Just the usual unusual mob scene last night for the Washington Project for the Arts' swan-song opening in its G Street space:
Just the bunny rabbit with red beard walking in.("Rabbits with beards are a rarity," he did concede.)
Just a man sitting in a bathtub on four-foot-high bird legs in a back corner of the gallery second floor. ("Hernando," in laminated wood and cast Fiberglas, by Paul Albert.)
Just a woman outside in front flashing open her wool coat to reveal framed pictures pinned outside and a tooth fairy's tooth in a plastic case. "Listen, you want some original oil paintings?" she asked. "Want something a little weirder?"
Just a smooth black bronze lump sitting right on the second floor, causing passerby to halt abruptly and look down before they stumbled over it. (Was that a piece of art?)
"You mean that loaf of bread with the ramp in it?" replied Washington's own Gene Davis, nationally recognized for his painting, who curated the show with Mary Swift. "Oh, sure. It's floor-oriented. It would destroy the integrity of it to put it on a pedestal."
And it would destroy the integrity of the WPA if anything less than such an eclectic crowd (a couple hundred or so) had graced its lofty, two-storied gallery interiors the opening night of "Options: Washington, 1981."
As of July 1, the WPA must vacate its present quarters. Who will forget those giant cowboy boots in the lot on the corner of 12th and G?
But there were few tears last night as they went out with a show of 22 Washington artists. "We're just on to another era," said director Al Nodal wearing his own cowboy boots with camouflage fatigue pants. "Really, I don't feel bad about it. It's amazing. I guess psychologically, we've been prepard for so long."
And if all goes well, they will move to 400 Seventh St., NW. "There's a bit of a problem," said Nodal. "Hopefully, we'll have it negotiated. It's either there or out on the street."
Suprisingly, few were dwelling on warm memories of WPA, which has been the major outpost for contemporary art in Washington during the past six years.
Well, gallery owner Chris Middendorf had one. "The heat," he said, winding his way through the crush that had turned the room humid. "I'll always remember the heat."
"What kind of memories do you have as WPA moves?" artist Judy Miller, whose work is in the show, asked her physicist husband, Louis Pecora.
"Are they moving?" Pecora asked.
Artists Suzanne Codi and Charlie Sliechter, who both have work in the show, kibbitzed with friends. "Charlie's my fiance," said Codi. We're getting married in May. I'm much more excited about that than the show."
On one wall three painted faces of John Ehrlichman stared out at the gallery-goers. "I happened to bump into him when I was working at a restaurant here -- Nora's," said the artist Francisco Alvarado-Juarez. "I was a waiter then. That was in '79. He looked very impressive to me. I did the painting in the next few days."
Mostly, people drank wine, talked to their friends, and commented upon the bronze bread loaf in the middle of the floor.
"That's because people are tripping over it," said the artist, Alan Stone, in a straw hat and red rose pinned to his T-shirt. "When you put it there, you don't realize people are going to stumble." He smiled ruefully. "Sort of like a doorstep."