Thursday, July 29, 2010

Art Shows Opening Friday! Be there.

East of the River: 4th Annual Juried Exhibit

Honfleur Gallery (1241 Good Hope Rd SE)

Eleven artists are included in the exhibition; BK Adams, Nigil Brice, Ralston Cyrus, Melani Douglass, Matthew Mann, Samuel Mercer, Marlon Normon, Luis Peralta, Amanda Stephenson, Deborah Terry and Renee Woodward.

Capturing the Spirit

upstairs at the Honfleur Gallery

Photographs by local talent Bruce McNeil examining the Anacostia River, using the mythic spirit Mami Wata as inspiration.

Anacostia: Never Far From Home
The Gallery at Vivid Solutions (2208 Martin Luther King Jr SE)

Past and present look at Anacostia with help from local bloggers Nikki Peele, Fred Joiner and David Garber.

*Starting on July 30th, bring your own photographs to be included in this exhibit. Any photograph taken in the area: family, friends, houses, schools, church, etc. All photographs will be returned at the end of the exhibit. We need your help to share the story of our neighborhood. Questions or to drop off photographs, call Beth @ 202-365-8392*

Student exhibit: TREEts & TREEties
ARCH Training Center (1231 Good Hope Road SE)

Student exhibit includes works by James Holiday, Joseph Roberson, Brittany Jackson, and Audrea Blackwell are the final product of a digital photography class sponsored in part by the National Endowment for the Arts.

graphics courtesy of ARCH Development Corp

Saturday, July 24, 2010

DHCD Buys Big in Anacostia

There are few properties in Historic Anacostia more derelict than those at the corner of MLK & Good Hope and the 4 buildings on the Big K Liquor block. Both sites reek of greedy, out of touch landlords and a complete failure to protect the fragility of the buildings on them.

And, in the past five months, both have been bought by the Department of Housing and Community Development, the DC agency now headquartered in the neighborhood.

corner of MLK Avenue and Good Hope Road

The MLK & Good Hope site is the first thing people see when entering the neighborhood from the 11th Street Bridge, and has long been home to absolutely nothing. The site once housed an awesomely art deco People's Drug store, which has since fallen into itself and is now a faded and dangerous barricade of blue plywood.

DHCD is currently working with some really great artists and the Summer Youth Employment Program to put a mural on the corner. I know the folks in charge of this at DCHD, and they are working hard to make this corner better. The mural will be in place only temporarily while the agency works to either sell the property or find a development solution for it on their own.

the Big K Liquor site, spanning MLK at intersection with Chicago

The Big K Liquor site, above, is home to the liquor store, a rowhouse, and two very sad yet very incredible estate homes. Earlier this year the block was listed as one of DCs most endangered historic places (pdf).

The news that DHCD was purchasing buildings on the block came on Wednesday as I was preparing to testify on behalf of their preservation. While it isn't clear if the sale is final, the move certainly turns the DC government into a major landowner in the neighborhood (as if they wasn't already). I look forward to seeing something positive come out of these sales.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Meet the Anacostia Library

The Anacostia Library at Good Hope and 18th opened up almost two months ago now and it has become an awesome gathering spot.

Most can agree that, regardless of design preference, the building is a great addition to the neighborhood (yes, even though it is technically in Fairlawn, it's just across the street).

the two iconic features of the building are its beacon tower and its overhanging roof

I will say that the only element that leaves me wondering is the vast expanse of concrete in the front of the building. I know that they expect to use it to host tents and such at events like Anacostia Day, but for the other 364 days of the year it is kind of a windswept wasteland.

some landscaping and tables could have extended the life of the library outdoors

bikers and skaters have already discovered it

Indoors, the library is awesome. People everywhere, different zones for different age groups and uses, and tons of natural light. The kids sections is in the front of the building. The brightly colored square to the left is a teaser for a new translucent mural to go on the glass partition.

so awesome seeing kids use the library ... very inspiring

All of the sections of the library are situated off of the main hallway/thoroughfare. The checkout is staffed, but also has a few self-checkout stations.

Looking for a cookbook? There's a shelf featuring tons of great cookbooks, many of which highlight organic and healthy eating ... something that we need more of (and more access to) east of the Anacostia River.

any cooking artists out there looking for a muse?

The back half of the building has the stacks, the computer area, a great sitting room, and a few private conference rooms. Again, natural light everywhere and enough bright green to keep you energized no matter how long your study period.

the stacks are made of recycled shredded paper in some sort of plastic

the reading room has some great lounge chairs

the conference rooms are really well-appointed and professional. Anyone can book them for meetings or study groups

a view of the computer area (these are the PCs, the Macs are in the reading/lounge area)

Outside along the 18th Street side is a massive rain garden that is still under construction. Of course, these 100 degree temps aren't ideal for new planting, but it's encouraging to see efforts made to make this an environment-enriching site.

to the left you can see the shade of a large oak that was saved during construction of the new library

In all, pretty exciting to see this new addition to the general neighborhood. It's awesome seeing people use it every day and that there's a place for neighborhood folks to be and gather that's new, nice, and constructive.