche in the Venezuelan state of Falcon–the top choice of readers with 42%. The beach town is about three hours northwest of Caracas on the Caribbean. Venezuelans from Caracas and Valencia have weekend homes or condos there and it is a popular beach get-away. Of course, this being Venezuela, everyone goes to the beach and there are a number of other places like Chichiriviche.
It is a fairly small place and, like most of Venezuela’s beaches, the infrastructure is underdeveloped by U.S. standards. (When you have oil, you don’t worry so much about building Hilton hotels on your beaches.) I spent several days there three years ago with Luis and after the initial surprise regarding some of the town’s amenities, came to like it very much. A big bonus is the Morrocoy National Park.
Small islands or cayos, are just off the coast and local boatsmen will ferry you out to them for the day. The food is wonderful and there is one lagoon near Chichiriviche where people get out of their boats and drink and party in the water. Vendors come by and sell you food and drink–from their boat to your boat. In short, I highly recommend it, but Chichiriviche is not for those with a Club Med mindset.
This Week’s Photo
We will reveal the identity of #18 next Wednesday. It is an English-speaking city with right-hand drive.
Previous mystery cities have been Caracas, Valaparaiso (Chile), Sydney, Bratislava, La Paz and Santiago, Long Beach, Toronto, St. Louis, Valencia (Venezuela), Genoa, Colonia Tovar (Venezuela), Prague, Viña del Mar (Chile), Asbury Park (New Jersey), Mexico City and Chichiriviche, Falcon (Venezuela).
For Week #18, vote for your choice below.
<br /> <a href=”http://polldaddy.com/poll/3575001/”>Mystery City #18: What city is this?</a></p> <p><span style=”font:9px;”>(<a href=”http://www.polldaddy.com”>polls</a>)</span><br />
On a beautiful and cool Saturday morning, a group of dogs and their owners volunteered their time to help clean up the Shaw Dog Park at 11th and R Streets NW.
Some 20 volunteers and theirs dogs showed up early with their cleaning tools–with great help from the dogs, naturally. We got some pictures of these hard-working dogs and their owners.
The park is managed by a volunteer, not-for-profit group, Shaw Dogs.
Welcome to Week #17 of Luis’ collection of cities from South America, Europe, Australia and North America.
Last Week: Mexico City
Last week’s Mystery City was Mexico City and the street scene is near the city’s Torre Latinoamericana. The 45-story “Latin-American Tower” was built in 1956 and is one of Mexico City’s most famous landmarks.
How did readers do guessing the identity of #16? In addition to Mexico City (24% of voters), the choices were Santiago (top choice with 29%), Lima (24%), São Paulo (18%) and Caracas (6%).
This Week’s Photo
We will reveal the identity of #17 next Wednesday. As you can tell from the choices, it is a Caribbean beach town and not a large one at that. It is in one of five countries located in the southern and western ends of the sea. Be prepared to do some online research to figure out the identity of this week’s city.
Previous mystery cities have been Caracas, Valaparaiso (Chile), Sydney, Bratislava, La Paz and Santiago, Long Beach, Toronto, St. Louis, Valencia (Venezuela), Genoa, Colonia Tovar (Venezuela), Prague, Viña del Mar (Chile), Asbury Park (New Jersey) and Mexico City.
For Week #17, vote for your choice below.
<br /> <a href=”http://polldaddy.com/poll/3535739/”>Mystery City #17: What city is this?</a></p> <p><span style=”font:9px;”>(<a href=”http://www.polldaddy.com”>polls</a>)</span><br />
Welcome to Week #16 of Luis’ collection of cities from South America, Europe, Australia and North America.
Last Week: Asbury Park, NJ
Last week’s Mystery City was Asbury Park, New Jersey. The buildings in the photo are the Asbury Park Convention Center and Paramount Theatre, both finished in 1930. Both were undergoing renovations while we were there about three years ago.
If you’ve never been to Asbury Park, we’d recommend it. It’s a good stop on a drive up the Jersey shore to New York. Asbury Park has a rich history and one 2008 ranking put its beach as the sixth best beach on the Jersey shore. It is located 60 miles south of New York City and there is a commuter train that takes you to Manhattan. After a period of serious decline, Asbury Park is slowly undergoing a rebirth.
How did readers do guessing the identity of #15? In addition to Asbury Park (26% of voters), the choices were Waukegan, IL (top choice with 33%), Erie, PA (23%), Duluth, MN (15%) and Portsmouth, NH (3%).
This Week’s Photo
As for this week’s photo, wee will reveal the identity of #16 next Wednesday. As you can tell from the choices, it is located in either a Spanish- or Pourtuguese-speaking country.
Previous mystery cities have been Caracas, Valaparaiso, Sydney, Bratislava, La Paz and Santiago, Long Beach, Toronto, St. Louis, Valencia (Venezuela), Genoa, Colonia Tovar (Venezuela), Prague, Viña del Mar (Chile) and Asbury Park.
For Week #16., vote for your choice below.
<br /> <a href=”http://polldaddy.com/poll/3501941/”>Mystery City #16: What city is this?</a></p> <p><span style=”font:9px;”>(<a href=”http://www.polldaddy.com”>polls</a>)</span><br />
Welcome to Week #15 of Luis’ collection of cities from South America, Europe, Australia and North America.
Last week’s Mystery City was Viña del Mar in Chile’s Valparaíso Province (the top choice of readers was Bunbury, Western Australia). The hint was that it was a coastal city with a Mediterranean climate. For the record, the world’s five official Mediterranean climate zones are Chile, California, western Australia, the Cape region of South African and, of course, the Mediterranean.
This week we have another city on a large body of water and it is in North America. But, is it on one of the Great Lakes or the Atlantic Ocean? We will have the answer next Wednesday. Vote for your choice below.
<br /> <a href=”http://polldaddy.com/poll/3468984/”>Mystery City #15: What city is this?</a></p> <p><span style=”font:9px;”>(<a href=”http://www.polldaddy.com”>polls</a>)</span><br />
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.
See photos on Flickr of Sunday evening’s World Cup celebration in Dupont Circle.
Several hundred joyous Spanish fans celebrated Spain’s first FIFA World Cup Sunday evening in Dupont Circle. After the 1-0 victor over the Netherlands, soccer fans gathered in the Circle to dance, sing, splash in the fountain and wave Spanish flags. The celebration last close to three hours with fans dispersing–under the eyes of the National Park Service police–around 8 pm.
In addition to the jubilant Spanish fans in the park, there were several carloads of flag-waving fans driving around Dupont Circle. A handful of quiet Dutch fans in orange were in the Circle as well.
This was the second–albeit unplanned–soccer celebration in Dupont Circle this summer. On Saturday, June 12, Soccer in the Circle drew thousands of futbol fans for the three World Cup matches shown on two large screens in Dupont Circle. Soccer in the Circle day is part of the Dupont Festival series, which brings events to Dupont Circle.
From Tom Hay
According to recently filed notices with the DC Alcohol Beverage Regulation Administration (ABRA), two more restaurants are in the works for the 14th Street corridor.
At 1323 14th Street will be Teak Wood, serving Thai cuisine and seating 146 people; the owners operate Galea Thai in Alexandria. The building also houses the Crew Club. Teak Wood will become the third Thai restaurant between N and R streets. Just across 14th Street at 1326 is Thai Tanic and further north at 1608 14th is Rice (which serves a variety of east Asian cuisine).
Further up 14th Street at 1819, in between The Black Cat and ICON, will be a yet unnamed Mexican restaurant. The ABRA notice describes it as “… restaurant/Taqueria with entertainment serving Mexican cuisine. Entertainment to include acoustic bands, Mexican style music. The restaurant will have Summer Garden with 99 seats and a Sidewalk Café with14 seats. Total occupancy load is 274…”
Both establishments must face hearings scheduled for early September. I believe the summer garden and bands at the Mexican restaurant are going to raise red flags with the local ANCs. Masa 14, a few doors down, has been trying for months to get rooftop seating in place. 14th & You did very good coverage of their efforts to secure a voluntary agreement. One can only imagine a replay.
Pedestrians on the 1100 block of U Street had the opportunity to show their hula-stuff on Saturday night. Capitol Hemp, a local clothing store, parked its van in front of the U Street Music Hall and offered up hula hoops to anyone willing to give it a go. Some hoopers were better than others.
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.
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.