Hickok Cole Architects have been doing an annual art event for sixteen years. The event helps raise funds for the Washington Project for the Arts. Hickok Cole provides the real estate, a curator chooses the art, and the WPA gains funding. The WPA and the artists split the sale of the work, 50-50. Artists can pay their rent; the WPA can pay their rent.
The event brings together architects, artists, and art worlders to buy art and mingle. Hickok Cole Architects have what they call, “Art Angels.” These angels are sponsors who pre-commit money to purchase art. Funds raised this year were just over $100,000 while the previous three years have exceeded that number.
The aesthetic visioneer this year was the independent curator, Lauren Hilyard of Hilyard Art Advisory, located in DC. Lauren has worked at the Guggenheim and Christie’s and brought her eye to the DMV area, selecting a host of over one hundred artists working in a multiple mediums but mostly flat work. While Hilyard is the curator, some of the work is chosen by Hickok Cole themselves. If there were a theme it might be that the work was diverse in author and medium. The work was a sampling of 96 local DMV artists.
Alex Ebstein’s Quench was a painterly yoga mat. Ebstein cuts and pastes different color yoga mats, combining painting and the trendy and ubiquitous sweat quenched PVC mat.
Jason Hughes’ currency abstractions create that situation of, “Why didn’t I think of that?” Take the design vocabulary of the Euro, the Dollar, bank cheques, and multiply that language through patterns reminiscent of things banal and comfortable like floor tiles or wallpaper. The notion of tile is even more interesting considering how the pattern could take on a Mosque patterning—an image of god without an image of god and the subtly of currency as deity. The image of money familiar yet obfuscated through a flattening of repetition.
The artists of the Arlington Art Center were out in force. Almost half of AAC residents’ work was present. Roxana Alger Geffen works as a mother mining the craft of painting and literally includes imagery of a game her children play—Minecraft. If living were an act of art, then Roxana would make domesticity a painterly gesture.
Megan Muellar’s (an AAC alum) camouflaged wall works were created via hydroprinting. A process where objects are dipped into a chemical bath and an image is transferred. This process is often used to coat hunting gear with a woodland camouflage pattern. This particular work combines trophy plaque, coconut bra, and mason’s line squishing together questions about violence towards women yet pushing the whole cat call, “rape-y” monstrosity of “Trump-ness” behind the hidden masculinity of camouflage.
Zofie Lang’s Labyrinth navigates the maze of power relationships—the leather clad man crotch, next to a maze reminiscent of Pac Man with a baby doll in the center, next to a corseted hourglass. Captioned, “You have no power over me,” and capped off by having a convenient handle to carry the whole work away creating compact art that is both a power struggle kit and vitrine of preciousness.
It wasn’t all flat work. Steven Jones’ interactive sculpture was a ride. Put in the provided two quarters and a viewer becomes a buckaroo riding that mechanical meat. The padding of the ride barely enough to hide the iron wedgie the rider gains as the object bucks up the butt. The sculpture is a coin op ride that might have once been seen in front of retail stores back in the 70s or 80s; a place to put your kid, while you shop. Jones’ work retrieves an artifact of American life and lets the viewer take one more ride on the lost coin op machine.
The duo Rachel Debuque and Justin Plakas, known as Plakookee, had a series of over twenty kooky objects on display. The work was a gaggle of gewgaws channeling cable access aesthetics, flickering TV tubes, and pop starlet jewelry, or relics of 1960s Star Trek sets—an eyelash away from Captain Kirk’s cinematic presence. The objects are textured and gritty like pavement. They are made of wood, sand, ceramics, and paint.
Hickok Cole Art Night is an invitation only event that occurred on a single night on November 3 at 6pm-9pm. The show is up until November 18 and not open to the public save through appointments with Noel Carson, Sr. Marketing Manager, Associate
Hickok Cole Architects is located at 1023 31st St. NW Washington, DC 20007. Reach them by phone at 202.667.9776 or online at www.hickokcole.com. The WPA and Hillyard can be visited online respectively at www.wpadc.org and www.hilyardartadvisory.com