Seasonable temperatures prevailed last Sunday afternoon, but in the confines of DCCD in Adams Morgan, it was sweltering. Thanks to a broken air conditioner, Lely Constantinople and her husband, Alec MacKaye, broke a sweat while hanging “Day Old,” an art show that was intended to open—and close—that night.
For much of the afternoon, Constantinople, a local photographer and the show’s organizer, was on hand to receive the dozen or so works created by area artists earlier that day or the day before. Her aim was to both free artists to create spontaneously and get a live vibe. “Like going to see a performance piece, it’s immediate,” she said. “It’s here for a night and then it’s gone.” So far as anyone could prove, there was only one cheater: Pat Graham, on tour with his band in Texas, express-mailed Polaroids that he’d taken on Friday.
“If it’s bread, it’s stale. But if it’s a little baby, it’s brand-new,” said MacKaye, pondering the “Day Old” concept. “So does it mean it’s only a day old, or already a day old?” he asked.
“Mine’s only a day old,” Constantinople replied.
Constantinople had produced a series of streetscape Polaroids that were mounted on cardboard with tacks. Artist Eddie Janney displayed a decorated skateboard; photographer Cynthia Connolly contributed gorgeous color photographs of roses.
Overcome by the heat, Dan Treado’s Plexiglas-enclosed One Violent Danby (expired age 77) was melting. The human brain sculpted from chewed gum wads and impaled on a metal rod, scientific-model-style, was losing its stick and dropping gum wads by the minute. Constantinople escorted Treado’s work to DCCD’s basement refrigerator, where the piece rested comfortably until the evening reception.
By 8:30 p.m., the reception was in full swing, with some 30 people crowded into the store’s still-sweaty rear perimeter. Treado’s piece had emerged from its chilled hold for display above a rack of CDs. Though the Plexiglas was fogged up from the heat, the brain appeared intact.
Treado explained that his piece illustrates the theory that swallowed chewing gum travels up the spine, taking up residence in the brain stem. “This is medical proof,” he said. Treado had chewed the gum the day before in a lengthy, jaw-bending session. His favorite brand? Spearmint Extra. “It’s tennis-ball green,” he reported. Later, Treado leaned in to whisper a confession, surrounding me in a cloud of cinnamon-spiked breath: “I cheated at the end and dunked them in water.”
Turns out the show was such a success that many of the artists wanted to keep it up. Although extending “Day Old” sabotages her theme, Constantinople agreed; the show will remain up for a least two weeks. That is, if Treado’s brain hasn’t disintegrated before then. —Jessica Dawson
“Day Old” runs through June 23 at DCCD, 2423 18th St. NW. For more information, call (202) 588-1810.