Shaw Art All Night 2014 Draws Crowds Again

The Watha T Daniel Shaw Library was the center of the action during Art All Night. Photo: Pleasant Mann

On September 27, Shaw Main Streets presented the Art All Night DC festival in the neighborhood for the third time. Art All Night, an overnight arts festival of visual art installations, music and performance art modeled on the Nuit Blanche celebrations held in Paris and other cities, first came to DC and Shaw in 2011. This year, the support of the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities and the District’s Department of Small and Local Business Development allowed Art All Night DC to expand beyond Shaw to four other Main Street neighborhoods. But with 25 separate venues, Shaw offered the expanded festival’s largest amount of programming, drawing an estimated 10,000 visitors.

The Watha T. Daniel/Shaw Library served as the center of Shaw’s Art All Night, where visitors received maps and directions. Radio station 107.3 FM set up a live broadcast outside the library to start the festivities at 7:00 p.m. The first floor of the building had a Kids Art Zone, with an art display, an arts and crafts area and a kid’s storytime section. There was also the always popular face and body painting station by Anike Robinson and Peaky Paints, as well as an area devoted to adult games and crafts. Downstairs, an Urban Resort was set up where short films were shown and popcorn was provided, while DJ Nuff Said provided music for dancing among colorful abstract paintings. The library also hosted a “Neighborhood Portal,” where Shaw festivalgoers had a video connection to the Art All Night scene in Congress Heights. Watha T. Daniel was also the hub for a shuttle bus to transport visitors between the library and Mount Vernon Square, as well as the stop for the Circulator bus conveying people to other Art All Night venues in the city.

Several Shaw restaurants and businesses provided settings for art installations and others stayed open late to serve people attending Art All Night. Pekoe Acupuncture and Wellness devoted its basement to an all-night party with a DJ. Simon Vintage brought in artists to apply their decorative skills to pieces of furniture. The design shop Swatchroom inaugurated their art galley space. Taylor and York Salon served as a platform for do-it-yourself art, where attendees could exercise their own painting skills. And at the old Variety Market on Seventh Street, Gregg Deal drew crowds with “Redskin,” an art installation and performance piece that explored the current controversy over the name of Washington’s football team and the representation of Native Americans.

Visitors to the Carnegie Library at Mount Vernon Square were greeted by a kinetic sculpture by architect Suman Sorg. The venue presented musical acts throughout the night, including the electric cello driven Wytold Ensemble and the popular Christylez Bacon and his Washington Sound Museum Orchestra, who at one point joined together to do unorthodox arrangements of current hit tunes. The former library was also the site for the Silent Disco, where participants wore headphones to hear their choice of two musical tracks played by DJs Braulio Agnese and Todd Threats, while they danced on a huge photo map of the District of Columbia, surrounded by colored lights and producing only the sound of shuffling feet and an occasional whoop.

The old furniture store windows on the 1000 block of Seventh Street provided a showcase for the photo art of Rosina Teri Memolo and Darren Smith. At the Warehouse Theater around the corner, the Emergence Community Art Collective presented a series of music and dance performances, including a capoeira troupe.

Shaw’s Art All Night included a number of mobile performances throughout the neighborhood. Batala Washington, the women’s drumming corps, performed in front of the Watha T. Daniel Library, then moved up the street to perform in front of the newly completed Marvin Gaye mural on S Street to another enthusiastic audience. Shanna Lim and her Inner Soul Projex Productions multi-generational troupe of actors and dancers held mobile performances along Seventh Street that interacted with the corridor’s architecture. Jennifer Stephens, also known as the Bubble Fairy, demonstrated her soap bubble art at various spots from Rhode Island Avenue to Florida Avenue.

At Seventh and R Streets, a five-story high blank wall became the screen for projecting a series of award-wining short animated and live action films.  At the empty lot there, Spark Ignite, a ceremonial fire fan dance by Moska, astounded the late night crowd. The first floor of the Wonder Bread Factory on S Street was taken over by No Kings Collective, who curated works in various media, along with music and dance performances throughout the eight hours of the festival.

Adult Arts and Crafts at Watha T Daniel. Photo: Alexander Padro
Batala Washington Drummers Perform at Marvin Gaye Mural. Photo: Pleasant Mann
Crowd in Front of Wonder Bread Factory During Art All Night. Photo: Pleasant Mann
Gregg Deal's Redskin Installation and Performance art challenged visitors' perceptions of Native American identity. Photo: Pleasant Mann
Moka Performs Fire Fan Dance. Photo: Pleasant Mann
No Kings Collective Art Exhibit at Wonder Bread Factory. Photo: Alexander Padro
Silent Disco at the Carnegie Library. Photo: Alexander Padro
Suman Sorg's Air Dancer Greets Visitors to Carnegie Library during Art All Night. Photo: Pleasant Mann
Wytold and Christylez Bacon jammed on the Main Stage at the Carnegie Library during Art All Night. Photo: Pleasant Mann