The H Street Corridor Art District

By Editorial Team on October 19, 2010
Written by Jim Magner
Originally printed in the October 2010 Hill Rag
Reproduced by kind permission of Capital Community News
H Street NE is hot and happening. It’s a neighborhood in transition, in the best sense of the term. How can you tell? For one thing, artists and private art galleries are moving in, creating the newest art district in the city. Many of the galleries have openings coming up, so stop by, enjoy the art and then head to one of the many new restaurants on the strip.
CITY Gallery
At 804 H St NE, “City” is primarily an artist membership gallery, with both Full and Associate members. Full members, who have had considerable gallery exposure, are provided a solo show during the year. The Associates exhibit in an all-member show and a special Associate exhibit, which allows them the opportunity to develop a body of work and prepare for “full” status. There is also an all-media juried show with cash prizes that is open to everyone, including non-members.
“Red Index” by M.M. Panas, from the Action Painting exhibit at
City Gallery, 804 H St. NE through Oct. 30
The gallery’s main goal is to present accessible and affordable art by local artists, but don’t let “affordable” mislead you, this is very high quality work. In the current show, abstract painter, M.M. Panas, draws from the “action painting” of the abstract expressionists of the 40’s and 50’s.

Conner Contemporary
Conner Contemporary Art is on the forward looking edge of the contemporary movement but also highlights “exceptional figure art.” In their large new space at 1358 Florida Ave NE, they have two major indoor galleries, a dedicated media room and open courtyard space. The gallery is well known for hosting the celebrated “Washington Color School” and other Washington-based legends.

John Kirchner’s “Infinity,” 2010, installation
and live performance, from one of three concurrent
shows at Connor Contemporary Art.
You will also find younger, provocative artists who travel in their own direction while carrying on a “meaningful dialog with the art of the established international artists.” In October, Conner is featuring three concurrent solo exhibitions including a sculptural installation by John Kirchner, recently completed oil paintings by John Stark and new video by Susan MacWilliam.

Evolve Urban Arts
The Evolve Urban Arts Project scouts the local open, non-juried group shows looking for overlooked artists who may have some art education but don’t have a lengthy exhibition history. Th e selected artists all have “something to say and push aesthetic and emotional buttons.” Th is is a great opportunity for real exposure, which is rare for most artists. Of course, at Evolve, the opening reception helps sell the art.


Eric Hope, Curator of the Evolve Urban Arts Project with “Its All
There Is,” by Michele Cormier, a piece from the current show
“What We Leave Behind,” through Oct. 30.


It’s much more a party than a traditional wine and cheese reception, with a free appetizer menu and signature cocktails based on the art in that particular exhibit. All of this is free to the artist and as well as the public. It is not to be missed. It has been showcasing local artists for over six years at 1375 Maryland Ave NE (14th and Maryland), in the remodeled Pierce School building. In the October show, “What We Leave Behind,” encaustic collage artist Marty Ittner and painter Michele Cormier create dense, powerful work that dissect the remnants of our everyday existence.


G Fine Art
At 1350 Florida Ave , the gallery was founded in 2001 “to exhibit and promote international art from the ‘60s to the present.” The emphasis is on exploring cultural and artistic questions by “pushing the boundaries of what is considered traditional media.” Th e gallery is always looking for artists with new ways of using old methods in painting and sculpture. It also promotes the expansive use of “Installation Art” to let ideas loose in large settings without restrictions. The gallery pursues younger artists who are expanding on the work of the established pioneers of previous decades and who are celebrated for “depth and contemporary relevance.” Th is month, Julia Oldham, with “Fundamental Constraints,” recreates historic physics experiments and theories with common materials as seen through video recorded at her Brooklyn studio.


Gallery OonH
Heading up H Street to 1354, you will find a 17’ rocket assemblage. You have come upon Gallery OonH. It’s in the building next to the courtyard. Inside is a private collection of folk art acquired over 20 years by Dolly Vehlow and Steve Hessler that they share one or two weekends each month as “pop-up” experiences. These events are coupled with free live local music groups in the courtyard. They have been collecting “self-taught” artists, for 20 years. Some are well known, most obscure. Th e collection is just there to be seen and loved. At this point, none of it is for sale. OonH is not a commercial gallery.  Eventually it will be a non-profit corporation that will off er gallery space for local artists, and some of the collection will be sold to benefit artists. But for right now, the gallery is “a spontaneous intersection of culture and fun – an accidental cultural experience that becomes part of the serendipitous fabric of the street.” Th ey are now posting the events on the website so keep aneye on

ABOVE: Gallery O on H organized a spectacular display of art cars for the H Street Festival held on Sept. 18 here is CM and Grace Kelly Laster’s Inner Galactic-Shack-o-LLa






Industry Gallery

1358 Florida Ave. NE, Suite 200. Shows at Industry Gallery could be narrated by Sam Elliot, the deep voice guy who does pickup truck commercials, using words like downright rough, tough, durable and getting-the-job-done-right. This is a big space, over 4000 sq. ft., filled by a single artist with site-specific works of art using modern, industrial resources. Some are low tech, like cement, recycled paper and glass. Others are cutting =-edge aerospace materials like carbon fiber. Each artist works within the framework of an installation telling a personal story designed to transform your perception of the space. Th e results can be downright powerful. Th e October exhibition is by Italian Designer and Architect Antonio Pio Saracino. He premiers two large-scale models of triumphal arches representing Italian emigration to North and South America, executed in plywood, metal, carbon fiber and synthetics. He also introduces eleven imaginative chair designs that may look light and airy but are rough, tough and durable.

H Street Gallery listing on East City Art
Industry Gallery’s show “Nature/Data” is the fi rst solo exhibition for New York-based Italian designer and architect Antonio Pio Saracino. Included are two large scale models of triumphal arches representing Italian emigration to North and South America.


Studio H
Maybe the first to open on H Street, at 408, the gallery varies its shows from “High Art to Street Art and everything in between.” It is already drawing interest in the area. In this, its first year, the attention is on local emerging talent. In 2011, that focus is going to shift more to international painters who will be new to area art buyers. Th is is a small, intimate space that pulls you in for a very personal conversation with the work. Th is month, see a solo exhibition by a young painter, Camille Schefter, entitled “Insoluble.” She captures the conflict between the public and private self with complex images and the use of dramatic light and dark contrasts. A Capitol Hill artist and writer, Jim can be reached at

Artist Camille Schefter and Studio H Gallery Director Phil Hutinet posing with imaginary sling shots to mimic the scene in Camille’s painting “Bet Between Friends,” 2010, oil on canvas in the gallery’s current show. Photo: Courtesy of Studio H, copyright Tom Pullin PhotographA Capitol Hill artist and writer, Jim can be reached at