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Over the weekend, I went to Artomatic.
Held frequently since 1999, Artomatic is a “one-of-a-kind multimedia event” with a multitude of exhibits—literally over 1,000 this year—and activities, shows, and special events. Here’s what I recall most vividly about the night: Hearing, every time I stepped into the elevator, “Where are the Peeps?” “Are the Peeps on the 7th Floor?” “Are the Peeps on the 8th Floor?” “I’m dying to see the Peeps. Let’s go check out the Peeps.”
(The “Peeps,” of course, were dioramas of those marshmallow treats Peeps dressed up as superheroes, Marilyn Monroe, etc.)
I, personally, saw three floors of art. I enjoyed them. But, the fourth would have been uncomfortable.
I guess that’s a rather bland take on the event though…because usually, Artomatic elicits strong feelings. Everyone I’ve talked to about it has an opinion. Either they think it’s a great D.C. cultural event, or they’re vowing to never go back. Take for example this gem: “It’s floor after floor of bad art: Oooh Bush sucks! I’m going to paint. And then very graphic photos of gay men…Artomatic is the Costco of art,” says an anonymous ranting City Paper staff writer.
Here’s a sample of positions to consider before making the trip:
“The one year i went, it was like throw-up everywhere. But throw-up with gold flakes sprinkled throughout.” —-Keli Anaya, Mt. Pleasant resident.
Photo by Mr. T in D.C.
“I didn’t really pay attention, seemed like you needed patience to sort out the good from the bad which I did not have at the time. There was just so much of it- overwhelming,” says Harry Mushlin, Shaw resident.
“Better venue than last year’s Crystal City. Better view of the city, could sorta see lit-up monuments peaking through buildings. They were clearly strategic when choosing that neighborhood, bringing people to the New York Ave area on the cusp of development, future neighborhood of NPR building. But still so dicey. Around the time we were walking back, there were a few shootings just a couple blocks away. The art was hit or miss. Crap mixed with “hmm, okay, I see what they were going for,” says Erin Zimmer, City Paper contributor.
“Artomatic is the place that you go when you “feel” like you should support local art. But it always just serves as a reminder as to why you didn’t support local art in the first place: It’s a bunch of overpriced nonsense. In an unfinished office building. Full of people just waiting for a Craigslist ‘Missed Connection,'”says another anonymous City Paper staff writer.
“I loved the glass organs on the seventh floor,” says Columbia Heights resident Andrew Green whose friend made the glass organs.
This year’s event is in a building at 1200 First Street in NoMa, lending credence to the Soho-ish vibe that the neighborhood seems to be trying to create. Unfortunately, the name NoMa (North of Massachusetts Avenue) still needs to be explained, as evidenced in the Artomatic press release. And if there’s one thing I can speak passionately about, it’s the need to revive the old neighborhood name Swampoodle! But, anyway. I say: go see Artomatic. Judge for yourself. Good luck finding the Peeps.