Art in Washington, D.C. is a peculiar barometer of where the city is and where it’s headed. The former is usually a narrative bereft of wild optimism but one that seemingly proves doubters (me included) wrong at every turn. The recent TRIPTYCH exhibit curated by Hen House, JAB and No Kings Collective was just one more example of why the D.C. art community has earned the right to be mentioned in the same sentence as the dynamic communities of Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York, and Chicago.
Without sounding too periphrastic, the TRIPTYCH exhibit worked and was attended by over 3,000 people, because of its expert curation. Hen House, JAB and No Kings provided an impressive diversity of over 20 artists that ranged from Lex Marie’s fluid acrylic brush strokes on canvas to Serli Lala’s dreamy photomontage on canvas. Every piece had a place in the sparse wide-open floor plan of Perla, and every format and style effortlessly complimented the diversity of visions. With exhibits like this, where photography is mixed with physical installations teetering between fantasy and commentary, the concern is always cohesiveness. But as I slowly paced through TRIPTYCH, everything felt tied together with an understated curation that subconsciously made sense.
TRIPTYCH also reaffirmed something everyone in D.C. already knew: no one really compares to the type of scale and organization that emanates through a show put on by No Kings Collective. Sure, the formula might be predictable at times and the fact that the last two No Kings Collective events I’ve attended were either in a building marked for commercial redevelopment or a recently completed upscale apartment building (Perla) sort of supports the argument that art space is limited in the city, but that ignores how well No Kings Collective functions. Their events never seem passive to the whims of the attendees, and TRIPTYCH, with its Sabah pop-up, tidy list of food and drink options, and talented DJs, did not disappoint.
Art All Night is one of the few annual events in Washington, D.C. that brings people out in droves. Art All Night is also a living vibrant yearly status update on art in the city. Each year, art is pushed to a new level, and the interaction between artist and audience goes up another notch. It’s amazing to witness, and events like TRIPTYCH are reminders of how valuable our artists are to the growth of the city.
Words by Ruben Gzirian, Photos by Blink Ofanaye