• Arts,  Festivals

    Art All Night x 7

    Last Saturday’s Art All Night wasn’t just one celebration — it was, in fact, seven-in-one. Seven neighborhoods hosted events, and a group of DC Focused photographers tag teamed to better chronicle the evening. We saw art and artists, of course, along with musicians, dancers, hula hoopers, and selfie-taking revelers, all bathed in the shimmering light of DC at night. Feature image © 2016 Victoria Pickering   First Things First: The Art More than anything, Art All Night is about the art. I mean, it’s right their in its first name. The festival gave local artists a chance to display their work before huge crowds, educate people and, perhaps, sell some…

  • Arts,  Events

    Portrait of an Artist: Berto Santillan

    Earlier this month, local arts organization Words Beats & Life hosted the latest in a series of “paint jams”–communal mural painting parties in public spaces. More than 25 local artists were on hand for the “Roll Down Get Down” event. Their canvas? The walls and roll-down gates of a strip mall at 1301 Rhode Island Avenue NE. There, I met up with Berto Santillan, an artist who has worked with Words Beats & Life for two years. In addition to murals, Berto is also the artist behind Toka Tattoos in Manassas. (Check out his work on Instagram @tokatattoos.) Berto’s tattoos and murals often incorporate flowers, especially roses, in their designs.…

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  • Arts,  Events

    Phife is Living!

    Words, Beats & Life is a community organization founded in 2000, dedicated to using the “transformative power of hip-hop” to help youth in the community. It’s well known for its arts activities, including massive paint jams that we’ve had fun photographing in 2015 and 2016. In addition to the arts activities, Words, Beats & Life runs many programs and free classes in poetry, DJ’ing, chess, and other activities that fit into their teaching goals of “Skill-Set Mastery, Employability, the Pursuit of a Post-Secondary Education, Community, and Self Mastery” for youths ages 13-23. On Saturday, they sponsored a large festival at Marvin Gaye Park in Anacostia, showcasing many of their activities,…

  • Arts

    Summer ICEBERGS!

    On the hottest days of the year, the best new way to cool off is to go to the ICEBERGS exhibit at the National Building Museum.  Don’t you feel cooler just looking at this? There are thirty icebergs, ranging from 16 feet to 56 feet high, in the Great Hall of the museum, surrounded by an eerie blue screen.  Here’s the view from up above:   Inside the enclosure, you can climb up stairs to an observation deck in the tallest iceberg:   You can choose to go back down the stairs, or take one of the two slides down:       When it’s time to relax, there are…

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  • Arts

    Chinatown’s new art nears completion

    You’re going to be walking over it for the next few years, but you’ve only got a couple more nights to watch the art being installed in the pedestrian crosswalk. We wrote about the beginning of the project earlier, and it’s even more exciting to see the last stages of it transform the intersection at 7th and H St. by the Chinatown arch. Charles Bergen, the artist who won the commission from DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities, was there last night and told me about some of his concepts and challenges for the project. He’d done a lot of research about what would resonate the most with the…

  • Arts

    Synth Series – the magic of strings

    Last year, you may have heard or even seen a massive geometric web of colored string installed in an abandoned building. It was part of the Synth series designed by Toki (architects Toluwalase Rufai and Khai Grubbs). A new incarnation is now back, smaller and in a legal space, but still compelling. It’s on display at Epic Yoga near Dupont Circle for the next four weekends – tickets are $10.               All images © Victoria Pickering

  • Arts

    NoMa gets seven more huge murals

    For any fans of street art, NoMa has been a compelling destination for the past few years, but is getting even more exciting with the installation of seven huge murals during POW!WOW!DC this week. The POW!WOW! movement started in Hawaii and has spread worldwide, as a week-long mural blitz and cultural festival. The NoMa Business Improvement District is sponsoring the POW!WOW! in DC, along with 17 artists collaborating on the projects (full information on it, including the participating artists, location map, and two upcoming walking tours of the art). The pieces shown here are in the process of being painted, so they will have changed by the time you next…

  • Arts

    Dragons come to the Barnes Dance

    Every day, about 27,000 pedestrians pass through the intersection of 7th and H St. by the Chinatown arch. Many of them may never have noticed that the intersection has been a Barnes Dance since 2010 – that means an intersection that you can cross in all directions at the same time, including diagonally. But lots of attention will be drawn to it now, as the intersection gets painted with dragons and zodiac symbols over the next couple of weeks. Here’s how it looks now, after it has been partially painted:     It’s obviously going to become a popular site for photographers, whether it is photographing it with pedestrians or…

  • Arts,  Celebrations,  Events,  Festivals,  Music,  Parades

    On this day, it was the District of Funk

    U Street was all about the funk on Saturday — music, dancing in the street, drum lines and tens of thousands of people turning out for the all-day party and music fest known as the Funk Parade. The festival of funk took over the U Street corridor, as old and new DC came together to celebrate the city’s cultural heritage. The Mayor of Funk Town was even there throwing beads to cheering constituents, walking just a few hundred yards ahead of parade participants carrying a gigantic, inflatable joint. The parade slogan, after all, was “roll your funk.” Spread along the corridor from the Howard Theater to 14th Street, the festival included…

  • Arts,  Events,  Meetups

    Paint Jam Comes to Rhode Island Ave.

      “We are Hip-Hop in all its forms,” says Words Beats & Life, a non-profit arts and educational organization. Last weekend, the Hip-Hop form on display was the mural. Since its founding in 2000, artists working with Word Beats & Life have created thousands of feet of public art around the District, including major installations in Storey Park and Edgewood.  On Saturday, the Fine Lines Paint Jam came to Rhode Island Avenue NE, with dozens of artists leaving their marks on a 900 foot concrete canvas just off the 500 and 600 blocks. With art unfolding before one’s eyes, it was the perfect time for a photo meetup. Several DC…

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  • Arts

    From beach to underground: a sneak peek of Raise/Raze

    [nectar_dropcap color=””]S [/nectar_dropcap]tretching out through the tunnels of the Dupont Underground is a cavern made of plastic balls. Stalagmites and stalactites of balls rise from the floor and descend from the ceiling. Several walls and curved structures wrap around the existing walls in way that seems made for selfies (Sorry Renwick, Facebook profiles are going to be updated). More that just a static installation, the balls are arranged in blocks and affixed with velcro. Visitors are encouraged to move them, which should change the installation over time. The Dupont Underground acquired the plastic balls from the National Building Museum’s The Beach installation a year ago. Over a hundred designs were submitted and, in March, Hou…

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