Art All Night | The American Word

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Art All Night

Swati Guin | 10/6/15 8:40pm
| Updated 10/6/15 8:41pm

Swati Guin /

Once a year, five of D.C.’s trendiest neighborhoods come together in celebration of contemporary art in a citywide festival that can’t be missed. Even better, the whole thing is completely at night. From 7 p.m. to 3 a.m., the streets of Shaw, North Capitol, Dupont Circle, Congress Heights and H Street are abuzz with video presentations, gallery showings, street performances and live music. Modern artists show off their weirdest and quirkiest pieces while local musicians and poets bring their compositions to the table with poetry readings and gallery concerts. I had the chance to check out the scene of this year’s Art All Night: Nuit Blanche D.C., exploring two of D.C.’s most vibrant neighborhoods, Dupont Circle and Shaw.

Hillyer Art Space – Dupont Circle

From the outside, the small art space looked like a glowing orb. The small building was surrounded by new media installations, illuminated against the night sky. The front of the building was blanketed by bright light projections that changed form, sometimes moving to look like ghosts were coming in and out of the windows. When we entered, we were greeted by a giant 3D geometric star lit with its very own light show. At first, it looked like neon camouflage, later, laser beams shone on all of its creases. Speakers blasted techno music that complemented the eccentric atmosphere. The adjoining room was empty except for the minimalistic art installations on the white walls. One wall had little metal butterflies flying to the moon, another wall had a white birds flying away from a red human heart, exploring the longing we have to explore distant skies, as the artist, Novie Trump, says.

Embassy Row Hotel Rooftop – Dupont Circle

The Embassy Row Hotel had its own show – a free rooftop black-light party. With a view of the entire city, a bar and a cool breeze in the air, the location was perfect. Surrounded by graffiti art, one wall projected a huge video montage of social protests and revolutionary movements. People played giant Jenga by the pool and mirrors covered the walls. A shadow photo booth was a popular attraction, and a DJ played music for people to get up and dance by the poolside.

Gallery A & Studio Gallery – Dupont Circle

These aging houses converted into art galleries were not to be missed. Upstairs, they both displayed various art exhibitions covering the walls of the house. One had a bedroom completely full of African art installations, from head masks to tribal prints. It was an eerie atmosphere. One room had a theme of male genitals shaped like mushrooms on cutting boards or in nature. Another room had art that looked like vomit and garbage. Gallery A had a jazz performance upstairs while Studio Gallery had a variety of music, artist talks and poetry readings in their basement, filled with people so silent you could hear a pin drop as the artist stood solemnly in a corner and read their work.

Pekoe Acupuncture & Wellness – Shaw

Who would have thought an acupuncture place would be so cool? Converted into an art studio on the top and main floor by two local artists, it was a great studio to explore. We walked into a room full of contemporary art and were offered different types of fruit-infused water, one with lemon and mint, and another with watermelon and basil. The basement was the coolest part: a DJ played techno music as colored lights on the wall made it look like someone used a paintbrush to splatter glow-in-the-dark paint everywhere. There were three mechanisms hanging from the ceiling that let us dance on the wall, defying gravity. A large group of people gathered around it, dancing and just enjoying art.

Art All Night is an awesome way to get out into the city for a night and explore all the art D.C. has to offer. Every year since 2011, indoor and outdoor venues showcase artwork by D.C. painters, sculptors, photographers, fashion designers, musicians, dancers, poets, actors, and more, with a few international artists as well. Be sure to catch it next year!