by Andrew Ramonas October 13, 2016 at 2:50 pm 0

"We Love You" mural at Union Market (Photo courtesy of Union Market)

A black photographer in D.C. has trained his lens on African American men and boys in a new Union Market mural with a social justice focus.

Artist Bryon Summers unveiled his “We Love You” photography exhibit on the 6th Street NE wall on the outside of the building earlier this week, according to a spokeswoman for the market.

The mural includes portraits of several black males as part of a multi-media campaign by Summers to capture the images of more than 1,000 African American boys and men.

“The We Love You Project shares portraits of black boys and men, showing each other and the world that we are not worthless,” Summers said in a statement. “We are someone’s son, brother, cousin, uncle, husband, or father; we are loved.”

Summers will have free portrait sessions for the project at Union Market’s Dock5 on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The mural is slated to stay up until Sunday.

Photo courtesy of Union Market

by Tim Regan September 8, 2016 at 3:55 pm 1 Comment

A San Francisco artist on a mission to paint 10,000 Buddhas across the world brought her project to Logan Circle this week.

Since Tuesday, Amanda Giacomini has spent the majority of her days perched atop a cherry-picker spray-painting dozens of Buddhas on the side of Flow Yoga Center (1450 P St. NW). Her goal: paint as many religious figures on the side of the building as she can.

The mural Giacomini is working on is part of a global art project inspired by a trip to the Ajanta Caves, a Buddhist monument site in India.

“In 2012, I started painting these little Buddhas,” Giacomini said. “The first painting took me almost a year. I did about a hundred of them on an eight-foot panel.”

Not long after, she explained, “I just had this inspiration… that I should paint 10,000.”

So, she set off across the country adorning walls with multicolored Buddhas. Not including her newest mural in Logan Circle, Giacomini estimates she’s painted nearly 7,250 deities.

Since beginning the art project on P Street earlier this week, she’s attracted dozens of curious onlookers and even a blessing from Buddhist monks.

“While you’re painting, especially in a city, you get so much wild interaction,” Giacomini said. “Some of it was so beautiful. This woman gave me this big mama bear hug.”

So far, completing this mural has been a challenge: Giacomini said she doesn’t usually paint this high off the ground. It’s been oppressively hot all week. Last night, a violent storm forced her to come down from the lift.

Still, it’s worth it, Giacomini said.

“We’ll probably be working until 8 p.m. tonight,” she added. “It’s been intense… with the height and with the heat and the lightning, it’s been an epic adventure.”

Photos courtesy Flow Yoga Center

by Borderstan Contributor October 19, 2015 at 10:30 am 4 Comments

Cosby mural at Ben's

Borderstan periodically publishes opinion pieces from the people in our community. Have something you want to share with your neighbors? Email us at borde[email protected].

by Kevin Rooney from U Street Buzz

After everything we have heard, it is virtually certain that Bill Cosby is the monster his accusers say he is, or at least that is the judgement of the court of public opinion. And I concur. Given this, it strikes many as incomprehensible that his likeness is still on the Ben’s Chili Bowl mural by renowned D.C. artist Aniekan Udofia (the mural also features President Obama, Chuck Brown and Donnie Simpson).

This bewilderment, or even anger, is certainly understandable, but the decision on whether and when to remove Cosby should be made solely by Ben’s Chili Bowl proprietors Virginia Ali and her family.

Devin Boyle, the author of this opinion piece in the Washington Post, shows no awareness of why Cosby was honored there in the first place, nor any empathy for the exceedingly difficult position that the Ali family are now in.

It is not defending Cosby, minimizing his crimes, nor insensitive to his victims to point out that while we now know he was a serial sexual predator, he also helped Ben and Virginia Ali a great deal during during some very difficult years for Ben’s Chili Bowl on U Street. He contributed his time and the power of his considerable celebrity and, to my knowledge, never asked for anything in return.

That doesn’t make Cosby a saint, obviously, and it doesn’t come close to making up for the unimaginable pain he has caused his many victims. A special place in Hell has a “reserved” sign with his name on it.

I recount the backstory only to provide some context on the tough spot in which the 81-year-old Virginia Ali and her children now find themselves. At what point do you turn your back on a friend who was there for you and your family during difficult times, but who has since turned out to have been a truly awful human being to others? I don’t know the answer, but I do believe that Virginia Ali (and Ben too, if he were still alive) and the family have earned the right to make that decision themselves by virtue of their many, many contributions to this neighborhood and city.

I think that Cosby’s likeness will be removed from the mural someday, and probably someday soon, but the timing won’t and shouldn’t be decided by Devin Boyle or any other self-righteous activist.

And I doubt they’ll need her help painting it over.

Kevin Rooney runs neighborhood news hub U Street Buzz. Follow him on Twitter or Facebook.

by Jordan-Marie Smith August 11, 2015 at 12:20 pm 0

Developers discussed mural with residents

(Updated at 4:41 p.m.) Sweet Mango Cafe’s endangered Chuck Brown mural might have a second life after all.

Representatives from Rooney Properties, the developer tearing down the building that houses the mural at 3701 New Hampshire Ave., discussed future plans for the site with locals during last night’s Georgia Avenue Community Development Task Force at M.O.M.I.E’s TLC.

For many residents that attended the meeting, preserving the mural, which was painted by MacFarland Middle School students in 2012, was a high priority.

“We’re not just talking about an image of [Chuck Brown], but the longevity of the art and culture that’s here,” said one resident.

Rooney Properties Director of Development Lex Lefebvre said that although they haven’t settled on exactly how keep the mural, they are looking at a number of options.

Possibilities for preserving the mural include copying it in the building’s lobby and reproducing it at MacFarland Middle School or another building in the neighborhood.

And Lefebvre added he’d like the artist who painted the mural to help with the project. (Side note: The mural is a blown-up reproduction of a 1992 photo by Washington City Paper photographer Darrow Montgomery.)

“I’d love to speak with the artist who spearheaded it,” Lefebvre said. He added that he previously reached out to the artist behind Sweet Mango Cafe’s Chuck Brown mural and left a message, but has not heard back from him.

Construction on the five-story condominium and street-level retail space will likely finish by summer 2016.

by Laetitia Brock June 1, 2015 at 1:10 pm 0

U Street is paying homage to american actor, singer and civil rights activist Paul Robeson with “Living Timeline,” a new mural currently in the works on the 1300 blocks of U Street NW.

ART B.L.O.C is an art collective founded by Cory Stowers. As reported by the Washington Post, the collective received a $50,000 city grant from the D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities to paint the tribute on the side of the Hung Tao Choy Mei Leadership Institute at 1351 U Street NW. The work looks almost complete.

Currently, two large portraits of Robeson occupy the two opposite ends of the dark grey wall. Between them, a series of seven round vignettes depicting Robeson at various stages of his life are scattered throughout the wall.

Above the vignettes, passers-by can read a quote widely attributed to Robeson:  “I make no distinction between my work as an artist and my life as a human being.” According to drawings and plans for the mural, the vignettes still need to be linked by a timeline, with important dates in the life of Robeson.

An interactive component of the mural will allow Washingtonians to scan a photo of the mural into an app on their phone to gain access to stories of the different stages of Robeson’s life included in the timeline.

My favorite is the last one, which depicts him in front of the Eiffel Tower, a reference to the trip he took to France to attend the Soviet Union-sponsored Paris Peace Conference.

This will be the second tribute to Paul Robeson in the city. “(Here I Stand) In the Spirit of Paul Robeson,” a public artwork by artist Allen Uzikee Nelson, can currently be seen at the intersection of Kansas Avenue and Georgia Avenue NW, in Petworth.

Laetitia Brock grew up in Paris and landed in D.C. to get her masters at George Washington University. During the day, she works for a trade association near Thomas Circle, but in the evening and on the weekends, she loves discovering new street art around town and exploring the district’s bustling restaurant scene. In addition to contributing to Borderstan, she writes about her favorite DC spots for the travel website Spotted by Locals, and on her own blog, FrenchTwistDC.

Follow her on twitter at @laetitiabrock.

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