NK Gallery H Street Washington DC

Future Development Spells the End of Trinidad’s Gallery Row

Entrance to G Fine Art. Photo by Phil Hutinet for East City Art.

Entrance to G Fine Art. Photo by Phil Hutinet for East City Art.

Just three years ago, East City Art covered the unthinkable- new galleries moving to the southern edge of Trinidad on the 1300 block of Florida Avenue NE.   In the early 2000s, just a block and a half away on the 1300 block of H Street NE, the H Street Playhouse (now relocated across the river as the Anacostia Playhouse), followed by the Atlas Theater and Gallery O/H breathed vitality in the form of economic redevelopment through the arts to one of many blocks riddled with boarded up buildings and vacant storefronts.

OutideCONNERSMITH (street leve) and Industry Gallery (upstairs). Photo by Phil Hutinet for East City Art.

Outside CONNERSMITH (street level) and Industry Gallery (upstairs). Photo by Phil Hutinet for East City Art.

Seven years later in 2009, Trinidad’s gallery row began to take shape when Leigh Conner and Jamie Smith purchased a large former industrial space at 1358 Florida Avenue Northeast to house Conner Contemporary gallery (now CONNERSMITH).  The following year, Conner Contemporary leased the second floor of 1358 Florida to Industry Gallery who has since expanded with a second location on the west Coast in Los Angeles, CA.  In early 2010, G Fine Art followed suit, relocating from Logan Circle to 1350 Florida Avenue NE. Then, in 2011, Open Studio DC opened featuring a print studio and a pop-up gallery space at the corner of Orren and Florida NE.  This critical mass of galleries and art spaces saw a flurry of activity on Saturday nights when the spaces held openings and events simultaneously and solidified the H Street NE corridor – Trinidad area as one of the main centers for the visual arts in the DC metro area.

Open Studio DC on the corner and G Fine Art in Blue. Photo by Phil Hutinet for East City Art.

Open Studio DC on the corner and G Fine Art in Blue. These buildings are slated for redevelopment. Photo by Phil Hutinet for East City Art.

However, all of this is about to change as a potential investor has begun the process of  negotiating the purchase of several buildings on the 1300 block of Florida NE.  Annie Gawlak of G Fine Art has confirmed that she will not renew her lease at 1350 Florida Avenue NE and will move her gallery to 4718 14th Street NW.  This recent development has prompted Open Studio DC owner Carolyn Hartmann to consider relocating as well.

With G Fine Art moving and the likely relocation of Open Studio DC , only CONNERSMITH and Industry Gallery remain.  It is interesting to note that this year, Industry Gallery produced only one exhibition at their DC location with most of their 2013 activity focused on exhibitions at their Pacific Design Center location in LA.

So what does the 2014 showing season look like?  Will CONNERSMITH be the only gallery showing work on Florida Avenue NE?  And what about the new development? What will it look like?  As of October 25, 2013, calls to the current owner of 1348-1352 Florida Avenue NE have gone unanswered. It is probably safe to guess that if the next iteration of the 1300 block looks anything like other arts displacing developments found in other parts of DC, you can bet that it will include the requisite granite countertops, stainless steel appliances and dizzying price tags.

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About the Author

Phil Hutinet is the Editor-in-Chief of East City Art. Hutinet began East City Art in 2010 to document and promote the growing contemporary art movement in the eastern communities of Washington, DC. A DC Native, Hutinet holds undergraduate degrees in History and Sociology from the University of Maryland, College Park and an MA in Social Sciences from the University of Amsterdam, the Netherlands.

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