Arts impresario Annie Adjchavanich is directing traffic at Antennae, her new Dupont Circle gallery. Four artists are busy hanging works for "Escalate," a month-long show that is the gallery's second exhibit.
Jose Ruiz asks for a hammer while Richard Chartier rummages for a tape measure in Adjchavanich's supply box. Calvin Edward Ramsburg wants her to approve the layout of his abstract works. And Tim Tate waits patiently for some light tables where he will display his colorful glass objects.
The five have been here most of the day and now into the night, but Adjchavanich's high energy level has not waned as she finds tools, answers questions and takes calls on her forever-beeping cell phone.
A 1990 graduate of the Corcoran School of Art, Adjchavanich, 32, briefly worked as an artist, showing her works locally at the Hemphill Gallery before turning to commercial photography. But her rent-paying job is just one tiny fraction of her life.
She teaches an art and business class at the Corcoran twice a week, sits on the board of several local arts organizations, curates shows for the new Georgetown coffee shop Twist and regularly assembles $100 art shows--every work on display costs $100 or less--at bars, art centers and anywhere else that will have her.
"I really like this kind of frenetic pace," Adjchavanich says. "I think I'm good at organizing events."
Antennae is "a natural progression" from the popular $100 art sales (there have been 17 since spring 1998) to her own gallery. Although Antennae's prices are significantly higher (up to $3,000 in this show), the idea is still to showcase underrepresented local artists. And Adjchavanich says there's a logical reason for the hefty price increase: the high cost of renting gallery space in Dupont Circle.
At first, the financial risk jarred Adjchavanich's nerves. But the opportunity to start curating was too tempting. "I don't know a whole lot about painting," she says. "I just feel lucky that other people seem to like what I like."
The inaugural October show featured eight artists and generated enough cash for Adjchavanich to pay the rent and host a catered opening for "Escalate" (with "real silverware!," she gloats). The gallery's moniker comes from the idea to "always have your feelers out there," she says. Antennae trades off the space monthly with the L.I.P.A. Gallery.
Adjchavanich soon will turn her attention to organizing a different event: her wedding. She's engaged to Keith Palen, chef at the soon-to-open Ningallo, a restaurant-bar in the old Bardo space in Arlington. Her fiance has set aside room for a gallery that Adjchavanich will curate.
Adjchavanich says she doesn't miss creating her own art. "My talents lie in trying to help other people sell their work," she says. "Promoting other artists really satisfies me."
Escalate, at Antennae Gallery, 1635 Connecticut Ave. NW., 3rd Floor, through Dec. 22. 202-321-9353.