BY ERIC HOPE
The visual arts once again take center stage in the District with the opening of 5×5, a series of temporary, public works dispersed throughout all eight wards of the city. Running from September 6 through the end of 2014, 5×5 brings together five international curators working in tandem with 25 artists to create site-specific installations, events and other “happenings.” While varied curatorially, each artist uses the District as a springboard from which to interpret their artistic notions. The project was kicked off Friday evening with an opening reception featuring keynote remarks from several of the festival’s main organizers and East City Art was on hand to meet with the artists and curators.
Over canapés and carrot sticks, the artists, curators, programming partners and Art’s Commission staff celebrated the culmination of over a year’s worth of planning and work. Judith Terra, Chairwoman of the Board of Commissioners for the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities welcomed the over 100 guests to the signature project of the commission, calling it a “testament to the value that our city places on the arts.” Lionell Thomas, DCCAH Director, noted that “public art is the hallmark of any great city around the world,” and took a few moments to thank other District government agencies and site partners that worked to bring this event to fruition. Lavinia Wohlfarth, Vice-Chair of the Board of Commissioners and member of the Selection Committee called the event a “launching pad for new discoveries”, and added a bit of levity, noting, “If you really love what you see, cherish it. If you don’t care for it – don’t worry; it’s only temporary!”
During the event, we had a chance to mingle with many of the artists, including Michael Platt and Larry Cook, two local artists working with curator A.M. Weaver who we interviewed back in early June. Both artists created billboards for Weaver’s Ceremonies of Dark Men and noted how exciting it was to see their work displayed at such a monumental scale. Curator Shamin M. Momin, another East City Art interviewee, was also present at the event. Her project, titled Alter/Abolish/Address features a series of disparate vignettes and now fully installed, she noted they added sense of whimsical randomness to neighborhoods across the city.
That idea of art within neighborhoods was a constant theme throughout the evening and perhaps the event’s greatest takeaway. 5×5 is a celebration of art geared just as much (if not more) to residents as it is to tourists. Largely located off the Mall, 5×5 invites neighborhoods to take ownership of their installations and weaves public art into the fabric of local communities. While a flurry activities are scheduled opening weekend, look for continued opportunities for engagement throughout the rest of the year.
Click here to read our in-depth interview with curators A.M. Weaver and Shamin M. Momin.
Click here for more information on upcoming 5×5 events.