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Posted at 9:23 AM ET, 06/ 3/2009

Highlights from Artomatic

By Stephanie Merry

Artomatic got started on Friday with an evening of live music and theater to complement nine floors of art. Yes, nine floors. And over that vast expanse of wall space, you can see the work of 1,500 artists, from graffiti to glass and textiles to impossible-to-explain installations. Opening weekend saw a lot of traffic to Artomatic's newest home in Southeast above the Navy Yard Metro station. More than 6,000 people stopped by on Friday, with a total of 15,000 visitors over the entire weekend. So what should you see when you head to Artomatic? Some popular draws, offbeat selections and upcoming events after the jump.

Jessica Van Brakle's work at Artomatic. (Michael O'Sullivan/The Washington Post)
It's obviously hard to give recommendations for what to see at Artomatic given the volume of work. Think of the show as a thrift store -- I'm digging around to find that perfectly worn T-shirt but there will, inevitably, be people hoping to find a Mrs. Roper-style floral muumuu. So here's a brief rundown of my faves. I look forward to seeing your top picks in the comments.

Oddly enough, my two favorite artists shared a Color School meets urban landscape sensibility. Jessica Van Brakle's paintings featured bright color blocks atop floral vines intertwined with building cranes. Meanwhile, Michael Torra's monochromatic city skylines pop against a backdrop of bold, colorful lines.

I was digging Mishka Jaeger's creative musical scores that subbed in keys, buttons and coke can tabs for musical notes, and I'm sure I'm not alone with my interest in Tim Tate's latest. The Washington Glass School co-founder has a display of glass orbs encasing little movie screens. And then there's Pat Goslee, who recently had a solo exhibition at DCAC, and shows off her eclectic abstractions that mix geometric patterns with dramatic swirls of color.

But Artomatic isn't just about the beautiful and the mesmerizing. There's also the silly, the cringe-worthy and the pieces that make you internally yell, "What the...?" So I have to show some love for the offbeat selections that I wouldn't want in my bedroom, yet are still worth a look. First up is the "Interactive Pop Art Couch," which not only offers a comfy place to take a break, but visitors to the brown '70s-style sectional can also amuse themselves by popping packing bubbles that are draped over the couch like a throw blanket. And who doesn't love packing bubbles? So simple, yet so satisfying! Next are the Peeps finalists from our contest right here at The Washington Post. If seeing a slideshow of Peeps dioramas wasn't enough, and you just have to see the real version of marshmallow treats posing as the passengers on US Airways flight 1549, you're in luck.

Dana Ellyn, who recently had politically-inspired art on display at H&F Fine Arts, has a painting of girls gone wild, flashing nuns for (rosary) beads. Twisted Tidings shows off inappropriate greeting cards that I would not recommend anyone getting for their honey on Valentine's Day (unless, of course, the objective is to get out of said relationship). And Deb Jansen has a bone to pick with the woman that stole her husband in "Catharsis and Karma" in which she writes a heart-wrenching "open thank you letter to a homewrecker."

As for special events, there's a slew of concerts, movies and other performances. Here are just a few things to look forward to:

If you missed the last batch of videos from the 48 Hour Film Project, you get another chance on Thursday. Fire dancers descend on the area outside the Artomatic building on Friday, and aspiring photogs can take advantage of a Photography 101 workshop on Saturday. Want a tour of the facility with people who really know art? The Washington Glass School will be showing people around this Sunday and on June 13, while hundreds of Artomatic artists will be on hand to discuss their work.

-- Stephanie

By Stephanie Merry  | June 3, 2009; 9:23 AM ET
Categories:  Museums  
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Great review! So many fantastic things to see. I also liked Michael Torra' work, and enjoyed his website.

Posted by: fauxjenny | June 7, 2009 9:12 PM | Report abuse

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