John W. Harrod, 69

John W. Harrod, head of Capitol Hill's Market 5 art gallery, dies at 69

Thursday, September 2, 2010

John W. Harrod, 69, who for more than 30 years ran the nonprofit Market 5 art gallery on Capitol Hill, died of respiratory complications Aug. 23 at Prince George's Hospital Center. He lived in the District.

In 1973, Mr. Harrod took over a D.C.-owned storage space at Eastern Market that had once housed broken parking meters and truck tires. Inside his new space, Eastern Market's North Hall, there were no bathrooms, running water, heating or air conditioning.

Under Mr. Harrod's guidance, the industrial location was transformed into a gallery and work space for artists, musicians and theater troupes.

In the late 1960s, Mr. Harrod became involved with promoting younger artists when he helped a colleague from the Peace Corps start a photography workshop for at-risk youths on Capitol Hill.

As part of a neighborhood arts initiative under Mayor Walter E. Washington in the 1970s, Mr. Harrod led the opening of the Market 5 Gallery as a place for artists to display their work.

Many of the gallery's denizens had substantial careers in the art world, including Alex Madison and Simmie Knox, who painted the official White House portrait of President Bill Clinton.

Poetry readings, concerts, dance performances and theater productions were held inside the gallery. Mr. Harrod also ran a summer arts program for children.

He named his gallery Market 5 because at the time of its opening, the Eastern Market space was in the District's Ward 5. For many years, the gallery hosted a Saturday arts and crafts festival and a Sunday flea market. The gallery moved out of the North Hall in the mid-2000s.

John Welford Harrod was a native Washingtonian and a 1963 graduate of Northeastern University, where he played on the football team.

His marriage to Genevieve Johnson ended in divorce.

Survivors include two children, Asiha Harrod and Amon Harrod, both of Washington, and a grandson.

-- T. Rees Shapiro

© 2010 The Washington Post Company