Clear your calendar. No, really. The only thing that seems to matter next month is art.
Yes, there will be parties, but some serious fare is coming our way — namely two new art fairs in the mold of Art Basel Miami Beach and Armory Show; Andy Warhol shows at two major museums; and a new film festival devoted to the artists and street culture of 1980s New York.
Let’s start with the highlights, shall we?
If you haven’t heard, Washington is about to get its own art fair, called (e)merge, with galleries from around the world highlighting some of their best work and emerging artists. It’s at the Capitol Skyline for four days beginning Sept. 22. Among the participants just announced: Amstel Gallery of Amsterdam, New York’s Josée Bienvenu and Lu Magnus galleries, and a bevy of Washington arts spaces, including Conner Contemporary, which launched (e)merge.
If you’ve never been to an art fair, a great one can be as satisfying as a visit to an amazing museum and give you some insight into current movements in art (and rising artists) — before they make the history books.
(e)merge wasn’t on the books for long before a scrappy indie counterpoint fair announced that it was also taking place Sept. 22-25. The But Is It Art? Fair is the DIY answer to (e)merge, featuring the work of dozens of young local artists in a raw setting — the art space Wonderbox. Besides being free, this fair could be refreshingly un-stuffy: Organizer Alex Ventura is promising lectures and tours led by “non-authorities in contemporary art” and “non-panel discussions.”
So, which fair should you hit? The prevailing attitude at art fairs is to see as much as your eyes can take; the best thing would be to take in both.
Another can’t-miss next month is a slate of documentaries about art and New York’s storied scene of the 1970s and ’80s. The new Downtown Scene Film Series was organized by local DJ Adrian Loving with the National Gallery of Art, the Corcoran and the Phillips, and it features a promising mix of docs, including “The Universe of Keith Haring,” “Jean-Michele Basquiat: The Radiant Child” and two movies that look at the streets, art and culture of New York during that era. As a bonus, the films will be attended by artists or directors connected with each. The festival kicks off at the Phillips on Sept. 15, and with a pricetag of “free,” I’m dying to see them all.
If you’re excited about that series, a perfect pairing arrives next month in the form of not one, but two Andy Warhol shows. The National Gallery of Art’s new exhibition “Warhol: Headlines” opens Sept. 25, with 80 works showcasing Warhol’s minor obsession with tabloid news. Opening the same day just a few blocks away at the Hirshhorn is “Andy Warhol: Shadows,” a large installation of 102 canvases that mimic the style of the abstract expressionists, in classic Warhol style. Expect lots of events to continue into the new year.
Of course, if you want to punctuate all the serious art with a few parties, there’ll be plenty of that, too. Here’s a quick look at what’s happening after hours, and a few street festivals coming up.
The Art Museum of the Americas hosts its second annual bash Thursday, and again, it’s edgier than many that come across our desk: Performers include Matthew Hemerlein and Screen Vinyl Image.
The Portrait Gallery’s newish after-hours event on Friday is free and features DJ Natty Boom, a performance by hip-hop dance crew Culture Shock DC and $6 Rickey cocktails, all in the Kogod Courtyard. Go now while it’s free, because the next After 5, on Nov. 4 will be ticketed.
The Textile Museum’s regular happy hour soiree is taking a vintage twist. Bring your less-than-treasured old garments to Wednesday’s installment for a giant swap meet hosted by Trash Cats vintage clothing exchange. Games, gallery tours and cocktails are also on tap.
Based on the Parisian art festival Nuit Blanche (meaning White Night), Art All Night brings gallery-like atmosphere, visual arts, performances and DJs to venues as scattered as the Wonderbread Factory on S Street NW, to the Warehouse Theatre on New York Avenue NW to Pepco’s sparkling Edison Gallery on 8th Street NW. What’s unique about it? The Sept. 24 festival keeps going till 3 a.m.
And finally, two major street festivals will feature art, and on the same weekend, no less. On Sept. 10-11 in Washington, Arts on Foot will return to Chinatown with a curated string of artists’ booths, a popular food tent, food trucks and more. And Old Town hosts the ninth Alexandria Festival of the Arts, with booth after booth of arts and crafts.