Art All Night Comes to Shaw – Again!

Crowds waited up to an hour to enter the Wonder Bread Factory for Lionz of Zion breakdancing competition. Photo by Pleasant Mann

Shaw Main Streets held its signature free overnight festival, Art All Night, on Saturday night, September 26, drawing thousands of visitors from throughout the city and beyond. Art All Night debuted in 2011, becoming an annual event in Shaw in 2013. With the support of the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities and other District government agencies, Art All Night DC is now a city-wide festival, taking place in five Main Street areas. Not only has Art All Night DC helped provide exposure for local artists, the activity and foot traffic generated by the festival has helped increase local businesses’ revenues. Programming the event in Shaw has become more complicated now that the vacant buildings that once served as art venues, such as the 1000 block of Seventh Street and the Wonder Bread Factory, have begun or completed redevelopment.

The Watha T. Daniel/Shaw Library served as the base of operations and source of maps and materials for Art All Night DC in Shaw. In the library, large, multi-generational groups were occupied with crafts, coloring books and collaboratively completing puzzles. Jessica Yirenkyi painted live and showed her music and dance-themed artwork, while people danced to DJ Stylus’ beat downstairs. And all night, there was a long line of children and adults waiting to get their faces painted by the artisans of Peaky Paints.

The 1400 block of Eighth Street NW, running through City Market at O, was closed off to create a “Midway” for performers. As searchlights panned the sky, the CDH Brassworks band played and DJ Adrian Loving provided the background music. “Bubble Fairy” Marigold Bumbleroot blew giant soap bubbles, while belly dancers from Jordin’s Paradise gyrated. The DC Department of Health set up a photo booth and offered henna tattoos while promoting male and female condom use. Shanna Lim and her troupe Inner Soul Projex Productions presented an extended dance and musical performance that included interaction with the audience. The Midway was closed out with a ceremonial fire fan dance by Moksha.

Participants got to express their creativity at several venues. People crammed into Taylor and York Salon to paint their own acrylic and watercolor masterpieces. The People's Choir DC, a group that started in April 2014 as part of a national movement to revive the tradition of communal singing, held a sing-along at the Midway, followed by a midnight session of interactive singing at DC9 with 100 participants. The biggest DIY event was Jim Webb’s Shaw Shadows, held on the city-owned vacant lot on the northeast corner of Seventh and R Streets NW. At Shaw Shadows, computer-controlled colored lights were projected against a five-story wall, allowing crowds of participants to create giant shadow images using their bodies, costumes and props. People remained on the lot up until the 3:00 a.m. closing.

Art All Night DC in Shaw also hosted several major dance events. At IStrategyLabs in the Wonder Bread Factory, the Lionz of Zion, a 19-year-old DMV b-boy crew, hosted a pro breakdancing competition. A capacity crowd came to witness regional breakdancers battle one-on-one to win prizes at the Urban Dance and Educational Foundation-sanctioned event. Step Afrika!, DC’s internationally-renowned dance company, also came to Shaw, starting with performances at the Midway and Shaw Shadows sites. At midnight, the steppers moved to the Center City Public Charter School, Shaw Campus to perform their interactive step show experience “Step Afrika! After Dark” before a standing room-only crowd in the Mundell Auditorium.

A number of Shaw businesses served as performance venues. At Compass Coffee, Grammy Award winning jazz artists Peter and Will Anderson, followed by the Howard “Kingfish” Franklin Quartet, performed before a rapt audience. The White Room design studio hosted a music-driven multimedia experience curated by the Beyond Collective in their space. Shaw’s other design firm, Swatchroom, teamed up with Chaplin’s Restaurant and Bar to create the Shaw Salon, an interactive art presentation featuring live painting, live music and video installations.

Other Shaw businesses hosted art installations and music during Art All Night, including Bistro Bohem, Wanda’s on 7th Salon & Spa, Calabash Tea & Tonic and Tally restaurant. The Simon Vintage store had an exhibition of the clothing of famed drag performer Angillian Anne. Pekoe Acupuncture and Wellness had mixed media by Brian Mishoe and Sarah Britt upstairs, while DJs performed downstairs all night. The vacant storefronts along the Ninth Street side of the Washington Convention Center were used as an art gallery, displaying visual artwork by Nooni Reatig, Lina Alattar, Alexander M. Padro and Chris Kidboy, along with a large format photographic installation by Rosina Teri Memolo. Across the street, the windows of the upcoming restaurant Espita Mezcaleria were filled with the colorful backlit work of Sandy Phillips, inspired by Mayahuel, the Aztec goddess of agave and fertility, who gave birth to 400 rabbits. 

Bubble Fairy Marigold Bumbleroot dazzled the crowd at the Midway at City Market at O with her soapy magic. Photo by Pleasant Mann
Grammy Award winning Jazz musicians Peter and Will Anderson played at Compass Coffee during Art All Night in Shaw. Photo by Pleasant Mann
Moksha's fire fan dance stunned the audience at the City Market at O. Photo by Pleasant Mann
Nooni Reatig's Color Pleats glowed in windows at the Washington Convention Center. Photo by Pleasant Mann
Serious Coloring Book activity at the Watha T Daniel Library. Photo by Alexander Padro
Shanna Lim pulled the audience into her dance performance at the Midway at City Market at O. Photo by Pleasant Mann
Shaw Shadows was a highlight of Art All Night. Photo by Pleasant Mann
Step Afrika's performance got everyone on their feet. Photo by Pleasant Mann
The Lionz of Zion breakdancing competition drew a crowd during Art All Night DC in Shaw. Photo by Pleasant Mann
Young painter displaying her talents at Taylor and York Salon during Art All Night in Shaw. Photo by Pleasant Mann
Stepping at Art All Night in Shaw. Photo by Pleasant Mann