Don’t you walk or drive by the historical buildings turned condos throughout the Hill and want to take a peek? Only a few make it onto house tours and there’s only so many times you can cruise open houses. Want to check out the Pierce School Lofts? Visit the revolving exhibits at the Urban Arts Project and you can take a peek at old school, appreciate its high ceilings and envy the pool. Plus you’ll get some food for thought from the artwork. The exhibit, Flights of Fancy: Elements of Surrealism, is a mix of photography, paintings, collage and shadow boxes that are as varied as the past and present occupants of the building.
There’s something for everyone in the gallery, except it’s not what you usually think of as a gallery; it’s like you’re strolling the hallways on the way to party, a little surreal. It works — well, because the exhibit, on view through March 26, features DC artists whose work embodies the playfulness and dreamlike imagery of surrealist artist like Salvador Dali and Rene Magritte.
The artwork warms the walls of the building’s lobby and corridors, yet the ghostly black and white photographs by Iwan Bagus and Peter Karp’s layered shadow boxes, reminiscent of Joseph Cornell boxes, make you look twice and notice the silence of the space. Until a dog walker arrives, at least, and you share the hallway with a great dane and a doberman.
There’s a collage called Yaketting in the Wilderness by Joyce McCarten, named the Torpedo Factory’s artist of the year, that’s by the lobby desk I could have looked at for ages, had I not had a small fry at my side. I have no idea what the title references, but the layers of the collage reveal everything from Italian pre-Renaissance saints, to early Christian mosaics and early American daguerreotypes, and triggers a conversation with the canvas; I could get excited about walking past the presence every day.
Evolve Urban Arts Project is located at 1375 Maryland Avenue, NE. See the website for hours.