"It's a great wall," says Tim Davis of D.C. Art/Works. "We looked around the city and were really impressed with this one."
The compliment seems generous, because the wall in question is a dull slab of concrete with some even duller graffiti. But D.C. Art/Works is hoping to transform it with a $10,500 grant from the D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities to a District artist who can come up with a way to make it memorable. Sunday is the deadline for proposals for this wall, part of a six-year-old program, the Mural Project, which has turned walls all over the city into more than concrete.
The current project is the above-ground tunnel air shaft at the intersection of Second and H streets NW, near Massachusetts Avenue. Artists will have to think big: It is 60 feet wide and 90 feet high. D.C. Art/Works wants the mural to cover the whole area, which now has an unfinished black-and-white portrait of Duke Ellington that was abandoned by a previous artist, perhaps daunted by the huge prospect of filling the void.
Those who think they're up to the challenge should send a re'sume', a one-page written proposal for the project, five slides of current works and five slides of models and sketches of the new work for the site to the arts organization.
Those who did not get to see the immense quilt bearing the names of AIDS victims that was displayed on the Mall during the National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights last October have a second chance with the release of a half-hour video of the event. "Part of the USA!," the official documentary of the march, is available from Washington-based Girard Video for $24.95. Besides depicting the other events of the weekend -- services at Arlington Cemetery, the march, speeches and civil disobedience demonstrations at the Supreme Court -- it captures the solemn proceedings surrounding the quilt, including people reading the names of the dead and mourning over the colorful, artistic monument to lost lives.
"I think we captured a point in time," says producer Dan Lieberman about the quilt. "It was a powerful event that galvanized the day."
The quilt, now on a 36-city tour, is scheduled to be returned to the Mall in October in commemoration of the march.
Moscow on the Potomac
The summit excitement still lingers on an international scale, and locals are in the act. The Walker, Ursitti & McGinniss Gallery is organizing an American-Soviet photography exchange, scheduled for the fall. Part of the Washington, D.C.-Moscow Capitals Citizens' Exchange, the work of Washington's Peter Costas will travel to Moscow, crossing paths with works by the late Alexander Rodchenko that will be on display here.
Costas, who is 80, has been shooting this city and its architecture for decades, pioneering the use of the fish-eye lens. Rodchenko, a "multidimensional constructivist, avant-garde" artist (whew!), worked in the early part of this century, photographing architecture later in his career.
The Last Picture Show
And here's yet another too-typical story of arts institutions having to move on to new spaces as commercial concerns prevail. At least these artists have a sense of humor. On Jan. 31, the Greater Reston Arts Center is losing its home in Lake Anne Plaza, where it has been for a dozen years, because a business is moving in. In honor of the boot, it is putting on an exhibit featuring the work of Angeline Culfogienis (watercolors and drawings) and David Carlson (mixed-media painting). Its wry name: "The Last Picture Show."
(All is not lost, though -- the group is trying to raise money to renovate an old warehouse that has been donated to it. Estimated time of arrival for "The First Picture Show" is 1989.)
On Tuesday at 8 p.m., the Library of Congress' Coolidge Auditorium will host British actor Ian Frost, who will perform "Byron in Hell," a one-man drama, in celebration of the bicentennial of Lord Byron's birth. Tickets can be reserved through the library's poetry office at 287-5394 ... The Washington Conservatory of Music will hold auditions Wednesday from 4 to 6 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. to noon for the Conservatory Children's Chorus. Call 320-2770 ... And for those drawn to the saxophone, the United States Navy Band will host the 11th annual Saxophone Symposium this weekend at the Washington Navy Yard's Sail Loft. The free event opens Friday night with a concert at 8, and continues on Saturday with clinics, recitals and displays of instruments and literature. No tickets or reservations are required, but get there early, as more than 1,000 people are expected. Call 433-2394 for information.