Washington is about to experience a minor art boom, a weekend-long happening that organizers hope could begin a transformation of the city into a big art-world player.
The (e)merge art fair, Washington’s answer to major art showcases such as Art Basel Miami and New York’s Armory Show, opens Thursday, along with its much smaller, indie counterpoint is But Is It Art?. The weekend will also bring late-night art festival Nuit Blanche and the opening of two Andy Warhol shows.
Installed in a scrappy little artists’ warehouse space called Wonderbox, not far from North Capitol Street and New York Avenue NW, the But Is It Art? exhibition was funded via a Kickstarter campaign that netted $2,000. That’s less than what a single booth at (e)merge costs, estimates organizer Alex Ventura. Ventura and crew have been steadily transforming the space into something just shy of gallery-esque, a home for contemporary art by truly emerging artists such as Ryan Florig, Adriane Connerton and Graham Chiles. Outside, murals by Kelly Towles, Aaron Lim and Decoy will greet visitors.
The reason for hosting But Is It Art?, says Ventura, is as a DIY call-to -arms for others to do the same and to ultimately build a vibrant, artist-run scene that could rival those in cities such as Baltimore and Philadelphia. Noting that most art is filtered through institutions such as museums, he says, “This could be a center of contemporary art.”
Check out our photos of But Is It Art’s progress below. To get there, consider hopping aboard the 24-seat convoy hosted by the Fridge beginning Friday; it will depart from (e)merge at the Capitol Skyline Hotel every hour on the hour, making stops at But Is It Art? and the Fridge, which is hosting a show by artist Ben Tolman.