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TO SEPT. 24
“Enigmatic” is probably the last word you’d use to describe the local bodega, scene of so many mundane Doritos purchases. But the work of some D.C. and New York teens might surprise you: They’ve shot familiar streetscapes in black and white, elevating quotidian sights into cool montages worthy of a De Niro film. (An untitled work by Akilah McCoy of Eastern High School is pictured.) In a five-week summer program, the National Building Museum and the New York’s Municipal Art Society offered the youngsters cameras, film, and shooting tips before unleashing them on the neighborhoods most tourists skip: in D.C., Columbia Heights, Mount Pleasant, and Adams Morgan; in New York, Hell’s Kitchen and Hamilton Heights. Asked to temporarily forgo daydreams of the Backstreet Boys and turn their attentions to the streets where they live, the teens met local residents and documented scenes unfolding in the streets. The New York students show us that Hell’s Kitchen brims with local color and is no longer owned by street gangs. And Hamilton Heights, the former home of African-American luminaries W.E.B. Du Bois and Duke Ellington, hosts some pristine historic buildings. Locally, District students shot street scenes filled with personality: fruit vendors peddling mangoes on Mount Pleasant Street, cabs buzzing past pedestrians on Columbia Road, and old folks snoozing on mossy stoops. Architecture, too, caught their eyes: They captured everything from majestic Adams Morgan apartment buildings to the green-and-white awning of Restaurant No. 1. Through the student’s lenses, the city’s landscape looks brand new. On view from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday to Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday, to Tuesday, Aug. 31, and from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday to Saturday and noon to 4 p.m. Sunday, from Wednesday, Sept. 1, to Friday, Sept. 24, at the National Building Museum, 401 F St. NW. Free. (202) 272-2448. (Jessica Dawson)