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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, that is-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. Please note that we will be keeping you posted on this throughout the season, so read our ART SECTION all the time.

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


  • The Laib Room @ The Phillips – forever there – the 2nd ever permanent commission to the Phillips Collection (after the Rothko room in 1960) is probably one of the most talked about art stories in DC this spring. From our review of it (which we highy recommend you read in its entirety):  “The physical room is closet-sized, allowing space for only one to two visitors. It is a deep, earthy yellow and the only ornament is a bare light bulb hanging from the ceiling. Up close, the wax is filled with marks and irregularities that add pockets of texture and pigment to the uniform color. And the smell; it is overwhelming. It dominates the olfactory, while the sense of sight is occupied. The result is a singular, contemplative space that is isolated, yet seems to radiate out to other corners of the museum.”


  • Albrecht Dürer: Master Drawings, Watercolors, and Prints from the Albertina @ National Gallery of Art (open now-June 24) – from our review of the show: The thread of perfection runs through the entire exhibition: Dürer is constantly working, trying to improve his craft and looking for sources of motivation. In the end, this ultimate inspiration comes from the human figure itself. The Italians claimed they had discovered a mathematical formula to calculate the flawless drawing of man, which infuriated Dürer. He too attempted to use this formula, only to find that such rigid calculations rendered the human figure clunky and awkward. Ultimately, Dürer’s eye was a better judge of movement and form than any skewed formula.


  • Wilmer Wilson IV: The Forever Aftermath @ Artisphere (opens April 3) – part of a dynamic perfomance art programming coming DC’s way this spring (see more on that below in EVENTS etc) this show, curated by Laura Roulet, is (according to the Artisphere press materials) “Inspired by the historic figure Henry “Box” Brown, a 19th century slave from Richmond, Virginia, who mailed himself to freedom, Wilmer Wilson IV used his own body to examine what freedom means. Artisphere’s Artist in Residence Studio becomes a platform for a discursive, flexible exhibition, collapsing the working space of an artist’s studio and an exhibition gallery, and rethinking spectatorship”


  • Hand Held: Gerhard Pulverer’s Japanese Illustrated Books @ Freer Sackler (opens April 6) – a gorgeous run down of different Ehons  (the Japanese term for woodblock-printed illustrated books which were key sources of knowledge and entertainment during the Edo period (1615–1868)), including highlights such as Utamoro’s one-of-a-kind, extraordinary Shell book and Hokusai’s best-selling Manga,  shown together for the first time since the museum purchased Pulverer’s collection in 2007.


  • Over, Under, Next: Experiments in Mixed Media @ The Hirshhorn (opens April 18) – an exhibit of “collage and assemblage”, this show explores the evolution of these forms of artistic expression across 100 pieces of art, spanning a hundred years, since 1913 when Picasso and Braque first started utilizing commonplace objects and materials in their work. (image: Ann Hamilton, palimpsest, 1989)


  • John Dreyfuss’ Inventions @ Kreeger Museum (opens May 1) – Dreyfuss brings his site-specific “Inventions” series of sculptures to the Kreeger, as part of the Museum’s inaugural exhibit around its new reflecting pool.  This show will include works never shown before. (image via Artnet)


  • David Levinthal: War Games @ The Corcoran (opens May 11) – David Levinthal has been creating uncanny tableaux for 40 odd years now. This exhibit focuses on his combat related works, and features his groundbreaking project Hitler Moves East (1975–77), a series of imagined scenes from World War II’s Russian front, among others.  (image: David Levinthal, Untitled (from the series Hitler Moves East), 1975. Gelatin silver print, 15 15/16 x 20 inches. Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, DC. Gift of the artist, 1985.5. © 2012 David Levinthal / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York)


  • Georges Braque and the Cubist Still Life @ The Phillips Collection (opens June 8) – The first in-depth study of Braque’s still life consists of 40+ paintings, covering everything from “from small, intimate interior scenes of the late 1920s, to vibrant, large-scale canvases of the 1930s, to darker and more personal interpretations of daily life in the 1940s”.  (image: Georges Braque, Studio with Black Vase, 1938.The Kreeger Museum, Washington, D.C. © 2012 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris)

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  • A Democracy of Images: Photographs from the Smithsonian American Art Museum (opens June 28) – The exhibition feaures 113 photographs from the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s permanent photography collection, amassed during the past thirty years. Some of the photographers featured include Diane Arbus, Annie Liebovitz, Alfredo Jaar, Mitch Epstein, Irving Penn and others. A must for anyone interested, even remotely, in photography. (image: Trevor Paglan, Cosmos 469, from the collection)


  • In the Tower: Kerry James Marshall @ National Gallery of Art (opens June 28) -National Gallery of Art’s Tower Installations focus on the artistic developments post mid-20th century and this Summer we have on our hands a vibrant AND important addition to the program: the first ever Washington DC exhibit of Kerry James Marshall and “a reflection on African American history and the reverberations of the past in contemporary life” (image: Kerry James Marshall, Great America, 1994, acrylic and collage on canvas, National Gallery of Art, Washington, Gift of the Collectors Committee, 2011)


  • Ellen Harvey: The Alien’s Guide to the Ruins of Washington DC @ The Corcoran (opens July 3) – In case you are in the mood for something completely differnet: Imagine, 100, 200, 500, 1000 years from now, aliens descend upon our fair city (now in ruins)-and what should they see first? Ellen Harvey’s exhibition’s has, as its centerpiece, a self-guided map of Washington’s landmarks. Available for pick-up at the Corcoran’s alien visitor center as well as other locations throughout the city, The Alien’s Guide contains reconstructions and interpretations of such sites as the White House, the World War II Memorial, and the U.S. Capitol. (image: Ellen Harvey, Design for an Alien Souvenir Stand for the Corcoran, 2013. Digitally manipulated watercolor, 16 x 20 in. Courtesy of the artists and Locks Gallery, Philadelphia. Photo: Ellen Harvey)


  • and trust us-there is A SEA OF OTHER SHOWS. A SEA.

  • Kathryn Cornelius’ Lets Not Ever Be Strangers Again @ Curator’s Office (open now) and Take All The Time You Need @ O Street Studios (opens April 13)-
    The show takes place in two locations. The exhibition in the gallery includes performance-based works in video, sound sculpture/installation, and audio and photographic multiples. The works presented in the gallery evolved from the ideas and materials originated in her 2012 Corcoran performance, Save the Date, when, over the course of one day she wed and divorced seven strangers, one every hour on the hour, solicited through social media (see our full photo set from it here-ed) and then on April 13 is a exploration of vulnerability, intimacy, and private/public relations. Following Save the Date, the artist was granted permission to spend 24 hours or less in each of the seven strangers’ homes. In the artist’s words: “I cook their favorite meal and eat half of it, leaving the remainder with a note in their fridge. I explore their personal effects, absorbing and mixing with the energy of their space and belongings. I sleep in their bed, wearing a shirt from their dirty laundry. Feigned connection. Projection. The scent a lover leaves on the pillows.” (image: Kathryn Cornelius, The Awakening, HD video loop, 2013)


  • MUMBO SAUCE @ Contemporary Wing (opens April 5) – Sort of a sister piece to Corcoran’s PUMP ME UP EXHIBIT, MUMBO Sauce (also co-curated by Roger Gastman) “is a survey of artists with deep roots in Washington, D.C., and explores how such factors as Go-Go, graffiti, punk, hardcore, graphic design and fine art have shaped and influenced the work of these artist” Artists include: BORF, Richard Colman, Cynthia Connolly, Tim Conlon, COOL “DISCO” DAN, Clark Fox, Globe Poster Archive, Mark Jenkins, Rosina Teri Memolo, Mingering Mike and Robin Rose. (image: COOL DISCO DAN, Dat’s Hot, Marker on Found Paper)


  • Branching Out @ Art Whino (opens April 13) – a perfect art gallery companion piece to your cherry blossom walking tours
  • Lyle Ashton Harris @ Adamson Gallery (opens May 25) – photographs, video and film inspired by Harris’ travels through Ghana and its “sociopolitical status in the age of globalization”.
  • ACADEMY 2013 @ Connersmith (opens in July sometime-keep an eye out for more details) – the annual invitational survey of outstanding work by MFA/BFA students in the Washington/Baltimore area and beyind, curated by Jamie Smith is one of our favorite shows every summer: full of life, energy and promise for DC’s art future. (image from one of our previous coverages)


  • E10: Conceptual Art @ Transformer (opens July 10) – (From the gallery press release): Launched in March 2004 to support artists beyond the art school experience but still emerging in their artistic careers, this peer critique and mentorship program is intended as a “jump-start” for DC area artists and always produces interesting, novel works. Beginning in early March 2013 and spanning through the end of June, this year’s Exercises artists – chukwumaa, Jane Claire Remick, and Adrian Parsons – will meet bi-weekly with Exercises coordinator Eames Armstrong and lead mentor Kathryn Cornelius, along with invited guest mentors, to receive insightful feedback on their creative processes & career development. The program culminates with a group exhibition or series of mini solo exhibitions at Transformer by the participating artists, providing a public forum to share their resulting Exercises work with the community.
  • also check out: BK Adams @ Honfleur Gallery, Gathering Space @ The Hamiltonian, and more as we recommend

  • WPA Presents: SLEEPOUT, April 20 – to celebrate moving into the Capitol Skyline Hotel, Washington Project for the Arts is hosting a big housewarming/pajama party on April 20th. Woot. Tickets are $35 and include 2 drink tickets, live performances (by Megan Blafas, Calder Brannock, chukwumaa, Kathryn Cornelius, Jeremy Flick, and Maida Wither), videos, music (by Patrick White and Sean Peoples of Fatback DJ’s), snacks – bring your own sleeping bag, tent, pillow etc. BYT is proud to be the media sponsor of this jamboree. (photo from one of the past Capitol Skyline events covered by BYT-ed)


  • Latino/US Cotidiano @ Former Spanish Ambassador’s Residence (opens April 4)– a dynamic look at the rapidly changing nature of the Latino experience in America, hosted in one of BYT’s favorite event spaces in the city. Opening reception is Thursday, April 4th. Curated by Claudi Carreras. Featuring works by Carlos Alvárez Montero, Sol Aramendi, Katrina Marcelle d’Autremont, Calé, Ricardo Cases, Livia Corona, Héctor Mata, Karen Miranda, Dulce Pinzón, Susana Raab, Stefan Ruiz, and Gihan Tubbeh.

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  • Forum of Performance: Aftermath @ Artisphere, April 18, May 16, June 8 – Some of DC’s most beloved performance artists come together in conjunction with Wilson’s residency (more on which can be read in our CAN’T MISS MUSEUM SHOWS portion of this guide-ed) and address the ongoing life of performance artwith, In April: With Holly Bass, Kathryn Cornelius, Jeffry Cudlin, in May: Eames Armstrong, J.J. McCracken, Ian McDermott , and in June: Chukwuma Agubokwu, Sherman Fleming, Wilmer Wilson IV


  • 58th Annual Corcoran Ball – April 19 – Party with a Purpose
  • Celebration of Japanese Arts and Design – April 5-7 @ Freer Sackler – part of their cherry blossom programming. Check asia.si.edu/events for an updated schedule, to include lectures and after‐hours events
  • SUPERNOVA Performance Arts Festival, June 7-9 – is the DC area ready for a fully fledged performance art festival? Well, it better be because at the start of June, SUPERNOVA will “bring together emerging and established local, regional, national and international performance artists to present an expansive range of positions and approaches to performance art”. Presented with the Pink Line Project.


  • TRANSFORMER-Collector’s View – have you ever wondered what hides/is proudly displayed in the collections of some of DC’s foremost art collectors? Well, thanks to Tranformer’s annual springtime COLLECTOR’S View series, you don’t have to wonder no more. (from the website): “Transformer invites Collector’s View participants into some of Washington’s best homes for personal “views” of a diverse range of private art collections.  Participants will be privy to learn, from an insider’s perspective, the motivations, interests and passions of these dynamic collectors on the work they collect. Light fare and libations will be served at each event”


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 the other SPRING/SUMMER 2013 GUIDES: FILM, MUSIC, STYLE and THEATRE (Food closes us out tomorrow) It has been real.