Summer in the City


The world according to cartoloji

On Saturday, I went to the last day of Artomatic, which bills itself as “DC’s Biggest Creative Event,” and included ten stories worth of artwork by 1,300 artists and performers. I first read about it in Metro Weekly, which billed it as an “all-access arts clusterfuck,” and said that the event had returned after a three year hiatus. When my housemate asked me if I wanted to go with her, the answer was obvious.

In case the inordinate number of museums that made it onto my otherwise open European itinerary didn’t tip you off — I really like art.

And Artomatic did not disappoint.

Alex Robert Baker’s “Upcycle DC”

There were paintings, photographs, sculptures, installations, performance art, and stages where bands played and poets slammed.

Whimsical cupcake art

Some of it was weird,

Only slightly weird

and all of it was wonderful.

Outside the door to this room was a handwritten sign that read: “Come on in, I paint on light bulbs!”

There were interactive exhibits where you could create your own art, and artists who were working on projects throughout the month-long event so if you checked back as the weeks went on you could watch the piece progress.

There was music playing next to this exhibit, and visitors were encouraged to take a photo of themselves dancing and hang it on the wall.

Most of the art was for sale, and some of the artists were there, happily talking with visitors about their work.

Mary Gallagher Stout and John Gascot, collectively The Art Monkeys

This pair was particularly entertaining. Mary Gallagher Stout and John Gascot were showing pieces they had created individually as well as their collaborations, such as “The Breakfast Club” shown behind them. Their personal styles are very distinct, but the two are learning from each other, and working to remove their egos from the process of creation. You can read more about them, and watch them paint together on their website.

Perhaps the most interesting part of the event, however, was the location. Artomatic took over an abandoned office building that is set to be demolished now the exhibit is over. (That’s how they managed to get their hands on ten stories.) The artists and visitors were aware of the building’s fate, which resulted in writing on the walls, and an odd-feeling mix of permanence and transience. It seemed as if the art had always been there, and it was such an ingrained and interactive part of the building, that it was hard to believe it wouldn’t remain.

An irreverent room dedicated to the fact that the building will be demolished. Visitors were invited to write whatever they liked.

Oh, and, like so many good things in DC, Artomatic was free!

If you’re interested in seeing more of the art, and hearing someone else’s thoughts on this event, you can watch my housemate Lisa’s video about it. I have a very brief cameo in which I look at some art.

The post-it that said VAGINAS was my favorite.

Have you been to Artomatic? If you’re not from the DC area, what’s your favorite local arts event?

Emma Holliday is well-traveled. After 5 years in Boston, she and her husband upended their lives to move to Berlin where she is currently writing a (funny) book about travel and grief and attempting to learn German.

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