Arts Desk

A Gallery’s Map of D.C. Artists

Ian Svenonius, art-show guy

You wouldn't necessarily expect to see punk icon Ian MacKaye and graffiti artist Tim Conlon in the same room. But they're both among the subjects of "Documents: Alternative Guide to the DC Underground," a show by Ayodamola Okunseinde and Yulia Graham that opens tonight at the Gallery at Vivid Solutions, and which makes surprising connections between mainstays of various local art scenes.

Okunseinde and Graham met at last year's G40 mega-exhibit of street art, and they decided to collaborate on a show that would map connections among D.C. artists, whom Graham had already been photographing for some time. For "Documents," they've created a collection of digital prints, interactive installations, and video that brings together the work of other D.C. artists. According to Graham, this “lattice structure” reveals “unseen elements of creativity and personal connections that hold the D.C. area arts scene together.”

In addition to MacKaye and Conlon, the show also features portraits of writer and performer Holly Bass, punk provocateur Ian Svenonius, indie-rock mainstay Mary Timony, and other well-known names. There are also people like Tim Hicks of the hip-hop band The Cornel West Theory and artist Wilmer Wilson who are still works in progress themselves.  Okunseinde said they wanted to draw connections to up-and-coming artists because you “don’t know the outcome” of what their future work will be. They may not have recognizable faces, he says, but Okunseinde and Graham feel they're important.

Okunseinde says the subjects of the show form a “social infrastructure of art in D.C. today,” and that by putting them all in one place, their intangible dialogue as artists with a common stomping ground will be revealed.  He says the show is a “timestamp of artists in D.C. and how they relate.”

The relationship of local artists to each other isn't the only important impulse behind "Documents." The show also explores the relationship of viewers to art through the use of interactive works. In at least half of the pieces on display, viewers can touch or manipulate the art in different ways.

"Documents: Alternative Guide to the DC Underground" is on view noon to 5 p.m. Tuesday to Friday and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday to July 22 at Vivid Solutions, 2208 Martin Luther King Jr. Ave. SE. Free. Tonight's opening takes place from 6 to 8 p.m.

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