Last Saturday, exactly one week before its grand opening, Fusebox still had no storefront. Its floor wasn’t down, its walls weren’t all up, and it displayed no art. But Patrick Murcia and Sarah Finlay, the husband-and-wife team behind 14th Street’s new contemporary-art gallery, knew precisely where everything was going to go, knew that everything would be in place in time for the Sept. 22 reception, and knew, above all else, that in the year and a half it took to make Fusebox a reality, that they had amassed a remarkable group of young artists to represent. After all, on this sunny September morning, a handful of those 19 featured artists were clustered together amid the spraying sawdust not to oversee the hanging of their work, but to help out with the construction.

“It took a tremendous amount of patience and loyalty and belief and encouragement [on everyone’s part] because, believe me, we had our ups and downs,” says the 33-year-old Murcia. But it paid off, and now he and Finlay are on the verge of opening the kind of gallery they have been talking about for a decade: one that will both provide an outlet for rising talent in the area and give Washington a more diversified artistic landscape. “We want to target people our age and give them more exposure to contemporary art,” says Murcia. “We chose the name to convey that this is a place where ideas are generated.”

“There are signs that people are taking pride in the culture here,” says Finlay, 37. “And while you can go up and admire work in New York, you can’t go to an opening there every weekend. But people love that energy and dialogue, and we’re hoping to build on that.”

Since the spring of 2000, when they started serious planning for the gallery, Murcia and Finlay set their sights on the newly revived arts corridor of 14th Street NW, with its theaters and recent crop of businesses. They went through three other spaces along the strip (all fell through in the eleventh hour) before finally nabbing their spot on the corner of 14th and P. Their 1,700-square-foot space will consist of a large room for the main exhibition (the first is paintings by twin brothers Joseph and John Dumbacher), a “project room” (which will feature 17 pieces, one by each of the rest of the artists they represent), and a storage area where works will be hung on six sliding panels that can be pulled out and viewed by patrons. The back of the space will provide room for entertaining.

Murcia and Finlay have had the idea for Fusebox almost since the start of their relationship. “When we were just out of school and idealistic, we dreamed about having a gallery together,” says Murcia. “Then, 10 years later, when Sarah had her master’s in art history and I had my MBA, we realized, Wow, we can actually do this thing.”

“We get excited about the same things,” says Finlay, who previously held positions at D.C.’s Baumgartner and Middendorf Galleries. “We’ve never had a problem when it comes to who we want to show—which is always such a huge question. That’s very lucky.” —Aimee Agresti

For more information, call (202) 299-9220.