There’s no shortage of publicly viewable art in the D.C. area, from monuments to murals to museums. We’ve handpicked five underrated but visually stunning pieces of public art that are worth keeping an eye out for as you move through the city.
“Encore” at Ellington Plaza
Paying tribute to D.C.’s most famous bandleader, a huge sculpture outside of Howard Theatre features a larger-than-life likeness of Duke Ellington seated at a keyboard in front of a towering treble clef, surrounded by swirling music notes. Created by D.C. sculptor Zachary Oxman, Ellington’s handwriting was referenced when designing this piece, an extra bit of detail that makes this a favorite piece for music lovers throughout the city. 708 T St. NW, DC
“Epoch” outside of Zaytinya Restaurant
This 25 foot steel sculpture was unveiled in 2004, a lively, striking piece of abstract art that has become a landmark near Chinatown. Crafted by artist Albert Paley, the piece is stamped with a moving bit of poetry crafted by D.C. poet Laureate Delores Kendrick that brings depth and layers of meaning to this stunning piece of public art. 701 9th St. NW, DC
“Flash Point” at PEPCO Waterfront Substation
Acting as a gateway to welcome visitors to the Southwest Waterfront Neighborhood while keeping on theme with the industrial buildings that populate much of the area, “Flash Point” features a colossal pair of twin poles that jut out of the ground in a slightly off-kilter manner. In tribute to the work of Nikola Tesla, David and Eli Hess covered the piece in countless LED fixtures to really make this piece come to life after dark: at night the two towers begin to rapidly flash, recalling the stunning high voltage experiments done with Tesla coils. 1620 2nd St. SW, DC
“Mural Un Pueblo Sin Murales” on Kogibow Bakery
Completed in 1977 by a quartet of Latino immigrant artists: Carlos Arrien, Felipe Martinez, Juan Pineda, and Carlos Salozar, “Mural Un Pueblo Sin Murales” (“A People Without Murals are a Demuralized People” in English) is not only a beautiful work, but the oldest mural of its kind in the city. This spirited piece of Adams Morgan art history that has been maintained by the community for nearly 50 years, ensuring that the expressionistic figures and bright colors can be enjoyed by the neighborhood for decades to come. 1817 Adams Mill Rd. NW, DC
“Vivace” at Watha T. Daniel Shaw Library
Artist Craig Kraft lived through the evolution of the Shaw neighborhood from an underserved community dealing with decay and structural disinterest to a vibrant, prosperous cultural hub, and sought to pay tribute to the area’s rich history with his sculpture “Vivace.” Positioned in front of the Watha T. Daniel Library, the wild forms and bold colors are influenced by the neighborhood’s once booming jazz scene, with neon-lined metal tones triumphantly twisting and stretching through the air. 1630 7th St. NW, DC
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