It felt a lot like a grade school art class at last week’s “Single’s [sic] Dinner ver. 3.0,” a meet-and-greet market organized by District arts agitator Annie Adjchavanich at Ningaloo restaurant in Arlington. Adjchavanich had sold the $60-a-person night as a chance for the art set to eat, drink, and get lucky, culling about half the folks from her e-mail list of artists and fellow travelers. But it turned out that a good chunk of the attendees were just regular Joes who thought Bilbao was an artist they’d never heard of.
Never mind that not everybody was what you’d call the creative type. Adjchavanich assigned each of the 35-odd guests name tags featuring their “porn names”—formed by adding the name of the street you grew up on to the name of the first pet you owned—or “Star Wars” names—which, through the juxtaposition of letters culled from personal minutiae were almost wholly unpronounceable. The curious nomenclature was aimed at breaking the artsy singleton’s icy veneer, but it wasn’t until the Play-Doh sculpture competition that the walls came down. As the singles crafted their minor masterpieces between bites of tuna—seared rare—they chatted and mingled in earnest.
Bachelorette “Trixie Stark,” kneading a ball of fuschia Play-Doh, explained that she works part-time at a Dupont Circle art gallery in addition to running a catering business. Forty-something bachelor “Davca Thmia” told “Stark” he was a freelance photographer. “I was going to Paris for a shoot, but it got rescheduled,” he explained. Instead of munching croissants on the Rue de Rivoli, “Thmia” was well into creating a kelly-green teepee out of a trio of chopsticks and tenderized sheets of the patented clay.
Nearby, “Oliver Houston” and “Tipsy Braddock,” although immersed in conversation, managed to come up with significant creations of their own: “Braddock” produced a detailed rendition of a purple cat—complete with whiskers made from the toothbrushes Adjchavanich had supplied as party favors—that won accolades table-wide.
After dinner, the clay creations were lined up between chocolate truffles and oatmeal cookies in the dessert spread. All manner of works—a rose, a severed finger, and an elaborately rendered vegetable plate—stood awaiting certificates of merit in areas that included catch-all categories for the artistically disinclined, such as Most Indecipherable and Lump Least Resembling Sculpture, as well as the more traditional Most Well-Crafted and Most Original.
Turns out “Braddock”‘s purple kitty won for Most Humorous. “Stark,” curious as to how “Braddock” had achieved the feline’s glistening orange stare, asked, “What did you use for eyes?”
“Caviar!” “Braddock” exclaimed.—Jessica Dawson