Proposed Gaia Mural on Barracks Row Creates Unnecessary Controversy

Proposed Gaia mural on the side of 524 Eighth Street SE on Barracks Row.  Photo Courtesy Vanessa Lim.

Proposed Gaia mural on the side of 524 Eighth Street SE on Barracks Row. Photo Courtesy Vanessa Lim.


A proposed mural by world-renowned artist Gaia has created some very unnecessary controversy on Barracks Row.  The mural would be painted on the side of 524 Eighth Street SE.  The privately owned building houses Persian restaurant Tash which opened its doors last month.

Gaia recently completed a massive mural called “Dusk of H Street” last summer on the side wall of Smith Commons restaurant located on the 1200 block of H street NE.  The public art piece received a warm welcome from the neighborhood and has had positive aesthetic impact on a block once dominated by Auto Zone’s expansive parking lot, the vestige of an era when city planners sought to “suburbanize” H Street NE in an attempt to revitalize it.

Gaia has accomplished a great deal at a very young age.  At 24, he has already been inducted into a major museum- the Baltimore Museum of Art Contemporary Wing (though not without some controversy due to his age).  He has produced commission work all over the US, in Europe and in Asia.  Purveyors of urban chique actively seek to commission his murals not only to beautify their neighborhoods but to cast their locale in a positive light while creating publicity.

However a couple of neighbors who reside nearby have opposed the mural and plan on speaking out against it.

Like other admirers of Gaia’s work, Tash owner Vanessa Lim has offered to generously commission a public art piece entirely at her expense.  Barracks Row would be extremely fortunate to have an artist of Gaia’s caliber create a significant piece of public art permanently displayed for all to enjoy.

I strongly encourage everyone who wishes to see this mural come to fruition attend the ANC 6B Meeting on Tuesday March 12 at 7pm at the Hill Center at the Old Naval Hospital located at 921 Pennsylvania avenue SE between 9th and 10th streets SE.

If you cannot make it to the hearing and testify in person, please email me your letter of support to [email protected] which I will personally present to the ANC during my testimony.






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.