Welcome to our latest arts roundup! Today, we’re focusing once again on a place. This time a place where some of our team spend a good deal of time – namely, Washington, D.C.
While curating destinations near our Capitol, we ruled out monuments and Smithsonian museums because they’re already well known. However, you shouldn’t skip the National Archives, where the Constitution’s Intellectual Property clause can be admired in its original handwritten glory.
Within walking distance of the National Mall, Culture House is a gallery space and event venue. The Atlanta-born artist HENSE (AKA Alex Brewer) painted its striking exterior, and the interior boasts beautiful and transporting murals, as well. If dreams come true, CreativeFuture may work with the Congressional Creative Rights Caucus here someday.
In this hip neighborhood, visitors can learn about Black history, attend performances at Howard Theatre, shop at vintage boutiques, sample Ben’s famous chili bowl, admire murals of jazz artists or beloved political figures, and listen to live music at an array of nightclubs. A statue honoring Duke Ellington, who was born here, was installed in 2012. Known to some as Black Broadway, U Street hosts a lively spring Funk Parade.
Twenty miles northwest of Capitol Hill, Glenstone is more than a museum. As the website says, it features not only art but also architecture and nature. The contemporary art collection is amazing and extensive. The minimalist architecture organizes space without overwhelming either observer or environment. Finally, 300 lovingly landscaped acres offer opportunities for exploration and relaxation. From Thursday to Sunday, anyone making the trip up the Potomac River into Maryland may be amply rewarded by Glenstone’s cultural and natural wonders.
Those with more antiquarian taste may enjoy Dumbarton Oaks, a Harvard-affiliated library, museum, and garden. The museum specializes in the Byzantine and pre-Columbian periods, while the library has many rare books from 17th- and 18th-century Europe. We were especially interested by Maria Sibylla Merian’s colorful drawings of South American bugs. Though Dumbarton Oaks draws visitors into the distant past, it is conveniently located in the Georgetown neighborhood, near several of our other recommended destinations.
Regan MacNeil swears, blasphemes, throws things around the room, vomits blood, and turns her head 360 degrees. While she may sound much like any other 12-year-old, Regan is actually a demon-possessed character from William Friedkin’s 1973 horror classic, shot mainly in Georgetown. Film buffs will particularly appreciate the steep exterior stairs, but only trained professionals should try to imitate Regan’s creepy spider walk there.
Audiences can become part of U.S. history at the Kennedy Center’s production of Shear Madness, which holds the Guinness World Record for this country’s second longest running play. (Boston and Chicago productions hold the records for first and third, respectively.) During the interactive comedy, audience members deduce who killed the tenant above a hair salon. Since adapting Shear Madness from a 1963 German murder mystery, Marilyn Abrams and Bruce Jordan have licensed performances all over the world, each tailored to the contemporary local setting. As online video features suggest, the play reliably delivers a raucous and rousing experience.
Founded in 1984, this independent bookshop has survived the rise of e-commerce and e-books to remain a “cultural hub” for D.C. When septuagenarian founders Barbara and Carla retired, the store passed on to former Washington Post journalists Brad Graham and Lissa Muscatine. The new owners believe in “cultivating community and strengthening the common good through books, programs, and a respectful exchange of ideas.” We suggest hashing out any differences of literary or political opinion at The Den, the in-house café and wine bar.
Over one hundred years ago, Franciscan monks in D.C. thought, “If we can’t bring you to the Holy Land, then we’ll bring the Holy Land to you.” Their replica makes pilgrimage convenient and affordable for everyday people, attesting to American entrepreneurship, practicality, and ingenuity. For either devotion or kitsch, visitors can’t go wrong at the catacombs. In fact, they’re the perfect antidote to The Exorcist stairs, for anyone whose heart is still pounding or whose head has started spinning.
That’s our D.C. arts roundup! We hope you found something of interest, whether you like antiquities or novelties.
We’ll feature other cities in future roundups, but none more important to American democracy.
Until next time, find some creativity wherever you can. Stay safe, and be well. #StandCreative