EMULSION Returns to H Street!


Atlas Armada's Sugar Skull  at EMULSION 2013.

Atlas Armada’s Sugar Skull at EMULSION 2013.   Photo by Greg Staley for East City Art.

Stop reading!

No, really. Move away from this screen (for just a quick second) and mark this date on your arts calendar: March 21st. That Saturday evening marks the opening of East City Art’s second annual EMULSION exhibition at Gallery OonH. It will be an art-filled evening you won’t want to miss!

EMULSION is a professionally-juried competition open to artists living in the greater DC region within fifty miles of our Capitol Hill offices. Designed to highlight the rich diversity of talent in our area, the competition features cash prizes, media exposure and the opportunity to exhibit in a professional gallery setting. This year’s iteration builds upon its 2013 debut and will include expanded viewing opportunities, public events and a new viewer’s choice award.

The competition was conceived by East City Art editor Phil Hutinet as a way of promoting our local visual arts scene. While other competitions predate it, EMULSION uniquely expands the region’s artistic dialogue by promoting artists in the digital realm. East City Art maintains strict separation between the editorial staff and the actual competition; exhibitors and winning entries are chosen solely by an independent, professional jurist. A total of 150 artists entered the inaugural competition in November 2013, from which noted jurist Laura Gentile selected 28 artists to exhibit. An opening crowd of over 600 at Gallery OonH witnessed Adam Davies take first place.

After an internal review in early 2014, the decision was made to go forward and make EMULSION an annual event. To avoid conflict with other large arts events, EMULSION has been moved to a new position on the spring calendar hence the show’s absence in 2014. The main facets of the competition remain, and in many ways will be expanded upon in some exciting ways this year. The first, second and third place will walk away with $1,250, $750 and $500 respectively. In addition to these three winners selected by the jurist, the audience will also be able to choose its favorites from the pack. Dubbed the “Peoples’ Choice Awards”, viewers who attend the opening or view the event during open hours will be able to vote for their favorite two artists via text message. The winners will be announced March 28th and, in addition to audience adulation, will also receive an in-kind prize.

Lending artistic heft to EMULSION is noted gallerist Adah Rose Bitterbaum, who will be serving as this year’s jurist. Bitterbaum is well-known throughout the DC region as the owner and director of her namesake gallery in Kensington, MD. The Adah Rose Gallery is a contemporary space showcasing a wide range of media with a focus on text-based works. While she does represent artists from across the country, she is passionate about our local arts community and continually seeks ways to display that talent within her exhibition schedule. Further, she catapults these local artists to the national stage by exhibiting them at art fairs throughout the country, including Pulse New York and Pulse Miami.

In a wide-ranging interview for East City Art in December, Bitterbaum discussed her multiple roles as curator, critic and jurist, noting that while they sometimes inform one another, each is a different “hat” to be worn at different times. While her curatorial eye is often drawn to text-based works or works that openly display the artist’s manipulation of materials, as a juror all pre-conceived notions go out the door and she views each entry as a blank tableau. One unique facet of EMULSION is its inclusiveness of all media – from painting to performance art – which creates special considerations for jurists, as they compare works not only to one another, but to (often) subjective standards within their own medium. For Bitterbaum, that entails considering how singular works exemplify their individual media. And, in a unique twist that raises the stakes even more, Bitterbaum has agreed to show the winning artist at her gallery in some capacity later this year!

While that bodes especially well for the winner, all finalists will get to see their work professionally hung in a group show format at our host venue, Gallery OonH, located in creative H Street NE neighborhood. Local entrepreneurs Steve Hessler and Mary Ellen Vehlow are the creative force behind Gallery OonH, and originally envisioned venue as a space to exhibit their personal collection of outsider art. What began as a personal mission has evolved into a community-oriented and –driven arts space welcoming neighbors old and new. Their ethos of exploration and celebration of local culture makes Gallery OonH a natural partner to EMULSION.

To keep current with EMULSION’s public events and exhibition details, we encourage you to visit our website at www.eastcityart.com/emulsion. We look forward to seeing you opening night!

EMULSION opens at Gallery OonH March 21 with works on view through March 28. The gallery is located at 1354 H Street NE, Washington DC.

Eric Hope
Authored by: Eric Hope

Eric Hope is a curator and writer based in Brookland. He moved to Washington DC in 1997 and a twist of fate found him a volunteer marketing job at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden. In 2009, after ten years of marketing work at large museums in DC he moved into the realm of curating, staging a variety of solo, duo and small-group shows for the Evolve Urban Arts Project. He currently freelances as a curator and writes about local artists and the DC arts scene for a variety of online publications. Originally from Missouri, Hope holds degrees in International Relations and Public Service Administration from DePaul University in Chicago.