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ArTecHouse, a space for high-tech art, to open in early 2017

A rendering of ArTecHouse. (Courtesy of ArTecHouse)

The popularity of exhibitions like the National Building Museum's "The Beach," and the Renwick Gallery's "Wonder" are proof that Washingtonians are eager to visit (and Instagram) immersive art experiences. So this winter, two local arts programmers are opening a space devoted entirely to that -- with a high-tech twist. Art Soiree founders Sandro Kereselidze and Tatiana Pastukhova announced Thursday they will open ArTecHouse, a space for experiential art that focuses on technology, in early 2017.

"It is for artists that are forerunners of the new renaissance in arts and technology," said Pastukhova. "Each exhibit will create an interactive and immersive experience … their relationship with art will take a different level."

If that sounds a little vague, it's because Kereselidze and Pastukhova don't want to reveal too many details about the exhibitions they're working on. But they point to such exhibitions as Van Gogh Alive and Yayoi Kusama's upcoming show at the Hirshhorn, "Infinity Mirrors" as examples of what they're trying to do. Combine that with some of the programming from their popular Art Soiree events over the years -- part art, part party -- and you get a good idea of what ArTecHouse will be like.

The cavernous, underground 15,000-square-foot space with high ceilings, at 1238 Maryland Ave. SW, will host visual art, theater, music and interdisciplinary exhibitions. The area is kind of a cultural dead zone now -- its neighbors include the Mandarin Oriental Hotel and a bunch of office buildings --  but it's positioned near the massive development at the Wharf, which will open in phases beginning in October 2017. They plan for ArTecHouse to be open from 10 a.m. to 1 a.m.

The space, which was intended to become a theater, has been vacant for decades. It has a large, high-ceilinged gallery space, as well as several smaller areas. The stairways will be used to display art, as well.

In previous, borrowed spaces, Art Soiree "always had a limit to what we can do," said Kereselidze. "Maybe a one, two-night, three-night show. Having our own space is like opening our wings to fly."

ArTecHouse will rely on sponsorships and rentals to support its operating costs, and the founders are courting technology companies. One initial donor is entertainment executive Chip Seelig, the chief executive of TSG, a company that invests in films, along with his wife, Lana. Some exhibitions will be ticketed, and some will be free. A small cafe will sell drinks and snacks. Kereselidze and Pastukhova plan to convert Art Soiree into a nonprofit entity next year.

Kereselidze and Pastukhova plan to curate some of the shows and work with guest curators for others. Eventually, they'll also have artists-in-residence. They will display the work of local artists, as well as artists from the country and globe, with the balance tipped toward the latter.

"The idea is to inspire local artists with international artists," Kereselidze said. "We want it to be a showcase; we want it to be a playground."