Art All Night: A Celebration of DC Art and Culture
American University participates in the annual, city-wide art festival
Sept. 29 and 30 marked the return of Art All Night — D.C.’s free, evening art festival.
The event took place across more than 20 venues throughout all eight wards of the city — from the streets of Georgetown, to embassies in DuPont and even to American University’s very own Katzen Art Center.
Each neighborhood’s festival showcased local artists’ work, along with the neighborhood’s unique features. These included: poetry readings, live music, dance performances, craft activities and pop-ups from local food vendors and artists.
American University, one of the sponsors for Tenleytown’s Art All Night, participated in the festival by welcoming the public to the five new exhibitions at the Katzen art museum. The AU Jazz Combo performed for visitors on the third floor of the museum, so music radiated through the space while visitors studied the exhibitions.
“CUSHNER,” one of the AU Museum’s new central exhibitions, surrounded the Jazz Combo on the top floor as well. The 34 piece collection by Steven Cushner features large-scale manipulations of color and line.
“Lost Europe: On the Edge of Memories,” another notable exhibit present at the festival, explores life in rural Ukraine through black and white photography.
In the work, photographers Karel Cudlín, Jan Dobrovsky and Martin Wagner offer a range of images such as a man fixing his car, a wedding in the doorway of an older home and a couple sitting close together on a park bench. The collection portrays an intimate view of the everyday lives of Ukrainians between 1991 and 2018.
In addition to the museum exhibitions, guests also engaged with AU’s Studio Art master’s students by visiting their studios and viewing their current projects.
Marie Gauthiez, a Studio Art student, said that she loves AU’s Master of Fine Arts program, and appreciates that she has the privacy to work in her own studio space while maintaining a sense of community.
Gauthiez currently focuses on cyanotype art, one of the oldest photographic printing processes, which creates prints in a distinctive cyan blue and exposes them to ultraviolet light. Gauthiez enjoys cyanotype art in the summer as she can work outside. “I find myself observing my environment in a different way because of it,” Gauthiez said.
Similar to Gauthiez, Studio Art student Julia Zhang also creates cyanotype art alongside still-life pieces of fruit, flowers and other household objects.
Zhang said that she enjoys the textile nature of cyanotype art. “In this time of increasing AI art, I work to create things that only a human can produce, with my hands,” she shared.
While Zhang has been creating art since she was a teenager, she chose to work as a software engineer, putting her art to the side. Her path changed, however, after she attended AU’s open studios herself, which inspired her to join the program and focus on her art.
Zurdo, another Studio Art student, pushed his passion for art to the side due to a demanding law career. Art is slowly becoming more of his primary profession, however, as he now has galleries representing him, art is a source of his income.
Unlike Gauthiez and Zhang, Zurdo prefers painting people — particularly faces — to nature or landscapes. When discussing his preference for drawing faces, he said, “one has to find what really pulls you and gives you more energy, for any career, and then focus on that.”
Gauthiez said that after finishing the program, students often take different paths, including gallery presentations or securing teaching positions. The opportunity for festival attendees to see the studios allowed for an interesting public showcase of the diverse talents of AU’s master’s students.
One disappointment of the evening was the delay of the “The Consequence of Division” event that was supposed to take place on the site of Elyn Zimmerman’s “Sudama” piece, located behind the Kay Spiritual Life Center.
The event was a planned music and light show inspired by Zimmerman’s piece, but due to technical difficulties, the show was postponed until further notice.
Alongside AU’s festival contributions, Tenleytown’s Art All Night celebrations included an outdoor art market, pumpkin decorating, a storytelling event, a comedy event and live music among other activities and performances.
Local participating restaurants — including Masala Art, Guapos and Seoul Spice — put on “Dine All Night,” featuring unique culinary experiences and providing specialty menu items. Additionally, St. Ann Catholic Church offered guided sanctuary tours during the festival, and Jackson-Reed High School welcomed guests to a Sahara dance performance and indoor art market.
Throughout D.C., Art All Night was an opportunity to celebrate the city’s vibrant culture and talented artists.
Mayor Muriel Bower, whose office sponsors the festival, said on the festival’s website, “Washington, DC is the capital of creativity.” The creativity was definitely evident to those who experienced the festivities. As Bower pointed out, the art festival allows community members to “celebrate the history and culture of our community.”
Edited by Sara Winick, Patricia McGee and Abigail Pritchard. Copy editing done by Isabelle Kravis and Charlie Mennuti.