Alex Provenzano's path to the salon he owns in downtown Washington began in the subways of Paris, where, as a teenager, he got in trouble with the police for his street art. Worse, he got in trouble with his mother, a celebrated stylist who thought enrolling him in beauty school would keep him occupied and maybe keep his creativity alive. Provenzano, it turned out, loved it.

Now the owner of the salon space that had for a long time belonged to Patrick Segui (901 15th St. NW, No. 180), Provenzano, 44, has used that creativity to mash up a hair salon and art gallery: Customers can come for a cut and leave with one of his original paintings.

Provenzano took over the shop on Aug. 1, but he's been a stylist long enough to have customers who've followed him for 20 years in Washington. He's done plenty of work for inaugural balls and White House correspondents' dinners. "I just want [the salon] to be a comfortable and happy space for clients, for the hairstylists who work here, and for artists to come together," says Provenzano.

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When Segui, a former boss and mentor, decided he wanted to retire, he called Provenzano and offered to sell him the salon.

"I worked with Patrick when I first came to Washington from Paris, and coming back to his shop felt like home," Provenzano says.

But he also wanted to make the space his own, which meant livening up the neutral interior with splashes of color. He brought in some of his work to hang; eventually, clients began buying his large-canvas abstract paintings and triptychs. His work has sold for as much as $9,000. Going forward, Provenzano wants to share the wall space with other artists.

It's a different time from when he was being chased by Paris cops for his graffiti. "I woke up one day in my early 40s, and that little kid who was a rule breaker wanted to come out again," he says. "I used canvas, this time, instead of the subway."

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