"Art is anything you can get away with."
So reads the flippant quotation painted on a wall near the corner of Ninth and F streets NW. Anyone standing at that intersection yesterday, with the Add Arts festival exploding all around him, would have found Warhol's words particularly apt. Now in its second year, this great amalgam of performances, art exhibits, outdoor workshops, craft displays and ethnic food vendors -- all of it sponsored by a host of District organizations and businesses, and coordinated by District Curators -- was part urban street fair and part sprawling talent show. Wandering was a must for the spectator; only by meandering the length and breadth of the Gallery Place area could one experience a full dose of artistry, access and eats.
Scene 1: Garth Tate, a performance poet, has taken the literary arts stage in front of the Martin Luther King Memorial Library. Backed up by Starving Artists Still Alive -- a sax and flute player, drummer and vocalist -- Tate begins his dramatic poem "The Shaman."
Wrapping himself in an orange poncho and intensely scanning his surroundings, he picks up a gourd, rattles it rhythmically, lights a stick of incense and jumps around it. Raising his arms, he speaks: "In whispers and moans, and screams and song, their tones echoed in the frosty minds of man."
The poncho has come off. Tate is dancing as if possessed. Words pour from his lips. He laughs a maniacal laugh. And then he blows the incense out.
Scene 2: The Artists' Invitational Graffiti Wall stretches about 200 feet. Washington artist Ken McDonald is putting the finishing touches on a stark landscape: a low beige building, cypress trees, a curving slate-blue road. Another painter labors over his pointillist portrait of George Washington. The father of our country sports a blue-green mohawk haircut and a Redskins T-shirt.
Amid a dozen or so adult artists, 9-year-old Desmond Hines creates one of the wall's most arresting canvases, a phantasmagoric scene of creatures doing battle against a royal-blue sky.
"Do you need some gray?" asks Hines' little sister, eager to get in on the act. "He had an accident," explains Hines' equally attentive grandmother, pointing to the cast on Hines' right arm.
Hines appears to be managing quite well -- until he decides to inscribe a title on his masterpiece. He needs his right hand for that.
Scene 3: The Davis Center Dancers, four adolescent girls in long skirts and shiny leotards, are performing "Jubilee," a rousing Alvin Ailey-style dance set to the ear-shattering music of a gospel choir.
The quartet moves in unison, but one girl definitely stands out. She is rounder than the others, and she's smiling like a pro. Her face is painted with eye shadow, rouge and lip gloss. Her kick is ultrahigh and her back arches snakily. When her associates shake their fans you see props. But when she shakes her fan, you feel the heat.
"Do they have stage presence and can they dance? Right on," screams the emcee at the close of "Jubilee." "Let's have another round of applause for the Davis Dancers: Wanda May, Angelette Green, Earleen Cooper and Anita Moore."
Each girl bows. When Cooper -- the standout -- steps forward, the crowd shrieks.
A star is born.