In honor of descending into the darker half of the year, WHINO is putting celtic paganism on display. The all-immersive, free art experience “All Hallows,” slated for the evening of October 21, is the product of a certain level of crazy — a sentiment Shane Pomajambo knows is key to getting people in the room.
Pomajambo is the owner of WHINO, an Arlington restaurant and art gallery designed as a deep dive into a consuming art experience. Pomajambo was born and raised in Queens, New York, and thought the D.C. art scene could use an edge, his impetus for opening Art Whino.
“When I first started, people were not accustomed to going to art shows,” Pomajambo says. “It allows me to introduce art to a broader demographic than what ‘normal’ art people would be.”
Designed to accommodate large mural installations, the open concept space houses new exhibits monthly. On October 21, All Hallows will display artists exploring the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain. Rather than defaulting to Halloween, Pomajambo wanted to explore the vast history of the season’s origins — one we often forget has rich roots in pagan ritual.
Samhain is a festival marking the end of the harvest season into the “darker-half” of the year. Bonfires are lit and costumes are worn to ward off ghosts, and participants would go door-to-door reciting verses in exchange for food. Sound familiar?
“We didn’t just want to do a Halloween show because that’s just too literal,” Pomajambo says. “I always like to do research: the origins of Halloween, how it’s a pre-pagan tradition and what it meant to people 10,000 years ago. It all falls under All Hallows.”
There will be 10 artists, local and international, and Pomajambo knows the art produced will reflect the artists’ diversity. The artists hail from Virginia, Florida, California, Poland and Singapore. Pomajambo is familiar with the artists he selected to take on this theme.
There will also be a bar, music and food throughout the night, but Pomajambo assures it will be far from the cheese, crackers and wine which are a staple of the modern art show.
“We’re not just serving rum and Coke or chicken nuggets,” Pomajambo says. “I’m featuring these creatives — the Somalis and mixologists and the chefs. I’m also enhancing the experience.”
Coming out of pandemic restrictions, Pomajambo understands how important shows such as this are to revitalizing the arts, especially events which incorporate several artistic mediums.
“There’s a lot of support for everybody,” Pomajambo says. “Local artists and artists in general need to be supported.”
When asked what returning to art in-person meant to him, Pomajambo says, smile radiating:
“It makes my heart warm. It’s been two and a half years in the planning, and a pandemic later. But if you come up with these ideas, you have a certain level of crazy to think people would come — but when they do, it’s awesome.”
The show will be held Oct. 21 at 7 p.m. with free admission. RSVP on WHINO’s website at whinova.com/event. WHINO is located on the second floor of the Ballston Quarter mall. The event will implement Covid-19 safety precautions.
Enjoy this piece? Consider becoming a member for access to our premium digital content. Support local journalism and start your membership today.