What’s With the Freaky Goat at Baby Wale?
Head between the bar and the bathrooms (black doors, unmarked) at Shaw's new Baby Wale restaurant, and a furry creature on wheels may cause you to jump back a few steps. Technically, it's a goat. In a red wagon. With a tire around it.
The art was created by chef/owner Tom Power's wife, Natsu Onoda Power, who teaches theater and performing art at Georgetown University. She also does set design and directs plays, and this particular prop was leftover from a play she designed at Silver Spring's Forum Theatre a couple years ago called bobrauschenbergamerica, about American artist Robert Rauschenberg. The goat is a replica of a piece of art by Rauschenberg called "Monogram."
Despite its deceiving realism in the dim lighting, Power assures it contains no actual animal parts. It's made mostly of wood, a pillow, duct tape, and papier-mâché. The fur comes from an Ikea blanket.
Tom says they needed something below the stairs, which lead to a second-floor bar and dining area, to keep guests from walking into them. Natsu also designed the red chair next to the goat for a production of Macbeth as well as the staff's aprons and the wine posters that look like go-go posters.
Although the art serves a practical purpose, Natsu says it also fits with the restaurant's spirit. Rauschenberg's assemblage art put together found materials and objects in new contexts. Likewise, the restaurant has an eclectic mix of things the Powers like. Even the menu is a mashup—ranging from pupusas to New Jersey hot dogs to Filipino-style spring rolls (which, side note, are delicious).
"It's kind of our favorite things gathered in one place," Natsu says. "And the goat was one of them."
Photo by Jessica Sidman