I’ve given up on D.C.’s Art For All ever being a cultural event of the scale and caliber of Paris’ Nuit Blanche, but that doesn’t mean that I’m not looking forward to it. The main event, Art All Night/Nuit Blanche DC, now in its fourth edition, will take place Saturday, September 27 and go beyond the Shaw neighbourhood to all four quadrants of the city.
Art All Night uses art to cast a new light on the city and one of the things I love the most about the DC version is that it allows me to explore both established art spaces and discover more underutilized venues. This year is no exception. Here are some of the highlights:
Activated! Art4All Launch Party ~ If you haven’t walked through the new City Center complex downtown (and seen its fun digital art feature the Gateway), now is your chance! D.C.’s newest development will host the official launch party for the 3 week festival on Friday, September 26 (6-8PM.) The $15 tickets include 2 tickets and appetizers, provided by recently opened DBGB DC and Del Frisco’s. That alone should sell you on it.
North Capitol Main Streets ~ That part of town is definitely not one that I would want to explore at 1AM on any other night, but during Art All Night 50 artists will turn 3 lots between 1514 and 1638 North Capitol into THE place to be on September 27. Curated by Art Soiree and the team that put the Wonderbread Factory on the cultural map, North Capitol Main Street will feature a silent disco, a commissioned graffiti mural, food trucks, projected video art and more between 7PM and 3AM.
Dupont Circle ~ Here, Art All Night is mainly taking place in small, established galleries like Hillyer Art Space, Foundry Gallery or the Washington Studio School. Don’t miss an interactive movie making experience at the Heurich House Museum and Alex Braden‘s Outside and Play (Reprise), a 12-minute site, sound, and time-specific performance beginning promptly at 12:05am (it’s BYO headphones!) at Hillyer Art Space.
H Street NE ~ There will be a little bit of everything on H Street: golf at 3rd and H, dessert making at 646 H Street, DJs, film projections, an open house and preview of the new Ben’s Chili Bowl, live bike frame painting and custom bike making and a performance by an eclectic chamber collective at the Atlas Theater (between 8-10PM only.) Basically, a pretty typical scene for a Saturday night on H Street 😉
Congress Heights ~ Curated by Tendani Mpulubusi El., the area around the MLK corridor will host a sidewalk arts fest between 2700 – 2900 Martin Luther King Avenue SE, exciting lighting schemes and graphic projections as well as store front displays, readings, sip and paint and, of course, music.
Shaw ~ Shaw was the main host for all of the Art All Night events in 2013 and will be the main hub again this year. The area has changed SO much in the past 12 months though! If you want to see everything Art All Night has to offer in that part of town, start the evening at the Carnegie Library (live music) and zig zag your way up to the Popeye Building through 7th and 9th street. There’s too much stuff going on for me to list them all but I’m looking forward to the unveiling of a new outdoor mural by Kelly Towles at 1509 7th St. NW, abstract painting and sculpture (also much needed caffeine!!) at just-opened Compass Coffee, the return of Anienkan Udofia’s Marvin Gaye mural (which was recently lost to construction) at 1748 7th st. NW, and DJ + photo booth at the Watha T. Daniel/Shaw Library.
After the 27th, Art For All continues with two “PorchFests” on Rhode Island Avenue NE (October 4th) and Adams Morgan (October 18th). Inspired by similar PorchFest events across the country aimed at creating a family-friendly, neighborhood-based alternative to the nightclub music scene, these two events will celebrate local talent by turning the front porches of neighborhood homes into performance spaces.
So yes, D.C.’s version of Art All Night is more of a take on the Parisian concept, an (almost) all-night exploration and celebration of art that’s amplified through a 3-weeks long art festival. I think it mainly succeeds in showcasing local artists and bringing art within everyone’s reach in a fun, party-like atmosphere. But, in Paris, some of the major museums like the Louvre, Pompidou, the Grand and Petit Palais or the Palais de Tokyo open up to the public (free of charge and ALL night) for Nuit Blanche. Wouldn’t it be awesome if some of the Smithsonians or the Newseum could open their door for D.C.’s Art All Night? In Paris, Art Happenings take place in both unusual and underused locations as well as major buildings that are not typically open to the public. For example, this year, Motoi Yamamoto will create an art piece using salt on the floor of the salle des Tapisseries in City Hall. Wouldn’t it be fun if we could get some of the government buildings to partake? Like all night readings of the Constitution to different music at the Archives, or something like this? Just my suggestions…