DC Summer Arts Scene
We, The Party People photo: Courtesy of www.brightestyoungthings.com and other event photos: Courtesy of respective event hosts

DC’s Summer Arts Scene

As interns stream into the city and cafes open their rooftops and sidewalks to beautiful summer nights, the art scene around the DMV has plenty to offer. Whether you like to make art, listen to music, explore the work of contemporary painters or learn about DC’s incredible contribution to the Jazz Age, there is something for everyone.

Jazzy Nights
Every Thursday in July, Smithsonian Associates hosts Jazzy Nights in Shaw. The two-hour evening walking tour of the clubs and theaters on U Street is a lesson in history spiked with tales of legendary jazz. Dubbed the city’s “Black Broadway,” the area saw the likes of Cab Calloway, Louis Armstrong and DC-born Duke Ellington. Starting at the legendary, beautifully restored Howard Theatre, the tour takes visitors to several sites of the most exciting 1920s clubs. Along the way, author and local historian Garrett Peck tells tales about the city’s race riot of the 1960s, famous bootleggers, and the African American artists, performers and poets who made the neighborhood famous. The tour ends with a pint at Right Proper Brewery in Shaw. Includes 1.5 miles of walking; bring a Metro card for portions that use the subway. Tickets are $35-$45. Jazzy Nights: Meet at Howard Theatre, 620 T St. NW, DC; www.smithsonianassociates.org/ticketing

Bare the Walls 2
Add to (or start) an art collection at Bare the Walls 2 on June 26 from 2-5 p.m. Each ticket to the event admits two and guarantees all attendees will go home with an original work of art valued at $250 to $2000. Fran Abrams, artist and president of the board of directors of Foundry Gallery, is thrilled to offer this opportunity to both artists and collectors.

“It’s a party!” she says. “Enjoy delicious food and beverages while you select your work of art.”

The 40-year-old gallery has relocated to a space in Shaw, where it has more room and brighter light. Proceeds of the event will help support continued renovation efforts. Tickets are drawn from a rotating drum, and attendees will select an artwork in the order that the tickets are drawn. Tickets are $150-$165. Bare the Walls 2 at Foundry Gallery: 2118 8th St. NW, DC; www.eventbrite.com/e/bare-the-walls-2-tickets-25062838625

DC Drink & Draw
Since 2013, the Meetup group DC Drink & Draw has been gathering once or twice per month.

“Designers, illustrators, a lot of people from the comic book scene [and] anyone who likes to draw,” make up the group, organizer Victoria Thompson says.

Most of the attendees draw whatever they like, but each meeting includes a prompt for anyone who needs inspiration. In May, it was Cinco de Mayo and the Super Art Fight – a timed competition between artists inspired by wrestling. Other themes have included political prompts or current events. The events are free and take place on June 27 at Brookland Pint in Northeast DC and on July 21 at Vapiano in Chinatown, a cafeteria-style pasta bar. DC Drink & Draw: www.meetup.com/DC-Drink-Draw/

For people looking for something a little crafty or a great idea for a date night, Handi-hour at the recently reopened Renwick Gallery is an event series that combines art-making with craft beer and live music. The program celebrates the Renwick’s remarkable collection of American craft by inviting adults to make their own crafts in a social setting within the Grand Salon of the gallery. Tickets are $25; must be 21 or older to attend. Tickets include all-you-can-craft and two beverages. The next one is July 27 from 5:30-8 p.m., followed by another in September. Tickets for next month’s event go on sale July 5. Handi-hour at the Renwick: 1661 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, DC; www.renwick.americanart.si.edu/handi-hour

Little Salon
Little Salon brings together multiple art forms and a range of artists to a private home each month.

“As an initiative that is proudly and visibly based in the nation’s capital, we migrate to different homes in different neighborhoods every month, aiming to bring art to different communities at the same [time] that we invite these communities to become a part of Little Salon and DC’s creative life in general,” says founder and organizer Chris Maier. “At each salon, you can definitely expect a new local food or drink maker and visual art on display. We’ll have a musical act at each salon, and there’s likely to be a poet, fiction writer or storyteller,” he continues.

In two years, the program has presented the work of more than 170 artists. The June salon is happening at the Takoma home of DC folk musician Maureen Andary.

“She and her husband just put a stage and a state-of-the-art sound system in their house,” Maier says. “The July salon will take place in a space that is part home/part studio of an architecture shop that the homeowner co-founded, called E/L Studio. It’s in Naylor Court, Shaw.”

Little Salons this summer will be held from 7-10 p.m. on June 28, July 26 and August 30; tickets are $20.

Little Salon:  www.littlesalondc.com 

More Picks
On June 25 from 6-9 p.m., the Arlington Art Center presents “Strange Landscapes,” “Materialized Magic” and AAC Resident Artist Austin Shull’s solo exhibition, “Reconciliation,” in the Wyatt Resident Artist Gallery on the upper level. Have a glass of wine and a snack with the artists. Free. Arlington Arts Center:3550 Wilson Blvd. Arlington, VA; www.arlingtonartscenter.org

On June 26, the (Up)Rising Festival is a free, all-day street fair. Experience creative collaborations by dozens of visual and performing artists while enjoying hands-on activities, food and drink, and shopping at area retailers. The festival runs from 12-6 p.m. with an after party from 6-8 p.m. (Up)Rising Festival: Rhode Island Avenue between 4 th and 24 th Streets in NE, DC; www.riamainstreet.org/events/uprising-festival/

The Phillips Collection hosts Phillips after 5 on the first Thursday of every month from 5-8:30 p.m. Gallery talks and live performances are held throughout the museum, and wine and food is available. Tickets are $12 and $10 for students. The Phillips Collection : 1600 21st St. NW, DC; www.phillipscollection.org/events

Second Thursday Art Night at the Torpedo Factory Art Center in Old Town Alexandria opens up the former munitions plant for live music, multiple gallery openings, artist talks, hands-on activities and wine. Free. Torpedo Factory: 105 North Union St. Alexandria, VA; www.torpedofactory.org

We, The Party People
Don’t miss this after-hours, non-partisan celebration at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History (NMAH) on Saturday, June 18 from 7-11 p.m. Brightest Young Things is partnering with the NMAH to “explore how Americans have participated in their democracy with lightening talks, political history objects-out-of-storage and access to exhibitions.” Guests can collaborate with Rock the Vote and Brigade to encourage participation from young voters, check out talks presented by the Washington Post, listen to a DJ set from Biz Markie, and enjoy food and libations inspired by the early years of American voting. 21+ event; tickets $20-$30. The National Museum of American History: 1300 Constitution Ave. NW, DC; www.wethepartypeople.eventbrite.com

We, The Party People photo: Courtesy of www.brightestyoungthings.com   
Other event photos: Courtesy of respective event hosts


Vanessa Mallory Kotz

Vanessa Mallory Kotz has been a writer and editor for more than 15 years. She covers visual arts, fashion, food and anything that advocates for better treatment of humans and animals. Her work has appeared in Popular Photography, American Photo, The Writer's Guide, Hirshhorn Magazine, First Person Plural, Goucher Quarterly, AmericanStyle, Niche, Reflections: Ultra Short Personal Narratives and art catalogs for museums across the country.