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For last week’s Washington City Paper cover story, I took a long look at some of the organizations that have helped institutionalize graffiti in D.C. One of them is the city’s MuralsDC program, a program that placed nine public art projects around the city this summer. For the last week, the former library and Temporium space on H Street NE has showcased paintings and drawings by the murals’ artists, as well as the youths—-many of them graffiti artists themselves—-who helped execute the projects. It closes today.
MuralsDC is a collaboration between the District’s Department of Public Works and the Commission on the Arts and Humanities, although each year it taps a nonprofit to organize its mural-making efforts. For 2011 it was Words Beats & Life, which selected artists and found the walls. By the end of September, the city will have nine new murals, developed with apprentices who also participate in Words Beats & Life’s graffiti classes. According to Mazi Mutafa, Executive Director of Words Beats & Life, the D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities has verbally agreed to fund the program next year.
In the exhibit, work by artist Aniekan Udofia, for example, is more provocative than the stuff you’ll see in the city’s new murals, including the one by Udofia. In one painting, a terrified-looking white woman in heels and bellbottoms walks her dog as a black youth pets it. When I visited, a Words Beats & Life board member told me the image is based on a true story, in which a D.C. woman called the police when a few kids started playing with her pet. Udofia’s 2011 mural is on the exterior of nonprofit Bread For the City’s building on Good Hope Road SE.
The show is at 1300 H Street NE, and is open from 6 to 9 p.m.
But that’s not all: The Anacostia Public Library is hosting a panel discussion called “The Importance of Art in Public Spaces” on Saturday. Phillip Kennicott, the Washington Post‘s fine art and culture critic, will moderate.