Art All Night Comes to Shaw Again

Pyroxotic fire dancers light up the stage at the Shaw Art Market on Art All Night. Photo by Pleasant Mann

The Art All Night festival came back to Shaw on Sept. 29. This was the seventh incarnation of the free, eight hour, open-to-all, overnight event that started in Shaw and is now celebrated city-wide. The theme for this year’s Shaw Art All Night was #SHAWGLOWS, where black lights, neon and other florescent materials were used to add interest to the exhibitions and performances. This year’s festival drew an estimated 20,000 people to see art activations at 30 separate venues in Shaw.

People strolled through Blagden Alley all night checking out musical performances at the 1230 Champagne Lounge, Lost and Found and La Colombe Coffee Roasters, while admiring the colorful laser design projections against the alley walls by internationally known artist Robin Bell. The alley’s main event, however, was at the Nobody space where there was an art exhibition and series of musical tributes to the late Susan Mumford, lead singer for the legendary, DC New Wave band Tiny Desk Unit.

At the Urban Athletic Club, at Ninth and N Streets NW, hundreds sat down amongst the gym equipment to participate in a do-it-yourself painting session. Around the corner, at the Cambria Suites, performance artist Shanna Lim invited visitors to paint her body before she began a traveling dance presentation along Seventh Street NW. At Old City Farm & Garden, on Rhode Island Avenue NW, famed muralist Aniekan Udofia painted a neon black light work on the amphitheater wall of the former Shaw Junior High School, while a silent disco was held in the garden by DC Fray and Closed Sessions.

The Cornerstone, the lot on T Street NW across from the Howard Theater, held a musical tribute to Aretha Franklin, the recently departed Queen of Soul. Then the site was lit up by renowned drumming group Batala Washington, which electrified the crowd with one of their rhythmic performances. Afterwards, the Batala drummers left the lot and led the #SHAWGLOWS parade, accompanied by the Soka Tribe, a group of feathered, Caribbean dancers, down Seventh Street NW until it reached the Watha T. Daniel Library at Rhode Island Avenue. In front of the library, Batala performed another round of drumming to a captivated throng of cheering fans.

The main action Saturday night was at the Art Market on the northeast corner of Seventh and R Streets NW. On a lot bounded by a chain link fence decorated with glow sticks, dozens of local artists displayed their work to the public in tents, a scene where over 10,000 visitors threaded through the site over the course of the evening. The Art Market projected three-story high videos designed by Robin Bell and the Creative Junk Food animation collective. A stage featured live performances by such notable musicians as Ray Apollo Allen, formerly of the do-wop group the Orioles, Yehunie Belay, an internationally-known Ethiopian American recording artist and Christylez Bacon, the Grammy-nominated popular singer and performance artist. When District regulations cut off live music at 10 p.m., the entertainment continued with the Pyroxotic fire dancing troupe and “fire bubble” performances by Jennifer Stephens, who has moved on from mere soap bubble displays to ones that ignite.

A number of late night activities carried on the #SHAWGLOWS theme. On the 1800 block of Seventh Street NW, Floures by & Friends was a temporary installation of black light painting with a simultaneous glow-in-the-dark dance party. At Wanda’s on Seventh, over 3,000 people were counted going through the salon to witness a series of fashion shows in a space decorated with the work of neon artist Craig Kraft. The Shop at Shaw salon on Eighth Street NW held a Glow-in-the-Dark party with a glitter beard and hair roots decoration station along with games, raffles and fashion consignments under black light. At the DC Housing Finance Agency (DC HFA) on the corner of Ninth and Florida NW, The Wave presented interactive painting under black light along with a Blue Man Group-like iridescent paint drumming circle. The night at DC HFA closed with a cabaret led by entertainer Rayceen Pendarvis, with music and comedy by local artists.

Art All Night Shaw is presented annually by Shaw Main Streets with major funding from the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities and the Department of Small and Local Business Development, , Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D).

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