Art Soiree puts the exhibit and after-party all in one

Washington Post Staff Writers
Sunday, February 20, 2011

On the Sunday before Valentine's Day, just getting inside the Georgetown party feels like trying to find a speak-easy. There are multiple doors off the alley, and if you're lucky, or if you've already tried the other three, you'll find the right entrance. But that's how it is with Art Soiree parties - it helps to be in the know to get in.

Inside, the L2 club is lit for scene. It's all exposed brick and high walls, dim enough for cool but bright enough to watch people watching art, and for them to watch you. This time, the featured work - a colorful digital collection of couples engaged in passion and whimsy called "My Guilty Pleasure" - is in 3-D. Check the coat, don the 3-D glasses, stop, stare, nod at the art. Then look around, and smile.

"Oh my God, this is such a cute painting," one young woman in a strapless number gushes to her friends.

Head for the bar while the DJ keeps a deep house mix bouncing off the walls.

There have been more than 30 themed Art Soirees since fall 2009.

Art galleries and museums are stuffy, and dancing all night at a club leaves you empty, says soiree host Sandro Kereselidze, 34. So he and girlfriend, Tatiana "Tati" Pastukhova, 23, got the idea for a hybrid social experience that they say was missing from the D.C. arts and social scene.

"We were looking for someplace where you could hang out, bring your friends, enjoy looking at something meaningful," Pastukhova says.

They came up with the Art Soiree, a D.C. re-imagining of an edgy Brooklyn studio party, but less bearded and hip and more flatironed and clubby.

For those who aren't into art f'real, f'real but love the idea of bonding creatively over drinks, it's the exhibit and the after-party - BAM! - all in one.

Drawn to the soiree

Just after 8 p.m. the crowd for the second annual "Single Valentine" Art Soiree is growing thick with red velvet wraps, black suede over-the-knee boots, sports coats and short skirts. Patrons, ranging in age from 20s to 50s, pause in front of the nearly two-dozen digital works. Dark figures are set against a cacophony of colors - beguiling women and captivated men, all lines and angles, looking vaguely animated, like the opening montage to the film "The Incredibles," sketched by hand, then digitally rendered.

Picture No. 7, "The White Russian," highlights a woman, hands on hips, towering above a man. Put on the 3-D glasses and the image becomes textured and powerful. "You actually see the stick figures come out," says Trupti Mehta, a physical therapy director from Arlington. "It feels like you're in a room full of people."

"I love abstract art, and I think this work is so beautiful, with all the colors," says her friend, Sheena Effendi, an Alexandria research analyst.

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