From 5 p.m. to closing every night until Sunday, Grand Duchess with JAB Arts is hosting the pop-up art show “144,” which will feature 12” x 12” size pieces from 19 D.C. artists priced between $150 to $500.
What started out as a humble chat to bring the community together again after years of Covid quarantine and back and forth mandates, blossomed into an innovative pop-up art show that benefits everyone in attendance.
“We basically started the show because we’re all friends and are in the same circle together,” JAB Founder Jason Bowers explains on how “144” came to fruition.
Bowers, when hanging out with Grand Duchess Co-Owner Joaquin Hinojosa, brainstormed together the concept of hosting shows and events at Grand Duchess to support small businesses and local artists.
“You’ve got a bunch of folks who are just starting to want to come out again and businesses that were affected negatively by the pandemic,” Bowers says. “Artists, of course, were also negatively affected because there was no place for them to display their work. So we said, ‘Why don’t we just try to combine everything: small business, artists selling their work in a space, and community by bringing the neighborhood and artists back together again?’”
Once they solidified the idea, another friend soon wanted to get involved and help out.
“Scott (Underwood) is the rep for Illegal Mezcal,” Bowers adds. “And Scott said, ‘Well, I can throw some money behind this, make some drink specials and some flyers for advertising.’”
Although the Grand Duchess serves as an unconventional spot to host an art gallery, the bar has significant open wall space and is a perfect spot to reach out to locals as it is nestled in the Adams Morgan neighborhood.
Last November the three friends launched the first of the quarterly art shows with “TRUE TO FORM.” They partnered with La Tejana — a then pop-up that has since secured a brick and mortar in Mt. Pleasant — to sell tacos. The show was a success with almost every artist featured selling at least one piece, but Bowers is someone constantly innovating and began looking for ways to improve for next time.
“The feedback that we got from the last show, and looking at the data, we realized what was selling was mostly work in the $150-$500 range and not so much $1500-$2000+ dollars. That makes some sense to me because people are coming to a bar that becomes a gallery. They’re not necessarily walking into a full time or traditional gallery.”
Bowers saw this as an opportunity rather than a hindrance.
“We thought, ‘Okay, if we want to do this quarterly, and to try to include as many artists over the course of the year we thought why don’t we try to do something where we can bring more artists in at once and create a price point that’s more affordable for people going to a gallery that’s at a bar.”
The solution? To ask the artists to create artwork for this show to be 12” x 12” in size, hence the name “144” for the math enthusiasts.
“I could fit in more art, therefore more artists, and make it all at an affordable price point,” Bowers says. “For me, it’s a win win win.”
The artist lineup includes some of D.C.’s biggest names in art like Emon Surakitkoson, E$ and Clarence James, thus creating an opportunity for budding art collectors to possibly bring home a piece of their own.
“The idea for the show is you might have an artist you always followed, like Kelly Towles, but every time you go to a show, you can’t afford some of his larger work. This is an opportunity to buy a smaller piece by him. This could be your chance to grab a Kelly Towles piece at a lower price point.”
Bowers also notes it’s an opportunity for artists to network with the community and for people to see newer artists who haven’t had a chance to show as much, which D.C stalwart and featured artist Brandon Hill (of No Kings Collective) is looking forward to most about attending.
“I love going to shows like this because I am also just a fan of art,” Hill says. “So I am excited to see what’s new. I can’t wait.”
Full list of Featured Artists at “144”
Emon Surakitkoson // @emonartdc
Kelly Towles // @kellytowles
Brandon Hill // @chickens.of.insta
Xenia Gray // @xenia.gray
Jack Labadie // @jacklab.art
Cortney Mohring // @mohtownworks
Clarence James // @pvmt84
E$ // @theedollarsign
Kasey Ott // @kasey_ott
Rikasso // @rikasso
Hannah Atallah // @hannah_atallah
Nate Mann // @natemannart
Lauren Bessette // @lobeanie
Charlie Visconage // @cavisconage
CESAMO // @cesamo
Janelle Whisenant // @janellewhisenant
TJ Buttner // @tjbuttner
Rick Gogh // @gogorickgo
Brendan Mullin // @skull.quest
“144” is open through March 6, every day from 5 p.m. until the bar closes. To learn more about the event, visit here. To learn more about JAB Presents and Jason Bowers, follow him on Instagram at @jab.arts.
Enjoy this piece? Consider becoming a member for access to our premium digital content. Support local journalism and start your membership today.