Eastside Arts

Mural: One Hundred Years of African American History. Photo courtesy James Gregg, Sign of the Times
Scene from Word Becomes Flesh. Image credit: C. Stanley Photography.

Performing Art

Word Becomes Flesh
By Marc Bamuthi Joseph featuring additional dramaturgical compositions by Khalil Anthony and Dahlak Brathwaite. Directed by Psalmayene 24
Theater Company: Theater Alliance | Performed at the Anacostia Playhouse

Word Becomes Flesh, winner of five Helen Hayes Awards, returns for an encore production at the Anacostia Playhouse Sept. 6 through Oct. 8. This multi-faced performance combines hip-hop, dance and music to inform audiences on what it means to be a black man in contemporary American society. The main character of the performance writes a series of letters to his unborn son in what critics have called “brutally honesty.” While Word voices the concerns and frustrations of young men who live in African-American communities, ultimately, it imparts a sense of hope for a brighter future. For this production of Word, the Theater Alliance partners with other nonprofits to “provide resources to transform words into tangible actions that make real change.”

Word Becomes Flesh previews Sept. 6,7 & 8, opens Sept. 8 & 10 with encores Sept. 14 to Oct. 8
For more information and to purchase tickets go to https://theateralliance.com/portfolio/word-becomes-flesh/ or call 202.241.2539
The Anacostia Playhouse is located at 2020 Shannon Place SE.


Adama Delphine Fawundu In the Face of History. Image Courtesy Honfleur Gallery

In the Galleries

Honfleur Gallery
AfroPasts/AfroFutures will be shown for the first time in DC. Curated by Niama Safia Sandy, this multi-media and interdisciplinary group exhibition includes the work of Chloë Bass, Pierre Bennu, Jamea Richmond-Edwards , Adama Delphine Fawundu, Ivan Forde, Adrienne Gaither, Charles Jean-Pierre, Tariku Shiferaw and Danny Simmons, Jr. Says the curator, “Magical realism and Afrofuturism are, in fact, two nodes on a continuum of black creative output. They act as an epi-genetic phenomenon cum worldview, celebration and a creative response of and to Black life ─ this is the guiding principle of the Black Magic: AfroPasts/AfroFutures exhibition. To further contextualize, I do not invoke magical realism as merely a literary genre, but instead a very active actuality for we–the black and brown people of this earth.”

Mirtho Linguet Doll no. III, Photograph. Image courtesy Vivid Solutions Gallery

Vivid Solutions
The poem Limbé by Léon-Gontran Damas, one of the founders of the francophone négritude movement, inspired French-Guyanese photographer Mirtho Linguet to create a series of provocative images titled Black Dolls. In Orphée Noir (Black Orpheus), published in 1948, Jean-Paul Sartre analyzed through Hegelian dialectic La Négritude concluding that, at its core, the intellectual movement employed a strategy of “anti-racist racism” with the ultimate goal of “unifying Black identity.” However, Damas’ poem Limbé, written 25 years later in 1973, goes a step further by countering western narratives of black identity and by encouraging people of African descent to define their own cultural standards and norms. Linguet, who began his career as a highly sought-after award-winning fashion photographer, poses his “black dolls” in lingerie with backdrops which sometimes appear manmade but at other times natural. Like the environments in which they pose, Linguet’s Black Dolls appear eerily listless, almost unnatural and seemingly angered by their predicament as if to say, “Is this how you see me?”

Both exhibitions run through Oct. 8.
Honfleur Gallery is located at 1241 Good Hope Road SE
Vivid Solutions Gallery is located within the Anacostia Arts Center, 1231 Good Hope Road SE Washington, DC 20020.
Gallery hours are Tuesdays to Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Sundays 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.


Public Art

DC!. Image courtesy: Craig Kraft

Craig Kraft’s DC!
The DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities has commissioned Anacostia-based light artist Craig Kraft to create a body of work to unveiled at the 202 Art & Music Festival. The festival will take place Sept. 9 from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. at the Southwest’s Waterfront Station and Randall Field. Titled “DC!,” the neon sculpture measures 11 feet tall by 23 feet wide. According to the artist, “The 202 Art & Music Festival will be the first of many stops. The sculpture will be used to draw attention to various art events around the city.” Part of the artist’s Random Neon series, Kraft has repurposed a collection of neon tubes to fashion DC! The resulting visual effect is what he calls, “A jewel box, creating a sense of wonder for viewers.” To finish the sculpture in time for the festival, the project required employing two additional full-time and three additional part-time employees at Craft’s live-work studio space on Good Hope Road Se in Historic Anacostia. However, this is not the artist’s first major public art piece, Kraft is best known for his massive neon-light installation outside the Shaw library.

One Hundred Years of African American History
Colloquially called “The Deanwood Mural” by many, One Hundred Years of African American History has a commanding presence on the outer wall of the Republic National Distributing Company’s property. The mural measures 12 feet in height and a whopping 120 feet in length. Located near the intersection of Minnesota and Nannie Helen Burroughs Avenues NE, community-based nonprofit Sign of the Times Cultural Workshop and Gallery commissioned Deanwood-based artist Rik Freeman to paint the mural, completed 27 years ago. The public art piece has remains a prominent neighborhood landmark. James Greggs, founder of the Sign of the Times explains the significance of the mural as follows, “The community of Deanwood is now one of the top neighborhoods to transition from its original roots dating back to April 1862 when there were freed and newly freed enslaved people of the Deane family who received land with their freedom. Over the following century and a half, the community has been home to black laborers, craftsmen, working class and veterans.”

Mini-golf course at Penn Branch designed by local artists. Image courtesy Tom Kochel.

Pennbranch Mini-Golf Designed by Local Artists
So perhaps the new mini-golf course at The Shops at Penn Hill is not public art per se, however, each course was designed by local artists and the results are quite stunning. This new installation produced by Building Creative, a co-curatorial team made up of Karyn Miller and Patrick McDonough, bills the final project as “part art exhibit, part interactive entertainment.” The tarmac of the parking lot at the corner of Branch and Pennsylvania avenues SE now boasts nine holes in addition to a series lawn games such as corn-hole. Each individual hole was designed by a local artist including Andrew Wodzianski, Jared Davis, Nehemiah Dixon III, Lyric Prince, Katelyn Wood, Terence Nicholson, Braxton Congrove, Calder Brannock, Rachel Schmidt and Beth Ferraro. The lawn games were designed by Cory Oberndorfer. However, this course is only open to the public through Sunday, October 8, 2017. After you’ve finished playing, the interactivity with the artwork continues as you have the option of voting for your favorite artist!

Penn Hill Mini Golf Pop-Up is $3 per person or $10 for a group of 4. Open weekends through Oct. 8. Saturdays from noon to 8pm and Sundays from noon to 6pm. The Shops at Penn Hill are located at 3200 Pennsylvania Ave. SE.