BY PHIL HUTINET
Just two blocks away from the Takoma Metro station, DC’s most discrete art space teems with an abundance of creativity. Originally established as A Salon Gallery in 1979, the nonprofit has rebranded itself as DC Arts Studios for greater exposure and online search-ability.
The architecturally unassuming building located at 6925 Willow Street NW houses over 30,000 square feet of space operated by DC Arts Studios where 80 artists in a wide range of disciplines create their oeuvre. While an established mainstay of DC’s art scene contributing a significant amount to the region’s artistic output, like many other artist spaces in the area, DC Arts Studio has begun to feel the effects of the region’s increasing real estate scarcity. The current landlord used the frenetic development surrounding the Takoma Metro station to justify a series of rent increases. Despite the economic realities of DC’s real estate boom and those who exploit it, the non-profit organization and its artist members have managed to absorb the increased costs and continue to thrive undaunted.
Spaces such as DC Arts Studios play a vital role in the region’s artistic ecosystem by providing dedicated space where artists can transform the abstract into the tangible. Without these spaces a city loses its artists which in turn kills its art scene. Just as the popular bumper sticker claims “No Farms, No Food” one should consider the slogan “No Artist Studios, No Artwork.”
Recently, Kristina Billonick, who owns and operates Pleasant Plains Workshop in the lower Georgia Avenue corridor, has taken on the role of DC Arts Studio’s Administrative Director. She has begun a series of ambitious new initiatives to promote the space as a destination and to renovate the space.
Billonick has included the current “hallway gallery” among her laundry list of improvements for the space. She envisions transforming the hallway adjacent to the building’s lobby into a proper gallery complete with finished walls and a professional lighting system. The gallery space would showcase DC Arts Studios member artist work, work from regional artists and exhibitions by guest curators.
Right now Billonick and the DC Arts Studios Board have requested public participation in the buildings improvements as follows:
DC Arts Studios has a fundraising campaign going on through Thursday January 29. In exchange for a donation, donors can receive artwork, exhibitions space and slew of other gift.