The District’s up-and-coming arts strip just gained one more member. Today, sculptor Craig Kraft closed on a property at 1239 Good Hope Road SE in Anacostia, with plans to convert the vacant space into a studio, gallery, and residence.
Kraft, who’s known for his neon light sculptures, has been based out of the iconic Engine House No. 7 at 931 R St. NW since he bought it in 1992. He put 10 years of work into the space, but sold it last month for $2.3 million because the neighborhood had become too established.
“I needed a new challenge, and I bought a real challenge,” Kraft says of his purchase of what he calls a “shell of a building” in Anacostia. “I wanted to get out of this new gentrified area.”
Now he says he’ll “do the whole thing over again” on Good Hope Road, constructing a studio downstairs, a residence for himself and his girlfriend upstairs, and a gallery in the front of the ground floor that’ll also extend to part of the upstairs because his works are so large.
Kraft says he was looking at warehouses in Hyattsville and Mount Rainier, but ultimately settled on a more central neighborhood with some real history. It’s also a neighborhood with a burgeoning arts scene. The ARCH Development Corporation, led by Duane Gautier, has opened several arts spaces along Good Hope Road and adjacent Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue in recent years. Kraft’s new property is sandwiched between two ARCH ventures: the Anacostia Arts Center and the Honfleur Gallery.
Kraft thinks he can give the Anacostia arts scene a real boost. “I have a big following and my work is very well-known,” he says. “So immediately everyone’s going to pay attention a little bit more once I set up the studio there.”
Image above via Google Maps; image at right courtesy of Estately