On Friday October 30, 2015, DC’s “Alley Museum” officially opened to the public. Located Shaw’s Blagden Alley, the outdoor museum consists of seven completed murals by artists Bill Warrell, Lisa Marie Thalhammer, Rozeal Brown, Aniekan Udofia, Cita Sadeli Chelove, Craig Nelson and Kelly Towles.
Conceived by Warrell and Thalhammer, the Museum current consists of seven works, one by each of the participating artists. Funded mostly by a DC Commission on the Arts & Humanities “Public Art Building Communities” grant, the work of creating the Museum began on the fourth of July, 2015. Warrell and Thalhammer hope to expand the outdoor museum’s offerings by adding new work in the coming years.
Warrell, who owned the 9:30 Club and DC Space during the heyday of DC Hardcore is also an artist; his mural System of Politics and Art in the Alley Museum pays visual homage to many of the city’s figures who contributed to DC’s autochthonous cultural movements of the last four decades.
Craig Nelson contributed his piece The Sitter, made up of 32,000 natural stone mosaics. The Sitter is the outline of a man whose photo was taken in Blagden Alley sometime in the 1920s. Based the artist’s interpretation of the photo, he believes that the placement of his piece in the alley corresponds to where the subject sat when he was photographed over 90 years ago.
In contrast, Thalhamer’s mural employs a complimentary purple and yellow palette to create one of her signature portraits. Thalhamer purposefully used a particular hue of purple which says “represents the highest chakra—the crown chakra” referring to the one of the seven spirituals centers of the human body as described by Indian philosophy.
A strong partnership between neighboring Blagden Alley residents and businesses helped make this project possible. As a result of the Museum’s first iteration, Thalhammer believes that other property owners who abut the alley will donate facades and garage doors to the project in the future.
An official ribbon cutting ceremony took place at dusk with a 100 person crowd in attendance. Cutting the ceremonial ribbon included Lisa Marie Thalhammer, Tonya Jordan of the DCCAH, Keona Pearson of DCCAH , Alex Prado of Shaw Main Streets, Bill Warrell and Lisa Richards Toney as her last day as acting Interim Executive Director of the DCCAH.
For those wishing to visit the Museum, Blagden Alley is located in Shaw between 9th and 10th streets and M and N streets NW.
Below, a series of images capture the murals as they are seen in the Alley Museum