all photos (unless otherwise noted) by Andy DelGiudice
Unless you’ve been hiding under a (pretty large) rock somewhere, you know that the annual ART ALL NIGHT extravaganza is happening on September 27th (this weekend!) and bigger and better than ever. With over 60 venues involved and literally hundreds of artists and organizations participating, it is definitely one of the most anticipated (and most fun) art events in our fair District. In order to get a handle on what is going on, how it is going on and what you should definitely NOT be missing, we both caught up with Ariana Austin, founder and mastermind behind the whole operation and sent a photographer around town to capture some moments of prep among the participants. Get ready for a VERY BUSY (in the best way imaginable) Saturday.
(photo courtesy of Jati Lindsay)
BYT: To someone who has never experience ART ALL NIGHT, how would you describe it? What’s the elevator pitch?
Ariana Austin: Art All Night is a free all-night cultural experience encompassing five of DC’s most vibrant neighborhoods: Dupont Circle, Shaw, North Capitol, H Street NE, and Congress Heights. It’s the city’s only nighttime arts festival–in its 4th and largest year. It’s a celebration of contemporary art in Washington; a whirlwind of light, night + magic (photo below: Clarissa Villondo from our 2013 coverage of the event)
BYT: What inspired you to bring this project to DC? What made you think it would work?
AA: When I was twenty-four, I was living in Paris and attended “Nuit Blanche”- a nighttime arts festival. When I came back to DC, my hometown, I wrote a grant for a smaller version and then linked up with a dream team to make it happen. We were so limited in terms of budget (vs Paris’ Nuit Blanche which is a million dollar endeavor), we were forced to make something different – “Art All Night DC”. Our version is part projection/part gallery walk, more culture-fest than visual arts-specific.
I wasn’t sure it would, but it’s a small, beautifully laid out city with enormous cultural, intellectual, and international capital.
As I sold the idea, artists, cultural organizations, property managers loved it so step by step it got bigger and bigger. And the city did embrace the event with 15,000 people coming out that first night in 2011. Every venue at capacity, people in the street at 3am, drunk with culture-my little city dream. It had two smaller years, and this year it’s double the size of 2011, so it’s exciting.
BYT: How is the 2014 edition of ART ALL NIGHT different from the previous ones – it seems like it is growing?
AA: Yes! This year, the DC Arts Commission is producing the event in partnership with the Main Street organizations–expanding the festival into four additional neighborhoods. The festival began in Shaw and will expand to Dupont, H Street, Congress Heights and North Capitol. We have a Circulator Bus connecting the neighborhoods free of charge from 9pm-3am. We have at least 60 venues so it’s big this year, a ton of great, diverse programming. I’ve always been surprised by the number of people who get really into it, and go to each venue. I hope that people will travel to at least two-three neighborhoods.
BYT: What is the process in organizing this? How do the participants get chosen, is there a curatorial process, are there regular meetings or does everyone independently handle their own projects within it?
AA: This year, every neighborhood was a little different. The DCCAH expansion is a partnership with the Main Streets organizations so every Main Street was in charge of their own mini festivals. They did an internal artist call initially-to make sure their artists, galleries, cultural entities were supported first. It’s nice because it’s very connected to the artists, venues, spaces, the businesses-it really is very rooted in each community-this is different from previous years where we had a set of venues, an artist call, and intentionally brought in diverse partners to program/transform a space.
After the intial round, I provided overall creative support, brought on partners, filled holes, came up with themes per neighborhood, linked venues with curators/embassies/organizations. Alissa Greer is our Operations Director and has worked on Art All Night since it’s inception. Together, we worked to coordinate each Main Street and provide overall creative and overall operational support. If there were holes in programming, we filled with projects we knew about (the Neighborhood Portal) or were sent, or knew the creatives behind.
I brought on a light partner, Huqa, a transportation partner, Lyft, and a tech element + content partner, Google Glass. Our partnership with Glass is: AAN is partnering with Google Glass to provide interesting first person perspectives from each of the neighborhoods throughout the night, supplied by a few creative influencers. Their photos and videos shot #throughglass with be reposted and tagged @GoogleGlass and @ArtAllNight so we will get a lot of content through a cool tech method.
BYT: What does your typical day look like the week of the event, and the day before the event and the day of the event?
AA: This week, we met with each Main Street to hand over collateral, brochures, t-shirts, signage and to do a run-of-show for each venue. I did press interviews, checked-in with social media, managed all partners to make sure we’re going smoothly. Friday, I have an interview for our Media Rise 48-hour challenge videographer, then a couple of hours at Google DC to be in on the training with the ‘creative influencers’, keeping the evening open to put out fires.
The day of: still figuring it out! We have to do a run-of show for ourselves soon but it will begin very early, and very late ☺
BYT: What do you personally do on the night of?
AA: I run around with Alissa Greer, our operations director, checking out each venue, putting out fires, absorbing as much as I can, trying to get a sense of attendee energy, grabbing a quick coffee. The biggest problem is keeping my phone charged. At 3am, we go around again to see about take-down and get home somewhere around 5am.
BYT: If teleportation was an option, what would your ideal list of must-see spots & events on the 27th be? (I know it is hard to pick but…this is an important one):
AA: Lets see:
- North Capitol. Art Soiree was our first cultural partner for AAN, together with Alliance Francaise + Embassy of Spain they programmed the Wonderbread Factory (this time around, check out the No Kings 100% BREAD installation there). This year, we gave them a brand new underutilized space: the corner of Florida + North Capitol where they are transforming three massive lots with Performances, Graffiti, Body Art + light happenings.
- The return of Afrobeat! + Capital Fringe’s takeover of another great DC corner- H Street, Benning Road, and Bladensburg Road with performers.
- Dupont’s galleries will be activated with light + music. Seeing the exterior of Heurich Mansion lit, and Alex Braden’s Outside and Play, a 12-minute site, sound, and time-specific performance at midnight at Hillyer Art Space.
- 7:00pm – 9:00pm – The Dark Room (rear room): A collaboration between Tendani Studio, Craig Kraft, Shutter DC, Entaty Music, and Sydnea Lewis; a multimedia maze composed of light, graphic projection, and sound.
- Excited for Jim Webb’s neighborhood portal installation where you can digitally connect with AAN attendees in Shaw + Congress Heights
- I’m also excited for Parallel Film Collective’s “District Riots” –a newly curated film series from the collective, that will exhibit short, cutting edge experimental films from young filmmakers locally and globally- at the wall at 1713 7th Street, NW (Wall) right across from Shaw Library which is a wall I’ve wanted to activate forever.
- Carnegie Library is a great space and has live music all night + a silent disco.
- Embassy of Italy’s Renato D’Agostin exhibition. Gorgeous city-driven imagery at 651 Florida Avenue, NW, a vacant space at the corner of Florida + Georgia.
- Gregg Deal’s timely performance piece.
BYT: Where do you see Art All Night going next year, five years from now, etc?
AA: I’m very excited for the possibilities of AAN in 5 years. I hope that the city will continue to support us. I hope the festival is solidly annual, city-wide, with more lead time, a couple of artistic directors to think really critically about the spaces + the city, a few key international artists and large-scale projections, at least one Smithsonian open late. I would love to see the event go until 7am, complete with breakfast for culture revelers, a la Paris’ Nuit Blanche.
BYT: What are your plans for the morning AFTER ART ALL NIGHT?
AA: Sleep late, then have a post-event celebratory glass of champagne with my fiancée
BYT: Any shout-outs?
AA: Shout-out to everyone! All the Main Streets, the artists, the venues, the curators, the volunteers, the property managers, the embassies, and all the attendees who show up, look great, are enthused and vibrant–and all those who worked so hard in 2010/2011 to make this thing fly.
BYT: And finally, once this is over… What are some of the other Fall/Winter art happenings in DC you’re looking forward to?
AA: The National Gallery of Art’s celebration of James Baldwin’s 90th Birthday in October–The screening of “The Price of the Ticket”-which I’ve never seen-and discussion with the filmmakers.
Middleburg Film Festival—an intimate fall film festival with wine, horse-riding, and fantastic films-all at a dream resort.
Meridian Ball- the event of the season celebrating a fantastic cultural diplomacy organization.
BYT: Thank you! And good luck!
ART ALL NIGHT is happening September 27. Details and venues and events, right this way: http://www.thedcarts.com/
And now for some more photos of the artists and venues getting ready for the weekend: