New mural at 16th & W Streets SE
Titled “Spread Southside Love,” the new mural at the corner of 16th & W Streets SE in historic Anacostia draws from the past while celebrating the present. Initiated by journalist and historian John Muller, the project commemorates Frederick Douglas’ 200th birthday while responding to the community’s request for a beautification project on a once-neglected corner. Muller worked with corner store owner Ephrame Kassaye. Kassaye not only owns the market at 16th and W Streets where “Spread Southside Love” was painted but he also owns the corner store at Mellon Street and MLK Ave SE in Congress Heights where Muller worked with a local group to produce the highly visible “March on Washington Mural” commemorating Martin Luther King’s famous 1964 “I have a Dream” speech.
To find the right artist for the project, Muller contacted the Anacostia Watershed Society who in turn put out a call to artists to its member list. Within minutes of receiving the call in her inbox, Rebecca Ryvola responded. Says the artist, “I must have emailed him [Muller] back within 5 minutes. Frederick Douglass is one of the most important historical figures in leading us towards freedom for all, for the oppressed and for the oppressors. He continues to inspire so many, irrespective of race, age, or background, to this day. And the location of the mural, Anacostia in DC’s southeast, grapples more visibly than most places with the challenges Douglass worked so hard to address.”
Rebecca elicited the help of the community to help her paint the mural. Germany Ray, a senior at Richard Wright Public Charter School played a prominent role in helping Ryvola complete the project. Muller funded “Spread Southside Love” privately through a crowd-sourcing campaign.
The mural itself weaves the past and the present together in a visual narrative that incorporates elements from the neighborhood found in Frederick Douglas’ time as well as in contemporary Anacostia. Douglass takes center stage in “Spread Southside Love” as he sits on a lawn chair reading at his beloved home, Cedar Hill. Douglas is surrounded by both friends and contemporaries like abolitionist John Brown, the first Black graduate of Harvard Richard Greener, Civil Rights leader Ida Wells, the first Black Senator Blanch Bruce, abolitionist Wendell Phillips and Poet Grace Greenwood. Muller likens this setting to “reading salons” held by Douglas at his home where he and his peers discussed women’s suffrage, civil rights and other contemporary social issues. In the background, Douglas’ grandson plays the violin as children from present-day Anacostia run across the lawn amid the backdrop of DC’s iconic monuments.
Honfleur Gallery will exhibit the paintings of Regina Miele in an exhibition titled “Through the Looking Glass, Urban Perspectives.” Miele has used the city’s rapidly changing landscape as inspiration for her work. A graduate of Catholic University, Miele’s decade-long study of DC’s cityscapes has created a body of work the speaks to the radical changes DC has experienced during this time. Like many artists, Miele has lived in transitional areas of the city in search of inexpensive studio space to perfect her craft. As a result of her own experiences, “Through the Looking Glass” is more than a series of studies on DC’s changing landscapes but rather a body of work that bears profound witness to the city’s rapid development, a commentary on displacement and who will have access to the city in the future.
The exhibition opens on Friday March 16 from 6-9 p.m. and runs through April 21. Honfleur Gallery is located at 1241 Good Hope Rd SE, DC; www.honfleurgallery.com. Gallery hours are Wednesday-Saturday, 12-7 p.m. and by appointment.
Originally from Mexico, Villalobos works both as a fine artist and as an interior designer in New York City where is he based. He is also an accomplished violinist and composer. For Washington audiences, the artist will present his latest iteration of “Hombres de Arcilla” (Clay Men). The concept dates back to 2008 when the artist originally exhibited a series of ceramic works titled “Masks & Mural of Mexico” curated by Veronica Abraham at Grady Alexis Gallery in New York City. Since its inception, the artist has made a series out of his original concept resulting in exhibitions at Bath House Cultural Center in Dallas and in Portland, Oregon as part of the 2017 National Council on the Education of Ceramic Arts (NCECA) Conference. His latest exhibition of Clay Men opening this spring at Vivid Solutions Gallery will pay tribute to the students from Ayotzinapa Rural Teacher’s College in Iguala, Guerrero in Southern Mexico. The story made international headlines in 2014 when a group of 43 students, all of whom were men, were arrested in route to Mexico City by local police. The account of what happens next remains disputed. What is known is that the local police handed over the students to a local crime syndicate called Guerreros Unidos. The students were then summarily executed, their bodies burned and their ashes scattered by a river. While many theories exist, some implicating the Mayor of Iguala and his wife, what remains unclear is the motive for kidnapping and the murdering these young men. To honor the memory of these men, Villalobos has fashioned a series of clay masks to represent the 43 victims of this senseless tragedy. Villalobos explains that “Clay represents the fragility of life, yet the resilience of the human spirit.”
The exhibition opens on Friday March 16 from 6-9 p.m. and runs through April 21. Vivid Solutions has relocated to 2208 Martin Luther King, Jr. Ave. SE. The gallery can be visited online at vivigallerydc.com respectively. Gallery hours are Wednesday-Saturday, 12-7 p.m. and by appointment. 202.631.6291
Anacostia Playhouse Presents Clayton LeBouef’s RS24
Anacostia Playhouse celebrates the return of vinyl this spring with eight performances of “Record Store 24: RS24”. Presented in partnership with All About the Drama Theatre Group, Prosperity and the Zhanra Groups, the one-act play is written and directed by Clayton LeBouef with co-direction by Cheryl L. Hawkins and Ella Davis. The play “celebrates ancestral wisdom, vintage music and the return of vinyl” according the Anacostia Playhouse’s press release. A native of Yonkers, NY, LeBouef, is no stranger to DC where he lived for many years after college. Known for his roles as Colonel George Barnfather in “Homicide: Life on the Street” and Wendell “Orlando” Blocker on HBO’s “The Wire”, LeBouef has recently focused on writing and directing a series of plays including RS24. In RS24, LeBouef plays the role of a man who apprehensively realizes his dream of owning a record store. His apprehension lies in the possibility that such an undertaking may in fact turn into a nightmare.
RS24 will run at the Anacostia Playhouse, 2020 Shannon Place SE, for 8 performances from March 23, 2018 to March 31, 2018. Thursdays, Fridays at 8:00pm, Saturdays at 2:30pm and 8:00pm and Sundays at 2:30pm. There will be two talkbacks Saturday, March 24 following matinee performance and Friday, March 30 following 8:00pm performance.
Tickets can be purchased at www.anacostiaplayhouse.org. Group of 10 or more discounts available.by calling 202-290-2328 Find out more about tickets and special perks at https://anacostiaplayhouse.secure.force.com/ticket/#details_a0Si0000004PJ8iEAG
Phil Hutinet is the publisher of East City Art, a publication dedicated to DC’s visual arts. For more information visit www.eastcityart.com