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’Tis the season for outdoor art, and D.C.’s got a slew of new murals, sculpture, and prints to see. Check out a Capital Bikeshare rig on a sunny afternoon and take a trip to see these four recent additions to the District’s public-art scene. The city is your gallery.
Name: “Symphony in DC Major” Place: City Market at O, 8th and P streets NW Artist: Zachary Oxman, a Rockville-based sculptor What is it? “I envisioned the 125-foot span to become a dynamic experience, whether by foot or car, that unfolds like a film strip or musical score,” Oxman says. “An experience that is at once part mural, part sculpture, and part performance.” Three sculptures along P Street between 7th and 8th streets NW honor three local figures who helped shape the Shaw neighborhood: jazz legend Duke Ellington, abolitionist Robert Shaw, and Washington Color School painter Alma Thomas. Inspiration: “The challenge for me was to share these people not just as static images, but to share their emotion and their history,” Oxman says.
Name: “Your Money For Nothing” Place: The Fridge, 8th Street SE Artist: Gregg Deal, a visual and performance artist and 16-year resident of the D.C. area What is it? The black and white mural is a part of Deal’s ongoing Square Series and a group show, “Hipster Facism,” which opens at the Fridge on June 20. Riffing on traditional American symbols, the insignia includes the text “representing self interest and corporate gain.” Inspiration: “D.C. is the great American anomaly when it comes to politics and the representation they have on the Hill,” Deal says. “I think this speaks to that, as well in being the only place that has taxation without representation. Politicians are letting us all down, and our money is going towards nothing but job security for these fools.”
Name: “City Fields” Place: Mount Vernon Triangle at O, 5th & K streets NW Artist: Rachel Schmidt, an exhibits specialist at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden and an artist in residence at the Arlington Arts Center What is it? The 160-foot scrim is a grand collage of photos from five different cities, including D.C., interspersed with drawings of deer families; it speaks to how urban growth affects native wildlife. Inspiration: “The site was my initial inspiration, the wide open space of the parking lot in the forest of tall buildings and activity offered a moment of calm,” Schmidt says.
Name: “Living Timeline: Paul Robeson” Place: U Street, between 13th & 14th streets NW Artist: Graffiti writer Cory L. Stowers, co-founder of Art Under Pressure, and his main collaborator Andrew Katz What is it? The mural down an alley off U Street depicts different stages of Robeson’s life. When completed on June 27, the mural will be interactive; viewers can use an app to access archival footage to learn more about each depicted moment in Robeson’s life. Inspiration: The building that hosts the mural is home to a kung fu school run by Rahim Muhammad, who counts Robeson among his heroes. “It’s one thing to paint a singular image or a singular scene out of someone’s life, but with Paul Robeson’s story, it really needs to see that span of time he was in the public eye and how that developed,” Stowers says. “Then how he was ultimately blacklisted from his chosen profession because of his stance on international politics and the racial situation here in the United States.”