Washington has long been known for its museums and galleries, but it’s time we celebrate our booming alternative art scene.
Paint the town! DC gets an injection of color and cool from street artists.
The look of Washington is changing—and not just thanks to the cranes, developers, and zoning boards. The landscape—the vibe, the ethos, the aesthetic—is being quite literally repainted overnight. In March, a series of murals popped up on the east wall of Union Market and immediately captured the attention of First Lady Michelle Obama. In May, Kelly Towles staged DC’s installment of Pow! Wow!, a mural-festival-slash-global-art-movement. New construction calls prospective residents home with edgy, hyper-local art installations that have set the bar for turning mixed-use developments into micro-neighborhoods—and that’s all just a tiny tip of the ultra-hip, deeply immersed iceberg. A movement that was started by muralists like G. Byron Peck and Aniekan Udofia is flourishing anew with artists and design/build groups like Towles and No Kings Collective. These are creatives who see every new building as a fresh canvas and every standing building as an opportunity for transformation.
It’s been a quiet, steady evolution, and DC is soaking up every drop of the rainbow-inspired colors that are painting the town. It’s Washington like you’ve never seen it, and like you’ll never see it again—because with every sunrise, there’s something new to discover. Look past the monuments and toward the monumental talent that’s gracing our streets—the alt artists are building a new DC.
First row, From leFt: PhotograPhy by meg Kelly (Soul SearcherS); miguel martinez (BeaStS of england installation); meg Kelly (fruitS and candieS); second row, From leFt: PhotograPhy by Kelly towles (girlSrule); Kelly towles (dc4eva); ian roche (PoSeidon); third row, From leFt: PhotograPhy courtesy oF Jbg (atlantic camo); by Kelly towles (houSe); by Kelly towles (fearleSS)