WPA’s Catalyst: A 35 Year Retrospective

Alan Sonneman, The Last Washington Painting (Premonitions of the Corporate Wars), 1980. Oil on canvas, 54 x 102 inches. Courtesy of the artist. Collection of Tim Egert.

It’s common for people to move to DC, make their mark, then ride off into the sunset.  For many people this town is merely a stepping stone for their education or their career, a place to put a notch on their belt.  If you’ve lived here for less than a decade then you may not be hip to DC’s rich history, what made it the city that it is today.

As one would expect, the local art world looks nothing today as it did ten years ago, which looked nothing like it did twenty years ago.  Art galleries have moved from Georgetown to Dupont Circle to 14th Street to H Street, while others have disappeared from the map completely.  Artists of yesterday have moved to New York, stopped producing art, or passed on to artist’s heaven.  However one entity has been a common thread throughout, the Washington Project for the Arts, which is celebrating its 35th birthday with Catalyst.

The Reverend Jesse Jackson in front of David Hammons’s How Ya Like Me Now?, from the exhibition The Blues Aesthetic: Black Culture and Modernism, 1989.

Colby Caldwell, “rounds”, 2006, 5 channel video, Dimensions variable, Courtesy of Hemphill Fine Art

Curated by artist, writer, and art professor J. W. Mahoney, Catalyst will be a “dynamic, narrative recollection of the Washington area’s multidisciplinary arts scene and WPA’s legacy, showcasing selected artists, exhibitions, programs, and events from its 35-year history.”  Mahoney says, “Catalyst is intended to demonstrate the uniqueness, the resilience and the authentically catalytic power of a truly successful alternative arts organization that has survived for more than three decades.”  With over three floors of new and historic work on display, this is a show not to be missed.

American University Museum at the Katzen Arts Center
4400 Massachusetts Avenue, NW DC
Hours: Tuesday – Sunday 11am – 4pm

VIP Opening Reception:
Tuesday, November 9, 6:30-9pm
(purchase tickets here)

Opening Reception:
Saturday, November 13, 6-9pm

Curator’s Talk:
Saturday, November 20, 4-6pm

Hailing from the Mile High City, Max has also lived in Tinsel Town, the Emerald City, as well as the City of Brotherly Love. Now a District resident, he likes to write about cool photos by local photographers, the DC restaurant and bar scene, or anything else that pops into his mind.

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