CulturalDC News

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December 6, 2016
Contact: Patrick Landes

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WASHINGTON, DC – CulturalDC’s Source Festival is pleased to announce the 20 Full-Length Plays that have been selected as finalists for its tenth season! The scripts were vetted by a team of over 75 readers and Source Festival producers, led by Source Festival Artistic Director Jenny McConnell Frederick. Over the past ten years, the Festival has developed and produced work that is innovative in its structure and content and has pushed the boundaries of traditional theatricality.

These 20 scripts, narrowed from a submission pool of over 130 plays, represent some of the freshest, most compelling plays being written in America. The three selected Full-Length scripts will be announced in December. The Festival runs from June 9 through July 2 and will also feature 12 10-Minute Plays and three Artistic Blind Dates.

A full list of the plays, including playwright bios, is available here.


CulturalDC Spring 2017 Gallery Intern

CulturalDC is currently looking for interns to assist with gallery management and public art initiatives during the Spring semester of 2017. Flashpoint Gallery has a great lineup of local artists for the Spring and we are looking for individuals who can help with planning, management, and execution of the exhibitions, as well as assisting with public art initiatives across the city.

CulturalDC is a nonprofit organization, founded in 1998 (as the CulturalDC), that makes space for art through its programs and services. CulturalDC’s mission is to encourage artistic innovation by connecting artists, arts organizations, developers, and government agencies to facilitate economic and cultural vibrancy in the District of Columbia and neighboring urban communities.



  • Minimum 16 hours per week; including two weekdays per week and two Saturdays     per month
  • Assist with day-to-day administrative tasks for Flashpoint Gallery
  • Assist with application and selection process for Open Calls
  • Assist Consulting Manager with public art projects
  • Perform basic office and gallery tasks
  • Help with exhibition and theatre openings, panel discussions, and other events and duties as assigned



  • Graduate students preferred, but undergraduate and recent graduates also considered
  • Knowledge and interest in contemporary art and arts administration
  • Ability to work independently and take initiative on projects
  • Excellent written and verbal communications skills
  • Experience with Microsoft Office, working knowledge of Adobe Creative Suite a plus
  • Individual must be comfortable working in a cooperative environment that represents a broad range of artistic, cultural, and social points of view


Compensation: Transportation stipend and class credit available


How to apply:

Deadline for applications: December 23, 2016

To apply, submit a resume with three professional references and cover letter to: with the subject line ATTN: Intern Search-[Gallery Intern]


(((POSITION FILLED))) Arts Management Fellow

CulturalDC is a nonprofit organization, founded in 1998 (as the CulturalDC), that makes space for art through its programs and services. CulturalDC’s mission is to encourage artistic innovation connecting artists, arts organizations, developers and government agencies to facilitate economic and cultural vibrancy in the District of Columbia and neighboring urban communities. We are a catalyst to and a resource for emerging arts organizations, providing them with a wide range of programs and services that support emerging artists’ ability to live and work in the city. Our work brings audiences access to affordable, innovative visual and performing art. We also provide services to developers in their creative space-making initiatives. Flashpoint, our downtown arts incubator, offers affordable space for arts presentations and mentors up-and-coming artists and organizations through residency, gallery and theatre lab programs. Source Theatre, located in the 14th Street arts corridor, is a multi-user performing arts venue equipped with administrative, rehearsal and performance spaces for resident companies and other performing arts groups in the DC area.


The position of Arts Management Fellow offers the opportunity to work for and gain experience with an established arts service organization in the DC area. The position requires 20 hours/week, including some Saturdays and evenings for special events. The Arts Management Fellow will have the opportunity to work with CulturalDC’s Staff on day to day operations and events. The position will receive a unique opportunity to learn about the wide variety of programs and services that CulturalDC offers to area artists and arts organizations.



  • Support Executive Director
  • Work on special arts projects with Program Managers;
  • Conduct research and compile data
  • Reception – manage reception area, greet visitors/guests/vendors



  • College senior, graduate student or recent graduate preferred
  • Knowledge in contemporary art; performing arts; arts administration and programming
  • Experience with Social Media, Web Tools and Microsoft Office Suite of tools
  • Ability to work independently and take initiative on projects
  • Excellent written and verbal communications skills
  • Individual must be comfortable working in a cooperative environment that represents a broad range of artistic, cultural and social points of view
  • Availability for flexible work schedule, including evening events and Saturdays.

This is paid position with a monthly stipend ranging between $800-1,200 per month based on experience and availability.


How To Apply:

To apply, submit a resume with cover letter by NOVEMBER 30 to:

Attn: Development Fellow



CulturalDC Photo By Gedalia Vera (289)

CulturalDC Winter 2017 Intern Program




CulturalDC Interns                             job announcement

CulturalDC is a nonprofit organization, founded in 1998 (as the CulturalDC), that makes space for art through its programs and services. CulturalDC’s mission is to encourage artistic innovation connecting artists, arts organizations, developers and government agencies to facilitate economic and cultural vibrancy in the District of Columbia and neighboring urban communities. We are a catalyst to and a resource for emerging arts organizations, providing them with a wide range of programs and services that support emerging artists’ ability to live and work in the city. Our work brings audiences access to affordable, innovative visual and performing art. We also provide services to developers in their creative space-making initiatives. Flashpoint, our downtown arts incubator, offers affordable space for arts presentations and mentors up-and-coming artists and organizations through residency, gallery and theatre lab programs. Source, located in the 14th Street arts corridor, is a multi-user performing arts venue equipped with administrative, rehearsal and performance spaces for resident companies and other performing arts groups in the DC area.

CulturalDC Internships offer the opportunity to work for and gain experience with an established arts service organization in the DC area. The position requires 16-20 hours/week, including some Saturdays and evenings for special events. Interns will have the opportunity to work with CulturalDC’s Staff, Board of Directors & Artists.  Each position will receive a unique opportunity to learn about the wide variety of programs and services that CulturalDC offers to area artists and arts organizations.

2017 Winter Internships are Available in the Following Departments: 

(((POSITION FILLED))) Marketing & Communications

  • Update CulturalDC website, email lists, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and other social media platforms
  • Assist Communications Manager in the implementation of CulturalDC’s Communications Strategy and Plan
  • Assist with the development and updating media lists and other administrative databases
  • Assist with visitor tracking, and stakeholder correspondence 


  • Participate in consulting projects related to facility and technical management
  • Assistance with set up for meetings and events
    Provide general administrative and operations support, as needed. Ex: paying bills, due dates for check requests, reimbursements and credit card reconciliations
  • Supporting routine and reactive maintenance tasks

Executive Assistant

  • Provide administrative support for Executive Director including calendar management and weekly strategic planning
  • Work on special projects as needed
  • Prepare documents for donor and prospect meetings
  • Support recurring administrative tasks
  • Support some special events including Gallery and Theatre Lab Openings  


  • Prepare acknowledgement letters and other correspondence.
  • Using Raiser’s Edge Database:
  • Assist with the production and mailing of year-end and special appeal letters.
  • Assist with donor events to include invitation, guest lists, registration and other duties necessary for fund-raising events.
  • Help coordinate volunteers for all member-related donor events.
  • Maintain foundation, corporation and individual donor files
  • Continually update and correct database records


  • College senior, graduate student or recent graduate preferred
  • Knowledge and interest in contemporary art; theatre; and arts administration
  • Ability to work independently and take initiative on projects
  • Excellent written and verbal communications skills
  • Individual must be comfortable working in a cooperative environment that represents a broad range of artistic, cultural and social points of view
  • Availability for flexible work schedule, including evening events and Saturdays


Hours are flexible; however the intern must commit to 16-20 hours per week for a minimum of 8 weeks.  Start date and duration are flexible


Class Credit and Transportation Stipend Available

How to apply:

Deadline for applications: November 21, 2016
To apply, submit a resume with cover letter to:
ATTN: Intern Search-[Include position preference]
916 G Street NW, Washington, DC  20001


Nicole Salimbene_Mending_Image for Press

In the galleries: Shiny fantasy worlds, undercut by body parts and company logos


October 1

The veneer of luxury fascinates and repels Jonathan Monaghan. The local artist’s computer-animated videos, two of which are in Spagnuolo Gallery’s “Mothership,” depict gleaming fantasy worlds of space-age vehicles, ornate historical architecture and the sort of decorative items peddled on exclusive shopping streets. But grafted onto these fancy facades are body parts not generally acknowledged in polite society. Sacs, sphincters and such are integral elements of Monaghan’s compositions, and their presence suggests the influence of Matthew Barney’s “Cremaster” films.

The show is made up of large color prints, black-and-white sketches and videos whose narratives spin in ceaseless loops. (All are produced with commercially available software.) The title piece is more explicit in its representation of a branded universe. Corporate logos abound, and Monaghan comments on both their ubiquity and their blankness: A spaceship carries the erstwhile “AA” insignia of American Airlines alongside one for another “AA” — American Apparel. Logos vary and shift but always promote a cycle of consumption as perpetual as those roundabout video scenarios.

The longer and more recent “Escape Pod” centers on a duty-free shop that would fit a Pixar remake of “2001: A Space Odyssey.” Although some of Monaghan’s creations incorporate fleshy bits, no full humans appear. Here the protagonist is a deer — mobile as if alive, yet glittering like pure gold. The animal arrives via floating pod, explores the extraterrestrial shopping mall and later reappears, amusingly, in a section of the tale set in what appears to a model upscale apartment in outer space. The deer resembles a piece of jewelry come to life, but it’s also one of the few things in “Escape Pod” that doesn’t proceed with the stately, lumbering motion of an intergalactic ocean liner. The creature offers the possibility of spontaneity in a programmed cosmos.

That’s an illusion, of course. Every 20 minutes, our golden friend will pop out from the exact same hiding place, as reliable as a post-holiday sale.

Mothership: Animation and Digital Prints by Jonathan Monaghan On view through Oct. 16 at Spagnuolo Gallery, Georgetown University, 1221 36th St. NW. ­202-687-9206.

Public Displays of Privacy

The NSA has nothing to do with “Public Displays of Privacy,” a show of work by four young Washington women at the District of Columbia Arts Center. What’s private in these paintings, photographs and installations is female African American identity, represented both as an idea and by physical attributes.

Two of the paintings in Adrienne Gaither’s “Eye Don’t See Color” series are built from blocks of various flesh tones; in the third, blues and reds bracket solid black-and-white, metaphorical but not literal skin hues. Gaither also furnished a corner of the gallery with items from her home, including books and an African mask. Attached to the wall are Post-it notes scrawled with questions and exhortations.

Danielle Smith’s skillful paintings depict young girls in old-fashioned white dresses and upscale surroundings. In a precise oil, a child hides behind fancy pillows. The artist switches to watercolor for looser renderings of the girls having a pillow fight. The kids are self-portraits of a sort, Smith writes, revealing a privileged black woman’s “feeling of being neither here nor there, belonging but displaced.”

Khadijah Wilson displays two handmade headpieces, connected by a strap and including mouth gags, as well as her photos of female models wearing them. The artist writes that the linked women represent “the self and community,” but some viewers may feel the images evoke subjugation.

There are no faces in Nakeya Brown’s playful photos, which represent black women through their hair and related appliances. Locks are set afire or dunked in a large pot, and a hair dryer takes the place of the receiver on an retro pink phone. The six images here don’t exhaust Brown’s observations on the topic; she has four more hair pictures in Transformer’s “Defy/Define,” a nine-artist show that ponders a wider spectrum of identities.

Public Displays of Privacy On view through Oct. 16 at District of Columbia Arts Center, 2438 18th St. NW. 202-462-7833.

Nicole Salimbene

The white-walled rectangle that is Flashpoint Gallery has been transformed into many things in the past few years. Currently, it’s a combination of workshop and Zen temple, where visitors are encouraged to sit or kneel at low tables and thread needles. The results of this interactive undertaking are not the only stitchery in Nicole Salimbene’s “Mending.” There are also elaborate needle-and-thread installations on the walls and a long tangle of black thread stretched across one of those tables. Most striking visually is a series of primarily white paintings, burned and smoked with matches, whose blackened wounds have been stitched together.

A note explains that Salimbene intends to combine “the art of mindfulness practice” and “the act of threading a single needle” — Buddhism meets what was long considered women’s work. But the D.C. artist also incorporates soil from Santuario de Chimao, a Roman Catholic shrine in New Mexico whose clay supposedly has healing powers. And “Mending” suggests the Jewish idea of “tikkun olam,” repairing creation through good works. For Salimbene, stitching is both a metaphor for improving the outer world and an activity that quiets the inner one.

Nicole Salimbene: Mending On view through Oct. 15 at Flashpoint Gallery, 916 G St. NW. 202-315-1305.

Antonia Ramis Miguel

In Antonia Ramis Miguel’s previous show at the Watergate Gallery, her paintings of streetscapes were more persuasive than those of living things. But some of the strongest pictures in her “Constructivism: The Structure” are of horses, partly disassembled into planes of white, tan and brown. Perhaps Miguel would reject the division between animate and inanimate. One of her large horse paintings is neatly flanked by two small ones of chess pieces, including knights. In these parallel equine portraits, form trumps function.

The selection includes some near-abstracts, rendered in the Soviet constructivist-derived style Miguel adapted from Uruguay’s Joaquín Torres Garcia. The Spanish artist, who lives part time in Washington, also offers views of Madrid and Barcelona, most of them rendered more conventionally. Of the city scenes, the most compelling is “Cathedral Interior,” whose stained glass window complements Miguel’s penchant for fragmenting the image. It’s an apt subject for an artist who often depicts the world as panes of color.

Antonia Ramis Miguel: Constructivism: The Structure On view through Oct. 15 at Watergate Gallery, 2552 Virginia Ave. NW. 202-338-4488.

Nicole Salimbene_Mending_Image for Press

What to see in DC this autumn, from rare Korans to durational performance


Our insider’s guide to the top exhibitions and events in the US capital

by GABRIELLA ANGELETI  |  26 September 2016

What to see in DC this autumn, from rare Korans to durational performance

In Ragnar Kjartansson’s Woman in E (2016), a sequin-clad woman on a pedestal repeatedly strums an E-minor chord (Image: Andrew Miller, courtesy of the Hirshhorn Museum)

Ragnar Kjartansson

Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden (14 October-8 January 2017)
Ragnar Kjartansson’s first major US retrospective opens at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden this month. A rotating cast of local musicians will perform Woman in E (2016), a new work in which a sequin-clad woman strums an E-minor chord over and over on a rotating pedestal during opening hours.

Amendment #8 (2014) by Mark Bradford

Artworks by African Americans from the Collection

Smithsonian American Art Museum (until 28 February 2017)
To celebrate the opening of the National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC), this neighbouring institution will present 184 works by African-American artists from its collection, spanning the Harlem Renaissance of the early 20th century to the present. Visitors can see examples of work by Sam Gilliam, Jacob Lawrence and Loïs Mailou Jones, who are also included in NMAAHC’s inaugural installation.

Ottoman-period Koran from Turkey (1517) (Image: courtesy of the Freer and Sackler Galleries)

The Art of the Qur’an: Treasures from the Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts

Freer and Sackler Galleries (15 October-20 February 2017)
The first major exhibition to focus on the history of the Koran in the US includes 50 sacred texts spanning 900 years, from the early eighth century to the 17th century. Commissioned by sultans and other members of the ruling elite in the Arab Middle East, Persia, Turkey and North Africa, the sumptuous works are on loan from the Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts in Istanbul, which has one of the world’s best Koran collections.

A still from Catherine’s Room (2001) by Bill Viola (Image: © Bill Viola; photo: Kira Perov)

Bill Viola: the Moving Portrait

National Portrait Gallery (18 November-7 May 2017)
The National Portrait Gallery will present more than 20 emotionally charged videos by the New York-based artist Bill Viola. The show marks the first time an exhibition at the museum has focused exclusively on new media. Curators consider Viola’s slow-motion videos as portraits, including a recent diptych projected on granite that explores the fear of ageing.

Panel no. 24 from The Migration Series by Jacob Lawrence (1940-41) (Image: © The Jacob and Gwendolyn Knight Lawrence Foundation, Seattle / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York)

People on the Move: Beauty and Struggle in Jacob Lawrence’s Migration Series

Phillips Collection (8 October-8 January 2017)
All 60 panels from Jacob Lawrence’s visual epic, the Migration Series (1940-41), will be reunited for this exhibition. The series depicts the Great Migration, the movement of millions of African-Americans from the rural South to the urban North in search of a better life. The founder of the Phillips Collection bought 30 panels soon after Lawrence completed them; the others are on loan from the Museum of Modern Art, New York.

E, Gun Gun (2016) by Njena Surae Jarvis (Image: courtesy of the artist and the American University Museum)

E, Gun Gun (2016) by Njena Surae Jarvis (Image: courtesy of the artist and the American University Museum)

It Takes a Nation: Art for Social Justice with Emory Douglas and the Black Panther Party, Africobra and Contemporary Washington Artists

American University Museum (until 23 October)
More than 15 artists, including Hank Willis Thomas and Sheldon Scott, respond to the work of Emory Douglas, the minister of culture for the Black Panther Party, and his Howard University colleagues. Sculpture, paintings and photographs explore art’s role in the political landscape of the 1960s and 1970s.

And locals choose their can’t-miss shows

Melissa Chiu, director, Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden

Isamu Noguchi, Archaic/Modern
Smithsonian American Art Museum (11 November-19 March 2017)
“Inspired by the traditions and materials used in ancient art and architecture, Noguchi’s sculptures are contemporary relics, equally at home in a Buddhist Zen garden and a city centre. There is something very magical about works that appear so simple and yet so intricate; a Noguchi is the sort of object you can look at for hours, always discovering something new and unexpected.”

Grey Sun (1967) by Isamu Noguchi (Image: © The Isamu Noguchi Foundation and Garden Museum, New York)

Sarah Tanguy, curator, ART in Embassies, US Department of State

Nicole Salimbene: Mending
Flashpoint Gallery (until 15 October)
“Salimbene’s breathtaking installation has interactive stations where visitors can experience mending as a medium, metaphor and practice. Interweaving Eastern and Western spiritual traditions, the show highlights parallels between mindfulness and stitching while triggering a quiet meditation on our shared need for reparation.”

Mending (detail; 2016) by Nicole Salimbene (Image: courtesy of the Flashpoint Gallery)

Linn Meyers, artist

Rachel Farbiarz: a Different Country
G Fine Art (29 October-10 December)
“Farbiarz’s works on paper convert loss and dislocation into heartbreaking tableaux of the sublime, weaving a poetic vision that leaves us wondering if our strange dreams and daily news headlines have melded into a permanent reality or if, perhaps, this is all just an illusion.”

Ticker Tape (detail; 2016) by Rachel Farbiarz (Image: Lee Stalsworth)

Dorothy Kosinski, director, Phillips Collection

Ragnar Kjartansson
Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden (14 October-8 January 2017)
“I’m delighted that Ragnar Kjartansson will be at the Hirshhorn this autumn. He was part of a roundtable discussion at Phillips’s own international forum in 2012. That same year, I also admired his mesmerising performance art, The Visitors, at the Luhring Augustine Gallery.”

From God (2007), a video by Ragnar Kjartansson (Image: Rafael Pinho, courtesy of the Hirshhorn Museum)

Eames Armstrong, artist and curator

Rhizome DC’s autumn programme
“All the exhibitions, events, workshops and other programming happening at Rhizome DC are fantastic. The space opened earlier this year in a cosy old house, and it’s radically different from the big institutions in DC, covering everything from electronics to cooking. It feels like a vibrant community is forming and solidifying around it.”

A performance event at the non-profit community space Rhizome DC (Image: courtesy of Rhizome DC)


Nicole Salimbene_Mending_Image for Press

Luce Artist Talk with Nicole Salimbene

September 20, 2016

Each month, the Luce Foundation Center partners with neighboring Flashpoint Gallery to bring local artists to speak about their own work and the inspiration they take from SAAM’s collection. We’ll kick off our fall Luce Artist Talk Series on Sunday, September 25, with Nicole Salimbene, a multimedia artist whose work explores themes of mindfulness and conflict between one’s internal self and the physical world. She will discuss how she uses form to encourage contemplation and provoke dialogue.


Nicole Salimbene in her studio. Photo by the artist.

Have you stood in front of a piece of artwork, eyes swelled with tears or with a grin larger than life, because the piece evoked a deep personal connection or raw emotion inside of you? On Sunday, D.C. artist Nicole Salimbene will discuss how her interactive installations invite viewers to contemplate their own personal relationship with the piece and discuss how it impacts them. Rooted deep within her artistic practice, Salimbene’s art acts as a metaphor for a human experience or represents a relationship with the physical world.

Like Nicole’s installations, artwork in the Luce Center uses form, color and shape to convey the human experience. Rosalind Bengelson’s painting, Abstraction, uses bright primary colors and simple shapes to represent the vibrancy of life while Kenneth Campbell’s sculpture, Nike, uses smooth stone to give it an “awareness of its own sense of gravity, making it seem as mobile as humans are.” Nicole’s work, which hones in on themes of mindfulness and conflict, challenges the viewer to grasp its intended meaning from its material and form as well. Her current exhibition, titled Mending, consists of thousands of threaded sewing needles and tangled sculptural masses of yarn and stitches. She strives to create elegance and monumentality out of everyday materials traditionally used for mending or repair. Her unique material choice and sculptural forms compel the viewer to stop and meditate on the meaning of the piece and their relationship to it. She hopes the viewer draws the connection that the steady act of threading a single sewing needle represents the stitch-by-stitch process the viewer must take to create transformations in their own life and in the world.

During her talk, Nicole will draw connections between her current exhibition and Sean Scully’s work, Black Moon. In addition to Scully’s piece, her emphasis on meditation and reflection takes on similar themes of other works within the Luce Center such as Bruria’s work, Dream Sequence, which uses lace, butterfly decals, and porcelain to allude to a meditative space.

Based in Washington, D.C., Nicole Salimbene creates art for meditative practice and hopes her work brings attention to issues within the environment, compelling the viewer to explore reasons behind their own personal life choices. On Sunday, we look forward to learning more about the connections she draws from the pieces here in Luce, as well as in her own artistic practice.

Please join us at 1:30 p.m. for Nicole’s presentation and a short Q&A afterward.



CulturalDC-HeaderCulturalDC is excited to announce Flashpoint Gallery’s 2016-17 exhibition season. The selected artists this season will address a wide variety of topics and themes across various mediums in nine exhibitions. Featured artists include Nicole Salimbene, Roxana Geffen, Annette Isham + Zac Willis, John Moletress + Eames Armstrong, Sparkplug Collective, Christian Benefiel, Blair Murphy, Khanh Le, and Danielle Scruggs.


Nicole Salimbene Mending

September 17 – October 15, 2016Nicole Salimbene_Mending_Image for Press

Opening Reception: September 16, 6-8pm

This solo exhibition presents the act of mending as art medium, metaphor, and practice. The work invites the viewer to contemplate the poetics of mending as a means to heal, protect, and transform.  It fosters interaction through a low “communal” table reminiscent of a tea ceremony, where audiences are encouraged to thread their own needles and add to the work.



Roxana Geffen Motherload

October 22 – November 19, 2016

rgOpening Reception: October 21, 6-8pm

A series of installations turn the gallery into a beautiful, funny, and chaotically jumbled place. The works present a mash-up of Geffen’s domestic and digital life.  The installations invoke visuals of the domestic and digital through large photographs of real structures; images of real-life schedules and lists abstracted and re-created as carpets, quilts, and networks of fabric and tape; and large, reworked images from digital landscapes.



Annette Isham and Zac Willis

We Are Not Alone

December 9, 2016 – January 7, 2017az

Opening Reception:
December 10, 6-8pm

This multimedia install
ation exhibits the ongoing investigation of
extraterrestrial existence. Through eye-witness testimony,  re-enactments, and video documentation, the artists create a celestial installation that explores the façade that mankind is alone on Earth.




Jojehn Moletress and Eames Armstrong

January 14 – February 4, 2017

Opening Reception: January 13, 6-8pm

This installation consists of objects which become props and setting for performances by the two artists. They explore the possibility that home can never be fixed or static, but a process that runs alongside our endless navigation of living.



Sparkplug Collective

Selfie: Me, Myself, and Us

February 11 – March 11, 2017sp

Opening Reception: February 10, 6-8pm

This group exhibition features work by the Sparkplug artist collective, who will alter and distort representations of themselves as a commentary on and critique of our society’s obsession with selfies. The DC Arts Center selected the members of Sparkplug for a two-year program featuring annual curated group exhibitions at DCAC, studio visits, critiques, and collaborations on other projects.



Christian Benefiel

Delopment of an Argument

cbMarch 18 – April 8, 2017

Opening Reception: March 24, 6-8pm

Modular and interactive, Benefiel’s work is often constructed and secured through tension and interdependent joinery, without glues or hardware. While the structure of the work is sound, this often serves as a metaphor for interpersonal and societal relationships through temporary and conditional attachment.



Blair Murphy Footprint

April 15 – May 6, 2017bm

Opening Reception: April 21, 6-8pm

Footprint is an excavation, an archive that draws on the built memory in and around DC’s downtown core to explore how artists have made space in the city and, conversely, how the city has made space for artists. Striving to avoid the nostalgia that often surrounds conversations about the past, this project starts from the belief that we can learn from the past, even as we critique it and prepare for the future, without falling victim to either blind optimism or cynical defeat.



klKhanh Le Making Memories as We Wait

May 13 – June 3, 2017

Opening Reception: May 12, 6-8pm

Le presents a collection of mixed-media paintings inspired by scrapbooking culture, the history of historical painting, and photograph as memory. He transforms everyday photo albums into colorful abstractions using metallic acrylic paint, gold gelly roll pens, sequins, babbles stickers, and acrylic crystals.











Danielle Scruggs Migrations

June 10 – June 30, 2017ds

Opening Reception: June 9, 6-8pm

This exhibit combines original portraits of the artist’s family members, found photos of her extended family, and illustrations of various locales her family has lived based on historical records, such as draft cards and Census records. The works trace her personal family history and explore the larger issues surrounding the Great Migration of the early to mid-20th century, which is directly connected to the lingering effects of the Trans-Atlantic slave trade.


Flashpoint Gallery hours are 12-6pm Wednesday-Saturday and by appointment. Receptions are generally held from 6-8pm on the Friday evening before an exhibition opens. They are free and open to the public. Please visit for updates on talks at the Luce Local Artist Series and other special events and programming.


An advisory panel comprised of noted art professionals in the DC area reviews proposals and helps make programming recommendations for each season. This season’s panel includes Akemi Maegawa, a Corcoran alumni and artist specializing in sculpture and installation works; Laura Roulet, an independent curator specializing in contemporary and Latin American art and fostering artists in the DMV region; Andy Grundberg, an art critic, curator, and a former dean and professor at the Corcoran College of Art and Design in Washington, D.C.; and Schwanda Rountree, independent curator and collector for Rountree Art Consulting. The advisory panel also provides guidance and mentorship to the artists and curators in the program to assist in the development of each project.

Participants in the visual program also receive artistic and public relations support from our staff. Additionally, artists and curators participate in Flash Forums, a program designed to help develop and incubate upcoming projects. Flash Forums fosters a meaningful dialogue with a community of fellow visual & performing artists, curators, panelists, and our staff, and gives exhibitors an opportunity to ask questions, gain feedback, and compare notes. This year, CulturalDC will also continue its collaboration with the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s Luce Foundation Center. Each artist exhibiting at Flashpoint Gallery has the opportunity to give a talk about their work and how it relates to work on view at the Luce Center. 



CulturalDC operates Flashpoint and produces public art interventions throughout DC. We nurture talented emerging and mid-career artists by providing opportunities for peer learning and mentorship. At Flashpoint Gallery, we showcase bold, new work from artists working in a variety of media including site-specific installations, performance pieces, new media and other experimental forms. As a nonprofit gallery free from the constraints of commercial expectations, Flashpoint provides artists and curators a unique opportunity to take creative risks. An advisory panel of noted artists and arts professionals makes programming recommendations for the gallery and provides mentorship and support to exhibiting artists.

CulturalDC is generously supported by DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities, The Morris and Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation, The National Endowment for the Arts, DC Office of Planning, The Community Foundation for the National Capitol Region, Daimler, Washington Gas, AT&T, Busboys and Poets/Mulebone, Lockheed Martin, Menkiti Group, VOA & Associates, Bozzuto, Torti Gallas and Partners.

Billy Friebele and Mike Iacovone_FutureMonument_Image for Press

The Maker In Residence


The FreeSpace Collective engages with DC Public Library’s new Maker-In-Residence (MIR) program to culminate in a show at Flashpoint Gallery

by Eames Armstrong

Access to photocopy machines and printers is still an important service that libraries provide, but today DC Public Library patrons can also access laser cutters and 3D printers. Of course, there is a learning curve. And now that we can use MakerSpace equipment, what on earth should we do with it?

Last summer DC Public Library launched a new Maker-In-Residence (MIR) program. The FreeSpace Collective, artists Billy Friebele & Mike Dax Iacovone, were chosen to pilot this new initiative based at the MakerSpace in the downtown Martin Luther King Jr. branch. Since I first read about the MIR, I thought it was a smart idea: invite artists into this uncharted part of the library to lead by example, and create a unique platform for new projects to develop and be seen.

Over the year-long residency, the artists learned to use the equipment for their own projects and led public workshops. The culmination of this residency is an exhibition, City of Ghosts at CulturalDC’s Flashpoint Gallery, located just across the street from MLK Library.

Mike and Billy have been working together as FreeSpace Collective since 2008 when they were both in grad school at MICA. Rather than their usual collaboratively created works, this exhibition consists of projects that the two artists made individually, though in tandem. Billy focused on the areas immediately surrounding MLK library, such as the rapidly changing Chinatown neighborhood, and Mike made projection pieces that visualized and mapped data such as the annual homicide rate in DC.

I’ve known both artists for a while, and have anxiously waited to see how the MIR program went. I asked them about their experience as Maker-In-Residence and their resulting and ongoing projects.

CulturalDC announced recently that Flashpoint Gallery will close sometime next year after thirteen years. I’m pleased, if bittersweetly, that I’ll be among the last artists who will show there in January 2017. So I also asked about Mike and Billy about the future for artist spaces and the possible role of libraries. (Full disclosure: Two years ago Mike invited me to speak to a class he designed and taught at the Corcoran called ‘Art Outside the Gallery’ and Mike is a regular contributor to BmoreArt.)

14068490_1100216903404175_6217137419653809183_o14102766_1100215046737694_1502583063641565958_oWinds of Time (over 100 years), 2016

Eames Armstrong: The neighborhood around the MLK Library directly influenced several of the pieces in the exhibition, such as Future Monument for Chinatown, DC 2016 and Winds of Time (over 100 years). What was your relationship with that area like before, and now?

Billy Friebele: I grew up in PG county and vividly remember driving through Chinatown in the 80’s and seeing this desolate, partly vacant landscape. It was known to be a dangerous area. When Ted Leonsis decided to build the MCI center in that area it was a catalyst for change, and the effects are still rippling today. My 23 year-old cousin just moved to DC and decided to move to Chinatown, which represents a major shift in my lifetime.

The residency led me to focus much more closely on this area. I researched the historical changes over time as well as the contemporary tensions between rapid development and the Section 8 housing of buildings like the Wah Luck House and Museum Square.

The act of physically capturing 3D scans of these areas really brought me in contact with the streets in ways I would have never engaged. That is one of the reasons that Mike and I have been working with public spaces for so long, because it leads us to see and experience areas of the city in new ways.

Random Access Remix of “The Three Dimensions of a Complete Life” by Martin Luther King Jr

A lasting image that sparked the Future Monument piece was seeing a row house propped on stilts, next to a lot that had been dug out. In one space you could see this enormous core sample of the area, from the dirt under the concrete, to the historical, to the condos stretching high above. This led to the idea of this space as a process of stacking, layering, and parts being metabolically digested to create new forms. (that idea is from Gordon Matta-Clark)

To take a 3D scan you have to circle an object several times from different angles, and doing that requires that you behave differently than people normally act in public, but it also means that you are focused on looking closely at the details. I found that the 3D scanning project led me to constantly look for objects and forms in the city, and in this area, that were being overlooked. I have a new perspective on this space, and after visiting these sites at different times of day I feel a connection with them.

The scanning project is an attempt to archive the current moment in this specific location, and to celebrate the mundane and everyday, as well as ornate architectural features that may be erased in short time.

Mike Dax Iacovone: For me, the pieces I worked on all treated the city as one entity, instead of focusing on the area around the gallery and the library. I’ve been making work about DC for a long time, and the research I did for my work didn’t really change the way I think about the city because I was aware of most of it. Essentially what I want is for the work to get that information across to the viewer. We’re all familiar with the shape of DC, and I think most people can do a reasonably good job locating where they are within the shape of DC. So then if they’re looking at the Homicide Projectors, or [ANC Statistics], they can see how their spaces relate to the other spaces of the city.

EA: Overall do you think the Maker-In-Residence program was successful? what would you change if they do this residency again?

BF: For us the residency was hugely successful and beneficial. Because the space is so new, and the library is undergoing such changes, I think that there is a lot of untapped potential that could really be utilized in the future. For instance, we tried to branch out and hold workshops across the city, hoping to engage folks from many different areas, but it was difficult to gain traction and lack of communication with the library friends groups ultimately made that impossible. So, our interactions with MLK Library and Tenley-Friendship Library were fantastic, but there is certainly room to expand to other neighborhoods.

Also, I just want to say that the Tenley Friends of the Library were so engaged and welcoming. We really felt a warm response to our workshops there in ways that went beyond the scope of more traditional gallery talks.


MI: The residency really worked out for us. We made work we probably wouldn’t have otherwise made, and we engaged with people we probably wouldn’t have. And most importantly we gained the skills we needed on the equipment to make this work, but also to have that in our arsenal for future work.

EA: Do you imagine, or hope, that libraries (and MLK in particular) could play an even bigger role as art exhibition spaces in the future?

BF: Yes, and I think both parties would really benefit from this. Libraries need to get people in the doors, and maker spaces are an example of rethinking the model. So many artists utilize research and are adept at connecting to the public, so the benefits are so obvious. Really it’s a question of having the staff and resources to manage and support the residents. We were lucky to work as a collaborative team, but I think more support and assistance in making connections with the public is important.

MI: Yeah, I think that libraries in general, and MLK specifically, have done a great job in evolving and remaining relevant. I think 10 years ago I probably assumed we didn’t need libraries anymore, but they fill incredibly important needs in the community. MLK has been doing a great job in making space for art, and I think that will continue to grow. And more importantly, it’s pretty obvious that the paradigm of showing art in dedicated galleries is in need or repair.

To begin with, it alienates the public from actually going to see it, and it ends with not being a financially viable model. There are certainly some galleries that do a good job, but there are fewer art galleries in this city every year. And I don’t think that’s entirely a bad thing. I think it spurs artists to think differently about where work should go, and it’s the impetus for DIY and PopUp spaces. And it makes spaces like MLK library more culturally important. I think in general we all hate to see the galleries close, but it doesn’t make artists go away, it pushes them into considering other possibilities.


EA: If you could invent artist residencies at other organizations, public spaces, museums, companies, etc- what would they be? Whether practical and purposeful like with MIR at MLK. or a fantasy residency situation…

MI: If I were to invent a residency, I think I’d make it so it was about collaboration. I’d like the artists to come in and show what they do and what their interests are, and then I’d like to see if they can collectively create something new.

BF: Great idea! I think sports franchises should have resident artists since they have a good revenue flow and have a built in viewing public.

On a more realistic note, it seems like every historical museum could benefit from an artist residency that could work on connecting to the public in new contemporary ways.

What if Metro decided to have an artist in residence? They need help connecting with the public. I can just imagine artists doing performance pieces or setting up easels on trains.

14115645_1100215066737692_1792996647837174337_o2013 Homicide Projector13987468_10153879440913014_684692429599778568_o2015 Homicide Projector

EA: Well Metro does have Art in Transit and MetroPerforms! programs, but they seem to be pretty restrictive and performance opportunities are unpaid. Any predictions for how dc art spaces will look/function 10, 20 years from now?

BF: Everything is moving east at the moment. I live in Hyattsville and the art scene is thriving. DC is unique in that there is a hard-line border between the city and state, so artists get caught on one side or the other, and this affects things like applying for grants, residencies, shows etc. At the same time, Baltimore is so close, and much more affordable than DC for artists. My prediction is that if the current trends continue, we’ll see more and more artists and galleries moving to the periphery.

MI: I think the future we will see more artists pushing to make things happen for themselves instead of hoping galleries will notice them. I also think that art doesn’t need to be designated as such, and in calling it ‘art’ it already starts turning most people away. If we start thinking about these things as experiences and social commentary that people will be more likely to experience it.

EA: Has a community developed around the FabLab, and if so what is your relationship to, or within, that community? Are you going to continue to use that space?

BF: We really enjoyed working with the librarians in the FabLab sharing ideas and seeing what others are doing with these evolving technologies. I found the space to be great for brainstorming because everyone is essentially trying to figure this stuff out and problem solve, and they are coming from so many different fields (outside of art). So, I will definitely try to interact with that space going forward. Similar to our collaborative projects, it’s just great to interact and converse about the projects rather than working out of a lonely basement (which I also did quite a bit!)

14067795_1100216800070852_3389211849264050469_oMLK Hologram

EA: Did the images in Winds of Time (over 100 years) come from MLK archives?

BF: Yes. I used the Washingtonia collection at the MLK Library to find images of Chinatown from the the last 100 + years.

EA: In making these pieces did you come across any other interesting bits of research that didn’t make it into the show?

MI: Yeah there’s a lot of research I collected that didn’t make it in to the show because I think I was in danger of putting too much information into a piece. I didn’t use some information I collected on how many people receive food stamps, and college graduation rates and stuff like that. I also have collected the homicide locations since 2001, but only used the last four years because I wanted the information to be recent, and to point at the current state of things instead of the past.

BF: More than research into the history of DC (most of that research made it into the show), there are a ton of technological experiments on the cutting room floor, like a robotic piece that runs into walls and then turns around, some hacks using GPS, a few kinetic pieces that failed…

14066460_1100217470070785_8829556608103207014_oANC Statistics with 2016 Homicide Map, 2016

EA: MakerSpace or FabLab stuff is often packaged as if all these new possibilities for making are suddenly accessible and available, but it sometimes seems to me like the limitations could outweigh the benefits of more traditional art making process. I see pros and cons, like 3d scanning and 3d printing an object versus casting a mold of the same object. Did you find that there are some applications of the equipment that are particularly useful? And on the flip side was this technology at all limiting to what you hoped to accomplish?

MI: I’d say that if you’re presented with an opportunity to make ‘anything’ it’s pretty difficult to narrow that down into something you actually want to do. And we did have to wrestle with that a little. It’s hard to not get seduced by the equipment and forget that there needs to be an end goal. I tried a lot of little projects that were kind of aimless, like at one point, I made a cardboard shark with the laser cutter. It was fun, and I was learning the equipment, but ultimately it was useless and thrown away. But it was a good step in thinking about the laser cutter both in its possibilities and in limits.

BF: Well, every tool has limitation, and in the beginning we were a bit frozen by all the possibilities, and also the thought that whatever we produce will inevitably look “so 2016” in the future, but by the end the limitations started to become generators for the concepts. For instance, printing in 3D with PLA is a low-fi process. I was trying to archive the memory of architectural fragments. After scanning the objects, manipulating them with software and then printing in plastic, they become abstractions with artifacts from all of the translations. This started to align with the idea of these ghost forms or memorial objects that trigger memories but are themselves hollow, and sometimes defective.

The limitations of the 3D scanner meant that I could only capture forms that are about 3′ on all sides. This also led to the idea of fragmentation and steered me away from being able to capture large signifiers of place. So, in other words, it forced me to look at small, unnoticed objects or fragments.

14115512_1100215126737686_4407764920063505653_oWinds of Trime (over 100 years)

EA: Whats next? individually, and/or collectively?

BF: I feel like this has opened a lot of doors for us in terms of the tool set we can use to produce our projects. Essentially this show is a collection of experiments, and each one has room to expand. Usually we start with a specific concept, create sets of rules, and then the process of creation is kind of a rote task (so it is more front-loaded creatively speaking), and this process was sort of the opposite. We were forced to try new things, and let ideas sink or swim, and I think that will broaden our ability to let the process become generative.

Collaboration is a conversation. We’ve been having a similar conversation for years, and now I feel like we’ve been given a new mode of communication to exchange ideas.

MI: Individually, we’ll both still work in different directions, and I imagine the FabLab tools will play a part in that to some extent.

I’m not quite sure how yet, because my next couple months will be working with a bunch of video I shot of digging holes out in the desert earlier in the summer, although I will probably create some sort of map to show the locations that might make it’s way through the laser cutter. Collectively we have a collaboration that’s in the early stages that will probably end up in the technology phase on the way to completion.

Thank you so much!



City of Ghosts is on view at Flashpoint Gallery through September 10.

Author Eames Armstrong works in performance, noise, language, and time. Eames is based in Washington, D.C. where they organize performance events and exhibitions.

All Photos by Tony Hitchcock

Billy Friebele and Mike Iacovone_FutureMonument_Image for Press

A Makeshift Memorial: City of Ghosts at the Flashpoint Gallery

Art, from graffiti to public sculpture, lies on countless city streets; its subjective beauty can come to define neighborhoods or endlessly evince messages of social change. But often, it is the inaccessibility of art that proves attractive to viewers. The skill of an artist is impressive because their instruments accomplish very little when placed in another’s hands. Urban communities, particularly Washington D.C., have tried  to change this by providing public programs, allowing individuals to learn and create art for themselves. Billy Friebele and Mike Iacovone call attention to the power of accessible art through their collaborative exhibit, City of Ghosts, located at the Flashpoint Gallery through September 10th.

Friebele and Iacovone are co-founders of the Freespace Collective. Their goal is to emphasize art in community engagement and public spaces. All of the artwork seen in their exhibit was created using machines from the “Fab Lab” at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library, located directly across the street from the gallery. The Lab provides tools, including 3D printers and soldering equipment, for free to the public to create their own works of art. Using the tools of the people, the artists begin an examination of the change and continuity of their city.

The narrow, barebones gallery with plain, white walls and unfinished stone floors is dark, and one cannot quite make out any individual work without standing directly in front of it. After opening the doors, the viewer is greeted by a partitioning wall with a small, charcoal gray head sitting atop a small wooden box. Next to it are the instructions, “1. Press Button 2. Release button after desired length 3. Tear the paper and take the text.”  Looking more closely, the head is a 3D printed copy of Martin Luther King Jr. The face’s features are dull, muted. What is lost in the dark gray gives an interesting ambiguity to the piece. This face really could be anyone. After following the instructions on the wall, a small piece of receipt paper slides out of the base the head rests upon and each guest then receives randomized quotes from his speeches.

The two artists seem to emphasize the crudeness of their medium at times, constructing their pieces with an intentional lack of refinement. Perhaps this is to take the perspective of the inexperienced artist capable of using the very same machines Friebele and Iacovone used in their year-long residency with the DC Public Library. A hologram of Martin Luther King Jr., created using a flat-screen television laid flat with a pyramid of plexiglass, sits on a shoddy table made of crooked 2x4s (MLK Hologram), and projections of DC homicide statistics are made with a series of flexible lamps clipped onto boxes (Homicide Project 2013-2015). At times, however, the simplicity of their work appears more like plain poor craftsmanship than inspiration to budding artists at times. This is quite apparent with the works that utilize 3D printing as wisps of plastic protrude over nearly every fine cut, preventing much appreciation of detail.

The two are focused on their messages more than the physical artistry of their exhibit, presenting designs that are innovative in concept, but less impactful than desired in execution. MLK Jr. is undoubtedly a running theme in the exhibit, an homage to the library in which they worked as well as to his legacy as a tremendous civil rights activist. Such a storied figure included with such simple works feels hackneyed after the initial introduction at the door, included in name only to supplement their commentary on the gentrification and poverty maps projected on the back and right walls of the gallery.

Although they do not necessarily excel at general social commentary, the artists thrive when tapping into the nostalgia of a city that has seen massive infrastructural overhaul in recent decades. Or, as they put it, “[The] Tensions of rapid change and collective amnesia.” They approach this subject with a cold haziness. The projectors showing homicide stats from years past are less in focus. And their cynicism for their gentrifying city is embodied in Future Monument for Chinatown, DC 2016. Hip and gable roofs and ornate archways are stacked in between traffic cones. Winds of Time (over 100 years) shows a slideshow of morose scenes in the city. A weathered man in Chinatown stands, staring off in the direction of the camera. Behind him a sign reads “Alas this is the so called human rights…” to be cut off by his torso. Pencils strike the slideshow screen at random points with a loud pulley dragging them to different locations on the canvas. Only between pictures can one see that it is creating an abstract drawing that can only be described as specks of dust in the wind.

Future Monument for Chinatown, Tony Hitchcock Photography

Future Monument for Chinatown, Tony Hitchcock Photography

Their approach is dark and critical, highlighting a dizzying confusion in the city through their strange and eclectic works. Originality falls by the wayside at times, but their messages still ring true. Their exhibit is dark and clawing for the past as they show the District of Columbia’s poverty and death rates, demonstrating how gentrification keeps the city divided. The only hope is in community, and heroes like Martin Luther King Jr. The most tangible hope they can leave you with are his words. My quote, taken off the receipt paper, reads as follows:

“Before you get through eating breakfast in the morning, you are dependent on more than half of the world. So let us be concerned about others, because we are dependent on others. Now if life is to be complete, we must move beyond our self interest. I do not know what the future holds, but I do know who holds the future.”

Although Friebele and Iacovone use their art to highlight their city’s suffering, a grim present does not condemn the future. Art will withstand the test of time, and change may eventually come with it.

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