11 Mar 2010

Local Art Draws A Crowd to H Street, NE

Usually when people are clamoring to squeeze into a hot locale on a Saturday night on H Street, its for the latest burlesque act at Palace of Wonders or a table at Sticky Rice.  This past Saturday, though, it was art that got all the attention.  City Gallery opened its doors last weekend with an All-Member Exhibit that drew more than 700 people to a space upstairs from the T-Mobile shop at H & 8th Streets, NE.

Representing over 20 local artists of all types – painters, sculptors, engravers, printmakers, photographers – the gallery’s mission is to connect these artists with the broader DC arts community.  The gallery works on a juried membership model.  Artists are asked to join with either an associate or full membership and in turn are represented by the gallery’s managers.  Associate members are established as practitioners, but don’t have quite the portfolio for a solo show so they are part of the 3-4 group shows the gallery will do throughout the year.  Full members are well established in their field and will do solo shows.

Martha Huizenga, who in her other life is one of the owners of DC Access, has shown her photography – which she does old school, shooting on film and finishing photos herself in the darkroom – locally with the Capitol Hill Arts League and in shows at Fusion Grill and Evolve Urban Arts Project.  She is showing one of her pieces, Minerva, in the exhibition and says she is happy being affiliated with City Gallery because, “it allows me to get more exposure to a different crowd, plus I like that it is a space in the neighborhood.”

I arrived as soon as the doors opened Saturday night and found there was already a good crowd in attendance.  An hour later, the room was at capacity with a line of people waiting to sign in and one piece already sold.  One of the attendees, Rich Carlson, said he came to learn more about what the local art scene has to offer. “There’s such an interesting variety of styles and viewpoints.  And I love that this space is on H Street because it adds to the eclectic feel that is drawing people to this part of the neighborhood.”

Phil Hutinet, Director of City Gallery, was pleased with the opening night support. “We had a line out the door and around the block by 7pm.  People waited 20 minutes to get in,” he told me.  Opening the space on H Street was a natural move for Hutinet and his partners given his long-term association with the neighborhood.  He is also part of Studio H just a few blocks away at 408a H St, NE and is editor-in-chief of a blog about art and artists in eastern DC.   He told me that while City Gallery focuses on classically trained artists “just on the cusp of becoming well-known,” Studio H – which also features local artists – “tends to be more cutting edge up-and-comers” like abstract or graffiti artists.

Hutinet said the concept of City Gallery is still evolving, “this year it’s green shoots and baby steps.”  For example, they’re still developing individual and corporate memberships for art patrons to establish a connection with the gallery.  “We plan to offer membership tiers with exclusive previews where members can meet the artists and view the exhibits at a slower pace.”  They’re also planning arts dinners that will bring together members and artists in the gallery.

For anyone interested in getting on their email distribution list for announcements about exhibitions and other events, send an email to Phil{at}citygallerydc{dot}com.

City Gallery
804 H Street, NE, Second Floor
Washington, DC  20002
Friday and Saturday, 1-5PM and by appointment.

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  • I just mapped the art galleries along the H St. NE corridor. Now we just need to organize an art walk: http://tiny.cc/Hstreet

  • gina clapp

    After 25 years as an artist on the Hill this is the most exciting art happening to date. The gallery wants art to be a part of everyone’s lives…from looking to talking to buying. We all need art, and fun!

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