around my way: RIVER. EAST. ART

I try to keep up with all the interesting neighborhood bloggers around town, renewshaw is one that I read regularly.

When i checked it out today there was an interesting article up there about the financial woes of both the building owner and the gallerist at the well known art complex at 1515 14th Street NW.

in his/her post shaw rez suggested that the galleries should relocate to Shaw, because of lower rents (for now) and centralized buildings with architectural character. While I cannot disagree with him/her, I can think at least two other solid locations with just as much potential if not more than the 9th Street Corridor.

Firstly, the H Street Corridor, with help of the Great Streets Initiative and the efforts of a lot of good organizations and individuals H Street is quickly becoming a desired destination by those in the know and those willing to venture East of 11th and U Sts NW, not mention North Capitol Street.

Secondly, Downtown Anacostia, I know as some of you are reading this you are already scoffing at the idea but what many of you may not know is that there are already three Fine Art galleries there that have been adding to the art scene of this city for almost 4 years, Honfleur Gallery, Vivid Solutions and American Poetry Museum’s Gallery, have been showing work by locally, regionally, nationally and internationally known artists since opening their doors. Additionally they have been participating in ongoing cultural exchanges programs with artists and galleries in France (Dorothy’s Galerie), Wales, Belfast (Belfast Exposed), Cuba (Lazaro Baptisa), these collaborations have sent Washington DC and River East based youth and adult artists around the world showing their art…..

So i started thinking to myself although Shaw would be a good place move for the 14th Street galleries, i think it would be a wiser move to have those galleries plug themselves into a community that has created an international arts community without the help of all the critical attention, foot traffic, and the brut force of an economic development engine that continues to support the neighborhood. Additionally in considering Downtown Anacostia would probably give these gallerist the opportunity to buy their own space and not have to immediately worry about their taxes increasing at an alarming rate (500% in the case of another Shaw artspace, The Warehouse).

I am hopeful that someday soon business like these soon-to-be displaced galleries will come to communities further East and perhaps even as far as River East. I think they will be pleasantly surprised to find a community spawned unofficial arts district already hard at work in the heart of Downtown Anacostia.


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