As development accelerates on the east bank of the Anacostia River, cultural mainstay Smithsonian’s Anacostia Museum curated an exhibition which amplifies contemporary community voices and asks how we can create a better world through art and activism. At Honfleur Gallery, a second annual multi-media group exhibition offers perspectives by veteran artists and their family members who have lived through deployments, loss and war.
SACM’s “The Utopia Project”
Smithsonian’s Anacostia Community Museum partnered with the Center for Artistic Activism whose founders Steve Duncombe and Steve Lambert authored “The Art of Activism.” Their book provides the blueprint for “The Utopia Project,” which asks its audience to consider the following two questions: “What does utopia look like?” and “How can activism achieve dreams of a better world?”
So, come prepared to take notes and to be engaged! Upon entering the exhibition, you will be given a notebook and asked, as you move through the gallery, to examine components of the exhibition and to describe your vision of “Utopia.” Yours notes can then serve as a template for that dream which you can share with your community.
While the exhibition contains numerous artifacts and works of art, of note is the museums’ acquisition of a mural created by local artist Yetunde Sapp of Breonna Taylor, the Black medical worker who was shot and killed by police officers in a botched raid in Louisville, KY, in March, 2020. On view through March 1, 2023. Open Daily from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Closed December 25. 1901 Fort Place SE, Washington DC, 20020; anacostia.si.edu/utopiaproject; 202.663.4820
Honfleur Gallery –
“Peace of War: Intertwined by Art”
A quick backdrop on the proliferation of veteran artmaking—The Department of Defense has invested heavily in art therapy programs for veterans to address Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI). The results have shown extraordinary medical potential for restoring motor coordination and speech as well as healing psychological wounds of war. The program, called Creative Forces, also works with outside organizations to connect veterans and their families to community art programs for those interested in pursuing an artistic path outside of a clinical setting.
One of these organizations is Uniting US, a Vienna, VA-based nonprofit organization founded by AnnMarie Halterman, a US Air Force combat veteran and Tiffany Wheeler, an award-winning educator. The organization connects military veterans and their families with the arts. If you’ve flown from Dulles or National airports recently, you may have seen art displays curated and hung by Uniting US of their member artists.
Now in its second year, the organization has partnered with ARCH Development to show a group exhibition of work which opens Veterans Day and runs through mid-December. One of the goals of the exhibition is to integrate veterans into DC’s art world by showing their work in a highly respected art gallery.
Most of the work expresses artists’ incredibly personal stories of war, deployment and loss. To illustrate this example, artist Michelle Anne Smith created a sculpture titled “Protective Nature.” Smith’s husband, who was in the Navy, committed suicide during deployment. Now working on her Masters of Fine Art at James Madison University, the artist has spent years studying seed pods. “Protective Nature” depicts a chestnut seed pod and within it, a figure which represents her 10-year-old daughter. Smith cast the figure in papier mâché and finished its exterior using pages from her grievance journal which she kept after her husband’s untimely death. On view through December 16, 2022. Thu.-Sat.: Noon–5 p.m. & by appointment; www.honfleurgallerydc.com; 202.631.6291; 1241 Good Hope Road SE, Washington DC, 20020
Holiday Gift Giving
With the holiday season upon us, opportunities abound to purchase one-of-a-kind original work by local artists and artisans. Why not use it as an occasion to sneak-in a gift for yourself? Below are four venues just outside of DC that offer quality, inexpensive art, stationary, crafts, ornaments and more.
Torpedo Factory Arts Center has an incredible selection of independent galleries, artist studios and artisan boutiques. If you are looking to purchase original art, the center’s Target Gallery has 79 artworks on sale which are all priced under $500 as part of its annual Fall Salon juried exhibition meaning that the works were selected by a group of local curators and experts. Open Daily 10 a.m.- 6 p.m. (Fall Salon runs through Dec. 11, 2022); Torpedo Factory Art Center, 105 N. Union St., Alexandria VA; https://torpedofactory.org/event/2022-fall-salon; 703.746.4570
Brentwood Arts Exchange
Run by Prince George’s Parks, Brentwood Arts Exchange offers classes, curates award-winning exhibitions in its two galleries and features storefront window artists. BAE’s storefront artists create jewelry, pottery, textiles and home goods. Saturday, Dec. 10 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. 3901 Rhode Island Ave, Brentwood MD; pgparks.com/1782/Brentwood-Arts-Exchange; 301.277.2863
Gateway Art Center Craft Fair
On Saturday, Dec. 10 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., Gateway Arts Center, the space in which BAE is located, will host a building-wide craft fair. Home to artist studios, galleries and BAE, artwork and crafts from local vendors take center-stage. Adding to the festive environment, live music and a tasting lounge by Maryland Meadworks should put you in the holiday spirit. 3901 Rhode Island Ave, Brentwood MD; mygatewayarts.org; 301.277.2863
Located in Hyattsville’s lively arts district, Pyramid Atlantic Art Center is the one of the region’s premier print making studios. In the lobby, custom made printed material such as stationary, cards, journals made from handmade paper, calendars and postcards provide a bounty of choice. If you prefer purchasing artwork, for $60 at its annual 10×10 print exhibition, you have the opportunity to choose a print from one of 300 artists. Wed.–Thu.: 10 a.m.–8 p.m.| Fri.–Sun.: 10 a.m.–6 p.m.| Mon.-Tue.: Closed; 4318 Gallatin Street, Hyattsville MD; pyramidatlanticartcenter.org, 301.608.9101
Phil Hutinet is the founding publisher of East City Art, DC’s visual art journal of record. For more information visit www.eastcityart.com