"Dyer Brothers Artists: A Current View" will be on exhibit through Sept. 1 at the Arlington Arts Center, 3550 Wilson Blvd. The center is open 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, and noon to 5 p.m. Saturday.
Gary Goldberg is angry. He's your typical struggling artist trying to make ends meet by teaching a course here and there. Now he's mad because he's being deprived of one thing that's central to his livelihood -- his studio.
Goldberg is one of 18 artists being evicted from the Arlington work space they have occupied above Dyer Brothers Paint Store for about five years. The building, near the Courthouse Square Metro station, has been sold, and plans are to develop it into an office building.
The artists' loft was not your ordinary studio. Aside from the benefits of working together, the artists had a lot of fun. The studio was nicknamed "Ten-Pin Studios" since it housed an old bowling alley -- and the artists kept one lane open for recreation. In the best tradition of making-do, the artists also built a basketball court and installed a wading pool on the roof.
As a grand finale to their five years together, they have put together a commemorative show called, "Dyer Brothers Artists: A Current View."
The show at the Arlington Art Center includes representative works from all 18 artists, with a variety of styles and mediums. For instance, several oil paintings in the show range from Barbara Martin Johnson's traditional portrait of a woman in soft colors to Judith Pratt's abstract renditions of Washington street intersections.
The artists, mainly graduates of American University and George Washington University, would like to stay together after they leave their present quarters.But they admit they probably will be going their separate ways in search of a rare commodity, cheap studio space.
The area they are in now has become too expensive with the Metro close by. The junk furniture store that used to be next door has been replaced by a large Xerox Corporation installation.
The artists and their landlord, the Dyer Brothers Paint Store, enjoyed a mutually beneficial relationship. The studios were rented out at a cost which just barley covered expenses, and the store got a lot of business from the artists.
Manning Dyer Jr. of Dyer Brothers laughingly recalls that he advertised the studios as "a good place for artists to learn how to suffer" because of the poor heating system.
But the artists don't seem to have suffered too much and applaud the studio as an unusually good place for artistic exchange, citing their dislike of "planned artist communities."
Says artist Johnson, "It's difficult when somebody is judging people to get into a place, you inevitably run into somebody's taste. We prefer the variety of styles. We like a casual, loose working arrangement.
Most of the artists say they are having a hard time finding any studio space. Some even worry that they will be forced to leave the Washington area.
Linda K. Paffel has looked at some studios but says they are in "dangerous" areas.
Goldberg says all he can find is "a junky warehouse on New York Avenue filled with rats."
"People in Washington like to wear tuxedos. They like to put on the dog and go out and enjoy the arts and the culture and yet they're not going to subsidize it," Goldberg said. "No one's going to come up with studio space." s
Dyer Brothers also will be moving, after 20 years, to Seven Corners in the Zayre Shopping Center, but they hope to keep in touch with the artists. Both the artists and Dyer Brothers regret the move. They call it "the end of an era."