At Capitol Hill's Eastern Market, if you pick your way through the open-air vending booths offering such fare as Guatemalan alpaca sweaters, Afghan hats and handmade jewelry, you'll find the Market 5 Gallery, a somewhat grittier and more down-to-earth version of its uptown art gallery cousins (and with better prices, too). The big, open gallery space occupies one end of the same cavernous, old brick building that houses the market's food stalls. And, like the crafts, clothing and comestibles for sale nearby, the art at Market 5 has a natural, homespun flavor. One difference, though: Unlike the weekend flea market, the gallery is open five days a week, from Tuesday through Saturday.
There's no video, installation, or performance art here, just good old-fashioned pictures: painting, drawing, photography and hand-pulled prints by contemporary artists, much of it in the three- rather than four-figure price range. Gallery director John Harrod curates most of the 10 shows held each year, focusing chiefly on work by artists from the Washington metropolitan area; although he's never averse to opening up the space to outside groups and traveling exhibits looking for a temporary home, or even perhaps a dance company or two, such as the local Maru Montero Company that specializes in Latino folkloric dance.
-- Michael O'Sullivan