Mynd Up features BK Adams’ latest work

BK Adams at the opening of Mynd Up. Courtesy Photo

“You’re it!” a young girl shrieked, tagging her friend and darting in the opposite direction as the recorded sounds of birds chirping set the mood. After five minutes of giggling and chasing each other around inside ARCH Development’s Honfleur Gallery, the two little girls sat down in the temporary grass and admired a collection of new work by art iconoclast BK Adams.

Mynd Up, described as recreatingthe “playfulness and energy of being free” is Adams’ first solo exhibition at the Honfleur Gallery..

On opening night last month the youngest attendees seemed to enjoy thoroughly themselves, unmindful of the adults taking in the canvasses, sculptures, and three dimensional pieces that typify the range of Adams’ work. A swing, entitled “Forever Young,” hung from the ceiling, inviting anyone playful enough to take a ride.

“I work in all kinds of mediums,” Adams says. “They help me to tell my story which is a collection of the experiences we all have every day.”

When asked about the installation of the sod, which covered more than half of the floor, Adams says, “I grew up in DC when it was normal to walk in the grass. Now the grass is slowly disappearing.”

Known by his ambiguous trademark, “I AM ART,” Adams, a third generation painter, says, “I don’t know if that word supports my ideas. I am a horticulturist, an architect, a writer, a father, a husband, a brother, and a friend.”

In 2006 Adams was invited to teach at Elsie Whitlow Stokes Community Freedom Public Charter School in northeast DC. “I titled the class, ‘WE ARE ART’ and it helped to get the kids ready to create art from the first day. It removed any fears they may have had. Back in 2008, when I decided to dedicate myself 100% to creating art I decided that, ‘I AM ART’ was the best way to describe how I live.”

Although Adams has reservations about being called an “artist” he says the meaning of “I AM ART” is the blueprint to his life. “I come with no light switch that goes on and off.”

Formerly the owner of The Eye Opener coffee shop in Mt. Rainer, Maryland for a decade, Adams says he was introduced to a property on Maple View Place SE in Historic Anacostia in the last month of 2008.

Growing up near 11th and Harvard Streets NW in the 1970s and 1980s Adams says he was unsure of what to expect upon relocating to the historic neighborhood.

“When I got here it was great,” Adams remembers. “It was wide open. There was a very small art presence here and instead of using the property for a home I started using it as a studio space.”

Since then Adams’ image and trademark has been seen stickered throughout the city; his work has been featured at the Kreeger Museum off Foxhall Road, NW and the Smithsonian’s Anacostia Community Museum.

Last year, Adams was the first recipient of the East of the River Distinguished Artist Award presented by the Honfleur Gallery. “Adams was selected for the award based on his artistic excellence as well as for the significant impact he has made on the cultural landscape of Washington, D.C.,” says Duane Guatier, ARCH’s CEO. Adams donated the entire award’s prize of $5,000 towards the construction of a medical facility for women in Nairobi, Kenya.

Next spring Adams will have a new exhibition at American University’s Katzen Arts Center.