40 Years at Touchstone Gallery

By Editorial Team on May 9, 2016
Awaiting the Storm by Colleen Sabo. Courtesy of Touchstone Gallery.
Awaiting the Storm by Colleen Sabo. Courtesy of Touchstone Gallery.


Receptions: Friday, May 13 from 6pm  to 8:30pm



  • Friday, May 13, 6 – 8:30 PM
    Hors d’Oeuvres provided by Acadiana Restaurant
    Brazilian music by Tom Rohde, guitar and
    Pablo Regis de Oliveira, cavaquinho
    (Free and open to the public)

40th Anniversary Show
All Member Artists Show, including work by former members
Touchstone Gallery, one of the longest-tenured and most highly regarded artist-owned galleries in Washington, DC, will celebrate its 40th year in Washington on May 13th with an Anniversary Gala and May 4-29 member artists show, featuring solo artists, Paula Lantz and Colleen Sabo, and works by former members. The gala and show are open to the public. Touchstone Gallery was founded in 1976 by 30 talented and committed artists and has become an institution in the DC arts community. The Gallery has earned a well-deserved reputation for showcasing a wide range of award-winning contemporary art, including painting, prints, sculpture, mixed media, and photography.

“Touchstone continues to be a collective creation of DC area artists,” explained Rosemary Luckett, a Touchstone collage artist and art teacher. “Our goal is to enrich the community by promoting art, making it accessible, available, and affordable.”

Over its history, Touchstone has been home to over 300 member artists and it has provided a show venue for guest artists who were part of national and local juried shows. It has also collaborated with local organizations, such as Art Enables, Miriam’s Kitchen Studio, the Duke Ellington High School of the Arts, Capital Fringe, The Prisons Foundation and many others. And it has partnered with embassies to exhibit international artists, including France, Estonia, the Netherlands, and Afghanistan.

“For 40 years, Touchstone has been home to many outstanding artists,” said sculptor Janet Wheeler, a founding member. “We have worked hard to promote a rich variety of area talent, to connect collectors with our artists, and to foster the artistic and career growth of participating artists. I continue to be proud of the impact we’ve had on our members and the contributions we have made to DC’s cultural and artistic community.”

Touchstone’s founders envisioned not just a gallery providing an exceptional home to area artists, but also a vibrant contributor to the broader community in which it operates.

“The gallery was created as an art space with a social conscience, concerned with the community beyond its walls, and this is a defining part of our structure that sets us apart from many of our peers,” said Ksenia Grishkova, Gallery Director. “We host student art shows and art exhibitions that are a result of art therapy programs, thereby supporting our local community, and sometimes contribute a percentage of sales to local service organizations.”

In 2012 the gallery created the nonprofit Touchstone Foundation for the Arts (TFA). TFA organizes art classes for children and adults in the Shaw neighborhood, showcases the works of artists from DC non-profit agencies, and sponsors fellowships for emerging artists, which include mentoring, two years of gallery membership and a solo exhibit.

Alexander Padro, Executive Director of Shaw Main Streets, Inc., says, “Congratulations to Touchstone Gallery for four decades of exposing the work of new and established DMV artists to DC art lovers. Shaw has a great tradition and history as the home of great artists, from Alma Thomas to ‘Duke’ Ellington, and Touchstone is an important part of what makes Shaw one of Washington’s premier arts destinations.”

Touchstone Gallery History
1976: Touchstone Gallery was established as an artist-owned gallery and opened its doors at a large gallery at 2130 P St. NW in Dupont Circle, then the prime gallery area in Washington. The opening crowd was so large that P Street was gridlocked for several hours. Touchstone operated from the P St. location for thirteen great years.

1990: Touchstone moved to a commercial space at the corner of R St and Connecticut Avenue NW, the old Toast and Strawberries building. The space was rented “as is” and was quickly renovated with the financial and in-kind support of donors and a local builder.

1995: Motivated to grow its membership, Touchstone relocated to 406 7th St. NW, in what is now known as the historic Penn Quarter section of Washington. The new gallery offered an expansive exhibition space and quickly became a “destination gallery” in a very active art scene that included several exhibition spaces and five other galleries. Touchstone enjoyed 15 years of successful exhibitions on 7th St., but was forced to move when the building was closed for renovation in 2009.

“Many in the Penn Quarter neighborhood were saddened to learn that 406 7th Street’s owner planned on renovating the building, requiring the tenants, including Touchstone Gallery, to find new spaces to lease. Happily, Touchstone Gallery eventually found a home at Boston Properties new building on New York Avenue. Their presence continues to contribute to the Penn Quarter arts scene and delight both those who live and work here with its ever changing exhibits.” Jo-Ann Neuhaus, Executive Director, Penn Quarter Neighborhood Association.

2010: Touchstone Gallery moved to its current location into custom-built space at 901 New York Avenue NW. With street-level prominence, it is the most elegant space to date, and is located between the National Museum of Women in the Arts and the Walter E. Washington Convention Center; it is also just across from CityCenterDC and near three other art galleries.

Do I Know You? by Paula Lantz
Paula Lantz, a local and national award-winning artist, presents a group of mixed media abstracted figure paintings.

The common thread in all her works: “I seek and respond to the spiritual nature in all of us—the landscapes of our souls.”

Expressed in bold colors and simple forms, we are offered the opportunity to reflect and respond to the drama and mystery in our own personal life experiences. Brushstrokes, color lines unfinished areas are all used for visual cohesiveness and emotional impact.

This new show of 9 works, Do I Know You? “captures the tension between the painted surface and the perception of hidden meaning in each piece. Lantz explains, “My art continues to evolve through the use of abstraction.”

A Few of My Favorite Things by Colleen Sabo
In her 2016 solo exhibition, A Few of My Favorite Things, Colleen Sabo introduces her new body of work in oils. Long a color painter in watermedia, Colleen shifted her focus to oil several years ago and has not looked back since.

“I began a love affair with oil painting because the many subjects that I like to paint are rendered with vibrant color, interesting shapes and edges, and give a deep sense of what is important in my life,” says Sabo. Her paintings are products of her daily environment, her travels, and an absolute awe of nature. Landscapes are painted in loose abstraction, capturing the forests and water scenes of Maine and the Chesapeake Bay. The busy city streets of Paris, the Christmas Markets along the Champs Elysees, and a colorfully lit window in Montmartre are brought to life in Sabo’s newest paintings.

Painting is a way of life for Sabo, and she is also inspired by the colorful world in which she lives on the Chesapeake Bay. Brilliant sunny days, wild nor’easter storms, rolling hills and bucolic scenes of southern Maryland are part of every-day life and viewed from her studio and home.

A Few of My Favorite Things is Sabo’s third solo exhibit at Touchstone Gallery. She is an award- winning member of the Catharine Lorillard Wolfe Art Club in New York City, established in 1896, and a signature member of the Allied Artists of America, also of New York City.

Gallery Hours:

  • Wednesday – Friday: 12pm to 6pm
  • Saturday – Sunday: 12pm to 5pm

Touchstone Gallery is located at 901 New York Ave. NW. For more information, visit www.touchstonegallery.com.