This story was first posted on The Office Goth‘s blog.
I can’t seem to get away from photos of Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Dots Mirrored Room at The Broad in LA. Each and every time I see one I have the same reaction of Wow! followed by thoughts of, How can I find cheap enough flights to LA? I must see this thing!
For those of us who can’t make it over to the West Coast for that exhibit, here’s a little consolation for you: the Mattress Factory in Pittsburgh.
Mattress Factory actually has two works by Kusama: another Infinity Dots Mirrored Room— this version uses colorful dot reflections instead of lights — and Repetitive Vision, a slightly trippy white room with red polka dots, mannequins and of course the mirrors that make it an ‘infinity room.’ For a lack of a better way to describe them: these installations are EVERYTHING.
And the rest of the Mattress Factory wasn’t too bad either. Some other highlights:
IRIS_SIRI by Kevin Clancy: You walk straight into a fluorescent room to find windows covered in a rainbow film and life-sized resin cats draped across laptops. This exhibit reminds me to quit being so distracted by the Internet to go out and enjoy life for a bit.
Catso, Red by James Turrell: When you’re surrounded by super minimalistic art that uses three-dimensional light, there are tons of photos opps waiting to happen.
The Mattress Factory is one of the things I love about Pittsburgh (along with Randyland), and I’d say it’s one of the biggest surprises I found in a city that I’ve always only associated with universities and manufacturing. If you’re on the East Coast like me and are looking to go on a quick, affordable trip, Pittsburgh is definitely one way to go!
So there was an event called “Pow! Wow! DC!” and it basically was my wall crawl dreams come to life…
Pow! Wow! is an international street art movement where artists get together to host mural festivals and help make neighborhoods across the globe look beautiful. It’s a movement that’s already taken place in cities like Austin, Hong Kong and Honolulu, and now DC was added to that growing list!
Over the course of 10 days, local artists like No Kings Collective, Cory Oberndorfer and Decoy, along with international artists like INSA and caratoes, went to work making NoMa colorful by painting murals over abandoned buildings, bike trails, and even making the old Ibiza nightclub look good.
Pow! Wow! DC organizers NoMa BID and local artist Kelly Towles hosted a couple happy hour tours so people could catch the muralists in progress during the 10 days of their work, and luckily I was able to attend one with my boyfriend Cesar and some friends right before Memorial Weekend. At that point, the artists weren’t quite wrapped up, but I loved everything I saw so much that I ended up stopping by again after all the murals were finalized. Here are some photos from both times I visited:
For a full listing of Pow! Wow! DC artists, visit the Pow! Wow! blog,
or check out some cool videos and photos on Instagram.
Right at the corner of Connecticut and Massachusetts Avenue sits Dupont Underground, an abandoned underground trolley system turned events venue and art space.
I must have walked past this entrance so many times, but never even knew of its existence or of its history until everyone from BrightestYoungThings to IGDC and The Washington Post kept talking about it. If you read my post last summer about“The Beach,” a giant plastic ball pit at the National Building Museum, this is it. These are the exact same balls I tossed around like a kid at Chuck E. Cheese’s last summer, except now they’re being repurposed into a real-world version of Minecraft known as Raise/Raze.”
Volunteers donated their time in order to construct some of the 650,000 balls left over from “The Beach” into brick-like structures that the design firm Hou de Sousa envisioned. With a ticket for a time slot, I was allowed to walk in and build some of my own structures. Those tickets for entry were pretty limited, so when my boyfriend warned me I better make sure my schedule was clear for a certain Saturday afternoon, I was lucky I listened. Raise/Raze is now closed to the public, but I’m eagerly waiting for news on what will go down in the underground next.
I’ve spent a lot of time scrolling through photos under Instagram hashtags like #StudioDIYwallcrawl, #ABMlovesmurals and #Ihavethisthingwithwalls and jealously wondering why DC can’t be on LA’s level with the patterned street art murals.
It turns out I’m wrong.
Over the last few months, I’ve attempted to hit up as many of the murals that we do have, and along the way I’m finding the District has its little pockets of color too. Just like New York, we’ve got a Jason Woodside polka-dotted mural, and also a mural by Australian artist James Reka at the L’Enfant Plaza Metro Terrace. We even have a church turned technicolor events venue, which is pretty cool if you ask me. Here is where to find them:
19th and N. Moore Streets (technically in Arlington, Va.)
3500 O St NW (behind the Saxbys Coffee)
429 L’Enfant Plaza SW (the L’Enfant Plaza Metro Terrace)
1309 5th St NE (at Union Market DC)
66 Rhode Island Ave NE
635 North Carolina Ave SE (at the William H Rumsey Aquatic Center)
19th Street NW (between Belmont Road and Mintwood Place in Adams Morgan)
700 Delaware Ave SW (at Blind Whino)
Follow my street art adventures on Instagram, where I’m using the hashtag #DCWallCrawl.
Chances are you’ve had to read Animal Farm at some point in your life. You know, that George Orwell novel you were assigned to read back in the 8th grade about a pack of pigs who overthrow farmers to establish an “equal” and “perfect” society? Well, Brandon Hill of No Kings Collective’s pop-up art installation “The Beasts of England” is a reinterpretation of the Orwell novel that forced us to examine socialism, class stratification and corruption — basically all things we’re still discussing as a society today.
Right off the bat, I knew I liked this exhibit because (a) the lit lover in me got to geek out over references to the novel like the words ‘HORSE GLUE’ written on wood/enamel letters (Poor Boxer!), and, (b) the large scale installations are not only very accurate depictions of pigs, but also plastered in color!
“The Beasts of England” is displayed at Union Market’s Lab 1270 until May 7.
If you’ve ever watched the documentary (mockumentary?) Exit Through the Gift Shop, you may remember Thierry Guetta, the clumsy Frenchman with a video camera permanently attached to his hand. After Guetta discovers his cousin is the street artist Invader, he finds himself following along to film Invader + friends putting art out on the streets, eventually meeting guys like Banksy and Shepard Fairey, and compiling his footage into what eventually became Exit Through the Gift Shop. But another thing you may have noticed is by the end of the film, Banksy wants Guetta out of the way so he encourages him to work on his own art, and from that encouragement, the artist “Mr. Brainwash” is born.
I remember watching Exit Through the Gift Shop when it was first released in 2010 and thinking, All of this is cool, but I’m never going to see any of that art here in DC. Yet here I am six years after the release, and the coolest thing has happened! To celebrate International Women’s Day, Mr. Brainwash created a series of murals at DC’s Union Market that highlight Michelle Obama’s Let Girls Learn movement. Each piece of the mural has some inspirational phrase on it like “Follow Your Heart” and “Love is the Answer,” which are all meant to push the White House’s efforts to support access to education for the 62 million adolescent girls around the world who are not in school.
I visited Union Market just a little over a week after the murals were put up. Someone already has splattered paint across some areas of the work, so if anyone out there is interested in seeing these, I’d go soon! To view images of the murals, use the hashtags #lifeisbeautiful, #62milliongirls and #letgirlslearn.
Crafty Bastards Cabin Fever at Hecht Warehouse
Cabin Fever was an offshoot of DC’s Crafty Bastards craft fair, which means it was a lot smaller than the real deal I attend every September, but nonetheless still really cute and colorful and Esty-ish. I’m very much into illustration at the moment, so when I bought my ticket to the event, I had one thing in mind: pick up some cool things to decorate my workspace.
This time around, I stumbled upon Marcella Kriebel’s booth because how could I not? If you ever see her work at a craft show, you’ll instantly want to get a closer look at her gorgeous watercolor paintings. All of her work is food-related, and that’s awesome because who wouldn’t want a sangria or pizza print chillin’ in their kitchen? I also discovered Nate Duval, an extremely talented illustrator/designer who has worked with big time brands like Nike, Patagonia and Whole Foods, but what really had me stop at his booth was his collection of music festival and band posters. Seriously, look at the details and colors on these things!