Monday, July 28, 2008

City Hall Art Collection Expands

The District of Columbia City Hall Art Collection celebrates the addition of 28 works by 17 artists new to the collection purchased through the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities, DC Creates Public Art Program. This brings the total works in the Collection to 203 by 117 artists. Artists from all eight wards are represented and at least 25 artists are District of Columbia natives.

Mayor Adrian M. Fenty said, “I am pleased that we have been able to add more artwork to this deep and rich collection of local art.” He added, “Artists in the District of Columbia are as creative and talented as those in New York, Paris and Los Angeles. This collection reflects the vitality and strength of our local arts community. I encourage you to bring your family, your neighbors, your colleagues, and your visitors to experience this extraordinary permanent exhibition in our nation’s capital.”

“2008 marks the centennial of the John A. Wilson Building,” adds Vincent C. Gray, Council chairman. “And this reception for the artists whose work we enjoy every day is just the start of a multiyear celebration of the important cultural legacy that is intertwined with the building's history. We invite all District residents and visitors to join us in celebrating our great heritage.”

Since 1968, the DC Arts Commission has developed and promoted local artists, organizations, and activities as part of its mission to enrich the quality of life for the residents in Washington. The City Hall Art Collection fulfills an important goal to support local visual artists and to bring art to the workplace. Enjoying artwork should not be limited to the traditional context of galleries and museums.

Newly added works by: Wayne Edson Bryan, Lilian Thomas Burwell, Manon Cleary, Gene Davis, Willem De Looper, Aziza Claudia Gibson-Hunter, Janis Goodman, Kevin Kepple, Kevin MacDonald, Percy Martin, Paul Reed, Robin Rose, Molly Springfield, Di Bagley Stovall, Lou Stovall, Alma Woodsey Thomas, Dan Treado, Andrea Way, and James Lesesne Wells

The collection is open to the public, free of charge to view, Monday through Friday from 9 am to 5 pm.

John A. Wilson Building, 1350 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20004. On-street metered parking is limited. Visitors are encouraged to use Metro (closest stations are Federal Triangle or Metro Center).
Contact:, (202) 724-5613

Monday, July 21, 2008

Spotlight on Local Artists: Margaret Boozer

Upon meeting Margaret Boozer, you have to notice that she is surprisingly clean. Not exceptionally clean for an ordinary person, just cleaner than you would expect a woman who gleefully digs through the earth to be.

Boozer is internationally renowned for her magnificent sculptural works whose material hails from the very earth we trample on (or avoid) on a daily basis. Scouring construction sites, the areas around her studio in Mt. Ranier, Maryland, or really any place where beautiful purple, red, 

grey, brown, or orange clay might be found, the gorgeously, rich earth that she excavates is later transformed, with the guidance of her hands, into stunning sculptures of various forms.

In a time when we are constantly questioning our relationship and affect on the planet, Boozer simply allows the inherent beauty of the physical earth to take center stage without judgment or self-deprecation. One cannot help but wonder, when looking closely at pieces like Dichotomy of Dirt (see image above), where the beauty of this clay, soil, and earth came from. In this wonderment, it is a startling realization to acknowledge that such beauty has always existed. We just haven’t been looking for it.

Of course, it is Boozer’s impeccable skill and technique that allow her to recognize and exalt the beauty of the dried or fired earth that she works with. In her art, there appears a glorious combination of the artist’s intent and the material’s own agenda, or, to use Boozer’s own words “control” and “chaos.” Boozer will begin a crack in the clay, but then allow the clay’s natural drying process to take over and complete its journey across the slab.

Whether in the colorful, intricate clay disks of Dichotomy of Dirt, the contemplative, delicate cracks of Winter Landscape, or the self-contained dirt drawing so beautiful that even the most diligent janitor would refuse to sweep it up, the beauty of the earth and the ground that we walk on, plant in, dig up, is exalted with sincere respect and admiration on the part of this artist.

Margaret Boozer’s work, Winter Landscape, can be viewed at the Wilson Building’s permanent City Hall Collection entitled “HeArt of DC,” located at 1350 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW. The Luce Center of the Smithsonian American Art Museum currently has her work Eight Red Bowls on display. Soon, Grapeseed Bistro in Bethesda will house her largest wall sculpture to date. Boozer is also collaborating with designer Darryl Carter to create custom steel and concrete shelving for private residences. A solo exhibition of her work will open at the Project 4 gallery in December.

For more information on Margaret Boozer and Red Dirt Studio, where she directs a seminar on sculpture and ceramics, visit

Monday, July 14, 2008

Neighborhood Seeks Truce in Mural Dispute

NW Residents Call for Positive Artwork After Removal of Controversial Painting

By Derek Kravitz, Washington Post Staff Writer, Sunday, July 13, 2008; Page C04
Standing in front of a giant Afrocentric mural, D.C. council member Jim Graham spoke about Ward 1'slong-standing problems with graffiti, noting the images of Malcolm X and African freedom fighters behind him as an example of artwork done right.
"We want to advance art, like this mural, not the messages of hate or gang affiliation," said Graham (D-Ward 1).
But the militant theme of the artwork on the brick wall of Sankofa Books on Georgia Avenue NW, which depicts Malcolm X with a gun, highlights an often bitter fight among residents in the area. Yesterday, a city-funded program designed to cover graffiti with murals by teenagers was begun, and residents and city officials hope it will quell debate while beautifying the area.
Three summers ago, students from nearby Howard University painted a mural featuring local residents and black leaders, including D.C. Council member and former mayor Marion Barry, on a 10-foot-tall retaining wall on Fairmont Street NW, near Georgia Avenue.
Some neighbors complained that it was an eyesore, others wanted less political imagery, and Howard officials said the students did not have permission to paint the images. City workers soon covered the mural with white paint.
A few months later, in response to that mural's removal, Sankofa Books owner Haile Gerima commissioned the mural on the brick wall of his store in the 2700 block of Georgia Avenue, a few hundred feet from the former one. "We wanted to have a piece of black history," said Gerima, who is originally from Ethiopia.
The retaining wall on Fairmont remained a blank canvas.
Enter the Midnight Forum, a hip-hop-influenced youth group that specializes in the arts in the District. The group met with residents, who wanted a mural to reflect the community's musical heritage. Duke Ellington, Melba Moore and Marvin Gaye all once called the area home.
"When we talked to people, they wanted to show the history of the area," said Dominic Painter, the forum's director. "And once we showed them what we wanted to do, they were all for it."
After a year-long pilot program, the $100,000, city-funded MuralsDC project celebrated its official start as six teenagers created the first designs at Georgia and Fairmont. Over the coming year, 12 murals will be commissioned across the city to cover graffiti.
"I used to tag some places, like my garage, but nothing like this," said Raphael Jones, 16, a sophomore atBell Multicultural High in Northwest. Yesterday, the aspiring graphic designer spent hours painting the wall white. "This is much better."
Two portions of the 50-foot-long brick wall will feature images of a trumpet player, a girl playing a guitar and a diploma-clutching graduate. The artists will use a type of oil paint that repels the spray paint typically used by taggers. William O. Howland Jr., director of the city's Department of Public Works, said the program gives teens an outlet to paint.
"This is a great way to get people truly interested in art doing something productive," Howland said.
The D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities has approved designs for six locations, including at commercial sites in the 400 block of Florida Avenue NW, the 3900 block of 14th Street NW, the 1300 block of U Street NW and on a wall in the 1400 block of Meridian Place NW.
Gerima, in his Georgia Avenue bookstore, said he thought that the mural of musicians was a good idea.
"This is positive," he said. "I would've been out there protesting if it wasn't."

More Articles on MuralsDC from:

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Spotlight on Local Artists: Billy Colbert

Billy Colbert is a mixed media artist who lives and works in Washington, D.C. His artwork is recognizable for the dynamic, complex layering of imagery that has been screen printed on aluminum and painted over to created even more depth. Colbert has incorporated photographs of family members, criminal mug shots from the early 1900s, and popular advertising icons into reverberant and compelling pieces that have been exhibited throughout the United States. He is also designing a clothing label, Policy, set to debut on July 31st.

In his work, Colbert asks us to recognize that we are constantly prodded to think a certain way, buy a certain product, and invest in an uncertain sense of entitlement that results from living in a society obsessed with and reliant upon the industry of manufacturing perfection. But to Colbert, beauty is found in the eschewed shirt collar, in the eyes of convicts that pierce through what is probably the only portrait taken of them in their lifetime, and in the sheer delight of watching the world’s layers haphazardly unfold. "I see myself as a DJ, grabbing records from all over and making sounds that are visual, reconnecting stories into a loose vision."

Colbert sees beauty in the instant moment, an untamed, essential exterior. In that moment, looking beyond the alienating fortresses that construct our persona, he recognizes a universal interconnectedness. To see what he sees, we have to rediscover the soul so diligently buried under the superficial, technological, and defensive silt that has cloaked what bonds us all: our absolute, soulful humanity.

Billy Colbert’s work is currently on display at the John A. Wilson Building in downtown D.C. He has two solo exhibitions opening soon: one at the Smith Farm Center for Healing on U St. opening on July 11th and another at Mason Murer Fine Art in Atlanta opening on August 8th. A happy hour launch party for Policy is taking place on July 31st from 5-9pm.

For more information, visit and

Check out these links for short films on Billy Colbert: