I first learned about Artomatic and participated as an artist in 2008. I learned quickly to expect the unexpected, but in such a good way! This is not your typical, institutional arts organization. Artomatic is full of sweet surprises. Speaking as an attendee, an artist, and a volunteer, Artomatic is one of the most unique and exciting DMV art experiences, both for participants and visitors. Being a volunteer and a participating artist gave me the opportunity to witness the amazing metamorphosis Artomatic spaces undergo. Each visual artist is given roughly the same square footage in what are often uncompleted or fairly dilapidated office spaces. In a few short weeks, artists from all walks transform the drab and the sad to the inspiring, the intriguing, and the beautiful.
Being a witness to this transformation is perhaps one of the most valuable experiences I’ve had as an Artomatic participant and volunteer. Because this operation is unjuried and totally grassroots, the spaces become the sum of many working, living breathing artists putting in the elbow-grease for the shared awesomeness of this festival.
Being a participating artist is not just about hanging artwork. My little taped-off space became my temporary studio and creative space. I painted, sculpted, hammered and drew in every square inch of my wall. I wandered each floor soaking in the creative energy of all the other artists transforming their little spaces. Once the doors opened and the public flocked in, I revisited Artomatic at least 6 or 7 times, discovering more and more beautiful and fun art and performances.
The opportunity to create art did not end when the doors opened. I discovered a poet who, drawing on inspiration from the other artists, wrote personalized poems for different artists, leaving the poem tacked to their spaces. Another artist invited viewers to create their own representation of robots and displayed the results in a growing, lively display.
The evenings were particularly energetic as many of the performances were put on. During one of my volunteer shifts I got to bartend on a performance floor and saw improv, live music, performance art, and dancers. It was such an incredible, action-packed night! If you can’t find something beautiful, fun, inspiring, or entertaining at Artomatic, then truly you are not looking.