Published March 2, 2016 on Urban Turf

While art has always been part of the heart and soul of Washington, D.C., alternative spaces for artists have been hard earned in the city over many decades. Which is why the perseverance of Washington Project for the Arts (WPA), an organization dedicated to creating those spaces, is so noteworthy.

WPA will celebrate its 35th annual Auction Week and Gala in March. It is the organization’s most eagerly anticipated cultural event, one that is attended by a who’s who of the arts community—more than 500 artists, collectors, arts professionals and business leaders.

Started in 1975 as an artist service center at 1227 G St NW by visionary collector and patron Alice Denney, WPA is now the city’s longest-running, artist-centered, contemporary art space in the District.

“Back then, it was really a fertile mixing of many disciplinary experimentations,” explains Executive Director Peter Nesbett.

Late last year, WPA moved into the new Shaw development Atlantic Plumbing, where its ground floor gallery is helping rebuild visibility for WPA artists. Now, WPA is also the largest visual arts-based membership organization in the area, serving as a platform to promote and sell local artists’ work and presenting up to 60 free workshops, exhibitions, artist education programs and contemporary art events every year.

“The artist community in the city is resilient [but also] dispersed” says Nesbett, “which is why having a space open to artists is important. Artists are hungry for a sense of community.”

Image courtesy of Tony Hitchcock and Washington Project for the Arts.

On March 31st, the organization will kick off WPA Auction Week, nine days and nights of exhibitions featuring more than 100 emerging and established artists (selections have been made by top museum curators, notable independent curators, and the WPA Board of Directors). WPA Auction Week will also include artist- and curator-led tours, talks and other activities. All of the events are free and the full program will be available on the WPA website in mid-March.

The culminating event of WPA Auction Week is the 35th annual WPA Auction Gala, during which the exhibited works will be sold through silent auction for the mutual benefit of the artists and WPA. The gala will include an open bar, dinner, silent auction and a dance party.

To buy a ticket for the WPA Auction Gala, click here, or contact Nathalie von Veh at or 202-234-7103 x101.

The gallery is open six days a week from noon to 6pm. Visit the WPA website here to learn more about what is currently on display.



March 2, 2016