This weekend after recovering from my intense week at a conference in Connecticut, I managed to get over to Anacostia for the Yelp 10th Anniversary celebration at the Anacostia Arts Center. The center itself is beautiful. It is an emblem of hope in an area of the city that is often neglected and overlooked. The whole block has become a burgeoning art district and I could see how in a couple of years it will be a beacon of hope for the tired and forgotten neighborhood.
The Anacostia Art Center is a modernized storefront on Good Hope Road (how apropos) with rooms that house the work of different artists. The space is the former home of Woolworth’s and a tiled “W” at the main entrance remains as a reminder of a bygone era.
The space is deceiving upon first glance. It is 9,300 square feet, and includes a 1,000 square feet Black Box Theater; space for five galleries/boutiques; a short term exhibition gallery called Blank Space SE, Nurish café, and an 800 square feet lounge area with free Wi-Fi. Visit the website for a floor plan of how it is laid out. There is a second level as well and it is host to different events. I encourage everyone to make a day of it and head over to Anacostia to check out the Art Center as well as the Smithsonian Community Art Museum, the Anacostia Art Gallery and Boutique, and the Frederick Douglass National Historic Site. A free shuttle services the Smithsonian on weekends and holidays. Check out the schedule here.
But back to the festivities. As a Yelp Elite I was able to get into the event an hour before the general public. However the line to get in was quite long as you can see from the pictures so I didn’t get to spend as much time browsing the different stations without the long lines for food and drink as I would have if I had arrived earlier. Lesson learned.
Speaking of food and drink, there were plenty of samples of everything from donuts, to liquor, to ribs, to sliders, to cookies, and even raw oysters. I tasted as much as I could, but apparently I still missed a few crowd favorites. By the time I made it to the space downstairs I was pretty much stuffed and threw away most of the mac and cheese and slider. I appreciated the fact that many of the vendors offered ample portions of their samples, however some of the portions could be considered full servings.
There were two deejays both pumping out great music and if you made it downstairs there were a few places where you sit down to catch your breath before continuing to meander through the art center. I really liked that there were interactive activities as well. There were two photo booths where you could dress up and take pictures. There was painting in the black box theatre sponsored by Creative Carousal and you could design your own fresh flower bouquet by Urban Stems.
In addition to the two levels of the Anacostia Art Center, there was a third space next door in the Honfleur Gallery where most of the gorgeous art work you see was on display. There we sampled cake in a jar by Cake Love (it tastes so much better than it sounds!), crispy chickpeas (the rosemary was delicious!), and Rita’s ices.
All in all it was a great event and I am glad that ventured across town to attend it. I was introduced to a burgeoning art district, new businesses, and great brands that I might not otherwise have tried. I want to congratulate Yelp for making it to the double digits and I give them kudos for having this event in a neighborhood that took a lot of Yelpers out of their comfort zone. I find that D.C. can be compartmentalized and often people stay within the same quadrant of the city all the time.
To find out what’s happening in Anacostia visit www.eatshopliveanacostia.com.
Photos by D. Bell using Samsung Galaxy S5