5x5 is the city’s largest temporary art project, featuring work in every ward. This weekend, we created a group ride led by local artists to explore the various installations across the city.
While our city is known for many traditional art institutions, such as the NGA pictured here on 4th street, it’s the growth of public art that is producing some of the most interesting and accessible works.
Director of Hamiltonian Gallery, Amanda Jirón-Murphy, on the right, approaches the “Nonuments” site in SW. Hamiltonian Gallery is a U-street gallery focusing on contemporary emerging artists and hosted our post-ride reception. Rides like this one allow DC’s art community to connect and see new work being produced.
Riders peer into Peep by Jonathan Fung. This shipping container contains thought provoking imagery that speaks to the plight of human trafficking.
In Jennifer Wen Ma’s Portrait Garden, blackened flowers are part of an inked garden. When viewed from above, the flowers create a portrait of a SW community member.
Modeled after wren nests, Cameron Hockenson’s Migration, addresses themes of gentrification and marginalized communities.
From the artist: "Migration was constructed using pvc pipe, chicken wire, burlap, twine, manilla rope, wooden polls, wire, spray foam, house paint, zip ties, steel brackets, nuts, bolts, washers and bird seed."
Public art is perceived in many different ways. Unlike galleries, many people encounter public art by chance, rather than seek it out. This public setting affects the context in which the art is observed and considered. SW Civic Association President, Kael Anderson, above, speaks to the varying responses he gets from community members regarding the work. Fundamental questions like "what is art?", "is this trash... a nuisance?" are all raised.
All of the works in this patch of SW were curated by Lance Fung. From here, we headed east to the Navy Yard.
This historic Naval building contained one of the grander installations.
Riders strolled into one of the few original buildings left in the Navy Yard.
Glenn Kaino’s Bridge was modeled after the raised fist of Tommie Smith, the iconic athlete of the Mexico City Olympic games.
From the artist’s representative: "[Bridge] speaks of the power of collective action, the responsibilities we have to others, and the idea that the rights we enjoy today were reached because of the path laid for us by those who came before”
A vote for public art! Our group poses in front of Kota Ezawa’s Hand Vote, a testament to the ideal of democracy. The issue of DC statehood immediately became a topic of conversation.
From the Navy Yard, we headed back towards Shaw, by way of NOMA.
Marley Dawson’s Construction (T Street NW) was inspired by his childhood home in Australia. Marley’s father built their family homes from the ground up. “As soon as he finished building the house he was ready to move and build a new one” recalls Marley.
Marley chose green to mimic chroma-key, the green screen effect in film and video. His construction was created as “a temporary structure built with a language of permanence on a city-owned block whose vacancy is regularly contested.”
Our two awesome tour guides, Marley Dawson (left) with his work, and Calder Brannock (right), creator of the Adventure Residency Program.
Calder's program finds new ways to bring artists and collectors together, such as road trips in a restored camper, where they plan, produce, and disseminate new work on site in response to the communities they visit. Brannock is particularly interested in the role of the curators in projects like 5x5. For him, the ability to curate a space and communicate a message is often more powerful than any one installation on it's own.
Post ride reception: we check out the latest group show at Hamiltonian Gallery.
Thanks to Calder, Marley, Amanda, Angie, and our ride marshals for putting together such a great ride. Bikes are the perfect vehicle to connect to your city and those around you. We hope you enjoyed getting a glimpse into the world of our city’s art scene.
The 5x5 installations will be up through December.