Posted tagged ‘Art’

New Mural Proposed for Mothership

January 10, 2014
The south wall of Mothership, a blank canvas for a future mural?

The south wall of Mothership, a blank canvas for a future mural?

At Wednesday’s ANC 1A meeting, the Commission voted in favor of providing a letter of support to local artist Nekisha Durrett for a proposed mural she is working on to be located on the south wall of Mothership (northeast corner of Lamont & Georgia). You can learn more about Ms. Durrett and see samples of her work on her Web site.

It’s very early in the process, so there aren’t any drawings of what the mural will end up looking like yet.

But … to give you an idea of the direction the design is taking, below is the current concept statement providing the framework for the work.


Fall In Line, by Nekisha Durrett

In 1975, the funk band Parliament paid tribute to the, then, predominately African-American Washington, DC with a record entitled Chocolate City which envisioned African-Americans overtaking the White House.  The follow up record Mothership Connection (Starchild) imagined African Americans deeper into unchartered territory – outer space.  The albums were wildly successful, especially in Washington  – “the Chocolate City and its vanilla suburbs.”  Nearly forty years later, DC has seen tremendous change demographically with the population nearing a 50/50 racial split between white and black residents – garnering both negative and positive opinions.

Seated in the center of Washington, DC in the Park View neighborhood of Northwest, the eclectic diner Mothership is as funky as the concoctors of its namesake, Parliament. The apt name and location of this neighborhood haunt, has inspired the large scale graphic mural by Nekisha Durrett Fall In Line.  In keeping with prevalent themes related to the ubiquity of popular media and storytelling throughout Durrett’s work, Fall In Line pictures a succession of gargantuan, cartoon inspired beings of various sorts waiting to board their homebound “mothership.” This playful work aspires to celebrate the diversity of the surrounding Park View neighborhood while harkening back to a time in the city’s history that could be overlooked in the bustling swell of development and change.

Sixteenth Street Bridge Decorated for the Season

December 23, 2013

Sixteenth Street bridgeOver the weekend I noticed that the Sixteenth Street Bridge — located just south of Arkansas Avenue on the Ward 1/4 border — was decorated for the season. I suspect that this is a tradition, but don’t know how long the bridge has been decorated in December.

Whether decorated or not, the bridge is a handsome structure that was built by the Pennsylvania Bridge Company and Cranford Paving Company from 1907 to 1910. It was designed and directed by the D.C. Bridge Division to span the Piney Branch Valley below.

Those familiar with the bridge may know that the four tigers — a pair flanking both ends of the bridge — were designed by sculptor Alexander Phimister Proctor in 1910. These predate the bisons that Proctor designed for the Q Street (or “Buffalo”) Bridge in 1916.

What many people may not know is that the Sixteenth Street Bridge is notable for being the first parabolic arch constructed in the United States, making it a noteworthy engineering feat.

If you want to learn more about the bridge, you can open the bridge’s data pages on the Library of Congress Web site.

Sixteenth Street Bridge

Premiere Showing of Lorton Prison Stories Photo Project, Tomorrow, Saturday December 14th

December 13, 2013

b-Postcard-Chief-Frame-1Ward 1 freelance photographer Nancy Shia alerted me to an exhibition of prison photographs that will be held at All Souls Church Unitarian at 1500 Harvard Street NW on December 14th (tomorrow), from 1-4 p.m. From Nancy’s announcement:

Have you ever wondered what Lorton Prison was like?  Lorton closed in 2001.  After that DC prisoners were sent to all 4 corners of the US.  Lorton Prison was uniquely Washington, where prisoners were allowed and encouraged to keep strong ties to the DC community.

The premiere of the Lorton Prison Stories Photo Exhibit will be at All Souls Church Unitarian at 1500 Harvard Street NW on December 14th, from 1-4 p.m. in conjunction with the Reentry Arts and Information Fair of the Reentry Network for Returning Citizens.  The images are pictures taken at the Lorton Reformatory from 1974 to 1976.

The photo project is sponsored by a commemorative grant from the Washington DC Humanities Council.  The nonprofit organization sponsoring the project is the Reentry Network for Returning Citizens, Courtney Stewart, Chairman.

There will be organizations present to assist reentering citizens and others who might need them.  There will be prison art, books, buttons, cards and other art about the criminal justice system available.  Light refreshments will be served.

The exhibit will be on display through Sunday, December 15th. Ms. Shia is also Director of The Lorton Prison Stories Project.

Rarely Seen D.C. Mural: Waylande Gregory’s “Democracy in Action”

August 30, 2013
Democracy in Action's showing the left portion of the mural

Democracy in Action’s showing the left portion of the mural

Recently, I had an opportunity to see the ceramic mural Democracy in Action created by WPA artist Waylande Gregory (1905-1971). It is located in the west court of the Daly Building at 300 Indiana Avenue, NW. The building houses several District agencies, including the MPD headquarters and the Superior Court Judges Office. The west court of the building is locked and not open to the public without making prior arrangements.  With this in mind, I took some photos during my visit for those interested in public art.

From what I’ve been able to read, Democracy in Action is Gregory’s largest WPA relief mural and dates to 1941. It depicts D.C.’s Police and Fire Departments. The finished work measures approximately 81 feet long and eight feet high. As you can imagine, it is difficult to photograph.

Section of the mural just left of center.

Section of the mural just left of center.

According to the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s Art Inventories Catalog:

[The] mural is composed of 500 ceramic tiles depicting the functions of the District of Columbia Police Department, Fire Department, and of the Department of Motor Vehicles. The five scenes of the frieze portray, left to right, traffic officials directing vehicles at a busy downtown intersection, traffic officials helping pedestrians along a sidewalk while a crowd of demonstrators carry placards in the background, firemen fighting a fire with water hoses while a child is carried to safety wrapped in a blanket, police apprehending criminals on foot, and the police motorcycle squad stopping to return a lost dog to a concerned boy.

The mural has had controversy associated with it from its creation. The panel depicting two policemen in a violent confrontation with two African American males offended the Police Department, which is headquartered in the building. At its unveiling, the police department protested and the mayor asked for the murals removal and destruction. Eleanor Roosevelt and Paul Manship, representing the US Fine Arts Commission, intervened and save it. The panel remained but the entrance door to the courtyard to view the frieze was kept locked.

Section of the mural just right of center.

Section of the mural just right of center.

According to art historian Thomas C. Folk, “The message represented by the police depicted in the mural seems somewhat confusing; and, might be taken as representing police brutality. But, this theme does look forward to the Civil Rights Movement. Gregory thrived on publicity and probably knew of the Social Realist painter, Philip Evergood’s controversial painting, “American Tragedy,” 1937, which depicts a struggle between picketers and policemen at a steel mill in Gary, Indiana.”

The right section of the mural containing the controversial panel.

The right section of the mural containing the controversial panel.

Hole in the Sky DC Art Event this Weekend

March 27, 2013

I’ve been seeing a lot of posters around Columbia Heights advertising the Hole in the Sky Art Show this weekend.

I was able to find more details on their Facebook page, which states — “The dudes at Hole in the Sky are opening their studio space (2110 5th St NE — 2nd Floor) for an evening of art appreciation + creative cross-pollination. Come spend a night drinking beer, checking out the space, examining bikes & mopeds, listening to music, and viewing & buying artwork from a sweet cross-section of local artists who have been invited to adorn the walls with their dope artwork.”

Holde in the Sky DC


New District Modular Art Installation

March 13, 2013

The District Modular window at 3216 Georgia Avenue has changed once again. In light of the property’s ownership changing, I’m curious if this will be the last art installation there or not.

District Modular


New Mural at 3212 Georgia Avenue

September 25, 2012

Last week I mentioned that two new murals were being added to the 3200 block of Georgia Avenue. Both are part of the Georgia Avenue Window Walk project. The mural I featured last week was by artist Dana Jeri Maier.

Below is the one at 3212 Georgia Avenue. The artist is Elizabeth Stewart and the  mural takes its inspiration from the Caribbean Day Festival.

Elizabeth Stewart putting finishing touches on her mural


New Mural: Off the Hook (202)

June 18, 2012

Over the weekend I noticed that a new mural has been painted on the Bell Corner Stop (3501 Georgia). The mural, shown below, is on the Park Road side of the building. According to the listed credits, it is the work of Charles Jean-Pierre and James Flowers. Less than a month ago Jean-Pierre organized a group of MacFarland Middle School students to paint a mural a few blocks north of Chuck Brown at Sweet Mango.


Weekend Pick — Artomatic 2012

June 1, 2012

Here’s something I wanted to alert people to if they didn’t already have it on their radars … Artomatic 2012. Artomatic opened to the public on May 18th and runs through June 23rd.

According to the Artomatic Website, “Artomatic 2012 is a month-long art festival in the DC area that is “by artists, for everyone.” It is absolutely free to the public.

This year’s event is in a former office building that’s slated for demolition. It features 10 floors of art by more than 1,000 artists: Visual art, music, performance, film, fashion, and more. Workshops, tours, seminars and other events are held all month long.”

This event happens every few years, with the last event gathering in 2009. This year, Artomatic is at 1851 S. Bell St. in Crystal City, a block from Metro. For those of us living on the Metro Green line, this is an easy trip.

Below are the days and times that they are open.

  • Wednesdays and Thursdays: noon – 10 pm
  • Fridays and Saturdays: noon – 1 am
  • Sundays: noon – 5 pm
  • Closed Mondays and Tuesdays

For more information, visit the Artomatic Web site to plan your visit.


2012 D.C. Congressional Art Competition Call for Entries

March 27, 2012

Here’s a great opportunity to Jr. and Sr. High School students that have an interest in art. The 31st Annual Congressional Art Competition call for entries has just gone out. The competition is open to all D.C. school students in Grades 8-12 and the deadline is April 25, 2012.

If you have a talented son or daughter, or know of someone that does, this is an excellent opportunity to have their work shown and exhibited, win awards and prizes, or even get a scholarship.

According to Eleanor Holmes Norton, in her capacity as Honorary Chair of the competition in the District of Columbia, the winning artwork will hang for one year in the U.S. Capitol in a national exhibit of winning artwork from the congressional district of every member of the House of Representatives.

To get a full copy of the application form and read additional details, just click here. House Member Norton’s full letter is below:


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