I’m standing in front of a beat-up industrial building whose windows are papered with notices, its imposing iron gate clanged shut. It doesn’t look like much is happening on this corner of 14th and Florida Avenue NW. But above me is a new black sign with familiar logos signaling that three partners have come together to bring DC an exhilarating pop-up destination combining art, music and the unexpected for one month of mayhem.
BYT’s own Svetlana Legetic took me on a walkthrough of the 20,000+ square foot space, while artists set up their installations and graffiti spray hung in the air. Opening weekend is in a few days, and everyone involved is incredibly excited. After what I saw, I’m excited too! I love the possibility of browsing room after room of crazy eclectic artwork, meeting interesting people, hanging out at a concert or dancing in a basement garage – all in the same place. The whole building has been taken over in an explosion of art – every available wall space is covered, including stairwells, hallways, bathrooms, ceilings – everywhere you look there’s something new to discover. Add people and music, and I’m looking forward to one hell of a fun time.
Let’s take a peak.
There are three main spaces for live music and DJs being set up, and you’ll be able to enjoy the kick-off this Friday (for free!) starting at 10pm with the Fatback DJs spinning slow jams in the orange lounge and garage rock in – wait for it – the garage! Svetlana promises there will be no cars parked in the way of your dancing enjoyment. The main DJ/live music space on the first floor is huge, and the sound system promises to be just as massive. I’ll be there this Saturday night for the End of the World party with House of Soul, the All Girls Squad DJs and Sam Burns, among others. It’s just a $1 donation at the door. Nurse your hangover the next day at the Post Rapture brunch with food trucks and cocktails. Brilliant. I may just bring a sleeping bag.
The space will be open during the day for you to relax underneath wicked cool graffiti in the orange lounge catching up on email and meeting up with other third place lovers, or wander the many rooms of art making up Art Whino’s G40 Summit. Other daytime activities are planned, like the America Rock Memorial Day Extravaganza on Sunday May 29th (dress up as a Rolling Thunder member for a costume contest!), the DC Record Fair on Saturday June 4th, or the Butler + Claypool vintage bazaar on Sunday June 12th. More events are being added all the time, so be sure to check the schedule on BYT, or just walk in and soak up the atmosphere.
There’s so much art on display that it’s a little overwhelming – but in a good way! This will be the second G40 Art Summit, and Art Whino is focusing on artists at the “forefront of creative transitions.” Expect to see a lot of elaborate graffiti, killer skateboard art, and intriguing 3D installations. Not to mention some pretty whimsical pieces, like a closet full of dirt! There are over twenty artists working on truly amazing 16′ murals, but also quite small pieces that highlight some beautiful intricacy. My head got tired from swiveling around – art is everywhere, from the sublime to the ridiculous, and I wouldn’t be surprised if you find yourself returning again and again. Svetlana, who’s been there practically 24/7 for weeks, notes that she is still seeing new things every day. The scope of art on view is incredible, reminding me of an artists’ squat.
Exiting the space back into the noisy street was like coming out of another world. There will be many other vitaminwater uncapped LIVE events in cities across the country, but DC’s is the largest planned so far and it really showcases the extraordinary breadth of our local artists. Add in local musicians and subculture, and we get to celebrate a thriving DC continuing to break out of the box.
See you at the corner of 14th and Florida…