The Writings

DC Art Scene Manifesto - a Prelude

If I may be so bold, and with permission to be blunt, the art scene in Washington, DC, is terrible.  Horrible.  Disgraceful.  Pathetic.  Uninspiring.  In a word: bullshit. Sure, there was Morris Louis in the 50's and the National Gallery of Art in town, but even then, you can find more famous works of art in some of the numerous private collections strewn around the city.  The interesting thing is when you look on a map, there appears to be dozens upon dozens of galleries, but most of the collections don't feature local artists.  Maybe it's just me, but this irritates the hell out of me.

A few months ago, I had done photography for a local art gallery that sounded like a great idea: their premise would be to go around the city to display art in various buildings - whether they were finished or not - about twice a year.  In the "opening exhibit" that they hosted, however, one artist was from California, another from Pennsylvania, and the third grew up in DC, but lived elsewhere.  While the art was great, I'm slightly offended that DC artists weren't featured in a DC gallery.  Surely, there has to be a conglomerate of Washingtonian artists that can be featured in our own backyard, right?

As I've been digging and digging, trying to find said artists, the reality is that they are few and far between, and even the ones that are here, in my honest, generalized, and non-art-major-influenced opinion, they're pretty... weak.  Unimaginative.  I find this disturbing, considering we're in such a politically driven town - one would think inspiration is (literally) right around the corner.  Perhaps it's because this city would much rather discuss politics than paint about it, there is a lot lacking in the art scene.

It's not to say people aren't trying, however.  Sites like and give some glimpse of hope that there are budding artists out there.  Galleries like The Corcoran and The Phillips Collection do a great job of trying to host events that will expose viewers to new and budding artists.  However, I've noticed that the unfortunate part about these events is that event goers tend to see these things as a place to be seen, not see the art installations.  I may be very wrong, but to me, Washingtonians only view events as a means to socialize and network to move up in the ranks at their jobs instead of a way to view what DC has to offer in the world of art.

Granted, this is a very opinionated piece today, but it's been something that's been on my mind ever since I've moved back to the Washington, DC area.  In a city where one would think inspiration surrounds us, it feels more that the citizens probably couldn't care less if something happened with the art scene or not.  Numerous bands bypass this city for Richmond or Baltimore to perform in.  Galleries showcase the work of artists from other cities and not our own.  It's not an encouraging environment to live in for artists.

Today, I am merely venting only slightly compared to what those who have been fortunate enough to hear my rants after a few beers.  However, when I mentioned that I had a lot of stuff a-brewin', part of the brew involves renovating the DC art scene.  If you want in, let's talk.  If not, you're a part of the problem.

This is just a prelude to an inevitable DC Art Manifesto.

Until next time,

- Patrick