Features

Anacostia Update— Craig Kraft Studio

By Phil Hutinet

1239 Good Hope Road SE.  Photo by Phil Hutinet for East City Art.

1239 Good Hope Road SE. Photo by Phil Hutinet for East City Art.

Over the winter I covered the ascendance of Brookland as Washington’s newest arts district and the neighborhood’s potential for becoming Washington’s next great arts corridor.

In the same spirit, developers, economic development organizations and the DC Government have looked to the arts to revive historic Anacostia’s commercial district since 2004.  The neighborhood now possesses numerous cultural offerings including established Honfleur and Vivid Solutions galleries, the Frederic Douglas National Historic Site, the annual LUMEN8ANACOSTIA arts festival, the Anacostia Arts Center and the critically acclaimed Anacostia Playhouse. Now the neighborhood will have its first working artist studio.

For almost four decades, 1239 Good Hope Road SE, like so many buildings in DC’s commercial corridors, decayed due to owner abandonment and neglect.  Located between Honfleur Gallery and the Anacostia Arts Center, a developer purchased 1239 Good Hope Road in 2012 and had hoped to attract a restaurant or traditional retailer.   However, he ended up attracting a creative entrepreneur instead.

After having sold his iconic fire-station turned atelier in Shaw, artist Craig Kraft sought a new neighborhood for his small business.  Best known for creating large neon-tube installations, Kraft saw Anacostia as the perfect place to set new roots.  “I like moving into a neighborhood and watching the changes that happen over a 10-15 year period” Kraft explains.

Unlike the typical studio where artists toil away in solitude, creating their oeuvre in a cloistered setting, Kraft’s studio has more in common with a small manufacturing facility because of the type of work he creates.  He employs several people, who work together to realize large-scale projects such as public art pieces which often take months to create.

However, recently, Kraft has started working smaller .  An example of this new trend is his Ground Zero series.  Juror Lauren Gentile selected his piece Ground Zero IV out of the series for the 2013 EMULSION East City Art Regional Juried Exhibition.

Craig Kraft. Ground Zero IV.  Photo courtesy of the artist.

Craig Kraft. Ground Zero IV. Photo courtesy of the artist.

 

On April 13, 2014, I visited Kraft at 1239 Good Hope Road for a hardhat tour of his studio space.  His workmen stripped the entire building down to its studs, reinforced the floor joists and will complete an addition on the back of the building.  When finished, the space will not only house his working studios but a public gallery space where he can show work like his ground zero series.  The second floor will house his upstairs apartment and personal retreat.  Having progressed significantly this spring, Kraft hopes that construction will come to an end this summer.

I’ll will follow-up with another article when the project has come to fruition this summer.  For now, a photo essay of the construction during my hardhat tour follows:

 

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Standing on the future addition of Craig Kraft Studios. Photo by Phil Hutinet for East City Art.

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Future gallery space. Photo by Phil Hutinet for East City Art.

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Current back of the building with space for future addition. (Note Honfleur Gallery is on the right with blue siding). Photo by Phil Hutinet for East City Art.

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Corridor and stairs. Photo by Phil Hutinet for East City Art.

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Note the re-pointed brick walls and exposed beams. Photo by Phil Hutinet for East City Art.

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Stairwell. Photo by Phil Hutinet for East City Art.

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Upstairs apartment already decorated with Kraft’s work. Photo by Phil Hutinet for East City Art.

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Artists Craig Kraft (left). Photo by Phil Hutinet for East City Art.

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More artwork in the future apartment space. Photo by Phil Hutinet for East City Art.

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Future entrance to roof deck. Photo by Phil Hutinet for East City Art.

 

Full Disclosure: Phil Hutinet was the Chief Operating Officer at ARCH Development Corporation from December 2011 through August 2013 where he ran programming at Honfleur gallery, vivid solutions gallery, project managed the LUMEN8ANACOSTIA festival and brought both the Anacostia Playhouse and Kraft Studios as part of a several publicly and privately funded  grant programs designed to revitalize the community through the arts.

 

Phil Hutinet
Authored by: Phil Hutinet

Phil Hutinet, a third generation Capitol Hill resident, is the publisher of East City Art which he began in 2010 to document and promote the growing contemporary art movement in the eastern communities of Washington, DC. In 2012-2013, his consultancy work east of the river yielded the Anacostia Playhouse, Craig Kraft Studios, the Anacostia Arts Center and the 2012-2013 LUMEN8ANACOSTIA festivals. He currently produces EMULSION, East City Art's annual regional juried show. In 2015, he coordinated the Gateway Open Studio Tour and continues to consult on numerous regional art projects. Hutinet has been interviewed by or has made appearances on the BBC, Capital Community News, Washingtonian, Washington City Paper, The Washington Post, WOL Radio, WJLA ABC News Channel 7/Channel 8, WTOP and other local and national media.