Washington has three prominent and distinct art gallery districts: the quaint side streets of Dupont Circle, the downtown urbanity of Seventh Street NW and the buzzing commercial hive of Georgetown. A tour of the Georgetown enclave, however, requires far more legwork (and sturdier shoes) than either of the other two, with galleries scattered widely over eight square blocks.
Although the Ralls Collection sits in one of the remote corners of Georgetown, a hike up the hill from the retail mecca of Wisconsin and M, it shares the same chi-chi character of most of its neighbors, with prices that are geared toward a slightly wealthier clientele than many galleries.
In her quiet nook, owner Marsha Ralls specializes in contemporary work, mostly photography, with a few small sculptures thrown in and a lot of painting. The majority of the artists are from the Washington area, with occasional New York names popping up from time to time, as well as sporadic displays of vintage photography and 19th-century American canvases.
Since spring of 1997, Ralls's haven has been a little less quiet: She has had the company of new neighbor Addison/Ripley Georgetown, a spinoff of the longtime Dupont Circle dealership.
-- Michael O'Sullivan