Neat Neighborhood Find: ArtSpace (Written by Hipchickindc)


Post and illustrations written by Hipchickindc.

I have always had a fascination with Jemal’s Wonder Bread Factory on S St NW, near the Shaw/Howard U Metro, but one day, as I was walking home from Metro to Bloomingdale, I happened to notice a sign in front of a lovely turreted Victorian across the street. The sign said, “ArtSpace” and there was a web site listed. As an artist, I am always interested in learning about studio and showing space, especially so close to home, so I looked up Art Space.

“The ArtSpace is a conduit for personal and community expression, empowering participants to find their artistic voice, celebrate the beauty of the world that surrounds us and expose what needs to change with powerful visual statements. At the ArtSpace we believe that art should be as accessible as the local basketball court or branch library.”

In addition to a small menu of art classes offered, the invitation to attend the weekly drop in Open Studio sessions caught my eye. I called the number listed to make sure this was for real, and spoke to the director, Kristian Whipple. Kristian enthusiastically encouraged me to come over the following Monday with my daughter. The facilities and materials would be open for use for the entry price of either “food or five” (either bring food to share, or pay a five dollar donation.)

In addition to clay, pottery wheels, and a kiln, ArtSpace has a dark room, several looms for weaving, cupboards and shelves well stocked with a range of art materials, art books for inspiration, and space for tables and an easel. We usually try to bring some kind of food to share, and enjoy hanging out with both newcomers and regulars. All are welcome regardless of experience or skill level. An interest and desire to be creative are all that is required. Post continues after the jump.


For the past few years I’ve been paying quite a lot of money for my daughter to attend art classes in another part of town. Her favorite is ceramics, especially wheel throwing. Due to limited space, it’s often tough to get her into the class at all, let alone have much actual time on the pottery wheel. At ArtSpace, she’s been able to have plenty of practice time to improve her skills, without the expense or frustration of a crowded class.

In addition to Open Studio and classes, Kristian also coordinates shows that occur regularly but last only one evening (since the classroom doubles as the showing space). These have been evocative and fun, ranging from an entire gallery full of photos taken with cell phones, to a celebration of the food, art, and culture of Ghana. The spirit is inclusive, with participation from seasoned artists and musicians, as well as young people and long time community residents.

For more information on upcoming shows, classes, and Open Studio, visit the website. You may also want to sign up for the e-mail list.

5 Comment

  • Very Cool! Thanks for sharing this. I’m sad to see that on the website it says that Open Session has closed as of Aug 25th, is that just for fall? Will it reopen?

  • Open Studio resumes the week after Labor Day. They were doing some renovations, so once they re-start, it will be even better!

  • I work for Community IT Innovators on U St, a group who provides tech support and consulting to nonprofits around DC at a discounted price so they can afford the technology they need. Artspace is one of our clients, and theyve started a really cool Office art program, where a company can rent art from then, just like Big corporations do all the time, but the art they provide is from their students and members, and as an incentive the kids to help produce the art get paid just as a real artist would. Its awesome, and their looking to do this with more companies. talk to them if your interested in filling your company with interesting, community relevant art like we did.

  • So this is what happened to the Wonder Bread factory. I remember waaaay back in the day when kids would take field trips with their schools to the factory. They’d give us little miniature loaves of Wonder Bread as a souvenir to take home.

  • No, actually, ArtSpace is across the street from the Wonder Bread Factory. The Factory will be developed at some point. I know there are architectural plans for retail but not sure how far along in the process they are with it.

    I think it is worth mentioning that Doug Jemal has been very ARTS friendly, by providing space in the recent past for the Washington Studio School in a building he owns in Chevy Chase.

Comments are closed.