Exhibition at Congressional Cemetery Examines Dogs as Gatekeepers
Renowned South African artist James Delaney created and donated a series of six lithographs, sold in editions of 20, for the historic Congressional Cemetery. Simply titled “Congressional Cemetery,” each of the six lithographs in the series juxtaposes a dog with cemetery elements such as gravestones.
Delaney’s first visit to Congressional Cemetery inspired him to create work that reflected what he saw – a bustling necropolis filled with life, canine life specifically, amid Victorian gravestones and tombs that resemble ancient Greek and Roman monuments and temples. The dogs in his series represent a more profound metaphor for loyalty, as humankind’s most trusted companion, as well as the loyalty families show to their departed loved ones by creating majestic markers to remember a life once lived.
Dogs also represent the guards of the underworld, the gatekeepers between this world and the next. In each of the lithographs, Delaney touches on this theme with subtle differences. “Grandness of Rome” depicts a puppy merrily strolling down a grassy patch, as large plinths emerge from gravestones which resemble grand monuments. In “Library of Alexandria,” the puppy has aged some and stands still, tail wagging. In the background, Delaney has collaged symbols taken from gravestones at the cemetery, each representing ideas, faiths and philosophies referencing the fabled library of Alexandria and the knowledge it stored.
The dog ages more in “Lines of Pedigree,” standing regally and proudly, like one of the cemetery’s many gilded gravestones. “Crossing the River Styx” departs from the other lithographs in featuring a map of the cemetery in the background rather than a gravestone or tomb. Here the dog stands guard with a friendly stance that seems to contradict the title of the work, which references the Styx, the fabled river separating the world of the living from that of the dead. The three-headed dog Cerberus kept the dead from crossing back into the world of the living.
Perhaps Delaney has a more modern interpretation of death and the underworld as reflected in the dog’s rather docile and amicable stance, as it sits between the cemetery and the Anacostia River. The tombs and gravestones fade into the background in “Opulence and Apocalypse,” as the canine subject has its back to the viewer, tail upright, watching for what is to come. Delaney writes that the dog sees the inevitable coming, death.
Last, in “Three Worlds,” Delaney quotes from the ancients, who believed in three worlds, one below, where the dead are buried, the world of the living and the spirit world where the dog seems to lie.
The lithographs are on view at the Congressional Cemetery through April. Proceeds from sales of the lithographs benefit the maintenance of the historic property. Historic Congressional Cemetery is at 1801 E St. SE, Washington, DC 20003. Visit the website at www.congressionalcemetery.org or call 202-543-0539
‘A Right to the City’
The conversation about Washington, DC, and its future has radically changed over the last decade. Like many US cities, Washington suffered from over a half-century of disinvestment and population decline after World War II, leading to “inner-city problems” such as blight and crime. However, Washington, like many of its urban counterparts, has experienced what sociologists call a “return to the city,” resulting in an increased population and massive real-estate investment, leading to skyrocketing real estate values due to property scarcity. Conversations now center less on topics such as crime and blight, although Washington certainly still has its share of violent crime. Instead, discussions center on combatting displacement and income inequality.
In this vein, the Anacostia Community Museum has produced an exhibition discussing this shift that asks, “Who has a right to the city?” The exhibition highlights Washington’s history of civic engagement and strong neighborhood identity. Examples of public action center on access to quality education, transit, equitable development and healthy communities. The curators have focused their extensive research on the following neighborhoods: Adams Morgan, Anacostia, Brookland, Chinatown, Shaw and Southwest.
Smithsonian’s Anacostia Community Museum is located at 1901 Fort Place SE, Washington, DC 20020. Visit the website at www.anacostia.si.edu or call 202-663-4820. Open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. except Christmas.
Anacostia River Festival Celebrates 100th Anniversary of Anacostia Park
Get ready to celebrate the “Year of the Anacostia!” as the fourth annual Anacostia River Festival takes place at the National Park Service’s Anacostia Park at the corner of Good Hope Road and Anacostia Drive SE, on Sunday, April 15, 1-5 p.m. The event is a premiere component of the National Cherry Blossom Festival and is produced in partnership with the 11th Street Bridge Park and the National Park Service.
While the core of the “outdoor” events takes place along the river adjacent to the 11th Street Bridge, and includes demonstrations ranging from fishing to bike safety, canoeing to hiking, this year’s event spills into neighboring Historic Anacostia. In Anacostia, along the 1200 block of Good Hope Road SE, Nubian Hueman will run an artist market as part of a series of arts programs including live music from Dior Ashley Brown and the dAb Band!, along with art exhibitions at Honfleur and Vivid Solutions, floral design classes at the Anacostia Arts Center and performances at We Act Radio, Turning Natural and Caribbean Citations. Local fashionistas will spotlight spring styles, vendors will sell fresh food and there will be hands-on art activities for people of all ages.
For more information about the festival visit www.bridgepark.org/anacostia-river-festival or call 202-889-5901. The festival will take place on Sunday, April 15, 1-5 p.m.
Congress Heights Arts & Culture Center Hosts Painta Day 2018
Congress Heights Arts & Culture Center will host a daylong mini-art festival named after artist Shawn Lindsay, who also goes by the alias of Painta. The event, which takes place on Saturday, April 14, at 2 p.m., will combine works by Lindsay, including several of his painted series, and interactive stations which will allow participants to view the exhibition while simultaneously engaging with it.
Painta, a Forestville, Md.-based artist and graduate of the Art Academy of Cincinnati, cites the portraiture of artists like John Singer Sargent, Henri Matisse, Alice Neil and Jean-Michel Basquiat as his primary influences. Painta focuses mainly on the human figure with particular attention to portraiture. In addition to works on canvas, Painta will exhibit apparel on which he paints his signature work.
Congress Heights Arts & Culture Center is located at 3200 Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue SE, Washington, DC 20032. Visit the website at www.chacc.org or call the center at 202-505-1938.
Phil Hutinet is the publisher of East City Art, dedicated to DC’s visual arts. For more information visit www.eastcityart.com.