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Photo: Deane Madsen
Photo: Deane Madsen

Brutal Beauties: A Look into DC’s Concrete Architecture

Architecture in DC is often associated with the neoclassical silhouettes of the White House, the Jefferson Memorial and the Treasury. But what about all the concrete that makes up buildings like the FBI Building, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, or even the Hirshhorn? Enter the architectural style of Brutalism and its resident advocate Deane Madsen, a writer and architectural photographer living in the city. He founded BrutalistDC, an Instagram account and website that document these widely misunderstood structures. We caught up with him about the basics of Brutalism and what makes the style so important to DC’s landscape.

On Tap: How would you define Brutalism?
Deane Madsen: An architectural style that features bold, structurally innovative forms rendered in raw materials. It stems from a 1950s British interpretation of a Swedish moniker crossed with a Swiss/French architect’s specification of béton brut (raw concrete) in social housing. In the U.S., the style emerged later but proliferated due to low cost of materials during an era in which government set about to redefine itself with monumental structures.

OT: Why is Brutalist architecture so important to the architectural landscape of DC?
DM: For one, there’s just so much of it. Look at any satellite image of Southwest DC and you’ll find enormous superblocks of government buildings rendered in concrete: the Department of Energy, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, L’Enfant Plaza. Two, most of it arose during an era of urban renewal in Washington. The Brutalist architecture in the District breaks from the traditions of Neoclassical, Federal and Gothic Revival to present buildings constructed at the height of post-war optimism.

OT: What are some common misconceptions about Brutalism and how do you respond to them?
DM: Probably the biggest misconception about Brutalist buildings is that they’re somehow brutal. I sometimes joke that these buildings are not, in fact, out to kill you – chunks of concrete falling off the FBI Building are the result of neglect, not malice. The other default reaction to Brutalism is that it’s ugly. I get it, not everyone appreciates the aesthetic. And there’s no way I’m going to be able to change someone’s taste, but when I’m giving tours of Brutalist buildings, I encourage people to get up close and examine tactile features such as board-formed concrete.

OT: What led you to create the BrutalistDC Instagram account and website?
DM: Washington has an amazing breadth of architecture, but the city’s government buildings of the 1960s and 1970s – the urban renewal era – are much maligned, and, quite frankly, I was tired of seeing Brutalist buildings top lists of DC’s ugliest. My goal in creating BrutalistDC was to advocate for an underappreciated set of buildings and to show them in ways that highlight their textural beauty.

OT: What are your favorite Brutalist buildings in DC and why?
DM: The Hirshhorn Museum is easily my favorite Brutalist building in DC. The staff of the Hirshhorn understands the value of their museum’s architecture, and works hard to maintain, promote and improve it. A recent lobby renovation stands out as an example of a sensitive addition to an already great space.

Learn more about Brutalist architecture in the District at www.brutalistdc.com and follow BrutalistDC on Instagram at @brutalistdc.

Photo: Courtesy of SMYAL
Photo: Courtesy of SMYAL

DC Celebrates Pride

When one thinks of Pride in our area, visions of big celebrations with copious amounts of drinking and dancing often come to mind, but there’s much more to appreciating and championing this impactful time than big spectacles. In fact, many organizations use Pride for advocacy or to bring attention to important initiatives in a serious way.

Capital Pride weekend obviously gets a lot of the attention this time of year, and its collection of events and activities is bigger than ever, but there is a lot going on throughout the DC community that shouldn’t fall through the cracks.

Empowering the Youth

Adelphie Johnson, program director at SMYAL (Supporting and Mentoring Youth Advocates and Leaders), says SMYAL youth intend to fully celebrate their various identities of being queer, black, young and amazing leaders in accordance with this year’s theme of “Elements of Us.”

“We seek to empower our youth by letting them be the drivers of our involvement,” she says. “Pride is an opportunity to both remember the struggles that our community has faced and is still facing, as well as to celebrate our existence. That can be a very powerful moment for a young person who hasn’t always been told, ‘You’re loved,’ or ‘You can be proud of who you are, however you are.’”

SMYAL youth will participate in some events, from speaking at Black Pride to handing out information at Trans Pride to walking in the Capital Pride parade. SMYAL is also hosting a youth dance following the parade to give young people a place to continue the party while DC’s adult population hangs out at house parties, bars and restaurants in the area.

“We’ve seen an evolution in how the community has increased their involvement of youth-specific spaces or youth-friendly spaces,” Johnson says. “Young people don’t always have the same availability or resources as adults, so ensuring we intentionally make space for our young leaders in a way that works for them is important.”

Thankfully, she adds, Pride is so openly celebrated across the city in all different communities that it shows our youth that there are places where they can be accepted as they grow into adulthood.

“Sometimes people forget that the first Pride marches were protest marches, and that advocacy is built into Pride from the ground up,” Johnson says. “One specific thing we’re doing this year is partnering with DC Black Pride to cohost a Youth Town

Hall led by a group of youth panelists, and the topics of discussion will center around healthy relationships.”
pride at the Wharf

District Wharf is partnering with LGBT newspaper Washington Blade on the first annual Pride on the Pier, which will have the District Pier open to all ages and a dedicated Transit Pier as its “Family Pier” with activities for all ages.

“Our goal is to make a fun event that the whole community will enjoy,” says Stephen Rutgers, director of sales and marketing for Washington Blade. “Pride allows us to showcase the community to anyone and everyone, and hopefully bring awareness to the important issues and struggles LGBTQ+ people face every day.”

Rutgers feels it’s important to make sure everyone in the community feels welcome, so creating new community events like Pride on the Pier provides an opportunity to do that.

“Pride is a time to celebrate the community, no matter who you are or how you identify. Being LGBTQ+ doesn’t mean that everyone likes the same things or has gone through the same struggles. We have to remember that we are all a family and need to make sure anyone and everyone feels welcome. If just one person feels left out, then we are failing ourselves.”

A Sharp Design

Washington Blade also has a partnership with DC Brau on Pride Pils cans, which raised more than $7,000 last year for SMYAL and the Blade Foundation.

“While Pride is used to celebrate ourselves, it is also a time to give back to the community as well,” Rutgers says. “This year, we are producing over 28,000 cans of the Pride Pils that was designed and voted upon by the community.”

Last year, the design was of a unicorn holding the rainbow flag, but this year, Rutgers notes the design really represents everyone in the community. DC-based artist Alden Leonard chose to show the juxtaposition of Pride – both a celebration and an act of protest – with a colorful design featuring three figures in defiant poses with their eyes fixed on symbols of tradition and order.

“The LGBTQ+ community in DC includes people of all shapes, sizes and backgrounds, and this year’s design by Alden Leonard really shows our diversity,” he says. “All three individuals on the can could identify as anyone in the LGBTQ+ community, and really gives everyone their own voice in how they see themselves.”

The design will appear on more than 28,000 cans of DC Brau’s flagship pilsner this summer in the District and will officially launch at a Yappy Hour at Town on Wednesday, June 6 at 6 p.m.

“2018 has been a year when a lot of marginalized groups have had their voices amplified and celebrated,” says Brandon Skall, CEO and cofounder of DC Brau. “We loved that Alden’s Pride Pils design on first glance was summery and poppy, but on closer inspection, carried such a subtle but profound message of diversity and inclusiveness.”

DC Brau is also participating in the Pride Run on Friday, June 8, and Skall says there is “always a fun group that walks in the Pride Parade, which really is the highlight of the weekend for us.”

Everyone Gets Involved

Outside events are coming into the city more and more and really making DC Pride an event for all, so no one feels left out. The leather community kicked off its DC Leather Pride celebration earlier in May, which included a fundraiser at Town to raise money for the LGBT Fallen Heroes Fund, an expo at the DC Eagle (followed by a rubber social and dance party) and a brunch fundraiser on the last day.

“There’s been an embrace of the different aspects of being LGBT,” says Miguel Ayala, cofounder of DC Leather Pride. “We see who people are and who we are as a community. Younger people are coming out, trans folk are more visible now, and there’s been an embrace of different styles and different aspects within our community.”

Trans Pride and Black Pride both had speakers and panels throughout the month of May, offering people a chance to talk and help people learn from past experiences. Latino GLBT History Project hosts DC Latinx Pride annually, now in its 12th year representing the Latinx LGBTQ+ community. This year’s theme is Belleza Latinx, representing the beauty of the community in all colors, shapes, and range of languages and genders.

“As the hosts of annual festivities, we constantly reach out to the community to see what their needs are,” says Nancy Cañas, president of the Latino GLBT History Project-DC Latinx Pride. “For example, this year at La Platica, we are discussing issues pertaining to older LGBTQ+ folk. Our panel focuses on economic resilience, how this group and us as well – as we become older – how we will continue to support ourselves and our family.”

Then there’s the Department of Justice Pride and FBI Pride joining forces to march under a joint banner in the Capital Pride Parade. The DOJ also presents its annual award during Pride to the person who has made outstanding contributions in the LGBTQ+ community.

“No matter your age or how you identify, it is great to see events that everyone can enjoy,” Skall says. “Giving people options of what they can do really helps DC celebrate in new and exciting ways.”

Learn more about Pride events and partnerships, as well as participating LGBTQ+ organizations, below:

Capital Pride: www.capitalpride.org
DC Brau: www.dcbrau.com
Latino GLBT History Project: www.latinoglbthistory.org
Pride on the Pier: www.prideonthepierdc.com
SMYAL: www.smyal.org
Washington Blade: www.washingtonblade.com

Photo: Amber Breitenberg
Photo: Amber Breitenberg

Farming in the City: DC’s Urban Agriculture Movement

Amidst the District’s hustle and bustle, green paradises breathe fresh air and deliciously colorful life into the otherwise grey and concrete landscape. For some, passion for urban farming comes from a deep love of an old hobby. For others, the desire to provide jobs and fresh produce to their community is the true driving force. Either way, DC’s urban farming scene is growing – its tendrils reaching into notable bars and restaurants all over the city.

Urban farming, otherwise known as urban agriculture, is exactly what it sounds like: the process of growing food in a city or heavily populated area. Despite difficulties such as finding enough space and the right equipment to grow and harvest plants, several urban farming organizations in DC have found unexpected spots to thrive in the city.

While on a run one day in 2014, former Peace Corps volunteer Mary Ackley was contemplating the best locations to host her new project, Little Wild Things Farm. She drew inspiration from bin-farming techniques, which use small plots of land as efficiently as possible. But after searching high and low in the heart of the District, she couldn’t find adequate green space anywhere. That’s when she jogged past the Carmelite Friars Monastery in Northeast DC and realized that institutions often had large plots of land, so she sent them an email.

“At first, they were hesitant but we worked out an agreement, and years later, we still have a wonderful partnership with them,” Ackley says. “We maintain the land, they get produce from us every week, and we donate to a local homeless shelter on their behalf. Everybody wins.”

Later, Ackley found another home for Little Wild Things in the basement of The Pub & The People, an award-winning neighborhood bar. Because The Pub already had plans to build a second bar in their basement in the future, they thought it would be great to have a farm downstairs in the meantime. Little did they know that this unexpected partnership would immensely help both businesses.

When she was getting started, Ackley grew traditional vegetables but decided to switch to edible flowers and microgreens because they mature faster, allowing her to experiment more with varieties and growing techniques. Microgreens are sprouts of vegetables, herbs and leafy greens that pack an even bigger punch of nutrients and vitamins compared to their full-grown selves.

Many gourmet dishes are incomplete without fresh microgreens, so some of the best chefs in the city flock to Little Wild Things to get their fix. To Nick Bernel, one of The Pub’s four co-owners, this was one of the coolest parts of having a “zen garden” in their basement.

“[Little Wild Things] sells to the best restaurants in the whole city, so there were constantly chefs and sous chefs in our bar,” says Bernel, who adds this was great exposure for their business, which opened in 2015.

Eric Milton, sous chef at popular Mediterranean eatery Zaytinya, is one of many high-profile customers who goes to Little Wild Things for all of their microgreen needs.

“They are passionate about their product and that translates into their excellent farmer-to-chef relationship,” says Milton, who has been working with Little Wild Things for a year and a half. “They have a great micro fennel that goes well with white fish dishes, and their micro parsley and celery give fresh vegetable dishes a nice pop. The quality of their product is superb, their product is consistent and they are just super easy to work with.”

While The Pub grew in popularity, Little Wild Things grew in size as its proximity to its clients led to higher demand. In October 2017, Little Wild Things grew too large for the space and Ackley decided her time at The Pub was over.

“It was a bittersweet move because we loved The Pub and our partnership, but we just needed more space,” Ackley says. “It was a great way for us to learn about urban farming and how to be space intensive because we really perfected how to be efficient with our time.”

Little Wild Things is moving to a custom-built space in Ivy City this fall, where it will have all the space it needs to grow over 40 varieties of microgreens and over 20 kinds of edible flowers.

“We are really excited to have more events and pop-ups, and give tours of our new space,” Ackley says. “It’s great to be able to set our roots down in a neighborhood and build our community even further.”

Ackley’s right-hand woman, “work wife” and director of operations Chelsea Barker says that she finds urban farming to be a fulfilling and challenging line of work and hopes others will follow suit.

“The challenge that we are most interested in solving is the idea that farming is an exciting and desirable profession for people who like problem-solving, hard work, relationship building and working with your hands,” says Barker, who joined Ackley in 2016. “It really can be a win-win when urban farming is a texture of urban life.”

A similar philosophy and approach to urban farming is found at Cultivate the City, another for-profit commercial farm working to promote urban agriculture by creating more jobs and keeping profit within the neighborhood. Cultivate the City founder and CEO Niraj Ray found his love of gardening while living in Florida, then brought his hobby back to DC at his job with the EPA where he created a rooftop garden. He eventually decided to quit his day job to pursue his true passion, and so far, it’s been working out great.

In 2016, Cultivate the City installed an expansive rooftop garden at Nationals Park, where they grow produce and leafy greens for food services and dining in the Delta Club. Along with produce the chefs specifically ask for like squash, tomatoes and herbs, Ray likes to mix it up and surprise them with unique produce every season.

Cultivate the City also has a rooftop garden location on H Street where they grow a variety of unique crops indigenous to other regions for both restaurants and members of the public. For Pansaari, an Indian restaurant in Dupont Circle, Ray grows curry leaf and bitter melon. For his CSA (community-supported agriculture program), he sends a variety of fresh vegetables, fruits and herbs every week for 30 weeks to subscribers. And for fun, Ray likes to push the limit of what he can grow in the northeastern United States. This season, he’s excited to announce a healthy crop of passion fruit, which is native to southern Brazil.

“I try to grow unique things that you can’t buy at the grocery store, so we’re able to provide a commodity through what we’re growing,” he says. “It’s unique produce that you can’t find anywhere else, and it has a good story behind it.”

Along with tending to their own rooftop gardens, Cultivate the City offers plant management and garden build contracts for restaurants. At Calabash Tea & Tonic in Shaw, Cultivate the City maintains a garden full of basil, lemon grass, lavender, rosemary and a variety of mints used in tea blends.

When Calabash opens its new storefront in Brookland this summer, it will have an exterior designed by Cultivate the City, featuring 20 planters built by students at IDEA Public Charter School, where Ray teaches a senior seminar and manages a garden club. He notes that one of Cultivate the City’s greatest missions is to work with students and other nonprofit organizations to foster a passion for urban agriculture in the next generation of farmers.

“We’re trying to promote urban agriculture and create more jobs and sustainability around it,” he says. “It’s great to teach people how to grow their own food, but we’re focusing on how they can create careers out of that by maintaining all of the green spaces that we’re creating.”

At Community Connections DC, the capital’s largest not-for-profit mental health agency, Cultivate the City provides horticulture therapy training to help youths with traumatic histories gain necessary career skills like team building and punctuality. Many of these students graduate from the program and find their first jobs with Cultivate the City at the urban farms located in the backyards of their group homes. Nearby restaurants buy produce from these group home farms, closing the loop and keeping money within the neighborhood.

“Not only is urban farming creating positive psychological and societal benefit and quantifiable economic return, but it’s had such unquantifiable environmental benefits as well,” he says. “You’re helping create wildlife quarters for the bees and monarch butterflies, you’re helping to promote more wildlife, and you’re mitigating storm water onsite.”

At Rooftop Roots, a nonprofit organization dedicated to transforming the way people engage with their urban surroundings, environmental awareness and sustainability is a top priority. Founder Thomas Schneider says that based on its three-pillar model of sustainability including economical, societal and environmental considerations, Rooftop Roots works to create jobs, build sustainable gardens and increase the availability to fresh produce to those who might not have access.

“We try to create these spaces as an experience where people feel like they’re not only having a great garden, but they’re also giving back to the community,” Schneider says. “People are certainly taking a greater interest in their health and nutrition. I think growing food is a really powerful experience in terms of how people understand the connection between the life that they’re living and how small actions can play a big part in helping not only the environment but also the society that we live in.”

As organizations like Little Wild Things Farm, Cultivate the City and Rooftop Roots work to spread awareness on how people can use their urban and suburban landscapes to help the environment and their local communities, the urban agriculture movement is becoming more than just a trend – it’s transforming into a sustainable lifestyle.

Find microgreens from Little Wild Things Farm at the Dupont Circle Farmer’s Market once a month, and sign up for any of these organization’s CSA programs at their websites below.

Cultivate the City: www.cultivatethecity.com
Little Wild Things: www.littlewildthingsfarm.com
Rooftop Roots: www.rooftoproots.org

Photo: Rebecca Hale
Photo: Rebecca Hale

Science, Faith, Virtual Reality and Archaeology meet at National Geographic Museum’s The Tomb of Christ

Virtual reality headsets let you explore the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Three dimensional videos take you through the streets of Jerusalem. All of this is an integral part of the National Geographic Museum’s Tomb of Christ exhibit.

With rooms recreated after the church, and panels packed with text and pictures, this exhibit teaches a lot. People in, or traveling to, DC before January 2019 should not miss this chance to meet a new place of mystery, and one that’s fully relevant to today’s divided world.

The exhibit highlights conservation and renovation done by scientists from the National Technical University of Athens on the Edicule in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. The Edicule is the site within the site — a small shrine built over what’s remembered as the tomb of Jesus Christ, under the impressive dome of a large church in the Ottoman Baroque style.

The place of the Holy Sepulchre has a storied history. Over the past 2,000 years, it’s been a limestone quarry, a Jewish burial ground, a Roman temple to Venus, and multiple Christian churches—destroyed over the years by invaders and natural disasters, only to end up rebuilt. The most recent construction of the church and Edicule occurred in 1808, but the intervening 200 years have weighed heavily on the holy site.

This is where the scientists come in. Professor Antonia Moropoulou and her team have a reputation for saving historic monuments, including the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul and the Acropolis in Athens. Work on the Edicule, however, comes with a twist. The site is governed by the “Status Quo:” an 1852 agreement established by the Turkish sultan, when Jerusalem was under Ottoman rule, that any changes to the Edicule had to be agreed upon by unanimous decision of the six Christian orders that share the church—Greek Orthodox, Franciscan, Armenian, Coptic, Ethiopian and Syrian Orthodox.

Unanimous agreement isn’t easy. The six orders recognized all the way back in 1959 that the Edicule needed restoration. Mosaics were blackened by candle smoke and the walls were weak. Church leaders agreed to renovate on two conditions: the work would not interfere with pilgrims praying at the shrine, and the project would be completed between two Easter celebrations.

Then they waited for a proposal.

And kept waiting.

More than 50 years later, in 2015, church leaders finally received an offer from Moropoulou and her team.

The project used the best in available technology, including ground-penetrating radar, radiometry and robotics. Working by night, the team pulled off a trifecta: restoring the shrine’s original brilliance, reinforcing the structural integrity of the Edicule and contributing to archaeological understanding.

For the first time in centuries—and caught on camera by the National Geographic—researchers removed the stone slab covering Jesus’ tomb. The discovery of Byzantine material confirmed for archaeologists that this same site has been remembered as the location of Jesus’ tomb at least since the fourth century. Other archaeological evidence potentially dates this worship site to the first century.

The exhibit isn’t just about the restoration work, it’s literally a consequence of it. Part of the project involved gathering billions of recorded data points through millimeter-accurate LIDAR scans. With these data researchers created a complete 3D record of the site. This same LIDAR technology that allowed scientists to restore the site is what now allows museum visitors to tour the site through virtual reality.

The exhibit deals openly and respectfully with potentially controversial material—the biggest elephant not in the room. It clearly explains what is known through science, history and archaeological evidence. It doesn’t try to confirm or criticize religious beliefs that might be associated with the site.

“The religious significance of what lies hidden beneath the polished limestone and marble slabs of the church’s Edicule remains a matter of personal faith,” one panel suggests. “But people of all faiths can appreciate the beauty and long history of this storied building.”

The Church of the Holy Sepulchre—home to six different Christian orders, visited every year by believers and nonbelievers of every kind—serves as a microcosm of the whole city of Jerusalem. The city is also home to important Jewish and Muslim sites, including the Wailing Wall and the Dome of the Rock.

For this reason, the National Geographic Museum is also showing a film about Jerusalem the city. Although it’s separate from the Tomb of Christ exhibit (and requires a second ticket), this film provides important context to the experience. The video profiles three articulate teenage women—Jewish, Muslim and Christian. These women introduce viewers to their lives, with an emphasis on their similarities—especially their shared love of their families and city.

The exhibit can be viewed in an hour. The film lasts 40 minutes. And although the exhibit and film cost money (ticket information available at here), the museum also boasts free offerings.

National Geographic Museum: 1145 17th St. NW, DC; 202-857-7700; www.nationalgeographic.org/dc

Photo: Valeria Villarroel
Photo: Valeria Villarroel

Instagramming For a Cause: We the Dogs DC

Is there any other city besides the nation’s capital with such a thriving dog culture? The minute the temperatures reach the mid-60s and the sun beats out the clouds, all the dogs suddenly come out of hiding from hibernation and join their owners at every patio and park throughout the area. Each moment of puppy play dates, brews and bones, puppies and pints, snuggles and sunbathing, and tongue and tail wags is documented on Instagram thanks to @wethedogsdc.

We The Dogs DC was born like many modern connections: on Instagram. A DM slide here, a DM slide there, and suddenly, five local women and their beloved pups found themselves members of a brand new pack. Renee Arellano is dog mom to Kingston; Kat Calvitti hangs out with her pup Stella; Marissa Dimino enjoys yappy hours with Teddy; Shannon DiMartino snuggles up with Ruby; and Amber Duggan gets mani-pedis with Izzy.

Locals following @wethedogsdc get to catch a glimpse at a day in the life of a local pup (much in the same vein of the @wethepeopledc Instagram account), where DC area dog owners get to hold the handle for a day and take photos of their canine companions at Fido-friendly spots around the city. We The Dogs’ Insta also features local rescue pups up for adoption. The cuteness factor is off the charts, and it’s all for a good cause.

More than just an Instagram handle, We The Dogs DC connects local dog lovers to help support animal rescue organizations and local dog-friendly businesses.

“With every dog story comes a human story, and it’s a great way to connect with people,” DiMartino says. “I think by having the handle and showing people who have pit bulls and other dogs that are often times restricted from apartments and other areas, people get to see they are really sweet dogs and just want to be loved.”

Last spring, the ladies of We The Dogs had an idea to bring together people from different political and ideological backgrounds to march for a common cause: their pets. What started as an idea for a small gathering of several dozen people swiftly became the Bipawtisan March; the June 4 event raised more than $10,000 for the Humane Rescue Alliance and Rural Dog Rescue.

“People were just really excited about coming together,” says Duggan, the organization’s executive director.

Since the march, We The Dogs’ Instagram account has grown to over 6,000 followers. Over 1,600 toys, leashes, beds, food and other essential pet items have been donated to help out rescue organizations such as Rural Dog Rescue, the Puppy Rescue Mission and Worthy Dog Rescue. An additional $2,000 was raised for local dog charities at smaller events, and plans are already underway for a second Bipawtisan March in September – an impressive feat for an organization that’s only been around for less than a year.

The pack is also working on a photobook, set to come out this fall. All proceeds from the sale of book will benefit four local animal rescue organizations: OBG Cocker Spaniel Rescue, Lucky Dog Animal Rescue, K-9 Lifesavers and Operation Paws for Homes. Nearly 30 charities were nominated, and the local community took a vote to whittle the list down to four. Ruby the Bulldog selected the final charity.

“Ruby has a hide-and-seek toy, so we taped the charity names underneath the little cups on the toys and put treats in all of those cups, and let her pick the fourth charity,” DiMartino says.

The book will highlight different dog breeds visiting iconic DC locations and dog-friendly neighborhood gems around the DMV, and will be available on the organization’s website, via Amazon, and at local booksellers and dog-friendly publishing sponsors.

We The Dogs also hosts dog-friendly social gatherings on a regular basis. Thanks to their Instagram community of dog lovers and their social events, dog owners throughout the area have formed local pack walk groups (you can catch Calvitti and Stella at the Meridian Hill one). Pup parents have a place to turn to for advice and support whenever a furry loved one gets sick or injured, and a sympathetic ear when they need to vent about the pitfalls of dog ownership in the DMV, such as breed restrictions in housing and the fact that dogs aren’t allowed on the Metro (take note, WMATA!)

While We The Dogs DC isn’t an advocacy organization, just by virtue of highlighting dogs of different breeds and sizes throughout the area – including those looking for their forever homes – the 501(c)(3) manages to bring visibility and awareness about maligned dog breeds by letting followers glimpse at life through literal puppy dog eyes.

“The community that we’ve built and encountered through our dogs is absolutely amazing,” Calvitti says. “My life revolves around Stella’s plans now. I don’t have a social life – my dog does.”

Don’t miss We The Dogs’ next Yappy Hour on Sunday, May 13. Learn more about We The Dogs DC at www.wethedogsdc.org and follow them on Instagram at @wethedogsdc.


DC Dog Rescues

Animal Welfare Institute
www.awionline.org
“Since its founding in 1951, AWI has sought to alleviate the suffering inflicted on animals by people. Today, one of our greatest areas of emphasis is cruel animal factories, which raise and slaughter pigs, cows, chickens and other animals.”

DC PAWS Rescue
www.dcpawsrescue.org
“DC PAWS Rescue is an all-volunteer, 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization in DC, committed to rescuing homeless animals from high-kill animal control facilities that are often under-resourced and underfunded.”

Howl to the Chief
www.howltothechief.com
“The place to pamper Capitol Hill pets: premium pet foods for all budgets, delivery, grooming, dog walking, dog wash and adoption events.”

Lost Dog & Cat Rescue Foundation
www.lostdogrescue.org
“Lost Dog & Cat Rescue Foundation helps homeless pets find their way to loving homes through rescue and adoption.”

Mutts Matter Rescue
www.muttsmatterrescue.org
“We work in conjunction with shelters and other organizations to help save animals on death row, the strays on the streets or ones in unsafe living conditions.”

Operation Paws for Homes
www.ophrescue.org
“Operation Paws for Homes is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization devoted to the rescue, rehabilitation and placement of dogs who have overcome great odds and deserve wonderful, caring forever homes.”

Worthy Dog Rescue
www.worthydog.org
“Worthy Dog Rescue is an all-volunteer 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to helping dogs in distress, especially those living on chains, in pens, or in neglectful and abusive situations.”

Artwork: www.billfick.com
Artwork: www.billfick.com

Outlaw Artists Take Printmaking on the Road

Outlaw printmaking. Those two words are not some sort of statement. I’m not standing on a step ladder in a free speech zone protesting the medium because a) Why would anyone do that? and b) I don’t know enough about printmaking to stand in front of random strangers on the street discussing the art form.

No, outlaw printmaking is a genre within the medium. Just as rock and rap provide a certain aesthetic in music, so does outlaw printmaking in the fine arts. Bill Fick is one of the members in the movement.

“I’m very comic-y and cartoonish,” Fick says about his work. “It can be just an iconic image. It’s not really telling a story, but people can form their own narrative from the images. Outlaw printmaking is not particularly defined. It’s a lot of artists working in print with a general rock vibe: sometimes satirical, sometimes edgy.”

The renowned artist and veteran teacher is currently on the Speedball Roadshow – U.S. Printmaking Tour. Joined by fellow printmaker Carlos Hernandez, the show is designed to ignite a fervor in people willing to learn about their styles and journeys. The Lee Arts Center in Arlington is set to host the duo on May 12 for a free, six-hour session.

“It’s an educational process,” Hernandez says. “We teach and show our audience the spirit of printmaking. You get your fingers dirty and you create something that people aren’t familiar with. We’re spreading the gospel, if you will.”

Though the art form doesn’t classify as a religion, these two live and breathe the process. Both began their printmaking journeys in college, and though they each approach the medium with a different background – Hernandez with typography and Fick with block carving – each exudes passion for their shared profession.

“When I was in college, I used to do a lot of gig posters with Xerox,” Hernandez says. “It had a punk rock quality to it, and all the great gig posters that were made in the 60s and 70s served as great inspiration. Graphic design and printmaking go hand in hand; it lets me use those [same] techniques.”

Fick adds, “[Printmaking] naturally became a medium I work with. I love the carving process when you transfer the block onto a piece of paper, and I love the history of graphic art.”

A combined offering of these radically different perspectives and approaches is a colossal component of the tour, as each stop includes a modified itinerary pending the wants and desires of the venue. The Lee Center sequences aren’t quite nailed down as of yet, but Fick and Hernandez are up for whatever is necessary.

“A lot of it is media-specific, so we’ll focus on screen printing and get technical,” Fick says. “At the same time, we’ll be working on the release print and take turns on the special piece. By the end, we’ll have a mash-up or [the students] will do a totally separate process.”

Hernandez continues, saying that sometimes the students want something different, and each artist has their own vision.

“We can introduce different styles, and we try to add to their existing programs,” he says.

The duo collaborates on pieces throughout the workshops, each taking turns like friends playing a single-player video game. The pair have worked in tandem on countless pieces at previous trade shows, conventions and tours, so stepping on and off on at different points has become second nature to them.

“[When] we started working together, we’d always have crowds wherever we were,” Hernandez says. “We’ve had universities and other centers interested in the way we present printmaking. There’s a mystery to the work we do. People want to know how to cut a block and burn a screen.”

Most of the time, Fick and Hernadez produce posters, which requires Fick to carve out an image on a block to be printed. Hernandez follows up with printed text.

“It’s all about recognizable imagery,” Fick says.

Join the printmaking outlaws on Saturday, May 12 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Lee Arts Center. The session is free, but registration is required. Learn more about the event at here, and about the individual artists at www.billfick.com and www.carloshernandezprints.com.

Doggie

Year of the Dog

According to the Chinese zodiac, 2018 is the Year of the Dog. But based on the plethora of pup-friendly happenings in the DC area, the dog days are here to stay. We’ve hunted high and low for everything you and your four-legged friend can do together now and well into the year. From events and fundraisers to parks and places to adopt a new companion, we’ve got your definitive guide to DC dog life below.

Off-Leash Areas + Summer Spots

There are lots of places around town that are dog-friendly, but not as many where pups can legally roam free from the tether of a leash. The 35-plus fenced acres of Congressional Cemetery are a favorite, but membership is required and there is a yearly waitlist. If you’re not a part of the in-crowd, try Shirlington Dog Park or Glencarlyn Park, both in Arlington with access to creek areas for canine cool-off sessions. In the District, Yards Park has a small off-leash area, which is a decent option for letting the pup run off some steam if you plan to bring him along to an outdoor concert or al fresco dinner.

While Kingman Island, Theodore Roosevelt Island and the wooded area along the Potomac from Fletcher’s Cove toward Chain Bridge are not designated as off-leash grounds, they provide new scents and stimulation for a good trail walk or run. The nearby water and tree canopy provide ways to cool off in the hot summer months, making this a great set of locations for dogs and their humans alike. The canoe, kayak and boat rentals at Fletcher’s boathouse are pet-friendly too!

If you and your pup want to skip town altogether, head to one of the dog-friendly Virginia wineries like Three Fox Vineyards or to Delaware’s Dewey Beach where dogs are welcome to bask in the sun and play in the sand year-round. Learn more about these spots below.

Congressional Cemetery: www.congressionalcemetery.org

Dewey Beach: www.townofdeweybeach.com

Fletcher’s Cove: www.boatingindc.com

Glencarlyn Dog Park: parks.arlingtonva.us

Kingman Island: www.kingmanisland.org

Shirlington Dog Park: parks.arlingtonva.us

Theodore Roosevelt Island: www.nps.gov

Three Fox Vineyards: www.threefoxvineyards.com

Yards Park: www.capitolriverfront.org

Local Rescues + Adoption Organizations

City Dogs Rescue
City Dogs (and City Kitties) is a foster- and volunteer-based organization that helps place animals from shelters with loving human companions. The organization sponsors adoption events with local businesses like Dogma Bakery and Logan Hardware, and volunteers periodically host Yappy Hours at local bars to raise funds for the puppies and kittens. www.citydogsrescuedc.org

Homeward Trails Animal Rescue
Like the other great organizations in this list, Homeward Trails makes it their mission to find homes for abandoned, abused and high-kill shelter animals. Homeward Trails also wants to inspire kids to take the lead when it comes to rescue. During the organization’s Camp Waggin’ Tails summer camp in Fairfax, kids ages eight to 13 can “learn all about animal rescue, responsible pet ownership, positive dog training, hear from a variety of pet professionals, and work hands on with carefully selected adoptable dogs while engaging in fun games and projects.” www.homewardtrails.org

Humane Rescue Alliance
Two years ago, the Washington Animal Rescue League and Washington Humane Society merged to create a mega resource for bringing people and animals together. In addition to adoption services, HRA also provides affordable veterinary care, free pet food for those in need, behavior and training classes, and education and outreach opportunities.  www.humanerescuealliance.org

K-9 Lifesavers
Located in Stafford, Virginia, “K-9 Lifesavers save lives ‘Four Paws at a Time.’” With volunteer drivers and boarding partners, K-9 Lifesavers rescues dogs from low-income rural areas throughout Alabama, Georgia, West Virginia, the Carolinas, Tennessee and Kentucky. Dedicated volunteers drive the pups to the DMV where boarding partners help host the pups until they can be adopted. K-9 Lifesavers also strives to be a support group for adopters and all dog owners. www.k-9lifesavers.org

Lucky Dog Animal Rescue
Founded in 2009, Lucky Dog saves an average of 100-125 homeless and abandoned animals every month. And while based in DC, Lucky Dog’s outreach goes far beyond the DMV. This past January, Lucky Dog partnered with Southwest Airlines to deliver more than 14,000 pounds of humanitarian supplies to animal rescuers in Puerto Rico and came home to DC with more than 60 dogs and cats who survived Hurricane Maria and were ready to be adopted. www.luckydoganimalrescue.org

Rural Dog Rescue
Rural Dog Rescue (RDR) is completely foster-based and run entirely by volunteers. The rescue works predominantly with several rural, high-kill shelters that euthanize over 70 percent of dogs, or euthanize within 72 hours in Virginia, West Virginia, and North and South Carolina. When RDR finds dogs that are ready for their forever homes, they provide each pet with up-to-date vaccinations and a microchip. Forever true to “The Underdog”, RDR is dedicated to saving the lives of high risk dogs in economically challenged high kills shelters who are often overlooked for adoption or rescue. This organization saves the dogs who are at most risk of being euthanized: the hounds, the black dogs, the seniors, the sick, the handicapped and the broken. RDR makes a commitment to reserve a minimum of 50% of the dogs they save to these underdogs.  www.ruraldogrescue.com

Dog Days of Summer: Wag-worthy Events

Congressional Cemetery’s Day of the Dog
Though the venue may seem morbid, it’s way more fun that one might think! This annual festival is a chance for all dogs, not just those who are members of the cemetery’s K-9 Corps, to join in a day of fun and games and romping around the cemetery’s 35-plus acres. Activities include contests, raffles, demonstrations, food trucks and local adoptions. Check out the Day of the Dog on Saturday, May 12 from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. Historic Congressional Cemetery: 1801 E St. SE, DC; www.congressionalcemetery.org

Humane Rescue Alliance’s Fashion for Paws Runway Show
Few things could be cuter than a poodle strutting her stuff down the catwalk. For the 11th year running, Fashion for Paws’ Annual Runway Show will couple the glitz and glam of the fashion world with a great charitable cause. “Participants are Humane Rescue Alliance ambassadors who raise a minimum of $4,000 to benefit HRA for the honor of escorting their fashionably dressed dog down the runway,” according to the HRA website. Complete with celebrity host Carson Kressley from Queer Eye, cocktail attire and a glamorous afterparty, the event sells out every year. Dogs not participating in the runway show are not permitted to attend. Don’t miss Fashion for Paws on Saturday, May 5 from 7 p.m. – 12 a.m. Omni Shoreham Hotel: 2500 Calvert St. NW, DC; fashionforpaws.org

Pups in the Park
Summer in America means baseball, and at Nats Park, that includes all-American dogs! Throughout the season, you can purchase tickets to reserve a seat for your dog in the pet-friendly outfield section of the park. As a bonus, the June 23 game will feature a special pregame pup parade around the warning track. Proceeds from dog tickets benefit the Humane Rescue Alliance. Check out Pups in the Park on May 19, June 23 and on multiple dates in September. Nationals Park: 1500 S Capitol St. SE, DC;
www.mlb.com/nationals

We The Dogs DC’s Bipawtisan March
You wouldn’t be a DC dog if you didn’t participate in political activism. You and your pup can make friends across party lines while supporting a great cause at We The Dogs DC’s Bipawtisan March on September 23, from 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. with 100 percent of the event’s proceeds donated to local dog rescues. Bipawtisan March: Location TBD; www.wethedogsdc.org

Home Sweet Home: DC’s Dog-Friendly Digs

Let’s face it, even in a town as dog-friendly as DC, the traditional rental market offers slim pickings when it comes to finding a place that allows four-legged friends. But the recent uptick in development has also brought an influx of property managers who see this plight as a niche market opportunity, offering amenities specifically targeted at residents with dogs – granted you can afford the perks.

2M Street

Neighborhood: NoMa
Petmenities: Private dog park, grooming station, community yappy hours and a resident bulldog, Emmy
www.2mstreet.com

City Market at O
Neighborhood: Shaw
Petmenities: Rooftop dog park, dog washing stations, pet walking and grooming referrals, and quarterly yappy hours
www.citymarketato.com

The Hepburn
Neighborhood: Kalorama
Petmenities: Onsite pet spa and a pet wash station
www.thehepburndc.com

Park Chelsea at The Collective
Neighborhood: Capitol Riverfront
Petmenities: Dog wash station, rooftop dog run, and easy access to Garfield, Canal and Yards Parks
www.thecollectivedc.com

Pro Tip: Pup-Friendly Hotels

Friends and family heading to town with Fido? There are lots of great pet-friendly lodging and hotel options, including Hotel Monaco, Hotel Palomar, Hotel Madera, Liaison Capitol Hill, The Carlyle and many others!


Illustration: Haley McKey

Illustration: Haley McKey

Telltale Tails What’s in a Wag?

When many people see a dog wagging his or her tail, they immediately think that dog is happy. But that is not always the case. Dogs use a different language to express how they’re feeling than people do, and their tails can really talk. What’s most important for humans to know is that not all wags mean the same thing. Here are five common wags and what they can indicate.

1. Broad-sweeping, loose and generally side-to-side at a moderate speed: This is the one we like to see! It means, “I’m pleased,” or that there is no sense of threat or challenge.

2. Tight, circular motion at moderate to high speed: This is generally an indicator that the dog is uncomfortable in the situation, unsure how he/she should act or may be a bit high-strung. This wag should be taken as a sign of caution, though not necessarily aggression.

3. Low, tucked and slow to moderate speed with half of the tail in motion: This wag is a classic sign of submissiveness. If your dog is using this wag, he or she isn’t necessarily having the best time, but may just be trying to signal that she “comes in peace.”

4. High, stiff, and fast-paced or vibrating: This is usually a sign of an active challenge. Pay close attention to the situation and extract your dog if necessary.

5. Half tail at a moderate speed: This one is a little vague. It means, “I’m a little tentative here, so not going to put on the full-works display.” It can be a warm up to a hello, or a show of a bit of insecurity.

Common wag facts were originally sourced from Psychology Today here.

Photo: Chris Thomas
Photo: Chris Thomas

An Art Lover’s Oasis: NOVA Fine Arts Festival

A treasure trove of unique artifacts and unexplored creations awaits each visitor at the annual Northern Virginia Fine Arts Festival at Reston Town Center this spring. From May 18-20, visitors can connect with over 200 artists and experience the beauty of handmade wares while simultaneously supporting the festival host, Greater Reston Arts Center (GRACE).

Bring $5 as a donation to GRACE and receive a 52-page booklet including information on all participating artists and coupons for Reston Town Center restaurants, retailers and businesses. Festival director and GRACE’s associate curator, Erica Harrison, says many new and exciting changes are coming to the festival this year, including an entire extra day to explore.

By adding Friday to the schedule, Harrison hopes more people will be able to come out to the festival and the artists will have more time to showcase their work. In addition, the 2018 Awards of Excellence ceremony, which honors the best artists of the festival selected by a three-judge panel, is moving to Saturday night during the festival party.

GRACE supporters and contributing artists will mingle, drink and be merry at the party as they celebrate and discuss this year’s works of art. Harrison says the best part about the night will be a live performance from Baltimore-based artist Laure Drogoul.

“I think what’s really interesting about this year is that it’s a party for our sponsors and supporters, but we’re also trying to do this whole new creative performance art,” Harrison says. “Laure has a giant sculpture called the ‘Illuminated Fountain of Extinction,’ and it highlights a lot of the animals and species that have already or are in the process of going extinct, and I’m super excited about it.”

Although the party is by invitation only, you can sign up as a GRACE contributing supporter on their website to get the invite. Festivalgoers who are more interested in daytime activities can look forward to perusing a variety of handcrafted, supremely unique works of art including furniture, jewelry, ceramics, glasswork, paintings, house wares and much more.

To artists like Christina Boy, a German-American residing in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Madison, Virginia, the festival is a great way to connect with fellow artisans and reach out to potential clients.

“Everyone has their own artistic voice, and I believe that free events such as [this festival] are important for people to be exposed to a variety of different and unique work,” says Boy, who specializes in furniture design. “In a world that is becoming more and more homogenized, festivals like this keep it fresh and different, and help individuals find their own style instead of going for the mainstream.”

This is Boy’s second time participating in the festival, and she’s looking forward to displaying her handcrafted furniture including her signature piece, “Stool 33,” as well as benches, barstools with Danish cord seats, fun side tables and more – all designed with the spirit of spring in mind.

“Shows are a great way for people to see my work in person, as I believe it is crucial with furniture for them to be able to sit and touch the actual items,” she says.

The festival also serves as GRACE’s largest fundraiser of the year, providing the arts center with over half of its annual budget of $500,000 so that it may continue opening exhibits and offering programs at no cost to locals.

“We’re trying to bring more attention to the mission of the gallery by encouraging participation and making sure everything is accessible to the whole community, regardless of income,” Harrison says. “It’s really helpful to have the festival as a starting point; hopefully, people will come back and check out GRACE’s other programs and exhibitions.”

The festival is still going strong in its 27th year, and thanks to Harrison and her team, it’s growing even stronger. She looks forward to the festival’s bright future and many improvements over the next several years so that GRACE may continue to support artists and encourage artistic engagement in an even greater way.

“What I really hope people get out of the festival is that they make a connection – either with a specific artist or by responding to a piece of work that attracts them and becomes special to them. That’s something that you can’t really do with anything but art.”

The Northern Virginia Fine Arts Festival runs Friday, May 18 to Sunday, May 20 from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. daily. The festival party on Saturday, May 19 runs from 7-10 p.m. and is invite only. For more information about the festival’s participating artists and details on how to receive a party invite, visit www.restonarts.org/fineartsfestival.

Reston Town Center: 11900 Market St. Reston, VA; 703-471-9242; www.restonarts.org/fineartsfestival

Photo: Lindsay Galatro
Photo: Lindsay Galatro

A Day in the Life: Instafamous Navy the Corgi

Imagine creating a social media account for your pet just for fun, and having it attract almost 40,000 followers within the first year. Your pup’s Instagram is swarmed by likes and comments from dog lovers, brands and fellow Instafamous canines in the District and across the nation. For couple Alex Hibbs and Zach Hopf, posting photos of their pup quickly led to Navy the Corgi’s resounding online success. Now Hibbs, a Department of Defense employee, and Hopf, an IT consultant for Booz Allen Hamilton, devote most of their free time to one-year-old Navy and her booming Instagram account, @navycorgi. We caught up with the Insta celebrity and her parents in Capitol Riverfront’s Yards Park after her photo shoot for our May cover.

On Tap: How would you describe Navy’s personality?
Alex Hibbs: Yap queen, very high energy. She’s a diva. She loves to meet and play with everybody. Her tail wags a mile a minute. People get intimated because she barks a lot but it’s all very playful, like, “I want you to pet me and run around with me.”

OT: When and how did Navy first start to receive social media attention?
AH: I figured making Navy her own account was the easiest way to share photos of her with my friends, family and coworkers. We started posting and didn’t expect it to go anywhere, but it did. She’s a pretty unique puppy, so people definitely caught on. We started [the Instagram account] the day we picked her up. Big corgi accounts on Instagram posted a few puppy photos of her. The American Kennel Club contacted us after we posted a little video – our third post – and asked, “Can we share on our social media?” They have thousands of followers and a huge online presence.

OT: Have most of her photos and videos been easily circulated?
Zach Hopf: Reposts are a big thing. Alex is great at using hashtags depending on the brand and the areas. Through that, reposts happen.
AH: It really comes naturally for us. We try to be strategic with it and use hash tags for big accounts, so they will repost it and tag bigger accounts. Some people use a tactic of direct messaging. But we say if she gets followers, she does and if she doesn’t, she doesn’t. We aren’t going to directly go after people to have them repost our content.

OT: Do you feel pressure to post every single day?
AH: It can be super overwhelming. Instagram is a highlight reel – we’re only showing the best parts. Navy can be a terror. She barks a lot. We also have a lot of fun with her that we don’t really post [about]. Sometimes there’s so much pressure to post every day, and in ways, it can get competitive.

OT: What’s it like as influencers to go out in public where people might recognize Navy?
ZH: It can be so surreal. One time, we were walking through Georgetown and we were walking across the street, and this car slams on the brakes in the middle of traffic. This young girl gets out and starts screaming “Navy, Navy!” And she was like, “I made my mom stop in the middle of traffic to come say hi.”


Navy the Corgi’s Can’t Live Without
Favorite place to nap
Between the pillows and the headboard in Mom and Dad’s bed
Favorite place to play
Dog Run Park at Carlyle in Alexandria, Virginia
Favorite place to shop
Kriser’s Natural Pet
Favorite thing to play with
ZippyPaws Burrow squeaky toy
Favorite thing to eat
Duck
Favorite things to chase
Frenchies, birds, squirrels


OT: Do you ever interact with followers outside of Instagram?
AH: We recently went to Portugal and I had sent a message out. [A few owners and their corgis] came out to meet us and took us on a little tour of their town. They gave us a bandana for Navy. Navy’s not necessarily [always] with us, but the Instagram dog community is so nice – they want to meet you and not just your dog.

OT: Do you guys devote most of your time to Navy when you’re not working?
AH:
Outside of work, we are really big on working out so we’ll go to the gym. But other than that, everything is focused on Navy and we’re like, “Oh, let’s take a trip. Let’s make sure it’s dog-friendly.” Our lives really revolve around her.
ZH:
We have to be at so many events for Navy: birthday parties, guest appearances, photos or other opportunities, or going to the dog park, doggy play dates, or going to dinner and making sure it’s dog accessible.

OT: How does Navy use her platform to support animal rescues and other
pup-focused organizations?

AH: There’s an organization called the East Coast Corgi Rescue. On Sunday, we went to a fundraiser for them and we donated a bunch of the free stuff that Navy gets like extra bags of treats. We told them, “If you want to give it out as a raffle or keep it for the rescue dogs, please go ahead.” And donate money too or let them use Navy as a source to promote it. Then there’s We the Dogs DC – we’ve gone to their events and held the handle on Instagram.
ZH: We did a small thing for the Animal Welfare League of Arlington. They had an event where they sold tickets. Three dogs and a cat came, and [their owners] talked about social media influencing. We helped promote that event for them too. If people do have something going on, we’re more than willing to help out in any way we can.

Follow Navy the Corgi on Instagram at @navycorgi, and learn more about her at www.navycorgi.com.

Photo: XMB Photography
Photo: XMB Photography

TRANSIT at Dupont Underground

After a three-day stint at Dupont Underground, Australian-born choreographer and dancer Sarah J. Ewing’s site-specific, original dance and technology performance of TRANSIT left observers with pensive expressions. The looks were not of confusion, but rather a contemplation of the progression of life and the various elements that contribute to our individual present or future state.

The performance began with white words cast upon stonewalls spelling “TRANSIT.” Then blinding lights lit up the tunnel as dancers stepped lightly into the space. Each dancer’s gray attire matched their facial expression, as well as the intended expressionless ambiance.

As the performers stood motionless, the sounds of commuting began to echo through the seats. In coordination with the music, the lights shifted from spots to ripples to darkness, illustrating the obstacles of traveling uncontrollably through life.

The interpretive showcase told the story of three generations of women experiencing similar hardships and joy at every turn in life through different time periods. During a brief interview with Ewing, she explained her vision as a “treasure map of life showing moments intertwined with linear time.”

This movement was a display of power and grace. The dancers’ modern choreography coupled with the music, which maintained a steady beat except for the occasional syncopation, kept viewers fixated on the stage and constantly wondering what would come next.

The audience witnessed solos, duets and a small ensemble, all of whom told the narrative of the linear timeline of life. In one ensemble scene, each performer moved in their own style, sometimes in a haphazard way that might not be considered dancing at all, followed by the rest of the ensemble mimicking the leader’s motions in sync. The scene spoke to the chaos of life and how we are often solely focused on our personal forward progress while others are stuck in peril.

The performance welcomed a plethora of themes, but it would be tough to argue against the significance of time in the piece. The transformative lighting and shifting sounds in each scene highlighted the evolution of characters. Time, illustrated by score, was constant. The volume rose and fell, but it was constantly there, declaring the inevitable continuation of time, no matter our individual circumstances.

The hour-long performance sustained a solemn tone throughout, however, the final scene marked a shift in rhythmic excitement and exaggerated dance that brought a sense of joy to the dark, underground tunnel. This conveyed that through life’s journey, one will always have reasons to celebrate even when it seems impossible.

TRANSIT is a collaboration between S. J. Ewing and Dancers, CulturalDC at Dupont Underground and CityDance. To see upcoming showcases at Dupont Underground or to learn more, visit here. Ticket prices vary from exhibit to exhibit but typically range from $10-$20, with an occasional free event happening.

Dupont Underground: 19 Dupont Circle NW, DC; 202-315-1321; www.dupontunderground.org