Arts Beat

For Fans of The Funky, Free Parking

A performance by the Videohippos drew an appreciative audience to the Barn Barnacle on Saturday. It also attracted D.C. police, above, who talked things over with Jason Balicki, founder of the studio/performance/exhibition space in a garage off Longfellow Street NW.
A performance by the Videohippos drew an appreciative audience to the Barn Barnacle on Saturday. It also attracted D.C. police, above, who talked things over with Jason Balicki, founder of the studio/performance/exhibition space in a garage off Longfellow Street NW. (Photos By Lucian Perkins -- The Washington Post)
By Jonathan Padget
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, August 25, 2005

While skimming cultural blogs to see what the August slump might hold for the adventurous soul, we stumbled across this tantalizing comment:

"Hello, I am hosting the second show at the Barn Barnacle this Saturday, August 20th at 7:00 p.m. The Barn Barnacle is a studio/performance/exhibition/garage space located in the alley at 1307 Longfellow Street NW (between 13th and 14th). On Saturday Videohippos will be performing. Thank you, Jason."

Barn Barnacle? Garage? Alley? Videohippos ?

We had to know more.

A few e-mails and phone calls later, we're chatting with 29-year-old artist Jason Balicki, a Corcoran College of Art and Design graduate who works as a gallery assistant at G Fine Art. Barn Barnacle is his doing, Balicki says, and sure, we're welcome to check it out.

So we venture off to find this Barn Barnacle, which turns out to be a rather, um, compact venue -- 16 by 16 feet, Balicki estimates. He says he didn't even know at first that the old free-standing garage came with the house where he and his girlfriend, artist Katherine Radke, rent an apartment.

Once he found out the garage was at his disposal, he thought it would be the perfect place for alternative cultural pursuits now that Team Response, the art trio he formed with fellow Corcoran graduates, is no more. (Team Response made a splash two summers ago with "China Pizza Chicken King," an elaborate installation in which the artists converted space in G Fine Art and Conner Contemporary Art to look like fast-food restaurants.)

"I'm totally satisfied with doing it myself," Balicki says of shifting his focus from commercial galleries to Barn Barnacle, named to reflect the garage's appearance and how it is "clinging on" to the concept of alternative art space, which he finds to be declining in Washington.

Balicki launched Barn Barnacle last month with a one-night, 10-artist group show. He dubbed the event "Oh Thank Heaven," borrowing a certain convenience store chain's slogan to represent his approach. "Put a lot of things into a little container and surely you'll find something you like," explains Balicki. Next month will bring a solo effort by Balicki, who plans an island-themed installation. For October, he envisions a haunted house rendered by a dozen artists.

Tonight, however, is all about the Videohippos.

The music-art duo consists of Kevin O'Meara, 25, of Baltimore, and Jim Triplett, 26, of Falls Church. They've spray-painted "U.S. Army Tank" on the side of O'Meara's minivan and taped a large cardboard tube on top of the vehicle to suggest a gun barrel. As the evening gets underway, the minivan is parked in the alley and attendees trickle into the garage, checking out the duo's video projections and a smattering of art by friends of O'Meara and Triplett that they've chosen to complement the performance.

The Videohippos eventually drive the minivan into the garage to announce the beginning of their set, leaving a tiny space for the band and the audience of 40 or so. So quite a few people are left in the alley straining for a glimpse of O'Meara and Triplett as they plow their way through six experimental punk-pop ditties.


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