Robert Longo, "The Face" (2005). Courtesy Adamson Gallery.
Robert Longo, "The Face" (2005). Courtesy Adamson Gallery. Credit: Courtesy Adamson Gallery

Adamson Gallery, an anchor for fine-art photography and other media by local and national artists, is closing. Located in what used to be the heart of the 14th Street NW arts corridor, the gallery has maintained a physical presence in D.C. since 1982.

The gallery was responsible for bringing shows by high-profile artists to the District, namely photographers, including Renate Aller, Robert Longo, and Chuck Close. Lou Reed showed his work here in 2009. Adamson Gallery is connected to Adamson Editions, the Blagden Alley studio of David Adamson, a Tamarind-certified master printer who has executed work for all these artists and more over the years.

Adamson Gallery will close on May 21 at the end of its current show, an exhibit of works by Kevin MacDonald, whose paintings and drawings are also on view at the American University Museum.

Laurie Adamson, the gallery’s director (and David Adamson’s wife), says by email that MacDonald was one of the first artists that the gallery showed when it opened in 1982, in a building on 7th Street NW in Penn Quarter that it shared with several other prominent art galleries of the day. (The building is now occupied by the Hill Country smokehouse.) William Christenberry and Iona Rozeal Brown are two other former D.C. artists with long relationships with the gallery.

Adamson Gallery moved to its current home, 1515 14th Street NW, in 2004, at a time when art shops were relocating from Georgetown and Dupont Circle to the former auto show-house corridor. Only a few of those art galleries remain on 14th Street today. As much as the strip has changed?from creative to craft-cocktail corridor?the art world has maybe changed more. A brick-and-mortar shop is no longer necessarily the best way to reach collectors or audiences for fine art.

“We did not think this would ever be possible 15 years ago, but the reality is that 85 [percent] of Adamson Gallery?s revenue is from online and participation at art fairs,” Adamson writes in an email.

The Adamsons will still maintain the Blagden Alley printing studio, where they will show their prints, editions, and publications to collectors on an appointment basis. In her email, Adamson says that they have now also opened a studio in Lisbon, Portugal, for printing work by European artists. But outside of art fairs, the D.C. public cannot expect to see as much of this work in the future.

“We are sad that our decision to close the bricks and mortar location and relocate in multiple virtual worlds denies Washingtonians direct access to the art we produce,” Adamson writes. “We go on to embrace a more international approach to creating and selling our fine art editions.”

“Split Level” by Kevin MacDonald, 2002. On view now at Adamson Gallery.