It’s time to bring a little bit of culture back into your life. Culture House, a D.C. staple for art enthusiasts, has reopened after many months with two safe and socially distanced exhibits: “Tiny Pricks” and “Pleasure’s Promise.”
Before you even step inside of Culture House, you are immediately greeted by “Pleasure’s Promise” on display outside in the Avant Garden. The works of art are hard to miss, with their lime green and bright orange motifs resembling larger-than-life Newport cigarette boxes. Local artist Mark Kelner says this, like everything he does in his art, is intentional.
“I noticed Newport cigarettes all my life because their vocabulary of advertising was the ubiquitous orange letters over green, and they’re everywhere,” Kelner says. “When I gas up, there’s a big sign that says ‘Newport’ outside of the gas station. The word ‘pleasure’ is their slogan. What they’re actually selling is death. What if the Newport cigarette company decides to use synonyms of the word ‘pleasure’ to attract a new audience? What words would they use to incite this idea of desire? What would be the pleasure’s promise?”
This new audience Kelner has in mind are the young and privileged families moving into and rapidly gentrifying sections of D.C. like his own neighborhood, the 14th Street Corridor. “Fantabulous,” “Tantalizing,” “Effervescent” and “Hunky Dory” are all painted in large lettering on 4’x8’ panels that surround Culture House’s Avant Garden.
“[The exhibit] melds what is usually in a fine art gallery with [what is in] a construction site, and the very theme of gentrification is what this is about,” he explains. “It’s about affordable housing, race and appropriation. Just 100 feet away from us is a $100 million development, and I’m very aware of how this side of Southwest [D.C.] looks in relation to that side.”
Stepping inside of Culture House, you will find another evocative exhibit that uses its surroundings to its advantage. “Tiny Pricks” is a project accidentally created by artist Diana Weymar in January 2018, when she hand-stitched a tweet of Donald Trump’s and posted it on Instagram. Weymar received an overwhelming response to her post, both positive and negative. The artist began collecting similar stitches from fellow artists from all over the United States and turned them into a curated art exhibit.
Though you may have read the President’s tweets a thousand times online, there is something striking about his words being immortalized on a painstakingly stitched piece of fabric. And, while the election has been called, these words will forever be a part of American history and culture.
Culture House’s first exhibits open to the public since March are timely and stirring. Whether you just need to get out of your house or are craving a dose of art, Culture House will deliver.
Reserve your visit to Culture House by visiting www.culturehousedc.org. Follow Culture House on Facebook and Instagram @culturehousedc to stay up-to-date on all exhibitions. Learn more about Mark Kelner and his work by visiting www.markkelner.com. For more information about “Tiny Pricks,” visit www.tinypricksproject.com or follow the project on Twitter @tinypricks and Instagram @tinypricksproject. For more from Diana Weymar, follow her on Instagram @dianaweymar.
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