Washington Project for the Arts
Lordy lordy, Washington Project for the Arts looks good for 40. The nonprofit artists’ membership organization marks its fourth decade this year with a hip new logo, a revamped online artist registry, and a lease on a just-built new home at 8th and V streets NW. WPA has weathered a lifetime’s worth of venue shake-ups, financial difficulties, and one benevolent takeover by the Corcoran; Executive Director Lisa Gold compares it to a cat with nine lives. But when its 1,500-square-foot storefront space in the Atlantic Plumbing building opens next door to the 9:30 Club this fall—a rare instance of an arts organization cashing in on D.C.’s blunt-force overdevelopment, especially at a time when many traditional galleries are closing in favor of pop-ups and shared spaces—it’ll be better positioned to support local artists and curators than ever. WPA plans to exhibit more video work in the new space, where it will live until at least 2022. And without the need to negotiate shows with partner venues far in advance, Gold says it’ll be much easier to take a chance on riskier, more experimental shows. It’s already shown its youthful vigor in 2015: In February, WPA invaded Yards Park with a giant, cat head-shaped inflatable that shot laser art projections out of its eyes. You can call a blow-up laser cat installation a lot of things, but you can’t say it’s for the olds.
April 9, 2015