“Symphony in DC Major” Unveiled
Hundreds of Shaw residents gathered on the 700 block of P Street on Thursday evening, June 11, to witness the unveiling of the “Symphony in DC Major” sculpture at City Market at O. Serenaded by a jazz band, people crowded the closed street, taking advantage of free refreshments offered by food trucks provided for the event.
The ceremony began with Richard Lake, principal of Roadside Development, who commissioned the artwork. He characterized the work as a significant milestone in the completion of City Market at O and its integration into the Shaw community. He had insisted that any public art at City Market at O reflect the history of Shaw. Ward 6 Councilmember Charles Allen followed by noting that the unveiling of the artwork was another illustration of how important Shaw has become to the city.
Brian Kenner, deputy mayor for planning and economic development, expressed Mayor Bowser’s regrets at not being able to attend the unveiling. Lisa Richards Toney, interim executive director of the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities, which provided partial funding for the sculpture, stated how important art is to a neighborhood, saying that it “tells us where we have come from.” She also said how refreshing it was to work with a developer who understood and could talk about the arts.
Alexander Padro, executive director of Shaw Main Streets, the applicant for the Commission grant, described the art work’s importance to the community. He thanked Lake for his conception and development of the project, noting that “if it is in City Market at O, Richard Lake has had his hands on it.” Stressing the importance of the subject matter of “Symphony in DC Major,” Padro noted that “In Shaw there is history on every block” and that “African-American history is not hidden here in this neighborhood, its everywhere in this neighborhood.”
Ana Harvey, director of the DC Department of Small and Local Business Development, after mentioning that she had an arts degree, praised Roadside Development for its support of small business. Besides giving over 50 percent of the City Market at O construction contracts to local certified business enterprises, Roadside also set up a training program for residents who wanted to work on the project.
Drew Porterfield of Long View Gallery, who served as a consultant on the art project, explained how the sculpture came together. After a visit by Lake to the gallery, where he saw a sculpture by Zachary Oxman, they knew they had their artist. Oxman continued the story by noting that they all began work last August, eventually developing the work that became “Symphony in DC Major.”
Then the unveiling of the sculpture took place. The three main sections are colorful portraits reflected on pieces of stainless steel depicting Shaw icons: Civil War hero Colonel Robert Gould Shaw, jazz genius Duke Ellington, and Washington Color School artist Alma Thomas. After the unveiling the crowd moved to Long View Gallery for a reception and exhibition of other Zachary Oxman artwork.
Shaw Main Streets Hosts Open House
On Saturday afternoon, June 20, Shaw Main Streets held its annual Open House for neighborhood residents and visitors. After picking up free passports at the Shaw Arts, Crafts and Fashion Market, and Touchstone Gallery, participants enjoyed free food and drink samples at 30 Shaw businesses from New York Avenue to Florida Avenue on the 7th Street and 9th Street commercial corridors. The event ended at the High Velocity sports bar in the Marriott Marquis Hotel, where Open House visitors had an opportunity to win prizes provided by Shaw businesses on the tour.
Woodson Park Nears Completion
The fences surrounding Carter G. Woodson Park at 9th Street and Rhode Island Avenue have been taken down. Now the residents of Shaw can start to enjoy the renovated park, devoted to the “Father of Black History.” At the center of the park is a statue of Dr. Woodson created by the renowned sculptor Ray Kaskey. There remains the task of turning on power to the lights in the park, and a date for the formal dedication of the park has yet to be set.
Down the street, the National Park Service has announced that it has awarded a contract to begin the restoration of Dr. Woodson’s home at 1538 9th St. NW. The $5.6 million contract is phase one of a three-phase effort to restore the home. At the completion of phase one, in the next 12 to 18 months, the public will be able to visit the Woodson home on a limited basis through pre-arranged tours.
Shaw Hosts 15th American Classic Woman of the Year Pageant
On Sunday, July 19, DC’s American Classic Pageant will hold its 15th Woman of the Year Pageant at the Lincoln Theater, 2:00-5:00 p.m. The date also marks the 85th birthday of Letha M. Blount, the founder of the pageant. The pageant, a talent and modeling competition open to women 55 years of age and over, along with entertainment during intermissions by other senior performers, has filled the Lincoln Theater year after year with enthralled spectators. Tickets are available at the Lincoln Theater box office (1215 U St. NW), $15 in advance, $25 on the day of the pageant.