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Posted at 12:27 PM ET, 11/ 1/2006

Sight: City Hall

By Julia Beizer

At last night's opening of the new City Hall Art Collection, Council Chair Linda Cropp talked about renovations to the District government's headquarters in the last decade. "You know when you move everything into a new house and you look around and you say something's missing?" she asked. According to Cropp, what's been missing from the John A. Wilson Building is the presence of local artists.

When the D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities' public art organizers dreamed up the idea for a City Hall Art Collection, they wanted something that would represent the talent in this city -- and no, not the oratory or political variety. This new collection does just that. It offers canvasses from the biggest names in the D.C.-area art scene, including Sam Gilliam, William Christenberry and Tim Tate. Gallery lovers, you'll find works by many artists you know on the walls.

And while any art collection that is meant to represent Washington wouldn't be complete without our shining stars, there's also something else at play here: a snapshot, or celebration, if you will, of life in Washington. Franz Jantzen's set of panoramic photographs of the C&O Canal, Javier Gil's topsy-turvy drawing of a Metro station, Jody Bergstresser's painting of the Tivoli Theater: it is these slices of Washington that -- when combined with the big shots -- make this collection a perfect public art installation for Washington's city hall.

Most of the 175 artworks on display are paintings, but several photographs, lithographs and a couple sculptures are littered throughout. I'd advise any art lover to start a tour from the building's fifth floor because the bright canvasses in the hallway by the mayor's suite are worth a considered look.

Spend some time with Victoria Restrepo's "Still Life with Hot Peppers," Jae Ko's "Untitled Red" and Max Hirshfield's photographs, but really this collection is best experienced by just wandering through the halls. Stop by the works that catch your eye and recognize that this beautiful canvas is just steps away from your councilmember's office.

That's really what public art is all about, isn't it?


By Julia Beizer  | November 1, 2006; 12:27 PM ET
Categories:  Museums  
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What a treat to find such a good review by Julia of this important new public art collection.

Washington, DC area museums tend to ignore DC area artists, and as there is not a physical Washington Art Museum, this collection is the closest that anyone can get to seeing what it might be like.


Posted by: Lennox Campello | November 2, 2006 10:59 AM | Report abuse

Yes, Julia, it is a treat to find your review of this new City Hall Art Collection. As the Washington, DC Art Scene continues to blossom, it's important for our reviewers to step up to the plate and cover the shining visual artists in the city.

Thank you for the great review!

Posted by: Anne Marchand | November 2, 2006 3:13 PM | Report abuse

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