Arts Desk

Head-Roc’s Mouth: Arts on the Avenue

An occasional feature in which esteemed D.C. rapper Head-Roc shares what’s on his mind.

This weekend, there is a three-day art gathering in Anacostia that will feature some of D.C.’s blessed visual and spoken word artists. Masterful works from heavyweight D.C. artists Melani Douglass and Anieken Udofia, along with art from J'Nell Jordan, Lizzie Spaceship, Johnnie Bess, and Greg Slade, will be on display Friday to Sunday at The Blank Space on MLK Jr. Avenue SE.

“Arts on the Avenue” is the brainchild of Maceo Thomas, who has been increasingly  successful at creating opportunities where artists and art lovers, enthusiasts and supporters, can interact in an environment where community building takes place.

There are tons of tiny boutique pop-up (literally “pop culture”) galleries now in Chocolate City, and it seems everyone and their mother is producing an art show these days. What I like about brother Maceo’s approach is his chief location choice for the signature events he produces: east of the river.

I’ve personally known Maceo for a few years now, having rocked with my band GODISHEUS for two of the Capitol Hip-Hop Soul Festivals he co-produced with Khadijah Ali-Coleman at Marvin Gaye Park in Deanwood. I must say I am a fan of his hustle to popularize and nurture life and living east of the river. Rather than set up shop at the usual spaces in congested (and contested) places, brother Maceo’s Arts on the Avenue is actually on the Avenue in D.C. (as far as I’m concerned): Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue in Southeast, right at the corner of Good Hope Raod SE. The historic Anacostia area has been in a state of slow but steady redevelopment for many years and, thanks to the ARCH Development Corporation, there are now several art galleries and multiuse spaces in its downtown center.

Arts on the Avenue kicks off Friday evening at 6 p.m. with an opening reception hosted by the fabulous Keanna Faircloth (host of WPFW’s Tuesday Mid Day Jazz show). There will be a cocktail reception sponsored by the Washington Area Lawyers for the Arts—for which I am the arts ambassador (wink!) and therefore will most certainly be in the house! On Saturday, there is a tour of historic Anacostia being as well as a discussion on the practice and discipline of art collecting. At 6 p.m. Saturday, there will be a poetry showcase hosted by D.C. poetry all-star Gowri Koneswaran who is the program director at Bloombars up in Columbia Heights. My man Jonathan B. Tucker is one of five great poets featured on the bill, a definite must see!

“Arts on the Avenue” takes place Friday at The Blank Space, 1922 Martin Luther King Jr Ave. SE. Visit maceopicques.com for the complete schedule, and profiles of the featured artists.

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