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Photos: Courtesy of 10 creatives // Illustration: Trent Johnson

The Artistic, The Inspiring and The Fashionable: 10 Creative Female Forces in the District

With a record number of women running for president in 2020 and the largest number of women in a congressional freshman class yet, 2019 is shaping up to be the Year of the Woman in politics. Much less hyped in DC’s media, however, are the strides made by women in the arts. That’s why for our Women’s Issue, On Tap chose to highlight 10 outstanding women from the areas of performing arts, fine arts, wellness and empowerment, and style. From Strathmore’s CEO to one of Rihanna’s stylists, meet the badass ladies responsible for expanding a culture of inclusivity and women empowerment in the city.

PERFORMING ARTS

Photo: Margot Schulman

Photo: Margot Schulman

Monica Jeffries Hazangeles
President and CEO, Strathmore

Monica Jeffries Hazangles began her artistic journey when she first joined choir in elementary school, but focused her vision after falling in love with arts management as a graduate student during her time with the Friends of Chamber Music in Kansas City, Missouri.

From there, she joined American University’s Arts Management program in DC then Strathmore, where she’s served as president since 2011. In September 2018, she added the title and responsibilities of CEO to her repertoire. While serving as the Strathmore’s president over the years, Hazangles formed her personal worldview on the importance of the arts, believing they are “elemental to who we are as people.”

“[The arts] give us expanded ways to express ourselves,” she says. “They elevate, enrich and transform us. It is our job to make them as accessible as possible to the residents of this region and state. If arts are within reach of everyone who wants to access them, we will ensure that generations grow up believing the arts are essential.”

Her advice for finding authority and voice as a woman in the arts is “to demonstrate that there are many ways to lead and to be creative.”

“Women can be extremely effective in demystifying leadership.”

Strathmore: 5301 Tuckerman Ln. North Bethesda, MD; www.strathmore.org

Photo: DJ Corey Photography

Photo: DJ Corey Photography

Rebecca Ende Lichtenberg
Managing Director, Studio Theatre

Rebecca Ende Lichtenberg left Theatre J last October to join Studio Theatre as its new managing director. Although she is only 37, Lichtenberg has already made a splash in DC’s performing arts scene over the past eight years; moving to Studio Theatre gives her the chance to shine on a bigger stage, so to speak.

Studio Theatre’s Queen of Basel, showing from March 6 to April 7, focuses on empowering women by flipping the script on a play rooted in misogyny. The play is a modern, Latinx-focused retelling of Miss Julie, which tells the story of a woman who kills herself because a man told her that was the only way to escape the burden of their premarital rendezvous. Playwright Hilary Bettis’ version, complete with actual female character development, is sure to be devoid of the outdated, sexist themes of the original.

“Hilary’s take on [the play] is born from how sick the misogyny of his original made her feel, so she actively counters that with a production that is a Miss Julie without unexamined misogyny,” Lichtenberg says. “That’s why we’re proud to present Queen of Basel. It’s a take on Miss Julie that is empowering, told from a prismatic Latinx perspective, and most importantly, is unexpected.”

For dates and tickets to Queen of Basel, visit www.studiotheatre.org.

Studio Theatre: 1501 14th St. NW, DC; www.studiotheatre.org

Photo: Courtesy of Arena Stage

Photo: Courtesy of Arena Stage

Seema Sueko
Deputy Artistic Director, Arena Stage

Seema Sueko says in the grand scheme of things, she does theatre to build successful communities; but there is a deeper, underlying layer of her passion.

“Nothing beats the excitement and electricity of being in a rehearsal room with fellow artists and discovering the truths of a character’s arc or the truth of a piece of text,” she says. “We are discovering what it means to be human. It is powerful and it is humbling.”

Sueko’s current production, The Heiress, runs until March 10 and has some juicy bits of truth in store for the audience. Playwrights Ruth and Augustus Goetz based The Heiress on Henry James’ novella Washington Square, the inspiration for which he found through a piece of gossip. After Sueko finished assembling the design team for the play, she noticed she had unintentionally hired a cast of people who all identified as women, which she thought fit perfectly.

“Once I realized that, I could see how all-female design team allows us to build on the legacy of growing empowerment of this story from gossip to stage.”

The Heiress runs through March 10. For information regarding showtimes and tickets, visit www.arenastage.org.

Arena Stage: 1101 Sixth St. SW, DC; www.arenastage.org

FINE ARTS

Photo: Courtesy of Marcella Stanieri

Photo: Courtesy of Marcella Stanieri

Marcella Stranieri
Illustrator

Marcella Stranieri has always loved to draw. She’s kept a journal of her thoughts, ideas and drawings ever since she was little, and often finds loose scraps of paper covered in doodles and observations in her pockets and bags.

“These two idiosyncrasies, drawing and writing, collided with each other a few years ago when I quit smoking,” the DC-based illustrator says. “My hands were itching for cigarettes all the time. It was driving me nuts, so I started drawing out my ideas instead of writing them to keep my hands busy. I loved it so much, so I decided to start an Instagram for them.”

Now, her Instagram page @marcella.draws has more than 46,000 followers and is still growing. She finds inspiration for her sarcastic pen and paper line drawings in her daily experiences with friends, family and strangers alike. She’s found a lot of support from both men and women on Instagram and has noticed men commenting that they relate with her drawings, even the particularly “girly” ones.

“I like that people are slowly realizing that the default relatable thing does not have to be masculine. Men can relate to women the same way that women have been relating to men for the past few millennia.”

To see the latest artwork from Stranieri, follow her on Instagram @marcella.draws, and visit her website www.marcelladraws.com.

Photo: Courtesy of Lauren Brown

Photo: Courtesy of Lauren Brown

Lauren Melanie Brown
Founder, Fashion Grunge

Freelance photographer Lauren Melanie Brown created Fashion Grunge, an online platform dedicated to art, fashion and music of the 90s grunge era, in 2008 when she was living in New York City.

“The era of blogs was starting, and I was uninspired in my day job and wanted a place to talk about my favorite era of music and fashion,” Brown says. “Now Fashion Grunge has become an international platform for artists to contribute work and music related to the grunge aesthetic as they see fit. It’s great to get so many global perspectives while also tying in nostalgic culture.”

As a woman of color, Brown says she’s always trying to uplift marginalized voices and experiences on her platform.

“I always encourage people of all identities to contribute to the Fashion Grunge platform, whether it’s in traditional images or essays to express inner thoughts. I think visibility is the key for appreciating and educating about minorities. I consciously use my reach online to show not just a singular notion of what you can be and express.”

To read Fashion Grunge, visit www.fashiongrunge.com. For more information about Brown, visit www.laurenmelaniebrown.com.

Photo: Courtesy of Tati Pastukhova

Photo: Courtesy of Tati Pastukhova

Tati Pastukhova
Co-founder + Managing Director, ARTECHOUSE

Nearly a decade ago, Tati Pastukhova and Sandro Kereselidze created Art Soiree, a DC-based organization dedicated to uplifting and curating contemporary artists and their work. As technology advanced, the pair quickly realized the lack of space for artists who work with new wave digital mediums. That’s where ARTECHOUSE comes in. The “art space dedicated to showcasing experiential and technology driven works” also houses the first augmented reality bar in the U.S.

“Technology has expanded our abilities as humans to interact with what we are given and that includes our imagination and expression in arts,” Pastukhova says. “The new forms of art that will emerge through technology will allow viewers to be a part of the storytelling and of the creative processes, enabling them to curate their own experience of art, unique to themselves.”

In early spring, ARTECHOUSE will feature an installment titled “In Peak Bloom,” showcasing works of art based on DC’s famous cherry blossoms from an all-female cast of creators.

“We believe in treating everyone equal and part of that is not creating a differentiation or highlighting one individual or group over the other. It is important to highlight [the fewer number of women in arts and tech] in hopes of inspiring the current and future generation to enter these fields.”

To learn more about Art Soiree, visit www.artsoiree.com, and for more information about ARTECHOUSE, visit www.dc.artechouse.com.

ARTECHOUSE: 1238 Maryland Ave. SW, DC; www.dc.artechouse.com

WELLNESS + EMPOWERMENT

Photo: Wendy K. Yalom

Photo: Wendy K. Yalom

Kimberly Pendleton
Women’s Empowerment Coach

As a women’s empowerment coach and women’s studies professor at the University of Maryland, Kimberly Pendleton helps women realize their full potential through online and in-person courses, workshops and programs. She started her personal business of women’s empowerment coaching when she was finishing her PhD. Now, Pendleton helps over 200 clients from around the globe to strengthen their personal relationships, find out who they are and drop baggage.

“My premium program UNCOVER has helped women recover their relationships, find love and most importantly, feel at home in themselves,” Pendleton says.

UNCOVER, a 10-week program focusing on inner awakenings through embodied practices and coaching exercises, has a $1,237 price tag, but Pendleton says the high cost of service is supportive of the “high level of energy and training” that goes into her work.

“I do believe in paying women for their labor and valuing their knowledge, especially in areas that bring soft skills and social/emotional intelligence to the forefront. I also have seen that when women invest in themselves at an edge that makes them feel a little nervous, they show up for themselves in a different way and experience more rapid transformation.”

Pendleton also offers some complimentary services including #MeToo workshops, an e-newsletter and Roadmap to Romance, a free week of video trainings on self-love, empowerment, and relationships available at www.roadmaptoromance.com.

For more information about Pendleton and the services she provides including UNCOVER, visit www.kimberlypendleton.com.

Photo: Courtesy of Leah Beilhart

Photo: Vanessa Baioni

Leah Beilhart
Founder, Behold.Her

Leah Beilhart wanted to be a professional soccer player, but that all changed after one service trip to the Czech Republic from Germany.

“It was the first time I saw a photograph of myself and cried,” she says. “The amount of sweat, mud and joy across my face was priceless. It changed my life and made me decide that I wanted to give that same pleasure to another human being.”

Over the next several years, Beilhart built her portfolio, reputation and skills as a freelance photographer before landing in DC.

“Portraiture became my main game and eventually the catalyst for Behold.Her when I found myself in DC wanting to create an environment where women could feel carefree and less filtered.”

Behold.Her, now in its third year, began as a portraiture and conversational series, but soon blossomed into a project series captivating a community of women and celebrating its diverse racial, cultural, religious and sexual orientation backgrounds.

“The biggest things we focus on is self-worth. We want women to focus completely on listening and sharing. Self-development takes a lot of energy. Most women leave emotionally depleted, but at the same time re-energized to approach life a little differently or feel less alone.”

Beilhart says Behold.Her is working toward a Self Worth Conference at the end of the year. Each quarter of 2019 will have its own theme: self-worth, sexuality and consent, money and guilt, and finally, community and relationships. All four themes will be combined at the multi-day, self-focused conference for women.

For additional information about Beilhart, visit her website at www.leahbeilhart.com. For details about Behold.Her and its various programs and conferences, visit www.beholdher.co.

STYLE

Photo: Alison Beshai

Photo: Alison Beshai

Frederique Stephanie
Freelance Stylist + Consultant

From Belgium to the Middle East, France to Ireland and England to DC, Frederique Stephanie has trotted the globe as a freelance stylist and public relations consultant. Freddie, as her friends call her, has worked as a stylist for celebrities like Rihanna, Drew Barrymore, Alexa Chung, Lily Allen and Pixie Geldof. But the biggest highlight of Freddie’s career was working on the Adidas Originals campaign featuring David Beckham, Snoop Dogg and Noel Gallagher, among other big names. Style is important to Stephanie, and always has been. And while she is definitely stylish, she says she’s not a fashionista.

“Style is a better word,” she says. “It is a reflection of my unique complexity as a human being.”

Stephanie decided to move across the Atlantic when she saw the growth potential for the DC creative market. She says her success in the nation’s capital comes from her unique background and perspective.

“I’m a black girl with Caribbean roots raised in Paris, but who spent most of her life in London. The DC creative scene needs more variety and different point of views. The city is changing and so will the industry standards as people start pushing boundaries.”

Now working as a PR consultant for Eaton DC, a collective of culture, media, hospitality, wellness and progressive social change, Stephanie says it’s “one of the most significant projects [she’s] ever worked on.”

“[Eaton DC] is the perfect platform because of what it stands for and the impact it already has on the city. They are doing incredible work, which is essential in the current [social and political] climate.”

To see what’s stylish to Frederique Stephanie, follow her on Twitter @frederique_s, and check out her blog, www.thepopuphouse.com.

Photo: Matt Spivack

Photo: Matt Spivack

Jai Lescieur
Stylist + Creative Director

Jai Lescieur recently moved to DC from London where she began her career as a styling manager and creative consultant. She worked on a variety of projects that included assisting on a shoot for Vogue China, working on a documentary about David Beckham, customizing outfits for a British TV show and getting published in British Vogue. Now, Lescieur works closely with Lauren Melanie Brown at Fashion Grunge and continues to freelance as a stylist.

“I feel like I have barely scratched the surface of what DC has to offer and I am excited to continue exploring the city,” she says.

Her love for fashion and art stems from a childhood spent in Mexico City, where her mother would dress up even when she wasn’t going out and her father would wear pants tailored from curtains just because he loved the fabric so much. Now that she’s grown, Lescieur finds inspiration from powerful women like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Michelle Obama who are exploring different kinds of fashion while in the public eye.

“I love how they are changing the conversation of how women are viewed by what they wear. Although some people will always unfairly criticize powerful women for what they wear, these women are showing that fashion can also be a symbol of their empowerment.”

For more information about Jai Lescieur, visit her website at www.jailescieur.com or follow her on Instagram @jai_stylefactory.

Photo: Trent Johnson

A Day in the Life with Sense’s Erin Derosa, Hairstyler and Healer

There’s a beautiful, navy-blue row house tucked on the street of DC’s ever-growing Park View neighborhood. It’s home to Sense, a place that started as a salon but has quickly evolved into the multifaceted passion project of hairstylist and healer Erin Derosa. In addition to cut and color services, on any given day you can find local artists displaying their talents, workshops lead by various community members and breathwork sessions held by Derosa herself.

While the initial reaction to this three-part business under one roof might cause mild confusion, it’s all more connected than at first glance. And with Derosa’s holistic approaches to hair, healing and now art, she brings an understanding to the salon chair that will leave more than just your hair transformed. We talked to Derosa about her love of hair, why DC needs a space for creativity and healing, and what’s next for this innovative space and her team.

On Tap: How did you get your start as a hairstylist?
Erin Derosa:
I always wanted to do hair. But my mom told me I had to go to college, which I’m super thankful for. When I moved to DC, I had a job that I hated so much and it was this pivotal moment. I ended up changing my path and going to hair school and finding my passion for hair, and the rest is history. I worked at Immortal Beloved [on 14th Street] for five years before I left to open this spot.

OT: How did that lead to you opening Sense?
ED:
I’ve always had this entrepreneurial thing about me. When I was little, I had this gift-wrapping business called “You Buy, We Wrap,” so I’ve always had this spirit. But it came up naturally. I was really ready for this shift in my life and for things to change a little bit. It all aligned, and here I am.

OT: How does the wellness element of Sense come into play?
ED:
The wellness piece is something that comes from my own passions and hobbies and personal work. I wanted to figure out a way to incorporate this because hair is ultimately a healing experience. Some people come in and want to do something radically different with their hair. You can feel that they are in a shift or that they’re moving away from a certain thing in their life. People evolve with their hair as they do with their life. I started to marry the two and realized there are a lot of connections, and wellness is something I want to see more of in DC.


Can’t Live Without
Coffee
Socks
My boo
Hilarious Internet content
Really close, deep friendships // sisterhood


OT: Why do you find hair to be a healing experience?
ED:
Hair is something you can change right away. You can feel that shift immediately. But I always have clients that come in who are, for example, going through a breakup and want to go blonde, which leads to this very serious conversation of, “Is this a Band-Aid for that? Do you really want to be blonde?” Sometimes we have brides who come in and want to do a totally different thing and I’m like, “Oh, seems like you’re having cold feet. I don’t think you’ll want to be blonde in your wedding photos.” To me, that’s an indication they might be feeling a little freaked out about this other big change happening.

OT: So how do you bring up your healing practices in situations like this?
ED:
We’ve kept them a little bit separate because wellness in DC, I don’t think, is as big as in New York and L.A. where it’s on every street corner and everyone is talking about spirituality and wellness. DC’s a little bit different than that. Most people aren’t as comfortable talking about tarot or saging, so I gradually will bring up or answer questions instead of saying, “You should go to reiki service or you should do breathwork.” I’m not trying to push it in any way. I think it comes up organically and naturally. I have been known to ask questions. A lot of my coworkers have said I’m pretty bold with the things that I ask because I want to get to know people. If someone’s coming in and they have a lot going on, really talking about it is very healing.

OT: What does breathwork entail?
ED:
Breathwork is an active breath pattern where you breathe in through your belly and heart and out through your mouth. By doing this, you over-oxygenate your body and start releasing endorphins. Literally and scientifically, you’re unspooling these fears and tightly bound emotions that are stuck in your body. Releasing and letting go and moving that energy through is almost like a body scrub for your insides.


Work Must-Haves
Our amazing assistant
Trusting, happy clients
Solaris hair-painting powder
My favorite white-painting brush
Oligo blue shampoo and conditioner


OT: What drew you to this practice?
ED:
I was introduced to it through a coach I’d worked with for a long time who started as my hair client. I started working with her and going on retreats with her, and she brought me to the breath. It’s so crazy how just from breathing like that your body starts moving and shifting. There are physical effects, too. You can feel tingly or your temperature can change, or some people feel really hungry. It is a true shift. Right now, I offer private and one-on-one breathwork sessions. But I do see evolving to having group sessions.

OT: You recently started using the upstairs space at Sense as an art gallery. What led to that addition?
ED:
The gallery is sort of this wildcard. The idea came from another client-turned-friend who is a brilliant artist. She helped get the art in the salon squared away. One day, we were talking about what to do with the rest of the space. I had to put something there! It felt like a runaway train. We were like, this is really exciting and becoming bigger and bigger and bigger. We have shows scheduled for the rest of the year that change approximately once a month. It brings a whole new flavor to the space.

OT: What artists have you featured? Have they all been local?
ED:
The next show we’re doing in March is an international, worldwide show curated by a local person. We’re trying to keep things more local. The first show we opened was very DMV-centric. Rose Jaffe [a DC-based muralist whose work is featured in Blagden Alley, among other city locations] was the artist who curated it, and she picked a lot of people in DC who weren’t necessarily getting their work shown in a gallery space and making that more accessible and available. Moving forward, we’ll have more collaborations with Stable [in Eckington], which is another local gallery, to bring some of their artists and [include] shows around photography, too.

OT: What has your biggest challenge been in running such a unique space?
ED:
I still really want to do hair and spend time with my clients. That’s super important to me. If I’m doing that, I can’t be working on anything else. So finding the time and energy to do both was a big learning curve at first. But we’ve grown in a way where we’ve been able to hire more people, and I feel really lucky that everything’s falling into place. I’m feeling less stressed. That’s helping me to grow this other side of the business.


March Events at Sense
3/7: Women’s Circle with Danielle Waldman
3/8: Women’s Day Event: My Body, My Power
3/16: Navigating Touch and Consent 
3/21: Women Uncorked
3/28: Empowerment Circle with Kim Pendleton


OT: Why would you encourage someone unfamiliar with the wellness practices at Sense to give them a try?
ED:
I believe in this so much. I have seen things truly, literally shift and [help people] feel better. I wouldn’t want to push someone in that direction, but I think if someone is curious, that’s a good place to start. Curiosity gets you to the next step of asking more questions and learning what would feel the most comfortable for someone wanting to take the next step. I believe in organically letting things evolve. I think that’s so important with mental and emotional health. Stay curious and let it evolve.

For more on Sense, visit www.sensestudios.co. Follow the studio on Instagram @sense.dc and the gallery @sensegallery.dc.

Sense:
3111 Georgia Ave. NW, DC; 202-290-3113; www.sensestudios.co

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.