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compiled by: Svetlana Legetic

It is a pretty fabulous DC Fine Arts SPRING/SUMMER ahead. So much so that listing everything that’s going on in any kind of comprehensive way seemed near impossible. Instead, sort of like with our other guides, we decided to focus on the unmissables (in our opinion-please feel free to suggest your choices in the comments).  From museum shows to gallery exhibits to the fairs and festivals and great events, we got you covered here.

ENJOY, and follow us on facebook and twitter (@BYT) for ongoing updates.


  • ART OF VIDEO GAMES @ AMERICAN ART MUSEUM (now-September 30) – The Art of Video Games is one of the first exhibitions to explore the forty-year evolution of video games as an artistic medium, with a focus on striking visual effects and the creative use of new technologies. It features some of the most influential artists and designers during five eras of game technology, from early pioneers to contemporary designers. The exhibition focuses on the interplay of graphics, technology and storytelling through some of the best games for twenty gaming systems ranging from the Atari VCS to the PlayStation 3. TRANSLATION: heaven for nerds and those of us who love nerds.

  • IN VIBRANT COLOR: VINTAGE CELEBRITY PORTRAITS from the HARRY WARNECKE STUDIOS  @ NATIONAL PORTRAIT GALLERY (now-September 9) – Employing a special one-shot camera of his own design, Warnecke began producing color images for the Daily News in the 1930s by utilizing the technically demanding, tri-color carbro process—the first practical method for color photography. Over the course of three decades, Warnecke and his team photographed hundreds of people in the news, from popular film stars and athletes to military leaders and government officials. Now you can see it all on display at the NPG.

  • DOUG AITKEN’S SONG 1 @ HIRSHHORN (now-May 13) – we’ve already written about it but we can’t lose a single opportunity to remind you YET AGAIN:  It’s architecture, cinema, music, public art—all together into one piece. It is mindblowing. It makes the museum look like it is glowing from within. It uses  11 high-definition video projectors to seamlessly blend moving images around the entire building to the tune of the pop song “I Only Have Eyes for You.” The film will include more than 15 covers of the song from a diverse group of artists including Beck and original by  The Flamingos. It is EVERYTHING. GO.

  • EXPERIMENTAL MEDIA 2012: Washington Project for the Arts + Artisphere (April 12-May 20) – interactive installation works, a video screening program and a workshop series. While highlighting the creative potential of this technology, Experimental Media 2012 also seeks to explore the broader social and cultural implications of these rapid changes.

  • I SPY: PHOTOGRAPHY AND THE THEATRE OF THE STREET @ NATIONAL GALLERY OF ART (April 22-August 5) – Since the invention of small hand-held cameras and faster films in the late 19th century, photographers have been fascinated with capturing everyday life in the urban environment. An exhibition of nearly 90 works will celebrate how photographers such as Harry Callahan, Bruce Davidson, Philip-Lorca diCorcia, Walker Evans, Robert Frank, and Beat Streuli creatively pursued a new genre of street photography, capturing the diversity and rapid pace of modern life.

(Philip-Lorca diCorcia, Head #22, 2001 , National Gallery of Art, Charina Endowment Fund ,Copyright Philip-Lorca diCorcia ©)

  • PERSPECTIVES: AI WEIWEI @ FREER & SACKLER GALLERIES (May 12- April 7, 2013) – presented concurrently with a retrospective of Ai Weiwei’s works at the Smithsonian’s Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, this exhibit features prolific Chinese artist Ai Weiwei’s monumental installation Fragments (2005). Noting the abundance of antique wood on the market, Ai had a number of pieces transported from Guangdong to his studio in Beijing to create a series of objects and installations. Fragments is a culmination of that body of work.

(Picture: Fragments 2005 Iron wood (Tieli wood), Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) Table, chairs, parts of beams and pillars from dismantled temples of the Qing Dynasty (1644 – 1911) (h)500 x 850 x 700 cm Photocredit Ai Weiwei © Ai Weiwei)


(Photo (detail) by Alejandro Piedra Buena. Courtesy of the Museo de Arte Popular © 2010.)

  • NEXT at the Corcoran: Class of 2012 – DC is home to the ONLY art school in the country directly associated with a world class museum and we should do all we can to celebrate that fact. Every April they throw a big show showing off the best and the brightest in that year’s graduating class and if past years are anything to go by, we’re in for yet another treat.

(image credit: Deni Henry)

  • ALBERTO SCHOMMER: PORTRAITS AND SCENARIOS @ Embassy of Spain (Now-July 6)- Starting with his connection with the innovations and changes in Spanish photography of the 50s, Schommer has pioneered a path full of challenges in form, always guided under the influence of the oeuvre of Irving Penn and William Klein.


  • JASPER JOHNS: VARIATIONS ON A THEME @ PHILLIPS COLLECTION (June 2-September 9) – One of the most celebrated artists of the modern era, Jasper Johns (b. 1930) brought new advances to printmaking. Drawing from the artist’s rich vocabulary of images, this exhibition features approximately 90 iconic examples of targets, flags, numbers, and other subjects he explored from 1960 to today. The first exhibition of his work at The Phillips Collection, Jasper Johns: Variations on a Theme celebrates the legacy of Johns’s prints, as seen in his visionary response to lithography, intaglio, silkscreen, and lead relief sculpture.

(Jasper Johns, Figure 1, 1969. © Jasper Johns and Gemini G.E.L./Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY.)

  • GEORGE BELLOWS @ NATIONAL GALLERY OF ART (June 10-October 8) – When George Bellows died at the age of forty-two in 1925, he was hailed as one of the greatest artists America had yet produced. Starting in June, the National Gallery of Art will present the first comprehensive exhibition of Bellows’ career in more than three decades (to include: 150 paintings, drawings, and lithographs) providing the most complete account of his achievements to date including his iconic paintings of tenement children, boxers, and the urban landscape of New York.

(George Bellows, Both Members of This Club, 1909, Chester Dale Collection, 1944.13.1)

  • RICHARD DIEBENKORN: THE OCEAN PARK SERIES @ CORCORAN (June 30-September 23) – A pivotal figure in the history of modern painting, Richard Diebenkorn (19221993) was an innovator whose work inspired legions of artists and greatly advanced the lexicon of abstraction. The Corcoran is the only East Coast venue for Richard Diebenkorn: The Ocean Park Series, the first major museum exhibition to focus on the artist’s most celebrated body of work. The exhibition features more than 80 works, including large-scale paintings, smaller paintings made on cigar box lids, mixed-media drawings on paper, monotypes, and prints.

(Richard Diebenkorn, Ocean Park #27, 1970. Oil on canvas, 100 x 81 inches. Brooklyn Museum, Gift of the Roebling Society and Mr. and Mrs. William K. Jacobs, Jr. ©The Estate of Richard Diebenkorn.)

  • ONE LIFE: AMELIA EARHART @ NATIONAL PORTRAIT GALLERY (June 29-2013) – Timed to coincide with the 75th anniversary of her disappearance, this one-room exhibition will bring together a selection of portraits of Earhart in all artistic mediums, many of which are in the collections of the National Portrait Gallery and the National Museum of Air and Space. BONUS: Visitors will also be able to see rare vintage film and audio excerpts of Earhart on a special video kiosk in the gallery.

  • ANTHONY GORMLEY: DRAWING SPEACE @ THE PHILLIPS COLLECTION (June 2-September 9) – The Phillips presents the first major U.S. exhibition of works on paper by British artist Antony Gormley (b. 1950). Internationally acclaimed for his sculptures, installations, and public projects that investigate the human body’s relationship to space, the artist also produces exquisite figure and abstract drawings and watercolors. The exhibition features a wide range of works on paper as well as a selection of recent sculpture, linking Gormley’s work in various media.

DISCLAIMER:It should be noted that, unlike major museums, all the glorious independent galleries of DC don’t have 6 months of upcoming exhibits posted on their calendars so this is but a VERY LIMITED SELECTION. Please ALWAYS read our ART section and BEST WEEKEND BETS for updates etc.

  • CALDER BRANNOCK: ADVENTURE RESIDENCY PROGRAM HEADQUARTERS @ Flashpoint (Now-April 27) – And now for something completely different:  Flashpoint Gallery acts as home base for Brannock’s Adventure Residency Program Headquarters. The project builds upon Brannock’s earlier project, Camper Contemporary, a mobile art gallery fashioned from a vintage camper. Brannock will expand upon Camper Contemporary’s Adventure projects, organizing artists and audience members to take trips to produce artworks based on shared experiences. Visitors will be encouraged to borrow objects from the gallery in order to create self-guided personal adventures. In addition to self-guided adventures, visitors will have three opportunities to go on Adventures with the artist. Where do we sign up?

  • I’m Coming Home by Heideh Javanshis Ilchi @ Contemporary Wing (May 12-June 16) –  Heideh was was born and raised in Tehran but her artistic career is DC based through and through-from the Corcoran BFA to the American University MFA she is a young painter to watch, using color and imagery from both of her homes to convey a very modern sensibility.

  • LUMEN8 Festival in Anacostia (starting April 14) – Anacostia is about to become a VERY cool place: LUMEN8 will inaugurate a series of creative spaces in the commercial corridor of Historic Anacostia from noon to midnight Saturday April 14.  The corridor will come alive with illuminated storefronts, landmarks and murals.  Creative spaces from Good Hope Road up Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue will showcase the works of local fine artists, artisans and creative entrepreneurs.  The festival will include performances by visual artists, dancers and actors throughout the day and into the night. For a full schedule/more info, click here and for a sneak peak of one of the first installations in place (Monica Canilao’s 5×5) check out Liz Gorman’s PHOTOS:

Please feel free to let us know in the comments if you feel we missed something (and we probably missed a bunch, lets face it). And please read the rest of the all important fall guides too: