Category Archives: Art in the City

The flowers have come.

“You can’t be suspicious of a tree, or accuse a bird or a squirrel of subversion or challenge the ideology of a violet.”
Hal Borland

photo 5


New York, The Catalyst

Recently a few friends and I took a spontaneous adventure to New York City. I had always wanted to see it all dressed up for the holidays and when a friend needed a ride to JFK, it was the perfect opportunity. We didn’t have much time, but in NYC, you can do A LOT in 14 hours! The¬†High Line (a new personal favorite), Brunching in Soho, a quick trip to the photo booth at the cozy Warby Parker store, the Rockefeller tree (and 1 million people!), relaxing to warm drinks on a Bison hide in the Ace Hotel catch-all lobby, decorated shop windows and holiday markets wrapped up with a dusky stroll in Central Park made for some pretty inspiring notions.

I found myself saying “Why does New York corner the market on all the cool and creative stuff?!” Of course, DC is opening up to this and Seattle’s Gas Works Park and the bridge guarding Ogre are points for their stellar stock; while Philly’s house of bottles and hidden Bat Cave entrance nicely contrast the wisdom of the Liberty Bell. But I think New York’s eccentricities are so consolidated that you are confronted with a new thought and spark of creative prerogative at every intersection.

I want DC to feel like that. Perhaps not in the same grungy garage-band way Seattle does it, but with our own personality. Amidst the marble and remarkable Roman styling, we should find ways to add more of our own (often squelched) creative flair. Reusing old decrepit structures, adding more sculpture and installation art to parks and public transit, continuing to expand our art fairs and events like Nuit Blanche and Figment DC; these things are important for our city and how we interact with them is important for our inner-person. We can have spiritual experiences everywhere we go- inspired by a single leaf in the air or a statue of immense proportion climbing out of the beach reminding us of the pain and struggle of rebirth. So let’s help DC out… go get your art on.

Local Artists, Local Inspiration!

Amy Braden ( is a Washington DC area artist who, lucky for me, I happen to personally know! Last night this local celebrity opened her solo show “Eat the Youth! & send me a pic…” at Founders Art Gallery in Arlington accompanied by wine, cheese and a bazillion admirers. It’s not hard to see why so many people came out to experience what Amy reflects on as, “a barrage of recycled imagery, borrowed content, intentional and inadvertent collaboration, and a working definition of collage that examines the mortality of ownership… and the increasing publicity of personal life.” Her use of color and theme challenged my view of what it means to be alive, especially in the context of the world around you. I was so inspired, it was all I could do not to run home in the middle of the opening and begin working on projects myself.

This city is full of fun, free ways to be inspired. You can see Amy’s new works on display until December 14th here in Arlington. Keep a look out on her website for upcoming shows- she can barely keep up with her demand! Check out some of my favorites: Similar Noses #1 and Similar Noses #2 below. (But don’t take an iPhone photo’s word for it- they must be seen in person!)

The Ballet.

Last week I had the privilege of watching Cinderella fall for her Prince though the Mariinsky Ballet at the Kennedy Center. One of the only New Year’s Resolutions I have actually kept is experiencing one ‘professional’ performing arts event per quarter this year. It has proved to be one of my best resolutions and enlightened me to the importance of such soul-invigorating experiences. I feel so alive when I hear an entire orchestra of dozens of people playing instruments made up of hundreds of parts; listening to it all come together right before my ears into a poetic story that once was made of black dots and squiggles on a funny lined paper. Not to mention the dancing that has been meticulously choreographed yet somehow still exudes a beautiful freedom in its movement. Needless to say, I loved the ballet. Below is a peek at a piece inspired by the glass-slipper cinder-girl and her royal audience.

The Influence of Art and Design

I was recently struck by the two Time Magazine covers dedicated to the upcoming Presidential elections. One featuring the Republican party and Mitt Romney and the follow up, a week later, covering Obama and the Democrats. It made me think about the power of art and design to influence. We often hear that if FDR ran for President in the lens of modern-day media, he would never have been elected. His cabinet and advisers went to great lengths to make it appear he was not afflicted with polio, from setting him up at photo shoots before the cameras arrived, to making excuses about a twisted ankle when he would meet dignitaries for the first time and couldn’t respectfully stand. Now with an increased visual media presence, we have to wade through layer after layer just to get to our own thoughts on the subject… if you’re patient enough to make it there.

How much power does visual art have to influence us as our candidates are presented? What message are you getting from these two contrasting images. Black and white-‘simpler times’ and nostalgic or old and out of touch? The man in front or behind the title? Laughing, visible eyes, body language, jacket or no jacket, etc. What message is Time selling? How would you visually present your point of view and where else do you see influential art and design?





Forklift Part II

You may have seen my shout out to Community Forklift last week. One of the other items I got there was a great cupboard door. On sale I got it for $4.42. There is an endless supply of materials that can be used instead of a canvas and most are much cheaper. I love the worn look on the cupboard door and am also very into the idea of reusable sustainable art products. Check out this trial run- it’s so fun! (Sorry about the image quality!)

In Need of Inspiration?

I live in a city full of inspiring history and characters. We even have larger-than-life memorials and monuments that remind us to really learn from the great men and women of the past. One is the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial on the Tidal Basin. I brought a few friends on a DC-tourist trek to see Dr. King. It was a late night, so parking was a snap and there were only about 10 other people there- the conditions were perfect to sit, think, and be inspired. I found myself asking questions like, “What kind of crazy passion was in this man to make him step out against the grain and do what he did?” and thanking God for the existence and presence of King in our society and history. Then I found myself sniffing out my driving passions and gifts and dreaming of how they could someday be used to make one life a little better. If you need an inspiration pick-me-up, visit any of our monuments or memorials late at night or at sunrise- you’ve got the city to yourself and there is a lot of space for your mind and heart to be stirred.