| PROFILES |
The recent Gateway Arts weekend provided area art lovers with a variety of options for gallery-hopping. While making our exhaustive rounds, East City Art stopped in to visit an exhibition opening at the Artdc gallery – a relative newcomer to the area. The Artdc gallery, founded in 2009, is the latest endeavor of the Artdc.org online artists’ community. We spoke with Jesse Cohen, the gallery’s director, to get an overview of the gallery’s mission and history.
But first, a description of the space itself- driving up Baltimore Avenue into the developing Hyattsville Arts District, you would be forgiven if at first you missed the gallery. The gallery space is located in what used to be the Lustine Auto showroom, and the building still bears that name (murals of Chevys inside the space make sure you do not forget). Once you have your bearings, you will quickly realize that the showroom, with oversize windows and high ceilings, has been given new life in its current form. Visitors enter the gallery directly from the street where floor to (20 foot) ceiling windows flood the gallery with light. Works are hung on movable walls, allowing Cohen to both maximize the floor space and accommodate large pieces. While modest in size, the gallery is able to adeptly showcase a large number of works; the 51 pieces in the current exhibition did not feel crowded.
Between greeting guests, Cohen was able to give us the organization’s backstory. Artdc.org began in 2004 as an online space for Washington DC artists to meet and network. What began in cyberspace quickly sprouted into face-to-face interactions, and by 2005 Artdc.org members were organizing pop-up shows throughout the area. In 2009, Cohen struck a deal with one of the developers revitalizing the neighborhood, and a more permanent home for the community was born. Today the gallery hosts monthly shows, both juried and non-, that provide non-represented artists an opportunity to showcase their talents.
Patron’s Exhibit is the current exhibition and features works from over 25 artists who are members of the Artdc.org community and patrons of the gallery space (patrons pay a nominal fee to help support the gallery’s activities). We spoke with five of the artists present, and were impressed with their similar stories of how participating in the on-line discussions has made them feel part of a more cohesive arts community and led to networking opportunities that helped to strengthen their artistic practices.
Finally, we had a chance to take in the art. While all mediums are presented, the show is weighted heavily in painting and photography. Several pieces forced us to pause for lingering glances. Mike Lynch’s acrylic Conference Room, Floor 5, caught our attention with its frenzied brushstrokes. Justin Fair’s Cherry Blossom Festival reminded us of an Old Master etching… that is until we saw its 21st Century scenery. Sean Hennessey’s subtle interplay of concrete and glass made us question the solidity of the rock in the face of a simple lightbulb.
The Artdc gallery, with its emphasis on supporting the grassroots networking of local artists, is a welcome addition to the local gallery scene. We’d be remiss not to mention the modest pricing structure – a welcome sign for art collectors of all stripes. We look forward to providing more coverage of their exhibitions in the future.
The Artdc gallery is located at 5710 Baltimore Ave., Mount Rainer, MD 20781.
For more information, visit the gallery’s website at www.artdc.com