- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 6, 2006

Everyone knows the capital’s “downtown scene” has been shifting steadily from Dupont Circle and Adams Morgan to the Mid City and Logan Circle neighborhoods. The area near the Convention Center is hopping, and so is formerly seedy 14th Street Northwest between Washington Circle and the Reeve Center on U Street (also a trendy corridor of clubs, shops and upscale condominium projects).

Still, getting an invitation to a fundraiser at Seventh and P streets Northwest was a bit of a stretch for local hipsters quietly dismayed by the absence of a valet-parking notice on the invitation for the District of Columbia Arts Center’s Warhol Celebration Saturday night.

Such concerns hardly deterred about 100 supporters from turning out for the party at Space 9, an extraordinary 5,000-square-foot duplex loft atop the old Lafayette apartments in Shaw. There was plenty to celebrate because of DCAC’s recent breakthrough grant from the Andy Warhol Foundation for eight art exhibits over the next two years. Besides, who could resist the “open call” to “dress fabulous” as “artists, movie stars, heiresses, freaks, hustlers and the otherwise glamorous”?

Buzz centered on a handful of local artists invited to exhibit recent works (helped immeasurably by 17-foot ceilings in the main space), as $99-a-pop VIPS hit the bar (open) and the buffet, featuring shrimp cocktail, a cheese platter and a bowl of pb&j; sandwiches. (The latter was “very Andy,” according to one guest, who probably was still in diapers when the king of pop art died in 1987.)

Video artist Chris Lee presided in an adjacent room, showing “D.C. Screen Test,” his take on Mr. Warhol’s early 1960s films “Screen Test” and “Screen Test 2.” Instead of Baby Jane Holzer and Billy Name, however, Mr. Lee, 44, relied on 15 local pals for five-minute superstar cameos with “minimum direction and no script.”

Maintaining any semblance of an artistic cutting edge has never been easy in Washington, and the fact that an alternative local arts organization earned the notice of the Pittsburgh-based Warhol Foundation was not lost on the crowd.

“Before this, we were always ‘emerging,’” said DCAC office manager Kristina Bilonick. “This is a major breakthrough.”

“It’s a real boost and a validation,” added State Department Art in Embassies curator Sarah Tanguy, “not just locally but nationally and internationally as well.”

Kevin Chaffee

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