Archive for the ‘DC Arts Commission’ Category

Spectrum of DC Art

August 13, 2010

Spectrum of DC Art

See the variety of DC’s visual art at the Joan Hisaoka Healing Arts Gallery at Smith Farm Center today through Wednesday, August 25, 2010. The free exhibit features work by Washington artists applying for DC Arts Commission fellowships. This is a chance to see the latest painting, prints, photos and drawings by some of our favorites (Rex Weil, Rik Freeman, Roderick Turner, Elaine Langerman, Alec Simpson) as well as emerging artists. Sample works are on view here.


Nationals Owner Hits Grand Slam

April 7, 2009

Nationals Owner Hits Grand Slam

Last season, Forbes magazine listed Washington Nationals owner Theodore Lerner at number 462 on their annual Billionaires’ List, with a personal wealth of $2.5 billion. The 2009 Forbes list is shorter, of course; we’re in a worldwide financial meltdown and the number of billionaires is a mere 793, down from last year’s 1,125.

Mr. Lerner, though, has bucked the trend: this year he’s #191, with assets of  $3.2 billion. In 2007 Ted Lerner was in true Nationals form, at the bottom of the Bigs (#664, $1.5 billion). Let’s hear it for the home team!

Tomorrow, to celebrate Mr. Lerner’s coup, the cash-strapped DC Government will present him with $700,000-worth of sculpture it bought for him, decorations for the $611 million stadium taxpayers built for the Lerner family last year. We have not learned if the Lerners are actually paying the stadium rent this year.


Admire the sculptures your tax dollars bought for the Lerners 11:00 AM on Wednesday, April 8th, when the artwork will be dedicated at Nationals Park.  RSVP to Deirdre Ehlen at the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities (DCCAH) by email or phone (202-724-5613). The event is free. See the art you paid for before you have to buy Nationals tickets to do it.

 Image by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht,

Comments are welcome if they are on-topic, substantive, concise, and not obscene. Comments may be edited for clarity and length.

DC Buys Bronze Bobbleheads for Billionaires

March 26, 2009

DC Buys Bronze Bobbleheads for Billionaires

As part of its economic recovery effort, the DC Government commissioned $700,000 worth of sculpture for billionaire Theodore Lerner and his family. DC already built $611 million Nationals Park for the Lerners, who own the local Major League Baseball franchise, and the government wants to decorate it to suit the wealthy tenants. Who knows, this might even encourage the Lerners to actually pay rent on the stadium.

You can admire the artistic gifts your tax dollars bought for the Lerners at 11:00 AM on Wednesday, April 8th, when the sculptures will be dedicated. RSVP to Deirdre Ehlen at the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities (DCCAH) by email or phone (202-724-5613). The event is free, so go see the art you paid for before you have to buy Nationals tickets to do it.

Forbes estimates the personal wealth of Theodore  N. Lerner at $2.5 billion, but why spend your own money on art when the taxpayers will commission it for you?  The DC Government dead- panned that the baseball art belongs to DC and is only on loan to the Lerners, an assertion worthy of a Larry Neal Award for fiction.  The sculpture  is site-specific, so saying the art is on loan is like saying you don’t own the fillings in your teeth, you only rent them.


Now Showing at the Wilson Building

March 7, 2009

Now Showing at the Wilson Building

Sign up to see the magnificent collection of fine art at DC’s city hall, the Wilson Building (1350 Pennsylvania Avenue NW) at noon on Wednesday, March 25, 2009.

The permanent exhibition in the historic Beaux Artes building includes work by Lilian Thomas Burwell, William Christenberry, Manon Cleary, Gene Davis, Sam Gilliam, Willem De Looper, Renee Stout, Lou Stovall, Alma Woodsey Thomas, James Lesesne Wells and other artists of importance, many of whom have lived and worked in Washington DC. The collection has been assembled under the auspices of  the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities (DCCAH).

The 70-minute tour of paintings, prints, photographs and sculpture will be led by DCCAH Art Bank Coordinator Beth Baldwin. Space is limited, so RSVP now. If you miss this tour, others are scheduled for June 24th and September 30th.


Image by Mike Licht. Download a copy here.Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht,

Comments are welcome if they are on-topic, substantive, concise, and not obscene. Comments may be edited for clarity and length.


Vision Thing

February 17, 2009

Vision Thing

The DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities (DCCAH) invited Washingtonians to a public meeting last Wednesday to provide input for a master plan for outdoor sculpture and murals, a Public Art Program “vision.”

We are neither ophthalmologists nor optometrists, but the event clearly indicates the DC government’s urgent need for Public Art vision correction due to:

Shortsightedness: The “public meeting” ran from from 5 PM to 7 PM, before many working people could get there. Other government agencies start public meetings at  6:30 PM or 7 PM (just look at the DC Government calendar). Want to go through the motions and avoid the hassle of having lots of citizens at your “public” meeting? Hold it earlier.

Distance Vision: The plan for site-specific art in DC’s streets and neighborhoods is actually being drafted by consultants from St. Louis and Philadelphia.

Fuzziness: The meeting’s maps, posters, slides, charts, and chats all featured the phrase “Creative Economy,” but none of the consultants or DC Government employees present would define the term.

Transparency: Selected “open house” guests attended “closed house” meetings before and after the open meeting.

Double Vision, Lack of Focus, Disorientation: The Environment and Tourism are not within the purview of DCCAH, but were prominent topics of the meeting, duplicating efforts of other DC agencies and DC-funded nonprofits. DCCAH is the only public Arts agency serving the District of Columbia; no other agency picks up the slack if it abandons that mission for others.

Intermittent Blindness: A written agenda, descriptions of (or references to) Art in Public Places guidelines or Best Practices and other documents were not visible.

Take the Vision Test.  See for yourself. Here is the “questionnaire,” the only document distributed to the few people at this pro forma “public” event:


DC Creates Public Art Program Vision in the District of Columbia

February 10, 2009

DC Creates Public Art Program Vision in the District of Columbia.

The DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities has invited Washington residents to “Get Involved: Learn About the Public Art Community Open House.”

When: Today, Tuesday February 11, 2009, 5PM to 7PM

Where: Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Library (901 G Street NW, near Gallery Place-Chinatown and Metro Center stations).

How:To RSVP and for more information call or email: Deirdre Ehlen at (202) 724-5613 or

What: For more information, look here and here … well … not much more information, is there. No agenda has been provided; we will bring our own.

Background: DCCAH Public Arts ProgramsDC Revised Comprehensive Plan, Chapter 14 (Arts and Culture)


[Full disclosure: the writer worked for this agency many years ago].

Image by Mike Licht (with help from DCCAH and the State University of Iowa). Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht,

Comments are welcome if they are on-topic, substantive, concise, and not obscene. Comments may be edited for clarity and length.

Inauguration Arts Events

January 15, 2009

Inauguration Arts Events

The four-day Inauguration Weekend in DC will be a time for artists to celebrate and share. These events and exhibits are free or cheap.
(Check back frequently for updates)

Update: For college students only — “Refresh the World Symposium,” January 19th, with Spike Lee, Queen Latifah and refreshing media celebs like Rev. Al Sharpton. Howard University’s Cramton Audiorium (2455 Sixth Street, NW). Tickets are free to students at the Cramton box office (202-806-7914). This is presented by Spike Lee, Howard University and “the Pause that Refreshes,” PepsiCo. Dress pretty; you just know Spike will shoot this for a Pepsi commecial [more on this event here].

The DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities lists some events here.

King Holiday Jazz Jam Session, Rankin Memorial Chapel, Howard University. January 19th, noon to 10PM. Free; a remarkable event. Details here.

 The Kennedy Center has a free concert with Aretha and friends at 6PM on January 19th but you need to get tickets in person. The distribution starts at 4PM, the line forms earlier outdoors, on the south side of the Center, adjacent to the South Plaza (wear your woolies). Other free weekend KenCen events are listed here. has a concert list

Stop by Zenith Gallery (413 7th Street NW ) and see the Inaugural Inspiration show. 

Westminster Presbyterian Church (400 I Street SW ) celebrates a decade of Jazz Night in Southwest, 6PM t0 9PM January 16th. 5 bucks. 10 years.

 Opening Inaugural Celebration at the Lincoln Memorial is 2:30 PM onJanuary 19th.Free. Beyonce, Mary J. Blige, Bono, Garth Brooks, Sheryl Crow, Herbie Hancock, John Legend,  John Mellencamp, Usher, Shakira, Bruce Springsteen, James Taylor,, Stevie Wonder, more. Details here. (wear your woolies).

ManifestHopeDC  (3333 M Street, N.W., Georgetown). This is BIG. 100 artists. 10AM to 6PM January 16th though 19th.

 Don’t forget the Smithsonian. It’s free. Of Note: The National Museum of the Amerrican Indian offers the free  Out of Many: A Multicultural Festival of Music, Dance, and Story from January 17th through 19th.

And don’t forget the Blues. Westminster Presbyterian Church (400 I Street SW ) presents Inaugural Blues. 6PM to 9PM on January 19th.  Can’t beat it for 5 bucks.


Oh, BAR Coasters!

December 31, 2008

Oh, BAR Coasters!

We wondered why the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities was using bar coasters to promote today’s New Year’s Eve event, the one that is “perfect for youth ages 3 – 16.” Indeed, along with the DC arts community, we also wondered where the Commission’s new Director had obtained her arts administration training and experience.

Imagine our chagrin upon learning that Washington City Paper‘s Loose Lips had answered both questions back in September.


Bar Coasters — Perfect for Youth Ages 3 — 16

December 27, 2008

Bar Coasters -- Perfect for Youth Ages 3 -- 16

Here are two views of a new publicly-funded artwork produced by the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities. It is a  bar coaster promoting a family-friendly New Year’s event that’s “perfect for youth ages 3-16.”

This two-sided, plasticized objet d’art is 5 inches across. The renarkable trompe-l’oeil is so convincing that many viewers actually mistake it for clip art at first. Quite droll, really. Kudos to DCCAH visual arts grantee … oh dear; no artist signature.


Entertainment Exploiters, Holiday Shame Edition

December 27, 2008

Entertainment Exploiters, Holiday Shame Edition

In this season of peace and good will, NotionsCapital would love to report that all DC music venues treat musicians responsibly and intelligently, listing the names of bands and artists in their paid newspaper ads.

Many venues and agencies have been nice, but several are very, very naughty. In the absence of Santa, who took the rest of the week off, we hereby present this week’s Roll of Shame, the list of Washington area music venues that advertise “Live Music” but do not include the names of bands in their ads. Think this is a quibble? Think again.