All words: Travis Andrews
Photos via Blended Flickr
It’s hot. I’m not even at the event yet, having stopped for a Mexican brew and an excuse to unbutton one to many buttons on my shirt, and it’s goddamn blazing. I know the choice of date was somewhat based on construction, but hell. It’s warm out here.
The event in question is Blended, put on by AIGA DC and Albus Cavus, and it’s a final part at an empty warehouse near the 9:30 Club that’s set to be demolished. So street artists came and had their way with the place. Tonight, a few DJs will play while some other folks dance, and the warehouse, now a work of art thanks to street artists, will be on display.
It’s $10 to get in and another $10 if you want to hit the open bar and gorge yourself on Heineken, Heineken Light, Cupcake white wine and some kind of red wine. Some buckets of Vitamin Water and Fuze are lying around as well, and it’s a good thing because it’s not exactly cooler here.
The event is split between the outside, where the Port-O-Potties and a couple food trucks are hanging out, and inside, where the bars and DJs are chilling. More than 60 artists have decked out almost every inch of the warehouse, interior and exterior.
Somehow, the heat makes sense while drinking warmish beer and looking at street art. A nice, crisp Fall day just wouldn’t do.
My immediate reaction is how disappointing it is that this will all be reduced to rubble so JBG can build a new set of condos. It’s incredible and almost schizophrenic in its artwork. It makes sense: 60 artists aren’t going in to create one solid piece, but in a way, the different styles don’t quite clash as they do form something bigger that really is impossible to describe because it’s fairly impossible to understand.
Jennifer Bitzinger, a local graphic designer and old friend, put it best as she stared around in something akin to awe: “It’s easy to look at everything as one marvel, but if you focus in one each piece, it’s even more awesome.”
Seems obvious, but it’s hard to do at first. The amount of artwork is overwhelming, and there aren’t your usual art gallery rules in place here. No one is lining up, staring at one piece, thoughtfully rubbing his chin then moving to the next one so you can emulate everything he just did. Instead, people are viewing the art as schizophrenically as it’s placed.
And, have to admit, the open bar and DJ music probably isn’t helping some normal art-viewing. But that’s the point: this isn’t just a collaboration, it’s a collision. Well, it’s hundreds of collisions that are created with the foreknowledge that everything will soon be nothing but dust.
It’s packed too. And don’t forget the heat. People are pleased, though, to soak it in — the heat and the art — while they power through as many “free” brews and glasses of wine as they can before it’s all gone. That time turns out to be 9:40, when the beer runs out. But AIGA DC and Albus Cavus know how to run an event, it seems, since the beer returns ten minutes later. It’s warm, but by this point, no one is complaining.
Instead, they’re taking in walls of paint twisted into new worlds as the sun sets outside. It’s a sad moment, watching the light fade away and realizing that this is the last time people will really gather to take in this art.
One thing is for sure, simple as it is: this should happen with every building slated for destruction. And, you know, not to talk too crazy here, but maybe we could try doing this with a building that’s going to stick around for a while.
Of course, maybe it’s like a summer romance: the magic is in its ephemerality.