The small art galleries that could and do
There’s no shortage of blockbusters hitting DC’s museums and galleries this fall. The Air and Space Museum will reopen on October 14 after an extended construction project. The Rubell Museum DC will open on October 29, creating a new venue for contemporary art in the city. And selfie snappers are sure to congregate over the last few months of One with eternity: Yayoi Kusama in the Hirshhorn Collection and Mexican geniusesa new immersive experience featuring the work of Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera. These outings are fun and all, but some of the most interesting and unexpected art can be found away from the crowds and tucked away in some of DC’s coziest spaces.
One of the smallest of these is Transformer, a gallery whose focus on emerging and experimental artists has made it one of the city’s most exciting places for exhibitions and art events. In June, Transformer celebrated its 20th anniversary and will continue to host special events through the end of the year. From September 17, the gallery will open its 19th Annual DC Artist Solo Showwhich includes Commemorative strands by Artise Fletcher this season. The DC born and based artist has created textiles, film and photography around the theme of black women’s hair. Many works present hair as material or narrative device. In addition to the show, a series of shows invite viewers to consider broader cultural meanings and personal feelings around hair and beauty. Events include a panel and discussion as well as a hands-on activity to make your own memorial fabric.
The spaces at 52 O Street Studios aren’t just used as studios—Amy Morton its Morton Fine Art contemporary art gallery has been there for four years. With no street-level entrance, the gallery is open by appointment only, which is ideal for gallery-goers who want to linger over the work uninterrupted, or for interested buyers who want to hang out with the work of an artist. MFA represents a wide variety of artists from around the world, as well as a good chunk that works in the DC area. This fall, MFA has two exhibits that capture the best of those worlds. take me to the water presents multimedia works by Kesha Bruce, an artist and activist whose luminous works explore artistic creation as a form of slowness and self-care. According to this, Nathalie Cheungthe exhibition made of light opens, showcasing his experiments with cameraless photography using light-sensitive paper, motion, and stencil techniques.
Entertainment and dinner parties are extremely trendy, and perhaps no dinner party will be more stylish than an exhibition of tablescapes at Friends Artspace in Arlington. Establishment continues the gallery’s habit of showing functional art and design as well as artwork in the garage that the curator Marguerite Bakke transformed into a miniature gallery. A large table takes up most of the space, and all kinds of dishes cover every available centimeter of the surface. There are cutlery of course, but also goblets, candle holders, mugs, sugar bowls, soup tureens, pitchers, vases, butter dishes, flower arrangements, chandeliers, etc. The exhibition announcement proclaims that “people come and go, but glassware is basically eternal”. Local artists and designers including Hadiya Williams, Catherine Satterleeand Dannia Haki are among those who get a seat at this table.
Commemorative strands through Oct. 22 at Transformer, 1404 P St. NW. transformerdc.org. Free. take me to the water through Oct. 11 at Morton Fine Art, 52 O St. NW. mortonfineart.com. Free, by appointment. made of light Oct. 15-Nov. 12 at Morton Fine Art, 52 O St. NW. mortonfineart.com. Free, by appointment. Establishment through December 10 at Friends Artspace, 2400 North Edgewood St. Arlington. friendsartspace.com. Free, by appointment.