Irvine Contemporary, one of the key galleries in what once was a booming 14th Street arts corridor, is leaving the neighborhood Aug. 30. To cap off the five years the gallery spent on the block, it’s hosting two final retrospective-style exhibits dubbed “Tribute 1” and “Tribute 2.”
Want to say so long (for now)?
Do it at the reception for “Tribute 1” this week. A bash for the show, featuring works by Dalek, Phil Nesmith, Shawne Major and other gallery faves, is Saturday from 6 to 8 p.m.
Rent increases and the general state of the economy led Irvine to move, Martin Irvine, the gallery’s director announced in an e-mail Saturday. He didn’t say where the gallery might move.
The gallery certainly left its stamp on 14th Street. In 2008, months before the election, it opened “Regime Change Starts at Home,” with the work of an artist whose name was on the verge of going national: Shepard Fairey. The National Portrait Gallery snagged one of the most important pieces in that show, the collaged Obama “Hope” portrait, but not before Fairey pasted a giant version up on the side of Marvin (it’s since been built over). More Fairey works decorated the alley behind Irvine. (The artist will be among those featured in “Tribute 2,” opening July 23.)
There have been many changes in the gallery scene in recent years. Touchstone Gallery went online-only last year, and both Civilian Art Projects and Project 4 moved into new spaces. G Fine Art, once a 14th Street stalwart, closed up shop in 2009, and re-emerged in Northeast Washington, just a few blocks from the restaurants and bars on H Street NE. (Come to think of it, that area would be a good home for Irvine....)
Irvine itself used to be on Connecticut Avenue, when that was the “it” neighborhood for galleries. Adamson Gallery and Curators Office remain on 14th Street.