Cathy Barrow // Photo: courtesy of Story District

Breaking Bread: Food Industry Vets And Celebrity Chefs Open Up To DC Audiences

Food tells stories about our lives: recipes handed down through generations with no exact measurements, a dish that was learned while traveling abroad or even a recipe discovered when you had to get creative with what little there was in the pantry – and it turned out delicious. Food tells stories about our families, our cultural heritage, our travels and so much more.

When searching for recipes online, you’d be hard-pressed to find a recipe that isn’t accompanied by a story of some kind. Even for cooks as challenged in the kitchen as I am, my favorite dishes all have their own stories – like the Egyptian macaroni béchamel that my mother refuses to write down exact directions for or the scrambled eggs with corned beef that makes up my father’s entire recipe repertoire (to be eaten straight from the pan with pita bread, no discussion).

The stories that surround the food we make can be touching, funny, nostalgic, painful or, likely in a lot of cases, some combination of all four. So, imagine the stories that professional chefs and those who work in the food industry can tell. Local arts organization and storytelling series Story District is hosting Breaking Bread to do just that: tell their stories. On December 17, celebrity chefs and insiders from the food and hospitality industry in the DC area will gather at Sixth & I downtown to share their stories onstage.

Their stories are as diverse and varied as the foods they cook. Celebrity chef and TV personality Carla Hall will tell a story about her time as a competitor on Top Chef. Washington Post food writer Cathy Barrow will tell the audience about a 60s dinner party scene, à la Mad Men. Chef Ashish Alfred, owner of three Bethesda restaurants (Duck Duck Goose, George’s Chophouse and The Loft at 4935), will tell his harrowing tale about overcoming addiction while choosing to remain in an industry that can be grueling.

Although their careers and experiences might seem intimidating to those who can barely boil water, the stories they’ll tell are about much more than just food.

“Any time I share my story, I hope people take away that if you want a different life, the only thing standing in your way is you,” Alfred told On Tap.

Alfred knew exactly what story he wanted to tell. But for Hall, who can be seen cooking – and acting – on TV and who used to model, narrowing it down to one story was more difficult.

“It’s like therapy when you’re going through [the process], because it’s so much and they are pulling these stories out of you, which is so incredible,” Hall said.

She ultimately decided on a story about her time on Top Chef because it’s a story of a struggle.

“People assume from the outside that success looks one way and I think in telling my story, it will show a different side of myself. People are so used to me being shown [in this] very happy [way], which is true. But this is a story [where] I am actually sharing a struggle.”

Although being in the competitive limelight of a show like Top Chef might seem natural for someone as used to celebrity attention as Hall, she had to get used to judgment – not only from the judges on the show but from the millions who were watching it, too.

“It’s emotionally hard. You feel emotionally exposed [and] vulnerable because you’re making your food and then you’re being judged. You’re being judged publicly by millions of people who can’t actually eat the food.”

When it was time for Barrow to pick a story, she thought she knew exactly what she wanted to tell: how she became a food writer. But she said the story, told on many a book tour, felt stale. Instead, she decided on something a little more glamorous.

“My story is about how the dinner party scene in the 60s and Andy Warhol and my dreams of stardom all came together.”

Barrow’s story will touch on the family history genre of food stories, describing a time when people – including Barrow’s mother – hosted or attended dinner parties every weekend. The 60s was the decade that most informed Barrow’s cooking experience.

“I have been cooking since I was a very young child, and I had really expanded expectations. I wasn’t just going to make chocolate chip cookies. I was going to make a madeleine, you know? The dinner party was what informed all of that for me. There was a whole ritual to it – the fine china, the linen, the crystal – and how shiny everything was. It was very fancy.”

And non-chefs have a lot to learn from those in the industry.

“I think there’s always something to learn from people in the food industry because that’s what we work with,” Barrow said. “There’s a lot more to us. These stories are stories of redemption and expansion and unlikely opportunity, and I think that that resonates in all aspects of life and every kind of work.”

These stories remind us of the fact that chefs are normal people. The food industry can be a difficult place to work on every level, even if you’re not in the spotlight.

“We are real people with real problems who are laying ourselves bare every time we serve a plate and invite you into our restaurants,” Alfred said.

Despite the diversity of their stories, everyone had a similar answer when about what makes DC’s food scene special: the people who work in it.

“There is a great community [in DC] where it doesn’t necessarily feel competitive,” Hall said. “It feels like we’re all in this together.”

Catch Hall, Alfred, Barrow and four other DC food industry vets speak at Sixth & I for Breaking Bread: Stories by Celebrity Chefs and Industry Insiders on Tuesday, December 17. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. and tickets are $30-$35. Learn more at www.storydistrict.org.

Sixth & I: 600 I St. NW, DC; 202-408-3100; www.sixthandi.org

Photo: courtesy of Food Rescue US

Food Rescue US Fights Food Waste, Helps Feed DC

Imagine a restaurant with delicious, healthy food. The chefs prepare enough to serve hundreds of people daily, but often, good resources are thrown out and left to rot in a landfill. Meanwhile, 11.1 percent of U.S. households were food insecure at least some time during 2018, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, including 5.6 million households with very low food security.

In an effort to combat this reality, Food Rescue US is taking action to prevent food waste and combat food insecurity with the help of technology. This year, the nonprofit has recovered around 730,000 meals, and since October 2016, the organization has recovered 2 million pounds of food. This recovered food amounts to $3.5 million, a staggering amount and a point of pride that shows how the organization’s efforts benefit its respective communities.

“[Food Rescue US] helps address food waste and hunger,” says DC site director Kate Urbank. “[Approximately] 40 million people, including 12 million children, are food insecure in the U.S. If we could take more of the food being wasted and direct it to folks who are food insecure, it solves two problems: it [reduces] methane gases from food rotting in landfills, which is a huge contributor to climate change, [and the food is] redirected to people who are food insecure.”

Places that donate food include one-off catered conferences that do not want to throw out premade food, restaurants and even organizations like the World Bank. Receiving agents may be places that serve the homeless or local women’s shelters. One of Urbank’s goals is to find agencies that are not well-known about around the District and can benefit from the organization’s services.

Want to help the organization? There’s an app for that. The Food Rescue US app uses an algorithm to match food donors and agents who have a surplus of resources with nearby receiving agencies and organizations that feed people. Urbank uses the app to help coordinate efforts with volunteers known as food rescuers, who transport surplus food from food donors to receiving agencies.

A third version of the app is under development, and the update will make for a more seamless and interactive experience. However, for now there is a need for a human intermediary, and Urbank sits at the helm where she conducts conversations with donors once they sign up.

“I know these folks well enough to either email or text my posse and tell them we need to go out to [a location] because it is not covered,” she says. “Usually, someone steps up. Sometimes, I will write to my donor and say, ‘Can you hold the food until tomorrow morning, and I will get someone there tomorrow?’”

Failure to deliver food from donors to receiving agencies is not an option. When a match happens, a food rescuer is enlisted to ensure pickup and delivery. People use different modes of transportation, including a wagon, to rescue the food. The time it takes to participate is roughly 30 minutes to an hour, and anyone can try volunteering once to see if they enjoy it.

“Some people do one rescue and maybe never do it ever again,” Urbank continues. “Some people do it three times a month. Some people do it [two or] three times a week. It is up to the individual to opt in. You can schedule yourself.”

Food Rescue US is one of many organizations offering a solution to America’s food waste problem. With a hand-to-hand operation, donors can see financial benefits and food rescuers can actively help their community by ensuring that receiving agencies provide hungry people with food that would otherwise be discarded.

“[Food Rescue US] is about offering an option: a solution for businesses that want to donate their food and have not had the time or the knowledge to know where to take it,” Urbank adds.

For more info about volunteering with Food Rescue US and to download the app, visit www.foodrescue.us.

Community yoga class at Bread for the City // Photo: Gracy Obuchowicz

Pay It Forward, DC: 15 Ways To Give Back Locally

‘Tis the season for paying it forward, so we decided to put together a list of 15 ways to give back to the DC community year-round. Our handpicked list is chock-full of unique organizations eager to put new volunteers’ hands and minds to novel uses. Read on for a list of creative ways you can give more of yourself to those in need around the District.

Restore the Anacostia Watershed

Eco-minded folks can help restore wetlands, plant native plants, collect seeds and much more, all while learning about the watershed and its ecosystem.
www.anacostiaws.org/how-to-help/volunteer.html

Put Down Roots with Casey Trees

Channel your inner tree-hugger through a variety of opportunities, from tree planting and tree care to advocacy.
www.caseytrees.org

Get Your Hands Dirty with Columbia Heights Green

Put your green thumb to good use at Columbia Heights Green, one of many participating parks and gardens in the Community Harvest Program at Washington Parks & People.
www.columbiaheightsgreen.org

Show Compassion & Offer Advocacy through HIPS

Donate to and/or volunteer with HIPS (Harm Reduction Experts Improving Lives Since 1993), offering compassionate harm reduction services and advocacy to people who engage in sex work or drug use in the DC area.
www.hips.org

Expand Your Practice with Yoga Activist

Are you a yoga teacher who wants to take the practice outside of the confines of traditional studio spaces? Yoga Activist is the place to do it.
www.yogaactivist.org

Knit It Forward in the District

Do you stay calm and knit on? Join one of many knitting meetups held at DC Public Library locations and/or donate your handknitted items to a variety of charities.
www.dclibrary.org // www.lionbrand.com/blog/10-charities-for-knitters-and-crocheters

Feed the Hungry with So Others Might Eat

Help provide nourishing breakfasts for those in need. They use real eggs, too – none of that powder stuff.
www.some.org

Provide a Fitness Framework for Girls on the Run

Volunteer with the DC chapter of this national nonprofit dedicated to making a world where every girl is free to boldly pursue her dreams through running. Support students during a 10-week program to help them establish an appreciation for health and fitness.
www.gotrdc.org

Dress to Impress with Suited for Change

Help local women entering the job market dress to impress through a variety of volunteering and donating options, including leading a styling workshop.
www.suitedforchange.org

Support Senior Citizens at We Are Family

Help isolated senior citizens with groceries, cleaning, transportation or just a friendly visit. Make a new friend this season by joining We Are Family.
www.wearefamilydc.org

Save the Felines with Alley Cat Rescue

The trap-neuter-return program at Alley Cat can make life on the streets a little more bearable for our furry friends. Donate to the rescue or adopt one of their many cuddle bugs.
www.saveacat.org

Be a Classroom Volunteer at Carlos Rosario International

Volunteer in adult ESL, culinary, IT and health classes and programs at Carlos Rosario International Public Charter School, and/or join as a mentor through the Impact Mentorship Program.
www.carlosrosario.org/get-involved/volunteers-2

Mentor Families with Northstar Tutoring

Tutor, mentor and help support members of low-income families in DC through Northstar Tutoring.
www.northstartutoring.org

Help the Homeless at Friendship Place

Help people in need transition out of homelessness at Friendship Place through a variety of volunteer roles, from mentoring to cleaning.
www.friendshipplace.org

Go Pro Bono with the D.C. Bar

If you’re a DC lawyer, you can give back by providing a variety of pro bono legal services.
www.dcbar.org/pro-bono/volunteer

Coach Soccer with DC Scores

Score a winning goal by helping coach and referee soccer games.
www.dcscores.org/volunteer

Photo: Sloane Dakota Tucker

5 Art Destinations Changing DC’s Creative Scene

Looking for some new or unique places to experience art in the District? Check out our picks for where to enjoy DC’s thriving arts scene, from galleries and pop-ups to programs and workshops.

Latela Curatorial Explores New Spaces

Latela Curatorial is an art consultancy with a focus on women artists and the feminine aesthetic. While they’ve held exhibitions of artists’ work at their Brookland studio and office since 2015, they’re transitioning into installing work in larger spaces and finding ways to bring local creatives and their visions to big projects.

“We’ve been refining where we want our projects to go from here on out, focusing on that feminine, delicate, vulnerable, energy-transcending type of narrative from a female artist perspective,” says founder and director Marta Staudinger.

The Brookland-based space just celebrated a successful showing at Superfine Art Fair, and Staudinger and her team are now thinking of ways to build on that energy.

“We introduced several local female artists [at Superfine],” she continues. “Where my interest for 2020 lies is in proposing that booth [at Superfine] as a teaser for a much bigger exhibition that we could do [where we] work with larger institutions.”

Check out Latela’s website to learn more about its artists, exhibitions, and procurement and installation work, and peek your head into the new Avec apartment building on H Street soon for a glimpse of Latela artists’ work.

“We’re super excited to do procurement on that scale,” Staudinger adds of the residential art project. “Nothing is mass-produced. It’s all original art.”

Latela Curatorial is providing spaces all over DC with artwork that’s more than just beautiful – it resonates.

716 Monroe St. #27, NE, DC; www.latelacuratorial.com

The Omi Collective’s Hydrated Wxmen Pop-Up

The DC Arts Walk and Edgewood Arts Center is hosting “Hydrated Womxn,” an interactive media exhibition, healing arts residency and holiday bazaar curated by the Omi Collective on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays now through December 22. The central idea is to create a space at the Brookland location where people can relax and recharge while surrounded by creativity.

“We’re challenging people to think about what nourishes them,” says Omi Collective Curator and Creative Director Sanam Emami. “Someone can come in during art lounge hours and step into our joy.”

Resident artists are multidisciplinary, communicating through art, poetry, music and more. Each weekend will explore a different theme with events, performances and workshops meant to leave attendees feeling inspired, centered and creatively hydrated – alongside thoughtfully curated offerings for sale from local artists.

“It’s about the process, not the product,” Emami says.

DC Arts Walk & Edgewood Arts Center at Monroe Street Market: 716 Monroe St. NE, DC; www.theomicollective.com

Hemphill Fine Arts Moves to K Street

Hemphill has been an integral part of the art community in DC since opening in 1993, and has built a reputation for working with collectors and art aficionados of all ages, incomes and backgrounds. The gallery represents a variety of contemporary artists working in sculpture, painting, photography and mixed media, with recent exhibitions from Julie Wolfe, Hedieh Javanshir, Rushern Baker IV and James Britton.

Now, the gallery is preparing for a big move in January. Director Mary Early says the move “is a dramatic change from our space of the last 15 years on 14th Street in Logan Circle, where we were located on the third floor of a historic building.”

“That location required a little extra from visitors,” she says. “The effort to seek out and find us, the desire to pursue.”

But the new space in Mount Vernon Square brings unique opportunities for visitors to become familiar with Hemphill artists.

“The move to K Street comes full circle to our beginnings in Georgetown in 1993, bringing us back to a first-floor space in a rapidly evolving neighborhood.”

The gallery’s inaugural exhibition will be Linling Lu’s third solo show with the gallery. Hemphill will soon be bringing visitors old and new to its home on K Street.

“We’re looking forward to getting to know our new downtown neighborhood,” Early adds.

434 K St. NW, DC; www.hemphillfinearts.com

Femme Fatale’s New Pop-Up

Femme Fatale is fast becoming a DC fixture as a pop-up showcasing women artists and entrepreneurs. Visitors can expect to find a trove of jewelry, art, prints, clothing and more. CEO Cee Smith says that Femme Fatale is starting to settle into its role in DC’s creative scene.

“We’re definitely still in startup mode, but we’ve had a chance to assess the value that Femme Fatale brings to different communities,” she says.

Femme Fatale has become well-known for its events – from craft workshops to networking parties – and for its bright and welcoming aesthetic.

“We’ve always been this hub for women not only to gather, but to learn from each other,” says Femme Fatale’s owner and jewelry designer Adriana Mendoza.

Now, Femme Fatale is taking on a more “structured type of template to create a real incubator space for women,” she says.

You’d never know that just a few weeks ago, the new pop-up was a gutted restaurant. Art is everywhere: murals, paintings behind the counter, and jewelry, accessories and textile designs for sale in the shop.

Artists are “the secret sauce of the experience of Femme Fatale,” Smith says. Her team prioritizes supporting a wide range of local creatives and especially “those who might just be starting out or who haven’t really had their voice heard,” Mendoza adds. In other words, Femme Fatale provides a great opportunity to find a unique local piece you might not see anywhere else.

401 Massachusetts Ave. NW, DC; www.femmefataledc.com

The Torpedo Factory Celebrates 45 Years

The Torpedo Factory Art Center is an icon of Old Town Alexandria. This year, it celebrated 45 years as an art institution with studios, galleries, classes taught by the Art League School, events and more.

“One of the biggest changes since the Torpedo Factory was founded is how much Old Town and the waterfront has changed,” says director Brett Johnson. “It’s become a vibrant and exciting destination, and it’s been great that the art center was a part of that change.”

Looking ahead, the art center is finding more ways to engage with the community and bring more visitors within its walls.

“City council has tasked staff to create a vibrancy and sustainability plan for the art center,” Johnson adds. “We are seeking to create an even more interactive space than what we already provide with new, hands-on experiences.”

That means everything from well-loved programs like Art Safari to newer ones like Factory Flow morning yoga, as well as seasonal events like the Holiday Market and Olde Year’s Day. On December 13, the art center will look back on the first five years of its post-grad residency program, which supports recent art grads with studio space and presentation opportunities.

105 N Union St. Alexandria, VA; www.torpedofactory.org

Globe Electric tattoo // Photo: Jeff Marsala

District Ink: A Comprehensive Guide To DC Tattoo Shops

Tattoo artists in the District are in tune with the city’s vibrant culture and can transform you into a walking canvas. While there are plenty of shops in neighboring NoVA and MoCo, this list keeps it local and sticks exclusively to the District. No matter what quadrant you’re in, there’s a talented tattoo artist near you. Read on to learn more about DC’s tattoo shops and where to get your next one-of-a-kind design.

Blui Dyimond Ink Tattoo and Piercing Studio

Blui Dyimond Ink Tattoo and Piercing Studio makes tattooing accessible by traveling to your location in the District with their unique mobile shop. Artists Money-Moe and Ty create tattoos
that reflect each customer’s personality. 4341 4th St. SE, DC; www.bluidyimondink.wixsite.com/bluidyimondink

Electric Cat Scratch Tattoos

The staff at this Shaw-based shop helps customers set realistic goals and manage expectations for the tattooing process. Customers have the option to review portfolios and choose which artist best embodies their personal taste. Check out our interview with co-owner Sarah Fendlay in this issue for the inside scoop on what makes this shop rad. 505 Florida Ave. NW, DC; www.ecstattoos.com

Embassy Tattoos

Embassy’s five talented artists can accommodate any style their customers desire including traditional, realistic, Japanese and tribal. They also offer coverups and tattoo removal services. The AdMo shop’s credo is simple: we let our work speak for itself. 1762 Columbia Rd. NW, DC; www.embassytattoo.com

Fatty’s Tattoos & Piercings

Fatty’s shop walls in Dupont Circle and on H Street are decorated with original artwork by their tattoo artists. Those looking for custom art on demand will appreciate the time that these artists put into consultations. With each portfolio conveniently posted on the shop’s website, customers can choose between artistic styles with ease. 1333 Connecticut Ave. third floor, NW, DC and 516 H St. NE, DC; www.fattystattoos.com

FHK Studios

Shop owner Osei K is the talent behind FHK, specializing in vivid, one-of-a-kind freehand designs. Located near Takoma, FHK places an emphasis on the history of tattooing and describes the art as “an ancient [ritual] turned into a modern-day aesthetic” on their website. 7410 Georgia Ave. NW, DC; www.freehandking.com 

Freaky Needles

Freaky Needles shop owner Nagi has been tattooing DC residents since 2009, offering a variety of services from portraits to lettering. He’s known for his attention to detail and ability to transform unwanted tattoos into new works of art at his Northeast DC shop. 2210 Bladensburg Rd. NE, DC; follow on Instagram @freakyneedles

Globe Electric Tattoo

Stunning color tattoos and precise designs characterize Globe Electric Tattoo in Petworth. As co-owners, artist Susan Behney-Doyle provides her customers with clean linework, and Eric Doyle is skilled in Japanese-inspired tattoos. 3821 14th St. Unit C, NW, DC, www.globetattoodc.com 

Highland Ink

Sloppy linework and illegible script tattoos are nightmares that can make tattoo enthusiasts think twice about their design of choice, but Georgetown’s Highland Ink is well-known for having capable artists. In fact, customers often shout out shop owner Susie Floyd for her impeccable fonts. This shop also offers microblading, if permanent makeup is more your thing. 1647 Wisconsin Ave. NW, DC; www.highlandink.us 

Hyena Tattoo

There are several artists to choose from at Hyena including Dr. Z, who specializes in geometric designs and fine lines. The Mount Pleasant spot’s laidback vibe puts customers at ease as they work with artists to create their dream designs. 1454 Park Rd. NW, DC; www.hyenatattoos.com 

Jinx Proof Tattoos

Jinx Proof is the oldest shop in DC, and patrons note artists Tim Corun’s precision and Tad Peyton’s professionalism. In addition to the Georgetown shop’s eight resident tattoo artists, Jinx often hosts internationally known guest artists. 3285 1/2, M St. NW, DC; www.jinxprooftattoos.com 

Piercing Connect & Tattoos

Offering daily deals like tiny tattoos for $30, Piercing Connect & Tattoos is a great shop if you’re on a budget. Located by Howard University, it’s a go-to for college students. 2851 Georgia Ave. NW, DC;
follow on Instagram @piercingconnectandtattoos

Tattoo Paradise

Walking into a tattoo establishment can feel intimidating, but the staff at Tattoo Paradise in Adams Morgan is welcoming and accommodating. Artist portfolios include top-quality traditional tattoos, so if you’re looking for old-school designs and stark outlines, this spot could be your best option. 2444 18th St. NW, DC; www.tattooparadisedc.com 

Photo: Anurupa Dev

STABLE Makes Debut, Builds New DC Art Community

Painted black and gently lit, the brand-new STABLE art space in Eckington looks almost reserved on the outside. But step through the front doors, and you’ll find a torrent of creativity and a veritable warren of studios showcasing local artists. STABLE is a new breed of creative space in DC, and it’s been generating plenty of excitement since its mid-October opening.

The self-described platform for artistic growth provides both studio and gallery space for contemporary artists creating multidisciplinary work. Take the lush, cut-paper collages of Katherine Mann, which almost resemble botanical growths sprouting across the walls of her studio; Maggie Trout’s graphite drawings of printed texts exploring the quiet power of the written word; or Tsedaye Makonnen’s multifaceted exploration of themes such as identity, kinship, migration and colorism through ceremony, installations and light sculptures. This is just a glimpse into the many unique talents who fill the space with the kind of burgeoning creative energy that you don’t usually find in DC’s iconic museums and art galleries.

Visiting STABLE’s open studios in November, I felt like I was moving through a series of microcosms – each studio a contained vision of the artist or artists in the space. Yet there’s also a powerful feeling of connection. STABLE is more than simply a collection of artists in one place. It feels like a cohesive whole.

That feeling is intentional. Co-founders Tim Doud, Linn Meyers and Caitlin Teal Price, who all have studios in the art space, envisioned STABLE as an enduring institution with a strong sense of community. Each is an established DC artist: Meyers painted “Our View From Here” on the wall of the inner-circle galleries on the second floor of the Hirshhorn Museum in 2016, and Doud and Price have both exhibited at the National Portrait Gallery.

“We met one another through various arts events and realized that we were all thinking the same thing,” Meyers says. “There are a lot of very committed artists working in DC, but we are somewhat invisible. There is a real need for a hub. There has also been a scarcity of affordable studio space for many years, and we recognize that that has contributed to the difficulties artists have had in feeling a strong sense of community in DC.”

Living in one of the of the country’s most expensive cities is a major challenge, and many of DC’s artists make it work by creating out of their homes. Mann adds that working and practicing in a dedicated place makes a big difference.

“It’s not as if there aren’t any other artist studio buildings in DC, but there certainly aren’t enough of them,” she says. “I’m a full-time artist and it’s really easy to just isolate yourself. It’s easy to get insular. I wanted to be part of a community and have a conversation about art, have critiques, be part of something larger.”

STABLE is a registered nonprofit so resident artists pay for their individual studios, and the price they pay is the same discounted rate that the art space negotiated with its landlords. This means that STABLE fundraises for all its common areas, staff and operating costs, and exhibitions.

“Part of our ethos is opportunity-making and resource-sharing, so if [artists] want to be part of our community, they’re a good fit,” Doud says. “One of the things that connects us is that we all feel very [strongly about giving] back in our field and promoting that community.”

“We wanted to bring in people who wanted to be part of this, not [artists who would] shut their doors and not talk to anybody,” Price agrees.

The space also feels welcoming to visitors. Families with children of all ages and even a few dogs on leashes were in the crowd during my open studio visit. Everyone received a warm welcome from STABLE Director of Advancement and Operations Kali Wasenko, who gave each visitor a map and an envelope of beautiful cards with images of each artist’s work. I walked away with an additional bonus: two massive art books from a free pile next to the registration desk. That spirit of friendly generosity permeates the entire building.

“We want visitors to feel a part of STABLE, and to know that artists are here in DC and there is a serious contemporary art-making community here,” Meyers says.

Several artworks are also reflections and celebrations of the city itself, like Nekisha Durrett’s piece “Go-Go Belongs Here” in the gallery. As they developed the concept for STABLE, the co-founders knew they didn’t want it to be a short-term endeavor, but an enduring institution.

“We want STABLE to be a permanent fixture in DC,” Price says. “We couldn’t wrap our heads around paying for a building that would only last for 10 years.”

The group came up with calling the space STABLE almost by accident, well before finding their current location. They were talking to developers who were excited to work with them but didn’t really understand what the group wanted.

“They promised us this pre-fab barn they were going to build on top of a roof,” Price continues. “[The name] STABLE stuck. It works because it refers to stability and a stable of artists, a studio space – though it was built on some crazy promise.”

In a stroke of coincidence – or stars aligning – the Randolph Place building really was a stable for the horses used to make cookie deliveries for a nearby Nabisco factory in a pre-vehicle DC. Many generations later, rafters that wouldn’t be out of place in a hayloft run across the ceilings of some of the studios. The first floor’s large multi-artist gallery space feels airy and open, a nice contrast to the building’s winding hallways and staircases that feel like secret passages. 

Mann says the gallery space at STABLE is something she’s particularly looking forward to.

“I’m excited to see how they bring in other artists who are local to DC, or artists outside of the region. There’s a drought in exhibition spaces, so this is equally exciting.”

The new art space may have just gotten started, but its founders have a clear vision for it.

“STABLE is multi-faceted,” Meyers says. “We offer affordable studios to artists who have been juried into the space in a competitive process, we have cutting-edge exhibitions in our gallery and we offer programs that reach beyond our immediate artist community. Now that STABLE is up and running, we are looking toward our long-term goals. We recognize that this likely means we will need to purchase a building, and we are just beginning to explore that.” 

STABLE is here for the long haul, and hopefully the start of a new chapter for DC’s local art culture – one where artists can make and share their work in affordable spaces that are baked into their city and their community. 

STABLE: 336 Randolph Pl. NE, DC; 202-642-3320; www.stablearts.org

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Tattoo Artist Sarah Fendlay Talks Shop Ownership, Shooting Straight and No-Portrait Policy

In her seven-year career as a tattoo artist, Sarah Fendlay has progressed from working the desk at a shop to co-owning Shaw’s beloved Electric Cat Scratch Tattoos. We caught up with Fendlay for an inside look at her no-bullshit, keep-it-simple approach to owning a successful shop, tackling challenging tats and knowing what you want before the needle comes out.

On Tap: How did you get started tattooing?
Sarah Fendlay: I was working in accounting after dropping out of college/art school for the third time, and a friend of mine working counter at a local shop told me she needed to replace her position. I always had an interest in art, had a few tattoos by this point and thought I could make it on minimum wage. After a few years of sweeping floors, grabbing coffee and mopping shit up from the bathrooms, one of the artists at the shop offered to teach me a thing or two, so I took it.

OT: Do you specialize in a specific style?
SF: As an artist that likes to do the shit I feel from the heart, I was taught early on by my mentor that in modern-day tattooing, you have to be well-rounded to make a living. Almost a decade in, I feel I can produce a solid tattoo in any style that any person that comes through the doors asks for – other than portraits, f–k that. However, if someone came in and asked me what I wanted to do, at the end of the day, it would be geared toward bugs and floral designs. I have a thing for bugs.

OT: What has been the most challenging aspect of your career so far? The most rewarding?
SF: It’s been challenging to own a shop in DC after only seven years of tattooing. But with my history [in] accounting, management and art, I have a good grasp on shit. On the contrary, the most rewarding thing is that I own a shop in DC after only seven years of tattooing, and I feel like I am doing it correctly for me and the city. I’m happy, so that’s a pretty good reward.

OT: What’s the most complicated tattoo you’ve ever worked on?
SF: An 18-year-old military guy came through the door looking for [his first] tattoo. We talked and made an appointment for doing something on half of his entire back. We worked on a design and got a super cool tattoo of a kitsune [foxes from Japanese folklore] done after three [or] four all-day sessions. He showed back up months later to do the rest of his back. I had to figure out how to fill in everything I specifically left open. That was pretty darn complicated.

OT: What do you look for when you’re selecting a shop, both to work in and actually get tattooed in?
SF: I have only worked in two: the one I learned in and the one I own. But I have been tattooed at quite a few different shops. These days, I’m more on the giving side of tattooing, which is why I try and make my shop somewhere I would want to be tattooed at.

OT: Do you have any pro tips for someone contemplating new ink, whether they’ve got several tattoos or it’s their first time?
SF: Look at portfolios and meet the artists. It’s pretty simple. If either of those don’t do something for you, look more places.

OT: What makes Electric Cat Scratch unique?
SF: We are a mom and pop-style street shop. I own it with my husband and work with my best friends, and that really translates to [our] clientele.

OT: Is there anything else you’d like to tell us?
SF: I got my first tattoo in someone’s living room at 18 years solely because I thought going into a shop was too scary. If you come into the shop true, you’ll leave with a better tattoo – simple as that.

For more on Fendlay’s work, visit www.tattoosbysarah.com and follow her on Instagram @tattoosbysarah. Check out www.ecstattoos.com for more info and follow the shop on Instagram @ecstattoos.

Electric Cat Scratch Tattoos: 505 Florida Ave. NW, DC; 202-986-4239; www.ecstattoos.com

L to R - Beth Hansen, Kathrine Campagna and Tiffany Evans // Photos: Trent Johnson

Pop-Up Queens: Hen House DC Bring Art To The People

“Wow, there’s definitely a need for what’s happening here. People want to support women in the arts.” I’m sitting with the three powerhouse talents behind Hen House DC amid the retro lime green-teal-pink walls of their most recent pop-up exhibit “Tiny Show 2” as they open up about the realization that they are filling a void in our city’s arts scene. Friends, collaborators and co-founders of Hen House, Kathrine Campagna, Beth Hansen and Tiffany Evans have been overwhelmed by support from the DC community since launching their all-female arts collective this summer. Not only have they created a welcoming creative outlet for local artists, they’ve also made art accessible, engaging and perhaps most importantly, fun.

Gone are the days of blank, sterile walls at exclusive galleries. We’re entering a new era for DC arts, one where event spaces like No Kings Collective’s Good Fast Cheap DC in Brentwood can be reconfigured as the colorful dream designs of three badass ladies and filled to the brim with 5-inch-by-5-inch works from 145 artists. I picked the collective brain of this triumvirate focused on creating forward momentum for female-driven, community-focused arts and creative experiences that are meant to connect and not alienate. Read on to learn more about what Hen House is up to, how you can be considered as an artist in their next show and why I now have girl crushes on all three of them.

On Tap: How did you three meet and connect?
Kathrine: Beth and I went to Corcoran College of Art and Design together, so I’ve known Beth since I was 18.
Beth: We’ve known each other for a very long time.
Kathrine: Yeah, gross [all laugh]. I met Tiffany through my friend and just working with No Kings.
Tiffany: We really bonded at [Art] Basel a couple of years ago. That’s when we really started talking and hanging out.
Kathrine: Both of our friendships have all been really art-centered, which has been pretty awesome.

OT: What was the impetus to start Hen House?
Beth: A couple years back, a couple of us that all had gone to school together basically made an agreement to start proposing shows. Kate hit upon this really cool show idea, “Responsive Light,” and there ended up being four rounds of it.
Kathrine: You could make whatever you wanted. It just had to involve light.
Tiffany: I think it was actually kismet because at the last “Responsive Light” show, I approached Kate and she was like, “Oh, Beth actually just offered the same thing. She wants to help as well.” And I’m like, “Let’s all do this together.” And then she had this idea for Hen House. She was like, “I want to do something with all women. This is perfect.”
Kathrine: I had been sitting on this idea for a while. I really wanted to do it. I wanted to pull people in from all backgrounds of art. I really wanted to make sure it stays diverse, but definitely women-focused.
Beth: We found out really quickly that we all bring our strengths to the table, but we all know enough about what the other ones do that we can come in and help. We can lean on each other’s strengths, but we can also bolster them as well. It feels like everyone is definitely collaborating equally.
Kathrine: Yeah, everyone’s being heard. Communication is definitely our biggest strength.

OT: I read that there was a big draw for local female artists through the “Responsive Light” shows. Why do you think that was?
Kathrine: A lot of women reached out to me who had a lot of talent and had never even shown before. They just didn’t know how to even go about it. They were underrepresented. They didn’t know what tools they had. That definitely put fuel to the fire to get something done.
Beth: I think it helps [that] we’re doing open calls on Instagram. “Hey, we’re looking for you. Send us your stuff. You don’t even have to consider yourself a full-time artist. But if you’re working on this, let’s see what you have.” [We] try as much as possible to fit people’s strengths into each show. We now have this huge collection of artists that have reached out to us, and it’s really incredible to get to meet all of them at these different shows and put those faces to the photographs we’ve seen of their work.
Tiffany: You’d be surprised how many of them – there’s 145 artists in the show – had never shown their work before. And they were like, “How could I? I didn’t know that was really a thing.” It’s been really, really special to see them come and bring their families and they’re like, “This is my first art show and I’ve actually sold a lot of pieces.”

OT: How do you think DC’s art and overall creative scene has changed since launching your professional careers?
Kathrine: Something that I definitely learned just from working with No Kings the last few years is you don’t need a gallery to sell your work. I think the art scene is becoming a little bit more accessible for everybody. It’s all DIY. It’s going to be hard, but that’s the direction I think people are starting to go. It’s not just for the rich anymore. Art should be for everybody. It should be accessible.

OT: How important is it to you to expand your reach beyond just artists to incorporating other women into your shows?
Beth: If we’re trying to highlight female-owned businesses, we try to bring in other women and trans and non-binary creatives in there as well. We try to include as many people as possible.

OT: Is there anyone on your wish list across local food, drink, music, etc. for future collaborations?
Kathrine: One of our good friends from Corcoran is Laura Harris. She’s the drummer for Ex Hex, and it’d be awesome if they could play one of our shows. I think that’d be super fun.

OT: Tell me about “Tiny Show.” How did you guys decide to go little and how much time and energy does it take to work with so many artists and to collect so many tiny pieces of art?
Kathrine: We went to check out the space at Brookland Exchange [where the first “Tiny Show” was hosted] and it was their artist lounge. It’s a hallway.
Beth: Like a cheese wedge.
Kathrine: It’s an odd shape – it’s a cool space – we’re just looking at it like, “I don’t know what to do with this tiny, weird space. Maybe it’s too small for a show. Maybe we should just do a workshop.” And then I was just like, “No. More artists, smaller work.” It’s “Tiny Show” because everything’s tiny because this space is so small [laughs].
Beth: We wanted to be able to get as much work in there as possible, and the only way to do it was like, “We’ve just got to scale this way, way down. No big stuff. Five inches by five inches on the outside dimensions.”
Kathrine: Beth came up with this genius gridding system, so basically no matter how small or big anything is, it will pretty much fit in its space.

OT: What’s next for Hen House?
Tiffany: We’ve definitely talked about a music element. We want to encompass all of the arts in some sort of event where we all incorporate our work on the walls, but we have different performances. I think eventually we want to do something like a Hen House summer camp or days’ long event where it’s really interactive and we can have people coming and making and buying art.

OT: What about wish list spaces?
Kathrine: We can adjust to anything. We’re very adaptable. It’s time that I think is really our main focus for a new space. Can we be there for more than a day? We don’t want to deinstall the next day. We want to give the community and anybody else interested time to see it and keep it as diverse as possible with all the things we’re doing. We always really try to shoot and have a fundraiser attached to it.

OT: Are there any local initiatives or charities you feel passionately about?
Tiffany: We love DASH [local nonprofit District Alliance for Safe Housing]. Beth volunteers for DASH.
Beth:
I do the art group with the kids who live there once a week.
Kathrine:
We’ve donated to them a couple of times.
Tiffany:
We want to work with all the charities, actually. We hope to change it up every time so we can spread the love a little bit.

OT: Do you ever want a permanent space, or do you think you want to remain ever-evolving and modular?
Kathrine: I think probably down the road it would be nice to have a place to call our own and make it what we want to.
Tiffany: Or even a monthlong space would be pretty cool, because we could also change it.
Kathrine: But even if we had a brick-and-mortar, I think we’d still be doing pop-ups. I think that’s how we got our start.
Beth: We want to bring the art to the people.

OT: I noticed high schoolers’ artwork as part of “Tiny Show 2.” How did they react to seeing their art up for sale?
Tiffany: I got to meet a few of the students, and they were literally almost moved to tears when they found out that someone had bought their artwork. Restauranteur Erik Bruner-Yang came in and bought up a bunch of artwork, including some of the students’ work, and was saying it’s going to be included in his new restaurant ABC Pony. And they were literally just over the moon. They could not contain their excitement. I think we’d definitely like to incorporate that in the future.

OT: I feel like at every show you’ve had, there have been families with kids and that’s really cool because that’s another part of the art world that’s not always accessible – not only the price point but whether or not people can bring their kids.
Kathrine: I think it’s nice that families come in because it is a little stuffy in a gallery setting because you know, I guess families aren’t posh and sexy [all laugh]. I like all those weird kids [laughs]. My best friend has two kids. They’ve all sneezed in my mouth. They’re great, man [all laugh]. If I had the opportunity as a kid to grow up in an environment like this where I was exposed to these things, how much cooler would we be?

OT: It’s also a way to include people that live in the neighborhood and surrounding community. It makes it more accessible in that way, which is important too.
Kathrine: We want to keep it as down to earth as possible.

Learn about what Hen House DC has coming up next at www.henhousedc.com or on Instagram @henhousedc.

If you’re an artistic human interested in being considered for one of their upcoming shows, send them a message on Instagram with three submissions of your work and you’ll be included in their pool of submissions for the next one.

Photos: Trent Johnson

A Day In The Life With Tenbeete Solomon AKA Trap Bob

Tenbeete Solomon looks like she’s at home. When I knock on the door, she appears through a window, emerging from the background like someone strolling through their living room. She’s covered in flecks of paint and holds a brush in her hand. However, I’m not at her house or her studio. Instead, we’re at Big Chief, the New Orleans-themed bar in Ivy City.

No, Solomon isn’t squatting. Instead, the graphic artist better known as Trap Bob is working on a mini-mural promoting her contest-winning Pabst Blue Ribbon design. If you drink the American lager, there’s a chance you’ve seen it. But if not, it’s a dark skyline complete with shining stars adorned by a flying saucer (FROM OUTER SPACE) abducting a classic can of PBR. Also, there’s a hand on there (Trap Bob loves hands). She loves them so much, I once called her the Tarantino of hands.

“They’re the perfect things,” Solomon told me next to her “Stairway to Your Dreams” structure at Refinery29’s “29 Rooms.” “They’re very relatable and something I like to do.”

Known for hands (duh), space and bold colors, Trap Bob has completed projects for national companies like Apple and Viacom; people such as Elizabeth Warren and Missy Elliot; and local entities like the DC Mayor’s Office and Washington City Paper. Her art is infectious and fun, bright and loud. It incorporates the wonders of space, but captures the absurdities of the norm. To learn more about the fast-rising artist, we caught up with her to chat about her moniker, a career epiphany and how she balances her growing body of work.

On Tap: So, Trap Bob. Is there a backstory?
Trap Bob: Yeah, there is. I used to have a Bob The Builder backpack and people used to think it was hard to say my name. I always hated the nickname thing, and then I had that backpack and a friend saw me in the hallway one day and she screamed “Bob!” And, everybody was just like, “Oh, this is okay now.” For Trap, I’m literally Gucci Mane’s No. 1 fan. He dropped Trap God when I was getting into art in 2014, and I put them together.

OT: What is the first art-related thing you remember, whether it’s something you made or something you saw where you thought, “Holy shit, that’s cool. I’m doing this?”
TB: I did a self-portrait in first grade and I painted myself as a princess, but the only princesses I had seen had been blue-eyed blondes. So I’m going into it and I was like, “You know, how am I supposed to do this?” So I ended up painting myself with blonde hair and blue eyes and a crown, and it was so crazy because I was like , “That’s me as a princess.” And then [the painting] ended up going on tour in a school art show, and I didn’t get it back until like fifth grade and I forgot about it. Now I have it in my home. I see a message behind it and where my head was then.

OT: You still have it?
TB: Yeah, it’s funny. It’s kind of similar to my style now: really big outlines and primary colors. When I look at it, I see my mind was already in that space of an artist. There was a message in the work when I wasn’t thinking about it.

OT: Did your parents ever see that?
TB: I don’t think that they thought much of it back then, because I think they just thought I was being a little girl. But, my dad is an artist and he always loved that piece because he saw the message in it. He’s the one who makes me aware of when I act like an artist, or create as an artist. He helps me see my work.

OT: What other inspiration did you have growing up? What kind of things were you doodling? Hands?
TB: Not hands, actually! I just doodled random stuff. I don’t even think I had one thing that I liked to draw. It was just a way for me to pay attention. If I was listening, I could draw and keep up that way. I really was into cartoons. I fell in love with anime. Sailor Moon is my everything.


Top five things I can’t live without
Faith
Art
Coffee
Family
My cats


OT: When did you realize you could create art professionally?
TB: I never actually thought of myself as an artist or thought about having a career until my senior year of college. I was studying marketing at the University of Maryland. I figured I’d study business because then I could make money off of whatever I wanted to do, because I didn’t know what I wanted to do.

OT: What was the big reveal like?
TB: I was relieved, I think. When I figured it out, it was like I solved some lifelong puzzle and everything felt right. Even though it was scary to think of how I was, I was like, “How the f–k am I going to turn this into a career when I just realized that I want to do it?” But it was comforting for me to know. At least I’m committing to something I actually care about. It got to the point where I was like, “Would I sleep in my car to be an artist?” And the answer was “Yeah, I’ll do whatever I have to do.”

OT: How did you kickstart your art career?
TB: I did a lot of personal pieces. I was doing a ton of oil paintings, which is a very deep and long process. So I spent a year just practicing. I taught myself [Adobe] Illustrator after I graduated and started getting into digital pieces, because I realized at the very least, I could do freelance work.

OT: You’ve done graphic design for cans and staircases, and you’re literally painting a door right now. How much of your time would you say is spent self-educating, trying new mediums and pushing yourself to explore different canvases?
TB: I would say out of all my time, the time I actually get to create or learn probably makes up half. [The rest is] managing and emailing, and all the behind-the-scenes stuff. I think a lot of the projects I work on end up having things that I haven’t tried before. I try to at least fit in something new with all my work. I really try to stay away from being repetitive. I think I’m always learning as I create. I don’t think I can ever be done with it.


Top five things I need at work
Coffee
A personalized workspace
Sketchbook
Oil diffuser
Comfy socks


OT: You’ve worked for Refinery29’s “29 Rooms,” Girls Who Code, PBR and Elizabeth Warren’s presidential campaign. You’re busy as hell. How do you go about separating freelance work that people hire you to do and your own creative endeavors?
TB: That is another thing I’ve always tried working toward balancing, because I have a hard time saying no to things. I like doing different things and I do very well with direction. I think my social media illustrations are mostly for me. They’re like trending topics of things that are important to me.

OT: Your work always has a connection to social issues. How do you approach serious topics?
TB: I don’t like to go negative, really. I like to have a positive way to talk about negative things. Some of the illustrations I do have, like the different girls I make, I’ll just put an emotion behind them [that’s] more up to interpretation. But [there’s] usually a message in there somewhere.

OT: What’s next for Trap Bob?
TB: I’m doing a lemonade stand for PBR. It’s like a lemonade stand in space. I’m really excited about that. Next year, me and [local arts collective] GIRLAAA are focusing on a pop-up exhibit installation. [But I’m] not sure where, and I don’t want to be specific.

Follow Trap Bob on Twitter @trapxbob and on Instagram @TRAPBOB. To see some of her projects and learn more about the artist, visit www.trapbob.com.

Photo: courtesy of Heather Freeman

Helping Equines Regain Dignity: Heather Freeman Rescues Horses, Makes Impact On Philanthropic Pipeline

In the District, Heather Freeman is best known for her 25-plus years at the helm of Heather Freeman Media & Public Relations – with an impressive list of hospitality industry clients including Blue Duck Tavern, Ambar, Cuba Libre, 2941 and the brand-new Brasserie Liberté, among many others. But while her work is rooted in the nation’s capital, her home is a 13-acre farm in North Carolina inhabited by a variety of pets – especially horses.

Once Freeman discovered the inhumane ways that unwanted horses are sold, shipped and slaughtered, she turned her love for helping horses into a charitable 501c3 organization. The mission of HERD, which stands for helping equines regain dignity, is to rescue and rehabilitate horses so they can be placed into loving forever homes.

With the help of donations and volunteers, HERD has transformed from a small grassroots rescue group into a national organization. Since 2016, the rescue has saved hundreds of horses from the slaughter pipeline to Mexico and Canada. Now, she seeks to educate the public about the cruel practices affecting American horses. Read our conversation with Freeman to learn more about how she turned her passion into a successful philanthropic effort.

On Tap: What is your personal history with horses? When did you first develop a love for them?
Heather Freeman: I’ve been crazy for horses since I was 2 years old and climbed up on a relative’s Saddlebred horse. I started riding ponies when I was barely able to walk. I took riding lessons as a young girl and always dreamed of owning my own horse. My grandmother got me my first horse when I was about 12. I’ve been riding, showing and competing for many years.

OT: When did you become aware of people using horses for meat and hides? What kind of revelation was that for you?
HF: [I realized] about four years ago when a local pelt skin [auction] opened in North Carolina. I saw all of these beautiful horses standing in blood up to their knees and ankles. There were many former show horses and children’s ponies. I never knew where horses went when people sold them at auctions or on Craigslist. I found out really quickly that they were being shipped for slaughter mainly to Mexico and, in some cases, Canada.

OT: How did you go about establishing HERD? How long did it take before you became a fully operational program?
HF: I started HERD on my own farm saving 12 horses a year. I paid all the bills. I got some neighbors to help me. I would go get the horses and do it all. Within months, I had people in the community helping me, coming to see the horses and spreading the word. One woman named Stuart Evans saw [one of HERD’s rehabilitated stallions] and said, “You have got to get your 501c3 if you want to have a bigger impact.” Within a year, HERD was a 501c3 and had gone nationwide.

OT: Was there anything like this before you started? How is HERD different from other horse rescue organizations?
HF: There are other people like me, but what’s different about our group is that we get them [trained] and super healthy and adopt them out to new homes. A lot of the horses that we’re saving end up going on and winning at horse shows and events because we put so much into them. We don’t just stick them out in the backyard and leave them there. What also sets us a little bit apart is that we take in younger horses, some of which have never been ridden or are too young to be ridden.

OT: How many horses has HERD rescued? How do you find the horses in need?
HF: We usually rescue about 100 horses a year, sometimes more than that. It depends because I have to raise the money to rescue them, which is a big undertaking. How I find them is sometimes through interception on Craigslist or somebody contacting me saying, “If somebody doesn’t come buy this horse today for $300, I’m taking it to the auction.” And “taking it to the auction” mainly means [the horse] is going to go to slaughter. There are some kill buyers that I watch online who send me pictures of thoroughbreds they’ve gotten. We get them in a myriad of ways.

OT: Do you think kill buyers are a problem that people are unaware of? How does HERD go about educating the public?
HF: We have a closed group on our Facebook page. We have members. I go and speak to riding clubs. You’d be amazed at the number of people who ride, show and own horses that have no idea that this goes on, and I was one of them up until four-and-a-half years ago. I didn’t know. I try to tell as many people as I can what’s going on. I encourage people to write to their congressmen and senators and tell them, “Stop slaughtering American horses. Stop sending them for live export. Stop doing that.” Knowledge is power. By getting people the information, you help them. If there was legislation was passed to stop the export of these animals, something would have to be done. But right now, [America] gets rid of all their unwanted horses by sending them to another country.

OT: What does the future of HERD look like?
HF: I’m hoping that I have been enough of a role model that as I age and won’t be able to do the strenuousness of this – riding and handling all of these horses – younger HERD members and supporters coming up behind me will help step up and keep HERD going, or start their own [charity] like HERD.

Visit www.herdrescue.com for more information on HERD, and learn more about Heather Freeman Media & Public Relations at www.heatherfreeman.com.