Located in a renovated 100-year-old schoolhouse, the nonprofit arts center boasts studios, classrooms and nine galleries. One of which features Tiffany stained-glass windows, which tend to -- how shall I put this? -- compete with the art.
That can make hanging a show a challenge, admits director of exhibitions Jeffry Cudlin. Still, he has no complaints, he says, now that the building has replaced the old institutional gray carpeting with what he calls "faux hardwood floors." Since taking over AAC's exhibitions program in 2007, Cudlin has raised the center's game considerably, regularly organizing thoughtful and challenging themed shows. Coming up: A look at artists whose practice centers on getting out of the house and engaging with the outside world.
The "airless white box" of so many contemporary galleries might work for others, Cudlin says, but he likes the idiosyncracies of the AAC's oddball spaces. "I usually," he says, "have options."
Good neighbor: Artisphere. The new 54,000-square-foot cultural center on the site of the former Newseum features three art galleries.
-- Michael O'Sullivan (Jan. 14, 2011)