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Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Art All Night Comes Back to Shaw

Over 20,000 people filled the streets of Shaw on Sept. 23, to attend the Sixth Art All Night festival held by Shaw Main Streets. The festival encompassed the commercial corridors of Seventh and Ninth Streets NW, starting at Barry Place and going all the way down to New York Avenue. The theme this year was #LoveShaw, with the festival’s symbol, a pair of big lips, popping up throughout the night. Funded by the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities and the Department of Small and Local Business Development, Shaw’s Art All Night featured 60 restaurants, businesses and government sites as venues. Given the size of the territory covered, two shuttle buses, provided by U Street Parking, transported participants.

In Blagden Alley, things kicked off with a performance by the Tia Yim Kung Fu Lion Dancers. A series of musical performances followed. Visitors admired the DC Alley Museum murals, lit up and accompanied by light projections by Robin Bell. The Watha T. Daniel Library, the welcome center for the festival, hosted face painting by Anike Robinson and a do-it-yourself painting workshop in the basement led by artist Sydney Buffalow. The DC Housing Finance Agency at Ninth and Florida Avenues NW drew crowds to step dancing performances by fraternities from UDC and Bowie State University as well as a series of fashion shows and a performance by Kayla Harley that recreated the life of Queen Nefertiti.

Besides the artwork displays at Shaw venues Touchstone Gallery and Foundry Gallery, there was a one-night art showcase by the Mid City Artists collective at 1911 Ninth Street NW. At least 25 other Shaw businesses participated in Art All Night by displaying artwork. There were also live painting sessions at 15 venues, including body painting at Urban Athletic Club.

Shaw’s Art All Night also hosted dance parties. The fun kicked off at the Inclusive Innovation Incubator (In3) on Georgia Avenue. The Art Garage party, held in the basement garage of the Wonder Bread building, was also packed. The display of fashions at Wanda’s on 7th hair salon turned into a standing-room-only party. Pekoe Acupuncture and Wellness threw a DJ-driven celebration in their basement.

Art moved through the streets of Shaw all night. The ever-popular women’s drum group Batala Washington held a parade. Led by a set of #LoveShaw celebrants in front wearing lip masks, the celebration ended up at the Watha T. Daniel Library, where the group gave another rousing performance. The Brass Connection, a brass jazz band, and Tulane Club of DC led another musical contingent from the Kennedy Recreation Center up to Parcel 42 at the corner of R and Seventh Streets NW.

Parcel 42 was a major hub of activity the entire night. The Art Rave market featured 24 local artists selling their work. On the wall of the lot were projections by Robin Bell, whose “Swamp Monsters” video slowly turned images of Trump Administration members into threatening creatures. The Creative Junk Food collective projected their #LoveShaw animation, highlighting aspects of the neighborhood. The stage had a constant stream of performers. Ethiopian superstar Yehunie Belay electrified the crowd. Two fire shows provided the finale. Pyroxotic, a band of three women performing daring acts with fire. Then Moksha Nar ended the night with a ceremonial fire fan dance.


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