Where the Art Is

By Michael O'Sullivan
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, November 14, 2008

Art galleries, like birds, have traditionally flocked together.

At least in the Washington area they have, where neighborhoods such as Dupont Circle and Seventh Street NW were not that long ago known for their tightly concentrated pockets of art, participating in monthly art walks in which visitors would stroll from venue to venue, sipping wine in plastic cups. There's strength in numbers, or so the thinking goes, especially in tough economic times.

Today, those two areas are on the wane, with the gallery district of 14th Street NW (Adamson Gallery, Curator's Office, G Fine Art, Hemphill Fine Arts, Irvine Contemporary, Randall Scott Gallery, Transformer and Plan B) in ascendancy.

Not every gallery, however, chooses to follow the crowd. Conner Contemporary, for example, pulled up its Dupont Circle stakes, opening a new space in Northeast Washington last month, not far from the H Street entertainment corridor. The only other gallery nearby? The appropriately named Dissident Display, which opened in 2006.

See, politicians aren't the only ones who seek the maverick label. Here, we profile 10 art spaces that -- whether by virtue of geography or philosophy -- have separated themselves from the herd.


173 Waterfront St., National Harbor

First of all, for all those wondering: What's up with the name?

According to Art Whino owner Shane Pomajambo, the unusual moniker for his gallery is a nod to his own addiction to the graffiti-inspired, pop surrealist and "lowbrow" art he specializes in, "intentionally misspelled for an urban feel." He'd better hope that the hip, gritty vibe conveys to his new home in the Prince George's County development known as National Harbor. The Potomac waterfront destination, which caters to tourists and conventioneers, is about as far from urban as it gets.

Pomajambo knew he was taking something of a gamble when he relocated this past spring from Alexandria. Most of his youthful, city-based clients don't have cars, and now must share rides just to get to his regular DJ-fueled art parties. He isn't terribly worried though. Pomajambo says he thinks the audience for his kind of art -- which ranges in price from $30 to $2,000 or so, with most of it on the low end -- is far wider than the downtown crowd.

"I hate to break the news," he says, "but there's a lot of people like me."

Contact 301-567-8210. http://www.artwhino.com.

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