Hail, hail, rock-and-roll! Govinda Gallery owner Christopher Murray opened his shop in 1975, showing figurative paintings and drawings at a time when conceptual and minimal art were the prevailing trends. "I loved that stuff, but I wanted to do something else," Murray recalls. "And I was really into figurative art." He soon broadened Govinda's offerings into an eclectic mix that now includes pop art and folk artists such as Howard Finster and Ron "Fish" Clifton.
But over the years the gallery has developed a reputation as the place in the Washington area for art, particularly photography, that is by or about rock stars. So if you want a giant black-and-white photograph of Jimi Hendrix or a drawing by original Beatle Stuart Sutcliffe, then put on your high-heel sneakers and boogie down to Govinda, a funky, laid-back space that is housed in a bland row of low-rise shops on a tree-lined Georgetown street.
"I got started because my former wife Kim and my friend Howard Carr were artists and they really inspired me," Murray says. "I loved the lifestyle and what they did and the way they did it. One day I was driving by here and saw this place was for rent. I thought, gee, wouldn't it be nice to do something with art. So I did. When I first started, I wanted Govinda to be a place where you got turned on to something. I think it still is."
Along the way, Murray became deeply involved with pop art and began showing photographs by a group of artists who worked with Andy Warhol on Interview magazine, including Greg Gorman and Christopher Makos. He has also shown works by photographers such as Annie Liebovitz, Bob Colacello, Juergen Vollmer, Howard Bingham and Linda McCartney, as well as the moody, haunting black-and-white photographs by Astrid Kirchherr and Max Scheler of the Beatles' early days in Hamburg and Liverpool.
Money can't buy you love, but if you plunk down anywhere from a few hundred dollars to the tens of thousands at Govinda, it will buy you a piece of the magical mystery tour known as pop culture.
-- Ferdinand Protzman